When walking into a Walt Disney World theme park, taking everything in can be kind of overwhelming. There are so many things you may want to tackle during your vacation: experiencing attractions, meeting characters, and tasting new cuisines, to name just a few. One thing that can often be overlooked when planning a Disney trip is taking the time to enjoy the live entertainment. While the larger spectacles like Finding Nemo: The Musical, Fantasmic, and Festival of Fantasy are viewed by many, the theme parks are filled with a variety of lesser- known acts that are often overlooked by the masses.
There are dozens of different street performers and troupes that pop up around the Walt Disney World parks, suited to just about any entertainment taste. It may be impossible to see all of them in one vacation, but here is an assortment of talented groups you should definitely try to squeeze in to your plans!
Citizens of Hollywood
If you are a fan of comedy and quirky characters, this group is for you! The Citizens of Hollywood is made up of a wide variety of personalities, and their show has something for everyone. They tell a few so-bad- they’re-good puns, play some games that involve audience participation, and even throw in some improv for good measure. You’ll see them performing most often on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood Studios, and they usually have a wide crowd who stops to listen and laugh at them and their absurdity.
Voices of Liberty
Looking to get out of the heat for a little while, and listen to some beautiful a cappella music? Then head on over to the American Adventure Pavilion in World Showcase at EPCOT, where the Voices of Liberty share their gift several times a day. This talented group of singers, clothed in 1800’s-style dress, typically performs prior to showings of the attraction The American Adventure. Their songs range from upbeat favorites like “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “This Land is Your Land” to ballads like “Shenandoah.” They may even throw in a Disney song or two if you’re lucky!
The show the JAMMitors put on is perfect for anyone who has ever found him or herself pretending to play the drums on the objects surrounding him or her. This group of janitors discovered they could use their cleaning utensils as drum kits and set up camp over in Future World East, by Test Track. You’ll find them “jamming” on trash cans, buckets, brooms, and a wide assortment of other tools, and you’ll be amazed by the crazy rhythmic tricks they can perform using these simple objects!
Jeweled Dragon Acrobats
If you’re less about musical entertainment and more about watching performers do amazing feats with their bodies, the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats may be exactly what you’re looking for! Throughout the afternoon, they take over the entrance to the China Pavilion in World Showcase at EPCOT, and show off some of the incredible tricks they can do. Their show includes balancing acts, gymnastics, tumbling, juggling, and flag-twirling, just to name a few of their many talents, and is all set to traditional Chinese music. This is a fun group to watch for any age, and is a nice chance to get off your feet for a little bit.
Main Street Trolley Show
It’s easy to feel as though you are being swept back in time to the turn of the century when you walk onto Main Street USA, but the Main Street Trolley Show takes you a step further. A group of lively Main Street citizens parade out onto the streets, accompanied by an authentic trolley, to sing and dance to a few Golden Age favorites. The songs vary, but typically include tunes from musicals such as Hello, Dolly!, Oklahoma!, and The Music Man, not to mention “Walking Right Down the Middle of Main Street USA” and the appropriately chosen “The Trolley Song.” This show performs throughout the morning and provides a nice little break from the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom.
Although Disney’s Animal Kingdom is typically known to have a more relaxed atmosphere than some of the other parks, that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a good time! One group that keeps the party going in the afternoon and evening hours is Burudika, Africa’s Harambe Marketplace band. The musicians play an upbeat set of Afro-pop songs, while dancers bring children and adults alike up to learn and perform simple dance combinations and keep the beat with rhythm instruments. They will have your whole family jamming in no time, and you will leave knowing a few new moves too!
Many of the performance groups at Walt Disney World are bright and loud and in-your- face, which can be a lot of fun when you’ve got a lot of energy. If you’re looking for something a little quieter and laid-back, Quickstep is a great option! They perform off the beaten path, on one of the lanes hidden in the United Kingdom Pavilion in World Showcase. Their acoustic Scottish and Irish tunes will have your hands clapping and your toes tapping, as they play traditional instruments like the bodhran along with more Americanized ones like the flute and the fiddle.
The Dapper Dans
This barbershop quartet will take you back to the simpler times, when music was best made with just a few voices and a couple pairs of tap shoes. The Dapper Dans have made their home in a few places around Main Street USA (their location typically differs from day to day), where they’ll appear to sing a variety of tunes. Their songs range from 1950s classics like “Mr. Sandman” to Disney favorites like “Zip- A-Dee- Doo-Dah,” and their incredible harmonies—plus a few dance moves and jokes thrown in—will keep you on your toes their entire set.