Theme Park of the Day: Knott's Berry Farm

Vote of the week: 'Glee' and theme parks' live musical shows

October 7, 2010, 1:14 PM · Fox Television's Glee has become one of the nation's more popular TV shows over the past year, especially among younger viewers. If you're not familiar with the show, it follows a fictional Ohio high school show choir (a.k.a. "glee club"), but mostly just provides a thin narrative excuse for its cast to sing covers of hit pop songs.

The cast of Glee
Photo courtesy Fox

The covers become hits themselves. This week, the cast of Glee passed The Beatles in charting more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any non-solo act in pop history. (Though, to be fair, The Beatles have spent more than five times the number of weeks on the chart and sold nearly an order of magnitude more albums than the cast of Glee has.)

What does this have to do with theme parks? Well, I know from personal experience that many of the students who sing and dance in real-life show choirs end up performing in theme parks, either as a summer job or as a way into a performing career. I went to high school in Indianapolis, and performed in my high school's show choir there. And I knew folks who went on to perform in theme parks including as Kings Island, Great America and Holiday World.

The popularity of Glee has me wondering: If millions of TV viewers have become fans of watching show choir-style production numbers on TV, does than translate into increased popularity for those types of shows in theme parks?

Are you more likely now to watch a live musical show on your next theme park visit, due to Glee? If you don't watch the show, please pick one of the "Not really" responses - depending upon whether you already watch these shows in theme parks or not.

I've gotta throw in this totally personal stuff because, hey, it's my post: The creator of Glee, Ryan Murphy, attended high school in Indianapolis around the same time as I did. So I presume that at some point, I competed against him in a show choir competition.

Also, you know how the Glee show choir's arch-nemesis is Carmel High School? Murphy didn't pick that name out of an outrageously styled hat. The Carmel (Indiana) High School Ambassadors (no, they weren't really called Vocal Adrenaline) were the choir to beat in the Midwest in the 1980s. Neither my school, nor Murphy's, ever did while we were there.

Two more notes: When MTV decided to jump on the "Glee" bandwagon and run a special on a real-life show choir in the Midwest, they chose my former choir, the Central Sound from Indianapolis' Lawrence Central High School, to profile.

And, finally, the name of the school in Glee is McKinley, which also happens to be the name of the school my children attend here in Pasadena. Here's what makes that funny (to me, at least): NBC's got a midseason replacement series coming up, "Harry's Law," which not-so-coincidently is also set at a "McKinley High School" in the state of Ohio. Where did NBC film that episode of the show? At my kids' McKinley School.

Okay, enough of that. Tell us about your favorite - or least favorite - live theme park musical show, in the comments.

Replies (5)

October 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM · my favorite theme park musical is aladdin at california adventure. but i saw theme park musicals much before glee came out.
October 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM · I run a website called because I love the shows we have at Kings Island . . .my favorite of those is called "Way Too Much TV," which features 40 years of TV theme songs, funny props, great comedy, harmonies, and dancing. Its really good! We also have two Halloween shows: "Hot Blooded" and "Ghouls Gone Wild," which are very different from one another but both are excellent. All in all, I'd say that there are great shows at Kings Island.

On a side note, my favorite theme park show anywhere is probably "Festival of the Lion King" at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

October 7, 2010 at 3:45 PM · Glee reminds me of a supposedly edgier version of Rags to Riches (from the 80's..... those below 25 may not remember this show). It is frustrating sometimes when your watching and they go from one song to the next with hardly making any progress in the show.... it's like watching a big mesh of music videos linked by some quick banter here and there to segway to the next song. Funny thing, the channels that use to play music videos you can hardly see music on anymore because Jersey Shore and that sort of stuff has taken it's place.
I've always thought some of the theme park shows were just really cheesy..... and while sometimes I might get through it to get out of the heat or just have a place to sit, it's never been a big draw for me. It would be nice if some theme parks could make their shows more of a draw for me and get around the cheesy factor atleast just a little...... or maybe we will just start thinking cheesy is cool (after all, Glee is supposedly cool now and I think it is pretty cheesy).
October 7, 2010 at 5:21 PM · It's a hard call to make. The television shows are undoubtedly a hit, though that doesn't always mean the same results will be seen inside a park.

If I was in charge of a resort I'd also be worried about the lasting appeal of such an attraction. What happens to the show when shows like 'Glee' aren't popular any more?

I enjoy a number of musical shows at theme parks, I especially like the move towards Broadway-style shows we're beginning to see at parks. However I'm not convinced that it would be a good move to invest so much in something which could simply be a trend.

October 8, 2010 at 5:58 AM · I really feel that parks would do very well to move back to musical production shows. Parks such as Hersheypark, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Dollywood all do well with pulling all age groups. When you take parks such as Kings Dominion and Six flags parks, you will find that a lot fewer older guests will be at the parks. Years back when the parks had the quality shows, this was not the case.

Realize I am very much into entertainment as well as the coasters but parks with both will be where you will find my family.

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