Theme parks go Broadway with upcharge theater productions

February 23, 2018, 12:27 PM · Is a full day at a theme park not enough entertainment for you? Then catch a Broadway-quality show at the end of the day. Many of the world's top theme park resorts offer upcharge theater productions as part of their entertainment line-up.

Three new shows are slated to debut this year, led by a new Cirque du Soleil production at the Walt Disney World Resort. But you can continue to find other major theater productions at theme park resorts around the world, in addition to the many in-park productions they offer as part of their regular admission. Here are some of the biggest:

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group, Universal Orlando's CityWalk

Blue Man has become one of the biggest live-theater franchises in the world, growing from its modest start as an off-Broadway production in New York in the early 1990s. (My hipster cred moment: When I was in graduate school, I saw that original Blue Man Group show at the Astor Place Theatre, sitting directly behind Ron Howard.) Today, this performance art spectacle has resident productions in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City, as well as at Universal Orlando. Last year, Cirque du Soleil bought Blue Man Group, which means that Disney World's and Universal Orlando's biggest upcharge productions are now owned by the same company.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show with Mickey and Friends, Disneyland Paris' Disney Village

Inspired by the show that toured Europe eight times in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Disneyland Paris' production adds Mickey, Goofy and Chip n' Dale to the mix, along with actors portraying Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and Chief Sitting Bull from the original shows. As a dinner theater show, this is more a plussed version of Disney World's Hoop-De-Doo Revue than a traditional Broadway production, but it's still a solid evening of entertainment outside the parks.

Cirque d'Europe, Europa Park

Another dinner show, Cirque d'Europe runs from November through February in Europa Park's Teatro dell'Arte. The most recent production — which, as the name implies, demonstrated a strong Cirque du Soleil influence — featured a nautical theme.

Jaan-E-Jigar, Bollywood Parks Dubai

This Bollywood-inspired musical tells the story of two twins, separated at birth, who eventually team up against the wicked aunt who tried to destroy them and their father's kingdom. Here's a clip from the show's preview in 2016.

In addition to these on-going productions, three other shows will debut at major theme park resorts later this year:

Unnamed Cirque du Soleil production, Walt Disney World's Disney Springs

This new production replaces La Nouba, which closed last year, and will feature inspiration from Disney's deep collection of characters and songs.

Beauty and the Beast, Shanghai Disneyland's Disneytown

This Broadway musical takes over from Disney's original Broadway production, The Lion King, which opened with the resort in 2016.

CARO, Efteling

This new production takes its inspiration from Efteling's 100-year-old Stoomcarrousel and will feature the music, dancing and acrobats in a visually-driven production designed to appeal to an international audience. That's a common theme in many of these productions, which seek to avoid language compatibility issues by focusing on visuals and music instead of dialogue-heavy stories.

Have you seen any of these shows? We'd love to get a review or some thoughts about them from you, in the comments.

Replies (14)

February 23, 2018 at 12:49 PM · Well, the best to me was always the Aladdin musical at California Adventure, still miss it dearly.
February 23, 2018 at 12:51 PM · Can't say I've done any of these, but will finally be catching Blue Man Group at UO in June. I've never really felt the need to spend even more money to be entertained when the in-park entertainment is already of such high quality. Plus, so many of these shows are staged during park hours so you're either cutting into park time that you've already paid for or skipping the parks altogether on days you see these performances.

Plus, so many of these shows have similarly styled traveling productions or are staged in locations where theme parks are not the main draw.

February 23, 2018 at 1:37 PM · BlackPool beach has been doing this sort of thing for years. I have an emailadvertising Britney Spears amongst their in park upcharge performances. Admittedly its one night only, but they've had other upcharge shows that aren't quite as iconic...
February 23, 2018 at 2:30 PM · I have seen the Hoop dee doo Review in the past and enjoyed it. But in recent years, I've stayed away from Blue Man and the various Cirque shows because I've seen them either in other permanent locations or the touring versions. At a certain point, they all start to look alike. I want unique!
February 23, 2018 at 2:54 PM · I have not seen BMG. But Cirque was AMAZING! No doubt the new production will be a big draw to the Disney Springs theme park.
February 23, 2018 at 3:11 PM · The traveling Cirque shows are significantly cheaper (50% cheaper) than the resident shows that often begin at $100 or more. The theme park shows are already a good value and you don't need to pay more to see a professional Broadway style show. If you have kids, they can't sit longer than 1 hour. A Cirque show can last 1.5 hours.
February 24, 2018 at 12:25 PM · Kids can't sit for longer than 1 hour? Cleary it's impossible for them to sit through a plane ride or a movie then.
February 24, 2018 at 3:39 PM · Where do people find the time to see these shows?? Not to mention the additional cost; our trips are expensive enough as it is.
February 24, 2018 at 3:39 PM · Where do people find the time to see these shows?? Not to mention the additional cost; our trips are expensive enough as it is.
February 24, 2018 at 4:40 PM · For me, visiting from the UK, the Blue man group wasn’t a show that was easily accesible. It offers something unique that isn’tavailable at the parks. I had seen clips and heard many good things about it. Managed to get some sort of ‘deal’ with our vacation company when we visited Florida in 2012. Despite all the amazing things we did during our 3 weeks there, the Blue man group still stands out as one of the highlights and I’d love to see it again. It’s funny though, Cirque de Soleil doesn’t have the same appeal. It just comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.
February 25, 2018 at 4:08 AM · You forgot the Cirqu du Soleil show at Portaventura (Almaluna if i'm not wrong).
And I think Europa Park has more than one dinner show/after park show.
In Europe (not sure about the rest of the world) there is another dinner show, Medieval Times, at a few locations, including some park resorts (Caneva World, a small two-park resort in Italy, for example)

Anyway I have just seen the Wild West Show at Disneyland Paris, but as a kid (13 years old) I found it kind of boring.

As a student I tend to spend as little as possible on park visits, and after park shows are never a priority. Still, during a hypothetical WDW trip in the future I would at least consider to watch the Disney-themed Cirque du Soleil show

February 25, 2018 at 8:11 AM · On saving money, Costco sells Cirque du Soleil gift cards at a small discount. I bought these and used them to get tickets to La Nouba in 2013. They apply to cirque shows and to their online boutique. Here again, if cost is a concern, parents and grandparents can likely get souvenirs online through auction sites cheaper than the official boutique.
That same trip, we saw Cyndi Lauper at HoB in what was then Downtown Disney at half the price we would have paid if we saw her in our home city. It was another evening's entertainment that made our vacation more memorable.
February 26, 2018 at 7:27 PM · I'm sad that there are rumors that Magic Kingdom won't be getting that grand new theater off Main Street after all. I think having a real Broadway style show would be great... a real full length show. And I think there could be a reasonable upcharge for it. That would be something to do in the parks if you wanted to have a nice dinner, go see a real Broadway style show, and then leave and see the fireworks. That would be a wonderful adult night out or a night out for older people.
February 27, 2018 at 4:30 AM · I'd rather get stuck on It's A Small World for 4 hours than endure the smug, pretentious dreariness of Cirque Du Soleil or the self-conscious wackiness of Blue Man Group for an upcharged hour.

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