Disney World for Theater-Lovers
Is your teenager a “Drama-Kid?”
Disney definitely has a flair for the theatrical, so you’ll find many teen-friendly activities that will appeal to a visitor with a love for the theater. And in addition to on-property fun, you’ll find many activities a short distance away from Walt Disney World, too.
Musical Theater at WDW
The “Finding Nemo” show inside Animal Kingdom Park is big-budget production with professional actors and a musical score that was composed by Tony Award winners. And this fantastic show has good company inside Animal Kingdom Park. You’ll also find Festival of the Lion King here, with it’s elaborate costumes and talented cast. You’ll be entertained by acrobats and aerial performers, and the performers sing a mix of favorite songs from the Lion King movie and some original numbers.
There are also two musical productions inside Hollywood Studios Park. Beauty and the Beast – live on stage is a Broadway Style Musical performed in an open air theater. This 25 minute show is an abbreviated version of the animated Disney film, and you’ll see costumed actors dancing and singing tunes that you’ll recognize from the movie. The Little Mermaid stage show is performed a short distance away – this time in an indoor theater. This live action version of the Little Mermaid Disney movie is performed by a combination of actors and puppets and has some impressive effects.
Outside the parks, at Downtown Disney, you’ll find some musical theater of a different sort. Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba combines an original musical score – performed live – with breathtaking acts by acrobats and gymnasts and other talented performers. The costumes and sets create a captivating theatrical experience.
Theater-loving teens can even get a special “behind the scenes” look at La Nouba by attending Disney’s “Showbiz Magic by La Nouba” class. This experience gives you an opportunity to see areas usually restricted to La Nouba cast members, and get a close-up look at the processes that go into creating the magical experience you see on stage. This class is offered through the Disney YES Program, and is open to individual enrollment. For more information on this unique opportunity offered by the Disney Youth Education Series, click here.
If you prefer improvisational comedy over singing and dancing, you can find that at Disney World, too! There are several places inside the parks where audience participation mixed with a little Disney magic create a fun experience. In Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom park, you can visit the Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor. This attraction features the animated cast of the Monster’s Inc. movie, and singles out audience members to be a part of the show – with hilarious results. Just outside the attraction, keep an eye out for Push the Talking Trashcan. Push tools around Tomorrowland, interacting with guests in funny ways. If you look carefully, you’ll see that Push is controlled by a plain-clothes Cast-Member with a microphone and a quick-wit.
Both of these attractions have counterparts at other parks. At Animal Kingdom, you’ll find a robot-relative of Push the Talking Trashcan – Pipa the Talking Recycling Bin. And Turtle Talk with Crush is an Epcot attraction using similar technology to the Monster’s Inc. attraction. There, audience members interact with an animated Crush (the surfing sea-turtle from the Finding Nemo movie.)
The Disney Youth Education Series also offers a “Magic Behind the Show: Improv and Teamwork” class. This experience teaches teen participants how to build improvisational skills and then work together to create an original production. This class is open to individual enrollment, and you can get more information here.
If you feel like venturing off-property, the nearby SAK Comedy Lab is a popular family-friendly comedy club.
“New Vaudeville” style performance art
Disney World offers entertainment in many forms, and you can find street performers inside the parks and out. Epcot has a diverse line-up of “street performer” style entertainers. The World Showcase Players perform an audience participation/ comedy act in the United Kingdom Pavilion, or you can watch French Waiters climb a tower of stacked chairs. In Italy, you’ll find an interactive juggler named Sergio, and a group of female performers called the Ziti Sisters that perform musical comedy skits.
The Hollywood Studios Park is a tribute to the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood, and in addition to the thrilling teen-friendly attractions like the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, you can soak in the “streetmosphere” entertainment of the “Citizens of Hollywood.” These street performers are people that you might expect to see in the Hollywood of the 1930′s and 1940′s – starlets, gossip columnists, policemen, reporters.. you’ll recognize them by their period costumes and outrageous attempts at engaging guests in their crazy antics.
You can even find street performers outside the parks, on the Disney Boardwalk on the shores of Crescent Lake. In the evenings, Boardwalk Buskers with a variety of talents – from juggling to balancing acts and rope tricks – perform. Be sure to check the entertainment schedule before your trip, because entertainment is not offered on the Boardwalk every evening during the slower seasons. You can check Steve Soares’ site for an idea of when to visit the Boardwalk if the entertainment is important to you.
Restaurants and dinner shows
If you want a dining experience to remember, you may want to consider 50′s Prime Time inside the Hollywood Studios Park. The theme of this restaurant is eating in “Mom’s Kitchen” during the 1950′s. You’ll feel like you’ve entered a time-warp – the place has a black and white checkered floor, formica tables and old, black and white television sets. But the highlight of the meal for your theater-loving teen will be the enthusiastic acting of the wait-staff. You’ll be served by your “Mom” or your “Cousin” and mercilessly prodded into eating your vegetables or getting your elbows off the table.
If you’re looking for a dinner show, you might consider the Hoop De Doo Revue. This western-themed show of musical skits is a long-running favorite at the fort Wilderness Resort.
Orlando is home to many “family dinner shows,” so you’ll have a lot of options off property, too. Some popular choices are the comedic murder-mystery themed Sleuth Mystery Dinner Shows or Al Capone’s. The Outta Control Dinner Show is a “Magic Comedy Improvisation” show with good reviews.
Disney World is a place where “movies come to life,” so fans of the silver screen will not be disappointed. The All Star Movies Resort is a celebration of Disney Films, and you can stroll around the grounds and take in the larger-than-life icons and characters from the famous films. All Star Movies will soon be joined by the Art of Animation Resort, and the concept art reveals plans for impressive movie-themed grounds to explore.
In Magic Kingdom park, you can watch the “Pirate’s of the Caribbean” movies come alive, with Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial. A costumed actor performs an impressive impersonation of Johnny Depp’s infamous pirate.
Over at Hollywood Studios, you can experience the history of film in the Great Movie Ride, or immerse yourself in the World of Star Wars with the Jedi Training Academy. Watch the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular or the “Lights, Motors, Action” Stunt Show for an exciting look at how action sequences are made.
The Disney YES program has a class for teenage movie buffs, too. In the “Disney’s Production Arts and Sciences” class, you can learn how filmmakers make a story come alive. A Disney Cast Member will lead you as you explore the different stages of film production, and learn tricks of the film making trade through hands-on activities. The class is available through individual enrollment, and you can learn more about it here.
As you can see, you can show your teenage “drama-kid” a great time at the Disney World Resort!