My friends and I were standing in line to meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairy Tale Hall. After waiting in the line for an hour, it was our turn to finally step into a new room and wait some more! But this time we could actually see the princesses and there was only one family in front of us. The family’s daughter walked up to Elsa joyfully. Elsa asked the girl what would she do if she woke up one day with icy magical powers one day. The girl simply replied with, “I would brush my teeth”. Everyone in the room was taken aback by her response. Elsa tried to ask the question again, but the girl was persistent on brushing her teeth. We died with laughter.
While most people think about the rides at Disney, the story above is what makes Disney unique. To be in the face of royalty while wearing track shorts is a blessing you didn’t know you wanted. Magic Kingdom offers the widest variety of entertainment. Unfortunately, you kind of have to plan your day around them.
So welcome to Part 2 of A Cast Member’s Guide to Magic Kingdom. If you want to see Part 1, click here A Cast Member’s Guide to Magic Kingdom: Rides. If you are interested in the Part 3 Lagniappe, click here for A Cast Member’s Guide to Magic Kingdom: Lagniappe. Lagniappe will give great tips on the Halloween Party, Christmas Party, and more.
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Disney offers three different types of entertainment: shows, parades, and meet-and-greets. While not all of these offerings might peak your interest, some of them are definitely worth checking out at the pure creativeness put into it.
Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
The most popular show is the new Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire at the castle forefront stage that opened in June 2016. It opened two days after the Graves alligator incident. Disney remarkably was able to temporarily take out Louis, the alligator from Princess and the Frog, from the show out of respect to the family. The cast and crew did phenomenally tackling this change with such a short time period. The alligator eventually came back to the show on July 13th, 2016 and fans couldn’t be happier.
The show is about Mickey, Minnie, and their friends gathering other Disney princesses to bring to their Friendship Faire. It takes a new approach at storytelling compared to its predecessors. Rather than featuring a villain and a courageous fight to save the day, the show showcases making friends and becoming comfortable with one’s self. This seems to be the main concern from others since there’s no climax. I, however, find it refreshing.Goofy goes down to the bayou to spread the invitation to Tiana, Prince Naveen, and Louis. They bring the party to you in a wonderful display of jazz music. “Dig a little deeper” comes alive in a beautiful combination of dance and style. All the ladies are dressed in typical 1920’s flapper girl dresses and a tapper gives you a gig.
It will make you want to go home and watch Princess and the Frog or visit Port Orleans resort to continue on that New Orleans flare. Tiana even wears a brand new dress made for dancing that’s worth seeing once.Donald and Daisy Duck visit the snuggling duckling where they meet some thugs, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider. Apparently Donald made a mistake inviting the thugs who start a mess at the festival. Rapunzel pushes Flynn to show that the thugs aren’t as gruesome as you might thing they are. The famous “I’ve Got a Dream” from the movie Tangled starts playing showcasing the various dreams of the gang.Mickey quickly surprises Minnie with one last surprise guest.
Olaf wonders onto the stage with Anna and Elsa wondering where their goofy snowman friend went. Minnie, along with the audience, is star struck meeting everyone’s famous princess, and it isn’t a Disney party unless you have Elsa sing her hit song “Let it Go”. Elsa will demonstrate her powers before your eyes and snow will eventually be falling into the audience at the end of the song.
The story wraps up with all the new friends coming together to sing a reprise of “Links in a Chain”. Maybe it’s just me who’s a sucker for dreaming, but I had goose bumps by the end of the song. Mickey quickly stops everyone to show off the daytime fireworks.The interesting part about the finale, and the show itself, is that it changes with the season. Each seasonal change usually begins on the day that corresponding holiday party starts. So fall in the Magic Kingdom begins with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and winter starts with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The final dance before the reprise and the main character’s overlays change to go with the current holiday, but the rest of the show remains the same.
My personal favorite? Christmas.Show times vary depending on the day and time of the year you visit. I would recommend seeing the performance at least once, especially if you are in time for the Fall of Winter seasons. If you go to one of the later showings in the day, the lights on the stage really highlights Elsa’s performance in “Let it Go” and you can avoid the intense midday heat.
Happily Ever After
Disney’s Happily Ever After is the most recent show at Magic Kingdom, opening during the middle of May 2017. It replaced the previous nighttime show, Wishes. While it was incredibly sad to see a beloved show go, Happily Ever After does not disappoint. The show combines Celebrate the Magic and Wishes into a singular performance. Projection mapping technology now is perfectly synched to the corresponding fireworks being shot off.
This is best showed off when Merida is shooting her bow and arrow off of the main castle and a firework shoots off continuing the arrow’s trajectory. If you have ever visited Disneyland Paris in the past, the beginning of the show might seem a bit similar. A star is now projected on one of the highest towers of the castle, such as the Disneyland Paris’s nighttime show, and we see Tiana singing to it wishing for her dreams to come true. Funny enough, the next few scenes that follow have remarkable roots in the French culture (Remy from Ratouille and Quasimodo from Hunchback of Notre Dame). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.
Disneyland Paris’s entertainment is by far one of my favorites and the crowds loved the unique characters from movies that aren’t really represented in the parks. Moana even makes her first Magic Kingdom debut with a few scenes from “How Far I’ll Go”. The show really focuses on specific movies giving each of them their own time to shine until towards the end.Lion King, Jungle Book, and Zootopia have to fight for the audience’s attention. All three of them are on the front of the castle at the same time. It made the pacing feel different than the beginning, which I didn’t care for personally.Thankfully the firework behind the castle steals your attention during these scenes.
Each of the bursts is perfectly synched with the music creating a really breathtaking display in the sky.For viewing, I highly recommend standing by the partner’s statue (Walt and Mickey) in front of the castle. Though majority of the projection mapping will be focused on the main castle itself, the little castle turrets around the area get a bit of magic on them as well, especially the end scene with the stained glass windows of notable Disney characters.
If your family focuses a lot on rides, now is the time where a lot of the lines dwindle down. But, to be honest, I would really recommend seeing the show at least once. It’s new and everyone is in front of the castle for a reason. Happily Ever After only shows once per night. So if you miss it, you will have to wait another day. Pick out your spot by the statue an hour before as it gets crowded easily. In that hour you can pick up something to eat instead of twiddling your thumbs.
Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time is the other nighttime show you can find at Magic Kingdom. It usually starts after Happily Every After. This show isn’t worth viewing. It opened November 4th of 2016 after closing Celebrate the Magic. At this time, Disney seemed to have been hyping everyone up for the up and coming movie of Beauty and the Beast featuring Emma Watson.
This show highlighted the franchise immensely and seemed like more promotion for their new blockbuster hit movie. The story starts off with Mrs. Potts trying to tell Chip a goodnight story. She tells the our beloved tea cup some of our favorite Disney tales in order to highlight movies from our childhood. Some of the movies highlighted are: Frozen, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and of course, Beauty and the Beast. At first glance this seems to be a well-designed show with some popular scenes and is very enjoyable to watch.
Most of the scenes last a quick minute. Once Upon a Time starts to lag once it reaches Beauty and the Beast as you watch Gaston battle the Beast endlessly. Over and over, they move around the castle with what seems to be a never-ending battle. And to further the disappointment, the show concludes with recycling all of its previous scenes in one last montage to say goodnight.
Unless you are a biggest fan of Beauty and the Beast, I would not recommend this show. Happily Ever After offers what this show has but ten times better and more. If you do decide to stay around and watch, you can get there 15 minutes to 30 minutes before. Not many people stick around for the performance.
Let the Magic Begin
Disney’s welcome show, Let the Magic Begin, is one of the last brand new shows featured at Magic Kingdom. It opened on January 9th, 2017. Previously, Disney would make you watch the welcome show from the train station, but now they’ve opened up Main Street so you can get your lovely morning cup of coffee from Starbucks beforehand.
The new Welcome Show performs on the castle forefront show as Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fair. This given guests a lot more space to spread out and preview the opening of the Magic Kingdom and I’m a huge fan of this change. Is it worth seeing? It’s completely up to you and how your family wakes up. It’s cute to see the princesses and the big cheese himself wish you a good morning. Let the Magic Begin actually starts five minutes before the rest of the park actually opens up, so the only other thing you can do at this time is shop on Main Street USA.
The Muppets Present… Greatest Moments in American History is one of the most interesting shows featured in Liberty Square, in front of Hall of Presidents. Not a lot of people realize that it’s there until they walk past it. The show times vary per day so you’ll need to check My Disney Experience mobile app or your times guide found at the entrance of the park. The Muppets will present one of two different stories telling how America became a country. They have one show that will tell the makings of the Declaration of Independence and the other show will tell the story of the great Paul Revere. History probably isn’t the most interesting thing you would want to do at Disney, but the Muppets put a great twist on it to make it entertaining.
I’m personally happy to see more Muppets around the theme parks and I think these shows are an excellent addition to the parks. Unless you don’t enjoy the franchise, I recommend catching a show or two. My favorite out of the two is the Declaration of Independence. Which one is your favorite?
The Trolley Show
The Trolley Show is one of the few shows at Walt Disney World that does not feature any classic Disney character. It takes place in the streets of Main Street, which is the reason you’ll probably be escorted to the sidewalk in the mornings. There are only morning shows; the last one being before the noon “Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play It! Street Party”.
While the show isn’t from any particular franchise, watching the lovely performers will make you feel like you’re in a scene from a musical you grew up with. Their costumes fit well with the theme of an old small town and change with the seasons making interesting to see in various times of the year. If you have the time in the morning, I highly recommend staying around on Main Street to watch this charming street show.
The Royal Majesty Makers
The Royal Majesty Makers is an interesting fusion between Fantasyland and Sword of the Stone. It’s a quick… performance I guess you would call it. It’s not really a show, but they do put on something worth seeing. You can find it in-between the Castle and Prince Charming’s Carousel, right by the Sword of the Stone! The people of Fantasyland are in search of someone to pull the sword from the stone so they can become the rightful king or queen of the Magic Kingdom! That’s where you, or the person standing next to you, come in hand.
A couple of guests get a chance at pulling the sword from the pedestal. Most will fail, but maybe you’ll see someone who’s pure enough for the task! Times will vary each day for show times, so please refer to your My Disney Experience mobile app or times guide from the entrance of the park.
The Dapper Dans are notorious throughout Walt Disney World. It’s a group of barbershop quartet that perform in the streets of Main Street USA. It’s a unique group that plays various times during the day. Please refer to My Disney Experience mobile app or times guide for when shows happen. If you are catching the Main Street Trolley Show, it’s easy to see this talented singing group in the morning.
Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial
Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial is a show featured in Adventureland. Times will vary per day so please refer to My Disney Experience app or a times guide found at the entrance of the park. This is the only place to see the beloved Jack Sparrow alive and in person outside of holiday events. Captain Jack Sparrow teaches volunteers how to wield a sword and act like a pirate. It last about 25 minutes and can be interesting to watch, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch the show. Fortunately it is in front of Pirates of Caribbean ride so you can time it perfectly before you sail off on your adventure.
Festival of Fantasy
Festival of Fantasy is the main parade of the Magic Kingdom and of Walt Disney World Resort as a whole. While it was notorious of being known as the 3:00 pm parade, it is now moved to 2:00 pm. Not everyone is a parade person, but this is something worth seeing at least once. It was a strong inspiration for the parade at the newest Disney theme park in Shanghai and in the new 20th anniversary parade at Disneyland Paris. People have been that mesmerized by the craftsmanship of this parade to be an influence across the world.
Get there 30 minutes to an hour before the parade starts. It begins in Frontierland by Pecos Bill and ends on Main Street USA. It takes about 30 minutes to get from the starting point to the finish line. My favorite place to view it from is Frontierland where the performers are not exhausted.The parade has so much to look at featuring many Disney friends. Frozen, Merida, Peter Pan and his lost boys, and the three good fairies are just some of the people you can expect to lead this parade through the streets.
Fun Fact: I’m bias because this was the first thing I worked on for Disney. I worked on the parade for seven months and have been fortunate enough to meet the people who made this parade in all aspects. From float design to the daily hair dresses. A lot of hard work goes on to make this parade reality, and the current cast and crew are very proud of their work. When I look back on my days working for the company, this was the highlight of it all.
Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party
Move it! Shake it! Dance and Play it! Street Party is the last daily “parade” Magic Kingdom offers. There are usually three performances: two in the morning and one after Festival of Fantasy. It starts from Main Street by the fire station and goes to the castle where they throw a huge dance party!Characters from various franchises (Phineas and Ferb, Jungle Book, Zootopia) come out to dance and mingle with guests in this cute routine.
Meet-And-Greets are magical, but nothing beats the happiness from shaking your booty with Woody from Toy Story. Donald, Goofy, Minnie, and Mickey appear on top of the presents to help lead the party and bring a few fireworks to make it something a bit more special.
This parade is often overlooked for a few different reasons. A lot of people usually stand-off to the side to watch or don’t really know what it’s about. But I urge you to go and dance with your favorite character! Usually, one of the parade show times will follow after a Trolley Show or Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire so it’s absolutely nothing to stick around an extra fifteen minutes.
The story at the beginning of the post was an example of a meet-and-greet experience. Characters from your favorite Disney movies are all over the park and it’s an interesting task to see all of them. Half of them will have FP+ (Fast Pass + explained in Part 1 A Cast Member’s Guide to Magic Kingdom: Rides) and the other half of them will have you standing in lines regardless that can be as long as 20 minutes.
Characters with FP+
What characters have FP+?
- Cinderella and Elena
- Rapunzel and Tiana
- Mickey Mouse
- Daisy and Minnie Mouse
- Donald and Goofy
What should your FP+ selections look like?
- Cinderella and Elena
- Mickey Mouse
Daisy, Minnie Mouse, Donald, and Goofy are all featured in the Pete’s Silly Sideshow in New Fantasyland’s Storybook Circus. They are all dressed in circus attire with each one having a unique theme. Surprisingly though, these characters hardly ever have a long wait. I think it’s due to the crazy costumes and the fact it’s hard to find them. However this comes with an amazing plus for you. Since there isn’t a long line for any of the characters, you have a lot more chance at having a more individual experience.
Rapunzel and Tiana are also not on the FP+ selection list due to the fact their wait time is significantly lower than Cinderella’s and Elena’s. Most of the time, you will notice one or two families waiting in this line where Cinderella and Elena have 20 families waiting for them. If the wait time ever gets more than 30 minutes for any of these lines and you do not have FP+, wait to meet them at night. Most of the families will have gone during the day since most kids struggle to stay awake after fireworks. Please note that sometimes Tiana gets caught up in cooking her gumbo so Snow White or another princess will come and greet guests instead. They are located in Princess Fairy Tale Hall behind the castle in Fantasyland.
Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbelle can be found in the Town Square Theatre by the park entrance/exit. Mickey Mouse’s wait time will usually always be longer than Tinkerbelle because he’s the mouse that started it all. But there’s another reason why you should meet Mickey Mouse here rather than at Animal Kingdom: he talks! Well, of course Mickey Mouse talks, but you can actually hold a conversation with him in the Town Square Theatre. This really will create a magical memory for you and loved ones. I remember watching my nephew and Mickey spin around like they were on the Mad Tea Party ride and saying “Chedder” (instead of cheese) while taking photos. If you do not have a FP+ to this character, your best chance to not wait long is when it’s raining or during Festival of Fantasy parade or Happily Ever After.
Ariel is by herself in her grotto next to the Under the Sea ride. She usually has a consistent wait time of 30 to 45 minutes. Tinkerbelle’s average wait time is usually the same as well. I would choose between one of those depending on your preference.
So what would your FP+ selections look like with a mix between characters and rides?
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Mickey Mouse Meet-And-Greet
- Space Mountain/Peter Pan’s Flight
Character lines usually do not take as long as actual rides. So if you are only limited to a day in Magic Kingdom, try to fit in the Mickey Mouse FP+ and tailor your ride choices to those that fit the need of your family.
Please note: All character Meet-and-Greet queues close 30 minutes before park closes. This is different from regular rides who’s queue closes at park close.
Characters without FP+
So what characters can you find that don’t support FP+? These characters are typically found outside in the parks, which are dependent on weather conditions. Most of them stop meeting after 5 o’clock pm.
- Winnie the Pooh & Tigger
- Aladdin & Jasmine
- Tweedledee & Tweedledum
- Snow White
- Chip & Dale
- Woody & Jessie
- Buzz Lightyear
- Anastasia & Drizella
- Fairy Godmother
I highly recommend when finding your favorite characters to start early in the day. You can find their times from My Disney Experience mobile App and that will be your most reliable asset. You might even find a random character pop up which makes finding characters a lot more fun.
There is another option too if you wish to meet some rare characters as well. They have character dining throughout the park that offer plenty of experiences at your table. For this I will also be listing the restaurants found along the monorail line. Dinner will be slightly a bit more than your average dining at Disney, but what more would you expect at a theme park.
- O’hana at the Polynesian Resort
- Breakfast – Lilo & Stitch, Pluto & Mickey
- 1900’s Park Fair at the Grand Floridian
- Breakfast – Mary Poppins, Alice, Mad Hatter
- Dinner – Prince Charming, Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia & Drizella
- Lunch Tea Party – Princess Aurora or Mad Hatter/Alice
- Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Minnie, Pluto
- Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom
- Breakfast – Ariel, Cinderella, Princess Aurora, Snow White
- Lunch – Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, Snow White
- Dinner – Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, Snow White
- Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore
- Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom
- Dinner – Beast
Walt Disney World Resort has so much to offer in it’s tiniest theme park. Magic Kingdom is even expected to expand it’s entertainment offerings soon with the news from the 2017 D23 Expo Disney held a few weeks ago. In my opinion, this is what makes this Disney’s theme parks stand out compared to it’s competitors. I’m anxious to see what else they come up with. What do you think? Do you have a favorite show or experience meeting a character?