4 Things to Do in Walt Disney World If You Love Street Theater

Walt Disney World is, in essence, one great big show. That’s why Disney employees are called “cast members.” A big part of that show is created by the scenery and attractions, but those elements are relatively static. The most dynamic part of the show is the ever-changing band of performers who create a form of entertainment known as Streetmosphere. Streetmosphere is Disney’s take on street theater, and while it originated in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (see Studios Central’s history of Streetmosphere), you can now encounter it in various forms throughout all four Parks (plus Downtown Disney and Disney’s BoardWalk).

So, here are four things to do in Walt Disney World if you love street theater.

1. Interact with the Citizens of Hollywood

When you enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you’re walking down the streets of Hollywood in its golden age, so what else would you expect to find but movie stars, directors, and divas? As I mentioned, there are street performers in all four Parks, but they are at their most theatrical in Hollywood Studios. If you love improv, here’s your chance to interact with talented performers who will stay in character no matter what happens (within reason). For an idea of whom you might meet, check out Studios Central’s Citizens of Hollywood directory.

2. Meet the Citizens of Main Street, U.S.A.

If you arrive at Magic Kingdom before opening (and you should), you get to see the delightful opening show, which stars the Citizens of Main Street, U.S.A. and a trainful of Disney characters. A citizen (often the mayor) starts the show and leads the countdown to rope drop. After opening and throughout the day, you can meet and take photos with a variety of citizens, all with names, job titles, and life stories. Depending on the day and time, you could encounter:

3. Enjoy International Performances in World Showcase

The street performers in World Showcase in Epcot are as diverse as the countries they represent. If you love a cappella music, don’t miss the Voices of Liberty in the American Adventure pavilion. If you enjoy acrobatics, look for the Jeweled Dragon Acrobats at the China pavilion or the Serveur Amusant at the France pavilion. If you want to be involved in the show, find the World Showcase Players in the United Kingdom pavilion. Unlike the citizens you encounter in Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, the performers in World Showcase have specific scheduled showtimes, so keep your Times Guide handy.

4. Find DiVine in Animal Kingdom

See anything amiss in this picture?

DiVine, stilt walker in Disney's Animal Kingdom

It’s DiVine, the stilt-walker whose leafy costume allows her to blend into the flora of Animal Kingdom… except when she decides to cross the path.

DiVine, stilt walker in Disney's Animal Kingdom, crossing the path

Now, sometimes you find DiVine, and sometimes she finds you! I love seeing people who have no idea that DiVine is there suddenly realize that the foliage is alive! She’s usually spotted on the pathway between Africa and Asia. Her appearances aren’t published in the Times Guide, but cast members can give you a hint on when to look for her.

Close-up of DiVine, stilt walker in Disney's Animal Kingdom

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Since street theater is more something you stumble upon rather than plan to see, I’m not sure a street theater-themed day hitting all of these experiences is all that desirable. You may spend a lot of time waiting around on the chance someone will appear, and that’s especially problematic when you’re trying to do all four Parks in a day. Also, since most of the performances are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., you won’t be able to take advantage of evening hours.

If you really want to experience Streetmosphere, I’d suggest touring relatively normally (visiting one park or maybe two per day), but with one big exception: don’t run from attraction to attraction! Spend more time wandering in places where attractions are fewer but street performers abound, like Main Street, U.S.A.; Hollywood Boulevard; Sunset Boulevard; and World Showcase. Keep an eye out for any performances starting, and when you see them, stay and watch. Take photos. Get involved. Make a fool of yourself. (You won’t see most of these people again anyway.)

If you still want to try to see Streetmosphere in all four Parks in one day, I’d suggesting starting in Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, depending on which set of citizens interests you more (or, if applicable, which park opens earlier). Then head over to Animal Kingdom, since DiVine is most often found between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (You’ll want to talk to a cast member when you get there to find out when she might appear that day.) Once you’ve spotted DiVine, head to Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios, whichever you didn’t start at. Then make sure you get to Epcot before 5 p.m., as most performances in World Showcase are between noon and 5 p.m. It won’t be easy, but I warned you.

So, what magical moments have you experienced with street performers at Walt Disney World?

6 Things to Do in Walt Disney World If You Love Miniatures

I love miniatures. Seriously, love them. I grew up admiring Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle at Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and I still love dollhouses of all kinds. Although Walt Disney World is sadly lacking the super amazing Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction that’s in Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, there are still miniatures to be found in Walt Disney World.

So, here are six things to do in Walt Disney World if you (like me!) love miniatures.

1. Miniature Railroad and Village in Germany Pavilion in Epcot

This is the most extensive miniature display in Walt Disney World, so of course I have to stop by there on every trip. I talk more about it in my trains post (be sure to watch the video for a unique view of the village!).

2. Progress City Model on Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

In the days of yore at Disneyland, a huge model of Progress City—Walt Disney’s vision of a futuristic city—was part of the Carousel of Progress attraction. When Carousel of Progress was moved from Disneyland to Walt Disney World, a portion of the model was placed along the PeopleMover route. You only get a brief look at it, so ride a few times to spot more of the details. You can also see a great photo of the model on the Disney Parks Blog.

3. Attraction Models in Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is the sort of attraction that many people walk right by, but it’s a such a treasure trove! I could spend hours there. There are tons of attraction models to drool over, including Cinderella Castle and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris). You can see photos of some of the models over at Florida Project.

4. City of London in Peter Pan’s Flight

I’ve talked about this attraction in my posts on pirates and Peter Pan, but I’ll say it again: My favorite part of Peter Pan’s Flight is flying over the city of London. Next time you ride, pay attention to the vehicles moving along the city streets. They’re actually reflective paint on bicycle chains!

5. “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure

I know this one isn’t actually miniature. In fact, you’re the miniature! I just love the flip-flopped dimensions, from the giant Play-Doh can to the Kodak film slide. Although kids today probably have never even heard of the movie it’s based on, this attraction is still fun to run around in.

6. Olszewski Miniatures

Never heard of the Olszewski miniatures? That’s because they’re not an attraction but merchandise. And oh are they cool (and expensive). There’s a collection of scenes from classic Disney movies, as well as a line of miniature buildings from the Parks. My favorite is the Main Street, U.S.A. collection. You can see photos on the Olszewski Studios website. You can see them in person (and purchase them, if you have the means) at Uptown Jewelers on Main Street, U.S.A. or Art of Disney in Downtown Disney.

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Ready for a day of squealing over tiny objects? It will involve hitting three parks. I’d start in Magic Kingdom and head straight for Peter Pan’s Flight (the queue is shortest first thing in the morning). Next, ride the PeopleMover until you’ve had your fill of views of the Progress City model. (Tip: if there’s no queue, the cast members often let you stay on for a repeat ride.) Then head back down Main Street, U.S.A. and ogle the Olszewski miniatures. When you’re satisfied, hop the monorail to Epcot and check out the Germany railroad. Then leave Epcot through International Gateway and take the boat over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Explore “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure and then end your day with a walk through One Man’s Dream.

Let me know that I’m not alone in my love for miniatures! Leave a comment about your favorite miniatures, scale models, or dollhouses, in Disney World or elsewhere.

4 Things to Do in Walt Disney World If You Love Musical Theater

I was a theater geek in high school. I wasn’t the greatest actor or singer, but I loved being involved. Now, my main theatrical role is that of patron, and while I love theater of all sorts, I am particularly fond of musical theater. I saw The Lion King in London back in 2004, and it was an amazing visual feast. Thankfully, you don’t have to be in London or New York to see a Disney-style musical on stage. At Walt Disney World, a variety of musical theater is available for the price of a single (Park-Hopper) admission.

So, here are four things to do in Walt Disney World if you love musical theater:

1. Finding Nemo—The Musical

If you are only familiar with Finding Nemo the Disney-Pixar film, you may be surprised that there is a musical version of this non-musical movie. This spectacular 40-minute show plays several times a day in DinoLand U.S.A. (don’t think too hard on that one) in Animal Kingdom. It’s performed with puppets akin to those in the musical version of The Lion King I mentioned, and the music is surprisingly compelling. (The soundtrack is available in iTunes.) This is above all the best theater show in all of Walt Disney World, and even if you do nothing else in Animal Kingdom, it’s worth the trip just for this. And, bonus, it’s indoors and air-conditioned.

2. Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage

A tale as old as time, and a truly lovely musical. This 30-minute show goes on five or six times a day at Theater of the Stars in Hollywood Studios. It’s basically a CliffNotes version of the movie, with all the songs you know and love. The costumes are awesome, and “Be Our Guest” is delightful with dancing cutlery and all. It is outside, which has the downside of getting hot, but it’s usually shaded, and unlike most of the other shows, you’re allowed to come in late—great for when the kids aren’t in the mood to sit still and wait for a show to start.

3. Festival of the Lion King

This 25-minute show is a bit of a hidden gem, tucked away in the obscure Camp Minnie-Mickey in Animal Kingdom. The show features songs from the movie, acrobats, and audience participation. (Do you know what sound a giraffe makes?) It’s performed in the round in an indoor, air-conditioned theater. While I don’t think it’s as high of quality as Beauty and the Beast, and certainly not as good as Finding Nemo, it’s an enjoyable show, and the kids seem to love it.

4. Carousel of Progress

Now, you may not consider this a stage show, because it has no live actors, but I assure you it is. In fact, according to Disney, it’s the longest running show with more performances than any other stage show in the history of American theater. And it may be a bit of a stretch to include it as a musical, but since John leads the singing of “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” I’m saying it counts. One thing that makes this show unique (besides the Audio-Animatronic actors) is its capability to have four performances going on at once, so you never have to wait more than a few minutes for the show to start. This is accomplished by staging the 21-minute show in a rotating theater, in which the audience moves to the next scene, rather than the stage needing to be changed. It’s old-fashioned and delightful, and was a special project of Walt Disney himself. The attraction, located in Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom, usually opens a little later in the morning but then stays open until park closing.

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So, could you do all these in one fabulous musical-theater-themed day? Well, since they span three parks, it would take some commuting time, but it’s doable. I would look at the Times Guides and see which has the earliest performance: Beauty and Beast (Hollywood Studios), Finding Nemo (Animal Kingdom), or Festival of the Lion King (Animal Kingdom). I would start with the earliest show. If it’s one of the Animal Kingdom shows, see the other show before heading on over to Hollywood Studios. If you start in Hollywood Studios, head to Animal Kingdom next. After seeing the shows there, take a bus over to Magic Kingdom and pop into Carousel of Progress. (And watch it over and over . . . did I mention it’s my favorite attraction?)

What’s your favorite musical theater performance in Walt Disney World? Are there any that I missed?