We'd bet that most people think first of rides when they think about theme parks. And while we love all the great rides in the parks, we know that top theme parks also provide some wonderful shows for our entertainment. This week, we honor the Top 10 live shows at major theme parks, as determined by the collective rating of Theme Park Insider readers. You can visit our Park Reviews
page to start rating the shows, rides, and restaurants you've visited. And if you take a moment to register
, you can submit reviews and photos of those locations, as well.
10. Pets Ahoy!
SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego (as Pets Rule!)
Cats, dogs, birds, and even a pig perform in this gag-filled show. Some of these four-legged stars were rescued from animal shelters, and there's usually a pitch at the end of the show encouraging the audience to adopt rescue animals.
9. Mystery Lodge
Knott's Berry Farm
An elderly storyteller greets you from inside this Native American longhouse, where a fire burns in the middle of the room. As smoke from the fire twists into shapes, the storyteller believes to have seen an owl, a symbol of death. That prompts the man into a reflection upon his life, as he shares stories from his past, which collectively help illustrate the Pacific Northwest Native American experience.
8. Universal Horror Make-up Show
Universal Studios Florida
Located behind a recreation of the facade of Hollywood's Pantages Theater, Universal's look at the work of special effects make-up artists is one of the few attractions that remains from the park's opening. Sure, there's a bit of gore and the gruesome in this live show, but the overall tone is mostly light, with a heavy dose of Universal's distinctive, sarcastic humor.
7. Festival of the Lion King
Disney's Animal Kingdom, Hong Kong Disneyland
Dancers, acrobats, singers, and costumed characters celebrate The Lion King in this musical performance in-the-round. No, it’s not the Broadway show, or even an abridged retelling of the movie plot, but more a lovely, rousing concert that tries to get the audience cheering, and often succeeds.
6. Carkitt Market Stage
Universal Studios Florida
Gringotts and the Hogwarts Express much of the attention in Universal's Diagon Alley expansion, but don't overlook the live shows playing on this small stage in Carkitt Market. Those who take a few moments to watch Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in concert or the performance of "Tales from Beedle the Bard" rave about these shows.
5. Fantasy Faire Royal Theatre
The clever Elizabethan musical storytellers Mr. Smyth and Mr. Jones present their slightly twisted take on some of Disney's fairy tales. Originally rotating shows of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tangled," it's all "Frozen" these days. But it's a retelling of the story that even parents who've sat through their kids watching the DVD a million times still can enjoy.
4. Celtic Fyre
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
This celebration of Irish music, dance, and culture plays in the Abbey Stone Theatre, featuring an impressive display of singing and tap dancing.
3. Blue Horizons
SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego
Blue Horizons tells the story of a girl named Marina (get it?) dreaming about the sea and the wonders within it. And, yes, those dreams do include jumping dolphins.
Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, Universal Studios Japan
Set in a world where the polar ice caps have melted, covering the continents in sea water, our hero Helen has discovered dry land. But the evil Smokers are after her and the secret of dry land's location. It's up the Mariner to save Helen, and fight off the Smokers. Meanwhile, stunt performers dangle from high above the stage, plunge into the water, and stuff blows up all over the place. And, oh yeah, keep your eyes open for the plane.
Disney California Adventure
A 50-minute retelling of Disney's animated classic, California Adventure's "Aladdin" paved the way for Disney's current Broadway hit and continues to entertainment visitors with an ever-refreshed script that allows the Genie to riff on pop culture while the rest of the production dazzles with wonderful songs and staging.