Show Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – Fireworks and Projection Light Shows

To end with a bang (literally!) my show coverage of my recent trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, today I’m featuring the non-Star Wars fireworks and projection light shows that I experienced at the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I covered Star Wars-related spectaculars in a separate feature already.

For a few of these, I only had the opportunity to see the show once, so I had to choose between video or photography. In the cases where I only shot video, I’ll embed them for you to watch, or you can go to my YouTube playlist for my trip, where you can see all the shows I filmed there.

Let’s start off in the Magic Kingdom!

For non-holiday nights, the Magic Kingdom has (unless canceled for weather issues) both a fireworks show and a projection light show on Cinderella Castle. Check the My Disney Experience app for specific showtimes.

As someone who really appreciates the lights and music more than the loud bang of fireworks, I have really enjoyed the continuing evolution of the nighttime shows to include more projections. I suspect ultimately the Disney Parks will continue to move towards this and away from pyrotechnics, but time will tell.

That said, I actually found the fireworks show to be the more emotionally moving one (and a worthy successor to the impressive Wishes), whereas the fast twirling style of this projection light show actually triggered my motion sickness a few times.  So I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it had been a bit slower and there were less flips and quick motion in it. I would absolutely go see the fireworks show again any chance I could catch it, but would probably skip staying for the lights show afterward although it’s certainly worth watching once.

Here are videos of the fireworks show, Happily Ever After:

And the projection lights show, Once Upon a Time:

But please don’t ask me why ‘Happily Ever After’ comes BEFORE ‘Once Upon a Time’!

Moving over to EPCOT, I was fortunate enough to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at the World Showcase lagoon on two different nights (one drizzling rain down on me, one not). Continue reading

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Character Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – A Mad Tea Party Twirl with Alice and More Marvelous Character Meet & Greets

Last week I shared tales and photos of the Star Wars characters I got to see at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but that wasn’t my only fun character experience during my recent visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. In fact, I got to have a truly magical moment with a very special character, but I think I’ll save the best for last!

I’ll start instead with a few other character visit highlights from the trip, beginning with two of my favorite fellas at the Magic Kingdom – Big Al and Gaston!

Seeing the Country Bear Jamboree is always a must-do any time I’m at the Magic Kingdom. But the bonus is when my favorite, Big Al, is out and about greeting guests. Sometimes I’ve found him at the Frontierland Hoedown, but this time I ran into him wandering near the attraction just prior to the afternoon parade (to be featured soon!). I’m always happy to get a bear hug from this cuddly critter!

Big Al

It took me a couple of attempts on different days to catch this ‘intimidating specimen’ doing a Meet & Greet by his namesake tavern in Fantasyland, but I was lucky enough to finally see him there!

Oh, Gaston!

Dreaming of… himself of course!

As always, it was incredible to meet him. I know because he told me so! Continue reading

Show and Performer Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – New Favorites

For as many years as I’ve been following park entertainment, it still surprises and delights me when I find a new performer or group or show that I instantly enjoy and want to return repeatedly to see. But it’s probably no shock to regular readers that I found a few of these on my recent trip to the Walt Disney World Resort!

Today I’m going to highlight three special discoveries I highly recommend visiting – one at EPCOT and two at DIsney’s Animal Kingdom.

I can’t take credit for finding the EPCOT performer on my own – some dear friends told me I simply HAD to go find this lovely and talented lady while I was there as she was something special. Trusting them, I did so. And they were absolutely right!

Carol at the Rose & Crown.

Carol, the piano player at the Rose & Crown Pub in the UK Pavilion was a true Walt Disney World wonder to behold! She kept the pub crowd merry and entertained throughout her entire set. Her song choices ranged from appropriately UK-themed musical selections from Oliver to Disney tunes from classics like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book.

There was plenty of audience participation and singing along, and she also took occasional song requests!

But the real fun was watching her speak to guests individually as they enjoyed their pub grub and drinks and with a few personal details, she crafted unique improvised songs about each of them! I was even treated to one myself!

Singing, playing and smiling for the camera – just watch this lady multi-task!

It was a rollicking good time for everyone and I look forward to going back to see her there again! Continue reading

Show Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – Audio-Animatronic Favorites

At the Disneyland Resort, the number of pure Audio-Animatronic-driven shows is small. Basically there is Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (a classic!) on Main Street, U.S.A. and the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, both at Disneyland Park.

But at the Walt Disney World Resort, Audio-Animatronic shows are alive (so to speak) and well! And on my recent trip I was so happy to visit so many of them!

Favorite stops included:

The Country Bear Jamboree at the Magic Kingdom

While the show is trimmed down from the original version, it’s still utterly charming and the music is wonderful (if you’re a folk/country fan)! This one is a must do on any Walt Disney World visit for me. On this trip I saw it twice!

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom

If you can walk out of this show NOT singing “There’s a Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow…”, then I think you’re reading the wrong blog! The ridiculously catchy Sherman Brothers tune is the centerpiece that drives this still appealing show and the magical experience of the moving theater. Although I do wish some of the outfits in the final scene could be updated (poor Grandma in that dress!), whether it’s nostalgia or true love, I cannot miss this show on a Walt Disney World visit either! It just has that Walt Disney magic and optimism and fingerprints all over it.

Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room at the Magic Kingdom

Although shorter than the Disneyland Park version (I think it’s missing a song or two), I still enjoy the show here plus the introduction by the birds outside that make it different than the Anaheim tiki introduction. There’s something so immersive about this show that makes me happy to be in the middle of the birds singing words and the flowers crooning! Continue reading

Show and Performer Spotlight: Walt Disney World 2018 Edition – Longtime Favorites

Greetings, fellow World travelers – and by World, I mean Walt Disney World! Yes, for those who picked up the hint in last week’s brief message, I had the great pleasure of spending a week at the Walt Disney World Resort and the next several features here will report on everything I experienced – from shows to performers to characters to attractions to food!

I’ll also be uploading videos to my YouTube Channel, so be sure to check there over the next week!

I have so many thoughts to share about everything from magic bands (LOVE THEM!) to the weather (lightning storms = not fun) to what has remained the same since my last visit vs. what has changed, but since my top priority is Disney Parks & Resorts entertainment, I’ll kick it off today by focusing on my longtime and still favorite performers and shows that I got to see again this trip!

Mousertainment Memorandum: The memory was full on my regular camera, so I was using an older one for this trip – apologies for any blur in the pictures for these features!

I started off my first full day by seeing my favorite show in all of Walt Disney World – Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Still the undeniably best Disney show in Orlando, this song and dance celebration of the story of The Lion King with added fire dancer, aerialist and Tumble Monkeys makes the combination of music, choreography and characters a MUST DO for any Walt Disney World Resort visit. Please do yourself a favor and make sure this is on your to-do list for when you go – its quality is above and beyond anything else you will see there and is repeatable no matter how many times you’ve seen it. I literally went to the show three times in my one Animal Kingdom day (going with my first FastPass+ choice, then reserving it as my fourth FastPass+ choice once I used up my first three, and then doing Stand-By for the final show of the day).

Flying (Tumble) Monkeys!

There is absolutely nothing I love more in all the World than watching the Tumble Monkeys in this show. Nothing. They are simply the greatest performers in all the World – and I say that not being a particular fan of gymnastics, nor circus-type acts – but something about their grace and their comedy and their incredible athletic skills combined with the music played fills me with happiness unlike anything else! I LOVE THEM SO CRAZY MUCH!!!

Although in the second and third sets I attended, I’ll admit to also being captivated by the male Bird Dancer in the aerialist act as his dancing was just beautiful – from his turns to his extension to the way he held each position. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him! Continue reading

Why I’m Just a Little Jealous of Other Disney Parks This Summer

Normally I think I could safely argue that when it comes to entertainment, the Disneyland Resort can hold its own – and often top – the offerings of any other Disney Parks & Resorts.

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The Pixarmonic Orchestra in their new Pixar Promenade home!

That said, this summer for Pixar Fest, they only introduced one new show – the Pixarmonic Orchestra, who as of today take up residence in their new bandshell location at Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure. Otherwise, we just had a parade park swap – and in my personal opinion, the Pixar Play Parade seems a bit lost at Disneyland Park as I think it was a much better fit at Disney California Adventure, whereas Paint the Night finally has room to breathe and lots of great viewing locations at Disney California Adventure even more so than it did at Disneyland Park.  Overall I think it was a wash switching the two parades.

So I’m going to admit that I’m a wee bit jealous (or in one particular case – a whole lotta jealous) of some of the shows happening at other Disney Parks this summer and if I could travel to any of them, here’s where I would go and why:

EPCOT at Walt Disney World

Through August 19th, the America Gardens Theatre in the World Showcase is host to the show: Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live! featuring a visiting rock band from Xandar and guest appearances by Star-Lord and Gamora.

Performing live musical selections from the two Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix soundtracks, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this show that plays several times daily! Check the My Disney Experience app for times but be aware this show can often be affected/shut down due to summer storms.

While I wouldn’t trade the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! at Disney California Adventure for anything, I would be absolutely thrilled if when the Dance-Off ended for the evening, Star-Lord and Gamora could hop over to a stage in the Hollywood Backlot and rock out with a crowd that has been sorely missing a regular nighttime live rock band since the Diamond version of the Mad T Party ended two years ago. Continue reading

Character Spotlight: Meet & Greet Marvel Characters at Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line

Asgardian brothers in arms.

After this week’s exciting announcement that new Marvel-themed lands, attractions and characters will be coming to Disney Parks world-wide in the next few years (specifically Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland), I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take a look at the past, present and potential future of Marvel Meet & Greets at Disney locations.

Normally, I’d be focused on just the U.S. parks, but since there’s a wonderful initiative aboard the Disney Cruise Line with various shows such as “Heroes Unite”, plus Meet & Greets and “Marvel Day at Sea” events, I’m going to touch on some of those options as well. And where I’m aware of international park Meets, I’ll mention those, too.

Note: the focus of this feature will be Marvel Cinematic Universe character Meet & Greets, rather than shows, but if characters are in shows that I’m aware of, I’ll try to mention that, too. However, I’m not including runDisney marathon appearances where various characters have been spotted in the past.

As always, everything is subject to change at the whim of Disney at any time, so the information is only current through the time of writing this article.  And the various park apps are generally the most up-to-date way of finding a character appearance you’re seeking on any given day, though you can always ask a Cast Member, too!

Rather than breaking this down by location, however, I’ve decided to separate this by character instead. So I’m going to note the character and where he or she has appeared in the past or is currently appearing at this time or has been announced as appearing soon.

Ready, fellow Marvel fans? Then let’s check out where we can find our heroes (and villains!)! Continue reading