Disneyland (CA)

10 Amazing Shows Only at Disneyland

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In one of my previous blogs I said the shows were one reason every Walt Disney World fan should try Disneyland.  Disney World has some great ones, of course – Festival of the Lion King, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, and the list goes on.  But Disneyland is not going to disappoint you.  It truly has some amazing shows.

1.  Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular.  Aladdin is hands down my favorite show at any Disney park, including even the awesome shows on the Disney Cruise Line.  It’s so good in fact that it will soon be seen on the new Disney Cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy.  I can watch it over and over and not get tired of it.  The Genie is the star of the show, and I have yet to be disappointed in one of his performances.  He changes his jokes to keep up with today’s news headlines, and it always feels current.  But he’s not all there is.  The puppetry, the music, the sets: all of it!  The Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure where the show is performed is also as nice as any performing arts theater could be.  Overall, just wow!

2.  Remember Dreams Come True and Magical.  There are several fireworks shows at Disneyland, and I think they blow Walt Disney World’s away.  Pun intended.  Remember is a 17-minute-long extravaganza which, among other things, pays homage to your favorite rides.   Additionally, during Magical both Tinker Bell and Dumbo fly over Sleeping Beauty Castle.  Even if the castle at Disneyland is not quite as majestic as Cinderella Castle in Florida, the fireworks in SoCal are just spectacular.

3.  Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough.  This doesn’t fit in the ride category, so I put it in the show category for my list purposes.  This walkthrough tells the story of Sleeping Beauty in 3-dimensional displays.  You actually get to walk through various parts of the castle (and I don’t just mean through the tunnel!).  How cool is it to use the castle for something other than a store or restaurant?  Now it doesn’t quite reach the level of the huge animatronic dragon that you’ll find in the dragon’s lair under Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris, but it’s a start!  Well okay, now the Sleeping Beauty walkthrough at Disneyland sounds lame in comparison to the dragon.  But trust me, it’s cool.

4. World of Color.  World of Color is a fountain show involving music, projections, and special effects.  One of my fellow travel agents said World of Color is worth the price of admission, maybe even the cost of her plane ticket to California, in and of itself.  It is truly a showstopper, so to speak.  Look around after a performance and see how many misty eyes you see.  If that’s not the mark of a great show, I don’t know what it is.  World of Color is one of the anchors around which Disney California Adventure is being revitalized—and if this is any indication, they are definitely headed in the right direction.  To help find the best viewing locations, check out Katie’s recent blog.

5.  Tomorrowland Terrace Stage.  Tomorrowland Terrace in Disneyland brings out some great shows!  Sometimes it’s the site for local bands, sometimes it’s the site of the Jedi Training Academy, but there’s something happening several times a day.  A few years ago, we showed up at Disneyland to find out that Aly and AJ from the Disney Channel were giving a concert.  Talk about excited tweeners!  They were people we’d heard of, and even the kids could get excited about.  Being in Los Angeles, Disneyland has easy access to a wealth of talent that could show up at Disneyland anytime.

6.  ElecTRONica.  ElecTRONica is a light show/dance party that Disney throws at various times on the streets of Disney California Adventure.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  This show was only meant to stay around a little while as a promotion for TRON: Legacy, but its popularity kept it there.  Some will find it a little loud, and it’s not always a “Disney”-like atmosphere with DJ’s and glowing drinks, but it is something to check out at least once.

7.  Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island.  Also not a show per se, but not a ride, so I’ll put it in the show category.  The attention to detail on this island is amazing.  There are hidden treasures all over.  If you go through too fast, you’ll miss them!  There are caves to climb through, rope bridges, and of course hidden and not so hidden treasures!

8.  Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  Billy and the Hillbillies will crack you up at the Golden Horseshoe in Disneyland.  Seriously.  They will crack you up.  The first time we went, we just wanted somewhere to cool off for lunch.  We got our food and settled in.  When the show started we were in stitches.  The band’s leader, Billy, has such an expressive face he could have been Jim Carrey in another life.  They are very talented musicians and play a selection of well-known bluegrass and country music (with the occasional Beatles or Elvis tune thrown in for good measure)—whatever your musical leanings, they will entertain you both with their music and their quick wit.

9. The Miner 49’ers.  The Miner 49’ers are an excellent bluegrass band with shows right next to Grizzly River Run.  If you get a chance to see them, do it!  At one point they make instruments out of washboards and add some comedy along the way.  They pull audience members into the show for the fun, so it’s entertainment for all ages.

10. Fantasmic!  Yes, Fantasmic! is at both parks.  As I said on my previous blog, it’s a little easier to see the show at Walt Disney World.  But Disneyland’s version?  Far superior.  They take the same island your kids were running around on earlier in the day and transform it into the platform for the show.  The story line is essentially the same, but the Peter Pan sequence at Disneyland is much stronger than the Pocahontas sequence at Walt Disney World.  Disneyland’s Fantasmic! also has a new, amazing high tech Dragon that steals the show.  And that’s hard to do!

Disneyland’s entertainment options can’t even be compared to those of ordinary theme parks.  They are, as my family likes to say, on a whole ‘nother level.  Don’t miss them!  If you’re rushing from ride to ride you will miss out on one of the things Disney does best.

Do you have a favorite show at Disneyland?  Tell us about it!

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Tammy Whiting

Tammy has been a lover of all things Disney for most of her life. There’s nowhere on this Earth she’d rather be than on a Disney cruise with her family. She’s a Space Force wife and proud mom of two wonderful children and one beautiful daughter-in-law . She fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2008 and became a travel agent specializing in Disney vacations. She now owns her own travel agency - Storybook Destinations. You can reach Tammy at Tammy@StorybookDestinations.com.

10 thoughts on “10 Amazing Shows Only at Disneyland

  • It seems to me that Disneyland does not offer fireworks every night, whereas the Magic Kingdom seems to always have fireworks unless the park is closed early for a special event. In those cases those special events have their own fireworks.


    • You’re right. Disneyland doesn’t have them every night. Especially during the school year. I’ve heard that they are concerned about noise levels since they have such close neighbors. I’m not sure if that’s the case or if it all boils down to money.

      • I’ve lived 10 minutes away from Disneyland for over 20 years now and I can tell you, Disneyland does fireworks every Friday through Sunday throughout the year – either at 9:30-ish pm when it gets dark later or at 8:45 pm when it gets dark earlier. Monday through Thursday are reserved for peak season, which these days is about 80% of the year. 5% of the time that is not peak season goes to the Halloween nights, where they do a special Halloween fireworks show.

        The lack of fireworks during the week is mostly because of the neighbors – though I’m sure DL is enjoying the cost savings too. There are many neighbors who literally live within a half mile of Disneyland. And considering that the fireworks are actually set off from outside the park (in the backlot area) it gets even closer to some of the neighbors. Most of these people are older because they bought their homes way before Disneyland was even open 7 days a week. They now complain about any noise coming out of the park after 10pm. Actually, they complain about any noise coming out of the park period.

        My absolute favorite DL fireworks show ever is the Remember show. No matter how many times I watch it (and I’ve seen it at least 20 times) it still makes me walk away with a sigh and a smile. Magical is much better now after getting redone from the original version.

        Also, I have to agree that Billy Hill and the Hillbillies is one of the best shows in the park. They change the show up around Christmas time to do a holiday show – it’s definitely worth watching. And if you’re lucky, I highly recommend sitting at the tables up on the sides of the stage. You get a great view from there.

        The Dapper Dans are also one of my other favorite shows in the park. If you watch them at their various locations throughout the day, they’ll do slightly different shows each time. In front of the firehouse they’ll have these chime instruments and will add more choreography to their songs. Down on Main Street they usually stand in the doorway of one of the shops and serenade passerby.

        On the days when the park is so crowded that it’s not worth getting in any lines, I make a point of having a “show” day. You can literally fill your day with watching the Marching Band, Dapper Dans, Billy Hill, the parade and the fireworks. And if it’s hot out, the Tiki Room is another fun show. Now that I’ve said all this, I think I’m going to head to the park this weekend. It’s time for another show day.

      • That’s what I have heard about the neighbors. I’m sure it is a bit loud for them.

        I’ve sat in those side tables and I agree! It’s a great view. Billy does like to talk to or about guests at those tables though, so if you are shy – avoid them! 🙂

        I’ve had show days before too. They are an excellent way to spend a day. I’ll be there in two weeks and at least one of those days will be a show day. Have fun this weekend!

  • Agree wholeheartedly on “Fantasmic”. Every year, the overlong Pocahontas scene is looking more and more like an unintentional indicator of what year the show premiered.

    • The pocahontas scene didn’t bother me that much until I saw the Disneyland version. Then I realized how much better it could be.

  • #1-4 and 10- amazing attractions. the others add atmosphere.

    #1 is possibly the best theater show in disney’s entire collection.
    #2 i like that they change the fireworks for the season
    #3 really really special
    #4 WOC is worth the price of admission to DCA
    #10: peter pan is way better, location is better theme, only drawback is lack of seats

    • I agree! Especially about #1. Maybe the best show in the collection.

  • The Dapper Dans are so entertaining. They have the best Halloween show on Main St. with singing, humor and dancing. They are all very talented and quick on their feet to improvise. Sometimes, they even sing on a bicycle built for four.

    • Very true. The Dapper Dans are wonderful.


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