Along with all of the incredible rides and fun parades, Disney World has also featured some of the best entertainment at the parks over the years. Here are some of the craziest shows that used to call Walt Disney World home.
In September 1985, an exciting daytime show called Skyleidoscope debuted on the World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot. The 15-minute display was considered an “aerial spectacle” that brought a colorful Fantasyland to life on the water.
The show’s story followed Dreamfinder and Figment flying into the sky in a huge blimp to brighten the day by creating rainbows. When Ma and Pa Dragon showed up to destroy the rainbows with their crew of wicked sea dragons, a battle between good and evil broke out. The fight featured a variety of special effects like fire, smoke, music, fireworks, and a V-formation of brightly colored aircrafts called the “World Showcase Airforce” that led streams of rainbow smoke through the sky.
Seaplanes, jet skiers, speedboats, sailboats, and other water vehicles were disguised as purple dragons, seashells, dragonflies, and….. In addition to all the motorized elements, Skyleidoscope also featured dancers, musicians, singers, and actors. Dreamfinder’s blimp was later cut from the show due to the frequent Florida winds.
Skyleidoscope was a very popular attraction at Epcot until it ended in tragedy. The show was abruptly canceled in fall 1987 when a fatal plane crash occurred during a practice flight.
Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses
On September 16, 1991, Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses opened at Disney MGM Studios. The stage show debuted just two weeks after “Here Come the Muppets” closed elsewhere in the park. Muppets on Location was an interactive show that revolved around several muppet characters filming a movie in front of a live audience.
The show opened with an introduction from Electric Mayhem and a performance of “Hey A Movie!” as the rest of the characters came out.
The “movie” production began with Miss Piggy filming a scene as a down-on-her-luck flower shop employee who was ironically allergic to flowers. During the scene, she moved around the shop singing “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and interacting with various props.
Movie production then stopped for an autograph session, a break that allowed the Muppet stars to go into the audience. During the break, the Electric Mayhem entertained the crowd with performances like “Great Balls of Fire” by Dr. Teeth, “On the Road Again” by Floyd, Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax” by Zoot, and “Feelings” by Animal.
Janice wrapped up the autograph session by singing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” as the cast went back to the stage to finish filming.
The next scene featured the whole cast performing a medley of show tunes including “42nd Street”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, and “Happy Feet.” In the grand finale, Miss Piggy sang “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” with more props.
The full cast of characters in Muppets on Location: Days of Swine and Roses included:
- Kermit the Frog
- Miss Piggy
- Fozzie Bear
- Bean Bunny
- The Great Gonzo
- Dr. Teeth
- Floyd Pepper
Muppets on Location ran for almost three years in an area outside of Muppet Vision 3D before closing for good in 1994.
The Legend of the Lion King
The Legend of the Lion King debuted at Magic Kingdom on July 8, 1994. It took place in Fantasyland Concert Hall, which is currently home to Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
The stage performance, narrated by Rafiki, retold the story of the iconic Disney film with life-sized puppets that were operated by humans. These “Disney Humanimals” were larger than life figures that represented the animated movie characters. Mufasa was seven feet long and six feet tall, perched on an 18-foot tall Pride Rock that came up from below the stage. Because the set pieces and puppets were so huge, the stage was 125 feet wide — larger than the entire audience area!
Legend of the Lion King closed on February 23, 2002 to make way for Mickey’s PhilharMagic. The songs and the story live on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with “Festival of the Lion King”.
The Magic of Disney Animation
The Magic of Disney Animation was an interactive show/tour experience that ran at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from May 1, 1989 through July 12, 2015.
The attraction was made up of four connected experiences that explored the legacy of Disney Animation in various ways, starting with a live-action/animated short film called “Back to Neverland”. In the film, Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams teamed up to guide guests through the different stages of animating a feature-length movie. Their demonstration included turning Robin Williams into an animated character that resembled one of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.
After “Back to Neverland”, guests moved into a walkway where they could watch the entire animation process from behind glass in the Animation Studio. The third portion of the experience was another short film. It featured Disney animators explaining the joy in the art of animating followed by a film called Classic Disney. The finale montage highlighted key moments from iconic Disney films and shorts.
The Magic of Disney Animation had one main showroom, where a Disney animator would demonstrate how animated Disney characters were chosen and designed with the help of Mushu the Dragon from Mulan.
When exiting the showroom, guests could move into a post-show/tour area filled with interactive games and meet and greets with characters from recent Disney animated films. Original cels and Academy Awards from classic films were on display in this area, and guests could also try to draw their own favorite Disney characters in the Animation Academy.
All throughout the attraction, a variety of films were shown including:
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- Song of the South
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
- Alice in Wonderland
- Peter Pan
- Lady and the Tramp
- Sleeping Beauty
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians
- Mary Poppins
- The Jungle Book
The Magic of Disney Animation ran successfully at the park until it closed for good on July 12, 2015. The building was turned into Star Wars Launch Bay in December 2015.
Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration
Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration was a short-lived live show that took place in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom. The 25-minute stage performance was hosted by Tip Trendo, an on-the-scene reporter for the Tomorrowland News Network. He was joined on stage by four backup dancers and two robots.
The star of the show was Stitch, who initially only appeared via video screen, interacting with the audience much like the technology used in Epcot’s Turtle Talk with Crush. He eventually appeared live in costume after complaints about the show.
The show was a celebration of “Galaxy Day” and featured a bizarre mix of music ranging from Elvis Presley hits and “These Boots Are Made For Walking” to “The Future Has Arrived” from Meet the Robinsons.
Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration was not received well and didn’t last long at Disney World, ending officially on June 27, 2009. One of the biggest issues was the location of the stage. There was no shade in the area where the show took place, and it was tough for guests to stand under the hot Florida sun for the whole show. The sunlight also made it tricky to see the screen, which was the centerpiece of the entire show.
The stage, which was built specifically for Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration, is now used seasonally for various shows including a Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Party.
For more vintage Disney, check out the other shows that have come and gone from Walt Disney World over the years. To see the amazing lineup currently available at the parks, including three new shows at Epcot, shop for discount Disney World tickets from Tickets2You!