The 8 Best Magic Kingdom Shows
The marvelous attractions at Magic Kingdom deliver so much entertainment that you’ll sometimes feel overwhelmed. Crisscrossing the park will take a toll on your feet, and standing in line for extended periods of time will only magnify the feeling of exhaustion. At times, you’ll want to sit down and take a load off. Park planners understand this feeling, which is why they offer so many entertainment exhibitions. These performances are Disney’s way of keeping you energized and amused. Here are the best shows at Magic Kingdom.
8) Dapper Dans
“Barbershop? That ain’t been popular since aught-six, dag-nab it.” – Bart Simpson
While The Simpsons have a clear bias against barbershop quartets (save for maybe the Be Sharps), Disney’s always loved the concept. The illustrious history of the Dapper Dans dates back to 1959. Yes, this act is almost as old as Disneyland itself.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, the musical troupe was an integral part of the proceedings. They’ve maintained that lofty status to this day. And they even have a clever seasonal version, the Cadaver Dans. The entire show is timeless and enjoyable. The fact that it’s at the bottom of this list speaks volumes about the quality of the shows at Magic Kingdom.
7) The Muppets Present….Great Moments in History
This is the newest show, and it’s kind of odd. The attraction doesn’t have its own space per se. It’s being run out of a second story window in a Liberty Square building overlooking Hall of Presidents. Despite the odd setup, one that feels temporary, Great Moments in History has proven to be a real crowd pleaser. It first debuted in October of 2016, and I remember the discussion about whether it was a seasonal show. Eighteen months later, it’s still here and just as fun as ever.
The gist of The Muppets Present is that Kermit and his team mean well. They want to put on a historical demonstration of several seminal moments from American history. It’s the perfect idea for Liberty Square, only the Muppets didn’t study their history books well. They get a lot of details wrong. It’s kind of like a factually inaccurate version of Hamilton, only with the Muppets! I’m of the opinion that it’s superior Muppet*Vision 3D, the film at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
6) Hall of Presidents
Don’t worry. There will be no mention of current politics in this article. Consider this your safe space from the rest of the internet. Hall of Presidents isn’t on this list because of who or who isn’t currently in the White House. It’s here because this is one of the attractions that would have mattered the most to Walt Disney.
During the legendary 1964 New York World’s Fair, he and his team of Imagineers constructed Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. It was a pavilion hosted by the State of Illinois, and part of the agreement was that Disney would get to transport the entire set to Disneyland after the fair ended. Hall of Presidents is a logical successor to that attraction, a show that highlights some of the greatest achievements of American government. The civics fanatic in me adores the shameless optimism of this attraction, even though I admit it’s a bit dated.
5) Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Dated is a term that could be used to describe these three consecutive attractions. Selections 6-4 all fall somewhere between the classifications of archaic and timeless. Like Hall of Presidents, the roots of the Enchanted Tiki Room trace back to the World’s Fair.
During that event, Disney introduced the world to audio-animatronic (AA) technology, although Disneyland visitors already knew it. The Enchanted Tiki Room became the first demonstration of this technology when it debuted in 1963. It wouldn’t become a global phenomenon until the following year, though. People liked the birds, but they looooved robotic Abraham Lincoln.
Personally, I find the show at the Enchanted Tiki Room superior, though. It’s less serious in tone. While I like the educational structure of Hall of Presidents on occasion, I’m generally at the park to have fun. In this category, the Enchanted Tiki Room is the clear favorite.
4) Country Bear Jamboree
Still, only one old school Magic Kingdom attraction is the most humorous of them all. And it’s Country Bear Jamboree. Yes, I can hear you groaning through the internet. I understand that for many people, these absurd country music songs may strike the wrong chord. After all, Hee Haw is long gone, and nobody misses it.
For my part, I’ve always loved these bears going all the way back to my childhood. I have fond memories of the first time I watched the show, which has stayed largely the same since the 1970s. And two other aspects of the show please me.
The first is that Walt Disney himself signed off on the idea. He saw some illustrations of the characters on Imagineer Marc Davis’ desk and immediately wanted a bear attraction. The other aspect is that these songs are all real! Disney didn’t write them! They were popular (or obscure) country tunes from the 1950s and 1960s that Imagineers incorporated into the show! They may seem ridiculous, but they once got AM radio airplay.
3) Enchanted Tales with Belle
I think of this show as the place where parents prove their love to their children. Enchanted Tales with Belle is also fairly new, as it was a key part of the New Fantasyland update a few years ago. During this presentation, cast members select random members of the audience (i.e. people standing in the room) to become a part of the show.
Theoretically, the show is a retelling of the highlights from Beauty and the Beast. Due to the presence of amateur performers, some of whom aren’t very willing participants, the story gets lost in silliness. Almost every performance suffers from sort of disruption as small children run to their parents, and cast members try to corral them. The chaos of the whole thing is terrific. Plus, the special effects are great.
2) Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
When I came up with the idea for this list, I knew what the top two would be. The only question was the order of finish. One option is a polished presentation that tells a perfect story. The other is an exercise in chaos comedy, as a few talented cast members hone their punchline timing on a few unsuspecting guests in the audience.
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is obviously the messier of the two options. I still almost chose it as the best show at Magic Kingdom, though. I’m in awe of how impeccably consistent these shows are. Yes, I realize that the setups are similar, and they likely recycle jokes between performances on a regular basis. Since I only watch one show per day while I’m visiting, however, I’m blissfully unaware of how the sausage gets made.
From my perspective, it’s a hysterical series of rapid-fire punchlines, most of which are somehow funny to the overwhelming majority of the crowd. Historically, the best place for funny people to work at Disney theme parks is Jungle Cruise. That ride has much less improvisation than Laugh Floor, though. This show is where the most amusing cast members hone their comedic craft today.
Are you a Disney movie lover? Who isn’t, right? For anyone raised on animated classics, Mickey’s PhilHarmagic is the purest show experience imaginable. In 12 minutes, Disney packs in several of the greatest moments from their best movies.
Guests fly high over Agrabah, get splashed by popped champagne bottles from Be Our Guest, and go under the sea to hear the frustrations of Princess Ariel. Mickey’s PhilHarmagic could have just as easily been named Disney’s Greatest Hits. That’s what it is, and that’s why it’s perfect. Magic Kingdom has plenty of wonderful shows, but Mickey’s PhilHarmagic towers above the rest, as it should. It has Mickey in the name!
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