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:
- Christopher George Weaver, mayor
- Smokey Miller, chief of the Main Street Volunteer Fire Department
- Inga DaPointe, fashion editor of the Main Street Gazette
- Scoop Sanderson, reporter at the Main Street Gazette
- Victoria Trumpetto, choir director
- Hildegard Olivia Harding, socialite and suffragette
- Beatrice Starr, chairman of The Main Street Thespian Society
- Frances Fermata, matchmaker
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?
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.
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.
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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?