Don't overlook live shows for theme park entertainment value this summer
Written by Robert Niles
Millions of fans come to theme parks every year for the rides, but smart theme park fans don't overlook some of the live shows also playing at many of the world's top parks.
Here in Southern California, our parks recently opened two major new live shows. We've already reviewed Disneyland's Mickey and the Magical Map and SeaWorld San Diego's Madagascar Live! Operation Vacation, when it opened at sister park Busch Gardens Tampa last month. But over the past couple weeks, I got my first opportunity to see these shows.
Rapunzel sings during "Mickey and the Magical Map." Photo submitted by Brandon Mendoza
Each of these shows runs 20 minutes, making them a great way to get off your feet and out of the sun for an enjoyable extended break in the middle of the day. Mickey and the Magical Map plays in the outdoor (but covered and shady) Fantasyland Theater in Disneyland, while Madagascar Live plays in the indoor (and air conditioned) Mission Bay Theater at SeaWorld San Diego.
But if you're paying theme park prices for a day's entertainment you want more than a cool place to sit for 20 minutes. Both shows deliver that entertainment value with energetic casts performing popular songs from their source material, as well as an original tune created just for its show. Another plus? While it's worth showing up 20-30 minutes early to ensure getting seats together for each performance, neither of these shows will subject you to an hour-plus wait, as you might find at many popular rides this summer.
If there's a knock to be made against these shows, it's that their premises are whispy-wafer-thin — just flimsy excuses to get to the music. But with a 20-minute show time, I'd prefer less set-up and more time for singing and dancing anyway. (If you want more plot and dialogue in a Southern California theme park show, take in a performance of Aladdin at Disney California Adventure.)
There's no faulting these casts, though, at least not at the performances I watched (and recorded for your enjoyment). The vocalists, dancers and instrumentalists bring it, entertaining the audience with fun songs you'll have playing over and over again in your head for the rest of the day.
Follow the links below to rate and review these shows, if you've seen them already. Or just leave a thought in the comments.
If you're looking for an even cooler entertainment experience in a Southern California theme park, Knott's Berry Farm also just debuted its newest Peanuts-themed ice show. But I haven't had the chance to see it yet — comments about that show are welcomed, too.
What are some of your favorite live shows at theme parks?
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Previous article: Theme parks' hidden elevators for visitors with wheelchairs
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Readers' Top Themed Rides
Top Roller Coasters
Top Theme Park Shows
Features, News and Advice
2013 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2012 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2011 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2010 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2009 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2008 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2007 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2006 Blog PostsJan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2005 Blog PostsDec.
2004-2005Staff column archive