Inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World is the whimsical DinoLand U.S.A. With a quirky mix of colorful attractions like TriceraTop, the seriously scary thrill ride DINOSAUR and jumbo turkey legs at Trilo-Bites you wouldn't expect to find a Broadway-caliber stage show here. But just like Primeval Whirl, DinoLand U.S.A. is full of surprises! It’s in this area that you’ll find a fantastic respite under-the-sea, Finding Nemo: The Musical.
Finding Nemo: The Musical, shown at the Theater in the Wild located in Animal Kingdom, is a charming and beautiful show that is appropriate for all ages. Everyone in our group (ages 3 to 68) was completely mesmerized by this production. My three-year old never made a peep, except to explode with applause at the end! In fact for me, the audience just seemed to melt away and I was totally immersed in the entire show.
I’VE SEEN THE MOVIE, SO WHY SHOULD I WATCH FINDING NEMO: THE MUSICAL?
Finding Nemo: The Musical is presented in a unique way, with actors holding large interactive puppets of characters from the movie. The actors manipulate the puppets to move and sing with the score. The stage show keeps to the plot of the Finding Nemo movie, with slight editing to keep the pace moving and also includes 14 original musical numbers. Even though the show lasts about 40 minutes, it never drags or has any boring moments.
Did I mention that this is a totally LIVE stage show? The actors moving the character puppets in the play are also wearing microphones and singing live to the music! The energy they exhibit is incredible, especially noteworthy since this show plays five times a day. The intensity and vivacity you receive in the audience when watching a live stage show is nothing to compare to a motion picture. Even if you’ve seen the Finding Nemo movie, you should still take the time to watch Finding Nemo: The Musical while your're in Animal Kingdom. And if you've never seen the movie, the stage show stands on its own.
FINDING NEMO: THE MUSICAL SET DESIGN, PUPPETS AND COSTUMING
The stage is set for the sea in ripples of blue with coral and bubbles framing the sides. The lighting is especially thoughtful and sets an underwater effect on the stage that seemingly transports the audience deep under the ocean. I especially loved the aquarium scenes where all of the characters inside the fish tank are trying to escape. It was accomplished very simply but effectively. There is a large screen upstage that includes animation at times to build upon the story (Darla!)
The design of the puppets is top-notch. You won’t believe the large scale of some of the characters (one nearly reaches the roof!) I loved the scenes with Bruce the shark, who was charmingly scary with his very realistic teeth. I found myself cringing in delight (as if I didn’t already know the story!) In addition to the main characters of the show, there is also impressive costuming on the actors who would be considered “background” like the waving fans of coral. I especially enjoyed the ocean of silver Moonfish that shimmered on the stage, directing the way to Sydney, Australia. The actors holding the puppets are costumed to coordinate but they aren’t intended to completely disappear on stage. Having them seen during the show is intentional and part of the uniqueness of the performance.
FASTPASS+ FOR FINDING NEMO: THE MUSICAL
This Finding Nemo show offers a FastPass+ which seats audience members close to the stage. My family had a FastPass+ for this attraction but we did not arrive early enough and this area was already full. We only arrived about 15 minutes before the show began so I guess it would be best to aim for 30 minutes prior to the show start to line up.
We were directed to open seating at the back of the theater which was still agreeable. The stage is large and the characters over-sized and colorful, which makes them easy to see from even the last row of the theater (we were seated only a few rows down from the very top). However I think it would be more enjoyable to sit closer to really see the intricate details on the costumes and the expressions on the actor’s faces.
TWO FINS UP!
Coming from Southern California, my family and I have seen many theater shows (including some that have moved onto Broadway) and Finding Nemo: The Musical ranks among the top. The staging and costuming is magnificent, the acting and musicality is spot-on. The entire production was positively entertaining. This Finding Nemo show is worth its own ticket so given that this show is included in your day's park ticket, watching it is a must “sea” on your next visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Find out what other Traveling Moms discovered at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park by checking out the Walt Disney World tab on the website.