Monday Top 10: The Best Theme Park Shows
Great theme parks offer much more than just rides. Shows can extend a park's theme while providing some of the most memorable entertainment of your vacation. Whether they're "kisses goodnight" at the end of the evening or a welcomed respite in an air-conditioned theater in the middle of the day, these are the top 10 highest-rated theme park shows, as voted on by Theme Park Insider readers. Remember, whenever you visit a major theme park around the world, you can rate (and if you are registered, review) here on ThemeParkInsider.com the rides, shows, restaurants
, and hotels
you visit. Your ratings help us build even better lists!
10. Mystery Lodge
Knott's Berry Farm
Presented with great reverence, not to mention "how'd they do that" effects, Mystery Lodge surprises many Knott's visitors who stumble into the show looking only for a cool place to sit for a few moments. This is the sort of educational, yet effect-laden, show you'd expect to see someplace like Epcot. Check that, it's even better.
9. Disney Dreams
Perhaps the best of Disney's castle-projection shows around the world, Disney Dreams closes the day at Disneyland Paris with a colorful, musical tribute to Disney animation, with a special focus on all the Disney movies set in France.
8. Celtic Fyre
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
As one reader put it: "Well-written with a good (if sappy and cheesy) storyline, featuring good times, guys angry with guys, male dance-off, girls dancing, feel-good romance, a goofy drunk, and everybody living happily ever after." Sounds like a show to us!
7. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
The end-of-the-day spectacular on the World Showcase lagoon continues to draw and wow crowds, 15 years after its opening. (But your editor continues to insist that the original version, which played from 1988-1996, was even better.)
6. Soarin' Over California
Disney California Adventure
Yes, we're calling this a show, and not a ride, since your seats don't actually move during the performance. But whatever it is, this filmed tribute to the Golden State remains a crowd favorite, though a replacement version ("Soarin' over the World") is on its way to Shanghai Disneyland and Epcot.
5. World of Color
Disney California Adventure
An amazing blend of fountains, lights, water-screen projections and music from Disney's animated films, World of Color offers a thrilling and inspiring end to the day at Disney California Adventure.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Recently refreshed with the production company from Universal's Singapore park taking over the show, Waterworld continues to provide the go-to argument for how movies that nobody seemed to like can inspire theme park productions that almost everybody loves. (And yes, this comment is directed at Avatar skeptics.)
3. Impressions de France
If you haven't read one of our most popular blog posts before now, here it is: Why 'Impressions de France' is the best movie ever made for a theme park. So there.
Disney California Adventure
Turning it over to James Rao: "Aladdin... is a Broadway caliber, lavish, 60-minute tour de force of delightful songs, spectacular dancing, amazing props and special effects, sweeping romance, and tremendous fun." Yep. (And we still miss you, Robin.)
Accept no cheap substitutes, the Anaheim original remains the king of theme park entertainment. Refreshed with tech upgrades over the years, there's no better way to finish your day at Disneyland than with this trip inside Mickey Mouse's oh-so-vivid imagination.
Obviously, there are way more than 10 great theme park shows out there. Which one is your favorite?
Mystic rhythms in Tokyo Disneysea is my favorite. Most shows I would see once a.trip and only rides I redo, but this show I watched twice. Good music and lots of great effects and variety.
Actually Robert many people (including myself) enjoyed the Avatar film. I am still skeptical however over not just the theme park land, but also over the quality of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th films he is going to make. Do I think the land will be cool and enjoyable? Quite possibly. Do I think it will be as big of a thing Disney wants and needs it to be? No.
Two from USF:
I thought the seats on Soarin' did actually move by tilting, leaning, etc. I've only seen half of these since I'm not really a day show person (night shows on the other hand...), but I will say that I could spend an entire day watching Aladdin and would probably want to do it again the next day. It's that good.
Thank you for recognizing Fantasmic as #1. Too many people put Illuminations on top. Having moved from the West Coast I miss that show more than anything.
Fantasmic! @DisneySea hands-down!
Good list overall. I would have to agree that soarin is actually a ride.
I'm not sure about the rest of the list, but you certainly got the top two spots right. Aladdin and Fantasmic! are endlessly charming and spectacular shows.
I've seen many Irish dance/music shows at various theme parks and Celtic Fyre was, by far, the best show I've ever seen. Nice to see it made the list.
Normally, my opinion is that shows get in the way of riding more rides. Although I do like that they are available to attract and distract people out of the ride lines (which I am in).
Agreed Horror Make Up Show is maybe the most underrated attraction in Orlando. It has to overcome a boring map description and is the funniest show at any of the parks. Anyone who appreciates the Jungle Cruise would love it.
I also don't consider Soarin' a "show". The seats not only move riders into position in front of the screen, but make subtle movements (left, right, front, and back) to enhance the sensation of motion shown on the film.
I agree with several of my fellow commenters: "Soarin"" isn't a show. It's a ride, and a lousy one at that, lol.
Finding Nemo at DAK is a very good stage show (developed by the creators of Avenue Q, who went on to help create Frozen), but Aladdin at DCA is a step above not only in terms of story, but in production values. Aladdin was good enough to be expanded and adapted to a Broadway production, so that shows how impressive that show is. The Hyperion Theater also is superior to the Theater in the Wild, and the seating is more like a traditional Broadway-style experience than the theme park-style experience you get watching Finding Nemo. However, Finding Nemo is still probably the best stage show at WDW.
I love WaterWorld. It is my favorite attraction at ANY theme park in the world. Many thanks to Action Horizons Stunts for the updated attraction, and thanks to Universal Studios Hollywood for contacting the team to fix up WaterWorld! :)
I am not sure how many people have seen it but the Raveleijn show at Efteling is one of the coolest productions I have ever seen, even outside of a theme park.
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