Planning a visit to Walt Disney World just to check out its attractions? You’ll be missing out. Sure, the thrill rides, as well as those classic WDW ones (think it’s a small world), are definitely not to be missed, but have you considered the parades and shows in all four theme parks and scheduled them into your plans? Here are the 12 best Walt Disney World parades and shows on our short list- and you should put them on yours as well!

Festival of Fantasy Parade Dragon - one of the best parades at Walt Disney World.

Maleficient as a steampunky dragon in Festival of Fantasy Parade in Magic Kingdom. We can only hope she’ll make a return soon!Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/Road Trip TravelingMom

We love Walt Disney World, that’s a given. When we’re not visiting the parks we’re thinking about and planning our next vacation. Because of this love, we make it point to check out every ride, attraction, parade, and show at least once- and most times they become such favorites that they’re put on our must-do list on every trip. These 12 are always on the top of our list and, from the gorgeous colors and themes to the jaw-dropping way that only Disney can make magic, these parades and shows make the grade.

Best Walt Disney World Parades

1.  Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade

Cinderella in Festival of Fantasy Parade - one of the best parades at Walt Disney World.

Cinderella and Prince Charming in Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/Road Trip TravelingMom

Location: Magic Kingdom

Duration: 12 minutes

Parade Route: Frontierland (close to Splash Mountain) down to the end of Main Street, U.S.A.


Time: 3:00pm

Details: There’s only one Festival of Fantasyland Parade per day so, if you really want a decent view, you’re going to have to score a spot along the parade route at least 30 minutes prior. The route tends to be less crowded in Frontierland which is an option if you’re running late. Fastpass+ Selections offered.

2. Rainy Day Calvacade

Location: Magic Kingdom

Parade Route: From Frontierland to Main Street, U.S.A.

Time: In place of regular parades during inclement weather

Details: When it’s a rainy day in Magic Kingdom, most folks head for the exit turnstiles but not us: we love watching the Rainy Day Cavalcade! The parade isn’t one that you’ll have the opportunity to see every day and, not only is the music fun, but the characters are all piled up into Main Street, U.S.A. vehicles.

3. Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play it!

Move it! Shake it! Parade - a fun parade at Walt Disney World and a must-see at least once.

Move it! Shake it! Parade. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Magic Kingdom, Sunset Boulevard

Duration: 35 minutes

Parade Route: From Town Square to The Hub at Cinderella Castle, stops for the show, and then back to Town Square

Time: 12:30pm, 5:45pm

Details: Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play it! is a fun parade/show for younger kids (I have to admit, I always have a good time watching!) and uses the power of social media to get visitors engaged. Use the hashtag #MoveitShakeitPics on Twitter during the parade and your pic might end up on the side of a float! Zootopia characters have recently been added to the party, too.

Best Walt Disney World Shows

4.  Fantasmic!

Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios - one of our favorite shows in Walt Disney World!

Mickey Mouse in Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios,

Duration: 30 minutes long

Time: Once nightly (show time is dependent on season and date)

Details: Mickey Mouse is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice fighting evil in this colorful show. Filled with Disney Princesses, Villains, fireworks, music, and eye-popping scenes, it’s our favorite show at DHS. Fastpass+ Selections offered for Fantasmic! and dinner packages including premium seating is as well.

Headed to Walt Disney World and want the scoop on the best parades and shows to catch while you're there? Here's our 12 must-see parades and shows while visiting Walt Disney World! #Disney #WDW #Disneyworld #TMOM #DisneyParks

5. Rivers of Light

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Duration: 15 minutes

Time: At least once nightly

Details: Rivers of Light has an underlying theme, as does all of Disney’s Animal Kingdom: protect, conserve, and be aware. Using water as a backdrop, the show favors state of the art lighting concepts, and touching new music. Although I only had a preview, the parts that I was able to watch left me humming the songs in my head and heading to YouTube to watch again and again.

6.  Festival of the Lion King

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Africa

Duration: 30 minutes

Time: On the top of each hour beginning at 10:00am

Details: Festival of the Lion King gets all visitors involved and singing. Each area of the indoor stadium has its own character to root for and the acrobatics and costuming is worth a watch at least once. Fastpass+ Selections offered.

7.  Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire

Royal Friendship Faire, a must-see show at Walt Disney World in Magic Kingdom.

Royal Friendship Faire. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle

Duration: 22 minutes

Time: At least six times a day. Check visitor guide for exact times.

Details: Tiana and Nasreen, Rapunzel and Flynn, and Elsa and Anna sing and dance on the Castle Stage along with Sir Mickey, Lady Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and even Olaf join in on the sing-along.

8.  Finding Nemo- The Musical

Finding Nemo- The Musical. It's a must-see show in Animal Kingdom at least once.

Finding Nemo- The Musical. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Dinoland, U.S.A.

Duration: 40 minutes

Time: Up to six times a day. Check Visitor’s Guide for exact show times when you enter the park.

Details: Based on the movie, Finding Nemo, the show brings to life with puppets the fun characters including Nemo and Dory.  14 original songs composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, along with advanced lighting concepts and a beautiful backdrop. Fastpass+ Selections offered.

9.  Royal Majesty Makers

Sword and the Stone show at Magic Kingdom. Are you strong enough to pull it?

Sword and the Stone at Magic Kingdom. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/Road Trip TravelingMom

Location: Fantasyland between Cinderella Castle and Prince Charming Regal Carousel

Duration: 10 minutes

Time: Throughout the day.

Details: Only those worthy are capable of pulling the sword from the stone (usually a young child!) but the fun is watching the others (usually big, strong men) give it a go. The Royal Majesty Makers put on a fun, quick show and we always love the magic behind Excalibur.

10. Matsuriza

Taiko Drummers Epcot

Taiko Drummers at Japan Pavilion in Epcot. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/Road Trip TravelingMom

Location: Epcot World Showcase, Japan Pavilion

Duration: 10 minutes

Time: At least once an hour until around dinner time. Please check Visitor’s Guide for exact times when you arrive.

Details: Japanese Taiko Drumming sounds fill the air (and your chest. What a boom!) surrounding the Japan Pavilion, and the quick show highlights the drummer’s skills. We’re always impressed with the energy and skill.

11.  Captain Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Tutorial

Pirate tutorial

Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/Road Trip TravelingMom

Location: Magic Kingdom, Adventureland

Duration: 25 minutes

Time: Generally once an hour through dinner. Please check Visitor’s Guide for exact times when you arrive.

Details: Captain Jack and his crew give a fun pirate tutorial to recruit wannabe pirates. Visitors that are picked get an official scroll (what a souvenir!) Definitely worth it to catch the show at least once.

12. Main Street U.S.A. Trolley Show

The Main Street Trolley Show is one of the funnest shows at Walt Disney World.

No matter what time of year you visit Magic Kingdom, the Main Street Trolley Show has seasonal music and costumes. Photo Credit: Karyn Locke/ Road Trip TravelingMom

Location: Main Street U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom

Duration: 20 minutes

Time: Throughout the morning. Showtimes often change, so please check the Times Guide when you hit the park.

Details: The Main Street Citizen Dancers have a way of making you dance right along with them with their Trolley Show. The costumes change four times a year to go with the theme and feel of the park. They’ve definitely danced their way into this fan’s heart!