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’s 12 must-see Walt Disney World parades and shows on our short list- and you should put them on yours as well!

Festival of Fantasy Parade Dragon

Maleficient as a steampunky dragon in Festival of Fantasy Parade in Magic Kingdom. 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.

Walt Disney World Parades

1.  Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade

Cinderella Festival of Fantasy Parade

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. Main Street Electrical Parade

Main Street Electrical Parade

Main Street Electrical Parade. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Magic Kingdom

Duration: 20 minutes

Parade Route: Begins at Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. and ends in Frontierland

Time: 9pm and 11pm if park is open.

Details: Main Street Electrical Parade is a WDW classic! The music is classic (although dated, but I couldn’t imagine a different soundtrack) and filled with computer synth notes and sounds, but the lights are so beautiful. MSEP is a must-watch parade at least once- although the kids will love it so much you’ll have to catch it more than that.

3. 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.

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

Move it! Shake it! Parade

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.

Walt Disney World Shows

5.  Fantasmic!

Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios

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.

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

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

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 Magic Kingdom

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.  The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic

The Jungle Book Alive with Magic

Jungle Book: Alive with Magic at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

Location: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Discovery Island

Duration: 20 minutes

Time: at least once per night (recent show times are 9:00pm and 10:30pm)

Details: Inspired by The Jungle Book and Indian celebrations, tales of survival, friendship, and courage are highlighted. Well-loved songs from the movie including “The Bare Necessities” and “Just Like You” get a makeover with Indian pop-style arrangements. This show is the fill-in until “Rivers of Light” gets the bugs worked out.

11. 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.

12.  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.

Walt Disney World Parades and Shows You Have to Check out!