Walt Disney World Entertainment- Shows, Parades and Characters

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Planning an upcoming Disney World Trip? Are you interested in meeting Characters and watching all of the amazing shows?

Besides the rides, the character meet and greets and the shows are some of the best part of the trip. (The Food is pretty freaking amazing too- but we’ll cover that another time! There are SO MANY food options!)

I mean, the nighttime entertainment is unforgettable- with the fireworks and the ‘blast you away’ audio! It’s what everyone will talk about for years to come… “Remember when we went to Disney and saw the Fireworks?!”

And the Autograph books are the highlight of any child’s vacation. They can look back and see when they got to meet Mickey for the first time, and show of his signature to all of their friends!

What about Night life and things for Adults to do?

Do you even know all the options? or Are you overwhelmed with planning?

There is a certain level of FOMO- the fear of missing out, on your Disney Vacation. So much to do and see and explore! It can be a lot to handle.

So let’s break down the basics and get you comfortable with all the amazing entertainment options Disney World has in 2019!


What Entertainment does Disney World Offer?

I get this question from Disney Vacationers all the time- “What is there to do at Disney?”

There is SO MUCH to do at Disney World that you simply can’t do it all! What I wanted to do was break down the basics for you!

This is not going to cover the rides, because they are in a category of their own! I do have a post on rides for babies, toddlers and pregnant women you can check out though!

So let’s take a look at the Entertainment at Disney World!

The Characters

You can meet the characters two different ways.

1.By going to the Character Meet and Greets.

2.By Scheduling a Character Dining Experience.

If you want to have more time with the Characters- you will want to schedule a Character Dining Experience. That way you can eat and socialize with the characters without feeling rushed.

When you do a character meet and greet, you either wait in line or use a FastPass- and it does tend to go a little fast. Don’t Worry!

You still have plenty of time for some pictures, an autograph and to say hello and goodbye. But you definitely get more time when you do the character meals.

Character meet and greet- Mickey Mouse

Some of the Characters you can meet in the parks are:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse (the only place to see them together is Animal Kingdom, you can get a Fast Pass too!) WAIT! They just added one in Magic Kingdom!!
  • Anna
  • Elsa
  • Olaf
  • Ariel
  • Baymax
  • Belle
  • Joy and Sadness
  • Donald Duck
  • Daisy Duck
  • Mulan
  • Merida
  • Pluto
  • Rapunzel
  • Tiana
  • Winnie the Pooh and Tiger
  • Tinker Bell
  • Snow White
  • And SOOOO many more!

Character Dining is a great way to meet your favorite Pals! If your interested in how to meet characters without a ticket check out this helpful guide!

If you need a comphrensive list of all the character meals, check them here.

Street Performers

Street performers have semi-random acts throughout the day! These are fun actors that come out in gear and cheer to celebrate with you!

We’ve seen it all, from a Mainstreet Volunteer Firefighter to a group of drummers!

Walt Disney Entertainment- Street performer- volunteer Firefighter

Many of the acts are scheduled, and many of them are random. You just never know what you might see, especially at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. They tend to have a lot of street performers.

Hollywood Studios has been brining out the street performers lately too! My favorites are in the Avatar Area and over by the Star Wars section.

Epcot doesn’t have as many everyday street performers as the rest of the parks- but they do have some. They tend to save a lot of the amazing performances for the festivals!

You can also find performances at some of the resorts and Downtown Disney, especially on the weekends!


Disney LOVES parades. They have a parade for everything it seems like! They even have one when it RAINS!

Don’t forget that Disney World also has seasonal parades for Halloween and Christmas. They go all out with these, as typically they are only shown for a separate ticketed event (like Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas)

Here’s some of the memorable ones you can expect:

Main Street Trolley Show

This happens in the mornings at Magic Kingdom, kind of like their welcoming act to bring you into the park! It’s a very “Mary Poppins” themed show, and oh so cute!

Festival of the Fantasy Parade

This parade is often held in the afternoons and evenings and features all of your favorite princess, a dragon and Mickey and Minnie in a Hot air balloon!

Dance Parties

There are several dance parties at Disney World Parks, you might even come across a random one with some of the live musicians.

Move it! Shake It! Mouske Dance it! Street Party happens during the day on mainstreet by the Castle at Magic Kingdom. Half Parade- half street party it is 100% fun! Everyone will want to join in with the characters on floats and the upbeat music.

Hakuna Matata Dance party at Animal Kingdom is another winner. This is a live music event designed for everyone in the family. Get your groove on with this show that last most of the day, with culturally inspired music and fun dancers to join you! You might even get treated to the performers on stilts!

Nighttime Shows

Each Park has their signature nighttime show, some of them have FastPass options and many of them have special dining packages where you can eat and avoid the crowds. If they don’t have a dining package, they almost certainly have a dessert package. They are somewhat accommodating with allergies- but call ahead.

Magic Kingdom- Once Upon a Time. Happily ever after.

Happily Ever After is the newest nighttime show with Cinderallas Castle. It is a beautiful 20 minute show that highlights some of your favorite characters with audio and visuals designed to keep you on the tip of your toes! It does get really crowded here- so just keep that in mind if you need to use the restroom.

Animal Kingdom- Tree of Awakenings. Rivers of Light.

The tree of Awakenings happens nightly at Animal Kingdom. It’s not very interactive, more of the tree “coming to life” with state of the art visuals. Very entertaining for kids.

Rivers of Light is a new show at Animal Kingdom features water boats and nature. It’s very hard to explain because it’s not a traditional WHAM FIREWORKS disney show- it’s much more of a visual journey through Asia.

Hollywood Studios- Fantasmic. Star Wars- Galatic Spectacular.

Fantasmic is the imagination of Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerers Apprentice. Then it gets interrupted by Villains. Again, not a show my toddler enjoyed, but it was very visually appealing!

Star Wars- This is a show full of pyrotechnics, loud music and audio and lasers. (and fireworks!) It was a little too much for my toddler, but absolutely breathtaking to watch as an adult!

Epcot- Illuminations

This will ONLY run through the first half of 2019 where it will be phased out. More details on this to come.

Stage Shows

Stage shows can be found scattered throughout the parks! These are a highlight for many, but they also take up precious eating/riding/character time, so often get skipped!

I would recommend not skipping all of them, and aim to do 2-3 per trip. They are a great way to relax, get some A/c and get swept away in the show for 20-40 minutes! Some of my favorites include: Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Indiana Jones.

Night Life

Some would say that I saved the best for last- and that is probably the case! If we were going to cover ALL of the options for entertainment after dark at Disney we would be here awhile. Let’s look at some of the favorites!

Downtown Disney

Disney is not just for kids! Especially Downtown Disney, which was built more with the adult in mind. You can shop and enjoy Dinner, then grab drinks on the water.

You’ve got several options to choose from. One of the newest additions is The Edison, which has flapper style dancers, a DJ and music floor. The Hangar Bar has lots of games to play over drinks, and Paradiso 37 will have you dancing to Latin Music all night long! Bar hopping is another favorite, with almost 10 places to choose from it can be a fun weekend night!

The BoardWalk

If you want to stay near the resorts, definitely check out the Disney BoardWalk. Not only is it absolutely picturesque in the evenings with live musicians and plenty of restaurants, but it also hosts some 21 and up venues.

Jellyrolls is famous for their dueling piano competitions- truly a must see experience (even more enjoyable with drinking). Then you have a Dance Venue featuring hits from the 80s and 90s. Lastly, you’ve got the ESPN sports bar, so you dont have to miss the big game even on vacation. Pair this with their delicious eats and fun sites and its a great place to enjoy some adult time. It’s a favorite among the locals for date nights- so keep it in mind!


This is just a brief overview of most of the entertainment options available at Disney World. Never forget that Disney is out to make this a magical experience! So they add stuff frequently!

You really can’t do it all at Disney- it is truly a magical adventure every time you go!

Since you are interested in this outline, check out the rest of my Beginner’s overview for Walt Disney World, from transportation to resorts and everything in between.

If you want more info on the entertainment options and times, get it straight from Disney Here!

Have any questions? Drop me a comment or email below!

and Don’t forget to save this for your next Disney Vacation!

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