Make Mine Musicby Todd Pickering, contributing writer
One thing that distinguishes Disneyland from other theme parks is the huge commitment to entertainment that began with Walt Disney. In the early days, times were much simpler and there were no E-Ticket attractions. I can only imagine that enjoying all that the park had to offer was a bit easier. Today with crowd levels among their highest, along with the big 60th celebration plus so many E-Ticket offerings it is hard to stop and hear the roses... music... you get the picture.
Planning Your Tour of Disneyland with Music in Mind
If you intend to catch all of the entertainment that Disneyland offers it will take approximately three hours, and that does not include the parades, fireworks, or Fantasmic! (which is currently dark during the Star Wars Land construction). If you add these three options into your day, you are now up to at least four hours. Keep in mind this doesn't include the travel time or time spent waiting to ensure a good seat for the shows, parades, or Fantasmic! Finally, if you are traveling with a group or family that includes a variety of ages and interests you may have to pick and choose one or two options to keep peace among the ranks.
As a self proclaimed tour guide, I have taken many diverse groups to Disneyland and if you haven't gathered as much, I am a big fan of the entertainment. I am always surprised at who is and isn't excited at such amazing performances. If you are a lover of music, theater, and dance, here are my tips.
Pick up a Disneyland Entertainment Guide
This guide is your go-to reference. You can grab one of these when you go through the gates. You can also get one from any of the custodial team or at any of the information kiosks set up throughout the park. The main distribution location is in the hub right near the Jolly Holiday Bakery.
Read the times guide carefully. There are days where some shows or groups do not perform, especially on weekdays. For example a guide listing may be for Friday-Thursday, so don't look for them on Saturday and Sunday. Even while researching this article I waited for a showing of Mickey and the Magical Map to find out I was a day too early. Don't let this happen to you.
For your young Jedi Masters, make sure you head over to the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland and register them for the show Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple first thing in the morning. There are a lot of disappointed kids of parents who didn't know about pre-registration. Don't let this happen to you.
Take Time for a Rest
If you have young ones, old ones. or just plain tired ones in your group, there is nothing better than getting out of the sun, sitting down and watching Mickey and the Magical Map or Tangled at the Royal Theatre in the shade. The air conditioning of The Golden Horseshoe is even better. Even if you've got grumbling teens a sit-down does everyone good.
Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones kick up their heels with Flynn Rider and Rapunzel. Photo by Todd Pickering.
Some may want to go back to the hotel room or linger at the pool longer than you'd like; refer to your trusty Entertainment Guide and go see a show or musical group. Everyone wins.
Watch the Reactions of your Little Ones
I have seen kids that dance during the entire set of Jambalaya Jazz or look on with rapture as they see a live trumpet player during Mickey and the Magical Map. Even some teens swoon over the barbershop harmonies of the Dapper Dans; don't underestimate your group. I have dragged many people into a show complaining and grousing only to have them come out declaring, "That was wonderful. I'm so glad we sat down and saw that."
Sometimes the youngest ones in your group are the biggest fans. A child dressed as a Dapper Dan poses with the singing group. Photo by Todd Pickering.
Watch While the Gang Shops
So, your friends want to shop on Main Street? Whip out that guide and check out the next show of The Dapper Dans, the Straw Hatters, or the Disneyland Band while your friends spend their bucks. Don't want to ride Big Thunder Mountain? Go check out The Laughing Stock Co. over at The Golden Horseshoe. While the little ones go visit Toontown hit Mickey and the Magical Map at the Fantasyland Theatre.
The Straw Hatters entertaining the crowds before Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Performances like these are not listed in your Entertainment Guide. Photo by Todd Pickering.
Dine During Shows
The Golden Horseshoe and the French Market both have shows and food. If your friends are not interested in entertainment, sneak them into one of these venues for your lunch or dinner break, but make sure you check your Entertainment Guide to time your dining with the show times.
The Golden Horseshoe houses the comedy troupe the Laughing Stock Co. in this fantastic saloon. You can enjoy chili, chicken tenders, or fish and chips up at the bar. If jambalaya or a chicken Caesar salad is more your style then head over to New Orleans Square where you can catch some New Orleans style jazz with The Royal Street Bachelors and the delightful singer Queenie at the French Market. Who knows, you might make a music lover out of the gang.
The talented cast of The Laughing Stock Co. performs in the Golden Horseshoe. Photo by Todd Pickering.
I hope these tips are helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to ask me. Coming up I will give flash reviews of all of the Disneyland shows and yes I will be doing Disney California Adventure after I finish Disneyland. I hope to see you all hanging out with the bands as I hum a bass harmony or two.
As of today the Royal Street Bachelors are playing a couple of sets in New Orleans Square and then about 4 or more on the Mark Twain Riverboat. I have not heard how many times or if Queen is still singing with them but today the French Market reported to me that they are no longer playing at the restaurant.