Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is home to some of the most innovative attractions anywhere in the world. While most people spend all day in lines waiting for the rides, its sometimes a more valuable experience to spend a good chunk of your day visiting all of the impressive shows that Disney offers. The shows are a great not only for their entertainment value, but for the fact that they often have little to no wait time! If you want to make the most of your day, plan to visit all the shows in the afternoon when the temperatures are sweltering, and the crowds are packed in. That way, you’ll be avoiding long waits others will have to endure.
Some of these shows are classics that Walt Disney himself had a hand in making! This list will feature the best-of-the-best shows which feature animatronics. Though many on the list still have movie elements and narration, the star of the show still has to be the animatronic figures inside.
#1. Country Bear Jamboree, Magic Kingdom
This rootin-tootin good time is located in Frontierland of the Magic Kingdom. The show features a couple dozen animatronic bears who sing all sorts of ridiculous songs about there troubles as a bear. Their problems are all too human, which makes the show so relatable and funny. The entire experience from start to finish can be summed up in one word: fun. If you leave the theater without a smile on your face, you shouldn’t be at Disney World in the first place.
The Country Bear Jamboree was originally planned as the main attraction of a Disney Ski Lodge called Mineral King. After plans fell through for building that resort, Imagineers took the idea and moved it to Magic Kingdom. Fun Fact: There’s recently been an homage to the Mineral King ski resort added on the jacket of the animatronics in the Carousel of Progress!
The show runs about every 20 minutes and has a convenient countdown timer in front of the building to let you know when the doors to the theater will open. It starts at 12 minutes every time and counts down to 0. However, there’s always the slight delay of having to get into the theater and take you seats after the doors open. As you walk by, just take a look and visit when you can walk right in! As long as the timer has a number on it (even 0), you can still get in. There will be a brief period between when the show is starting and counter resets where it won’t show a number at all, which means you should come back later to avoid waiting the full 15 minutes. If you are waiting around in the lobby before the show starts, be sure to take a look around at all the bear-themed details!
Walt Disney loved America. As a tribute to the nation’s founders and leaders, he wanted to create a lasting legacy for them, which ended up being the Hall of Presidents. He had originally worked on a similar show for Disneyland, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and was able to adapt that concept into a bigger and more impressive show.
The Hall of Presidents features a lobby with all sorts of museum-type exhibits of the belonging of past presidents. Depending on who is working that day, there are also a couple of Cast Members who are historians and take their role as arbiters of the presidential attraction very seriously. Feel free to ask them any questions you might have!
The most impressive part of the show is the state-of-the-art Abraham Lincoln animatronic, who delivers his entire Gettysburg Address. The entire show gives guests a history of the American presidency and remarks on the past needs for the country. The end of the show showcases animatronics of all U.S presidents and used to feature a speech from the current president… until Joe Biden didn’t record one.
As the name suggests, Walt Disney himself was largely involved in the creation of this tropical serenade. With versions in both Disney World and Disneyland, the show is a big part of the parks. It features hundreds of animatronic birds and tikis who sing songs which whisk you away to a far away tropical land. It fits the theme of Adventureland perfectly!
Overall, the show is both very entertaining and funny. There are SO MANY animatronics in the room that you won’t even be sure of where to look. If you’re seeing it for the first time, you’re sure to be astounded by the sheer volume of movement around the room. As an added bonus, the short waiting area for the show includes a short preshow, which makes any minimal wait for the show more enjoyable. Just like the Country Bear Jamboree, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room has a countdown wait time board in front to let you know how long until the next show starts!
From one absolute classic to another, Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress has been around for decades. Walt himself had spent a lot of time working on it in preparation for its debut at the 1964 World’s Fair. Though there have been a few minor changes over the years, its still mostly the same show, and has a real “Disney” charm to it.
The show is set in a rotating theater which moves the seating area in a circle to different scenes of the show. At each scene, animatronics tell the story of their family and the impact that evolving technology has had on their lives. You’ll go through scenes by the decade to see how quickly technology has progressed! Though some naysayers might quip that it is “boring,” the show has stood the test of time and it an essential part of Walt Disney World history. It most definitely reminds you that “there’s a great big, beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day.”
Some readers might find the inclusion of It’s Tough to be a Bug to be a bit of a head scratcher, but the show is well-worth seeing. Critic will be quick to tell you that the show is scary- and they’re right. It’s not quite the same cutesy sing-song atmosphere of most other shows, which is what makes it unique and interesting.
You are invited to a show by Flik and his It’s Tough to be a Bug friends for the chance to appreciate the unique talents of different species of insects. It’s a 3D show that features all sorts of effects to keep you entertained. The Flik and Hopper animatronics around the screen are very impressive, and there are other certain surprises during the show that will definitely grab your attention. Overall, it’s an interesting show that is worth seeing. If you’re using an ECV Disney scooter rental be sure to ask for assistance from a Disney cast member they will show you where to park.
One final bonus in favor of the show is its location inside/under the Tree of Life. The queue winds around the tree and gives guests a chance to get up close and personal with the thousands of intricate hand-carved animals in the trunk of the tree. These carvings are true works of art and should be appreciated as such. Be sure to take a second to read the plaque from Jane Goodall as well!
Kachow! Lightning McQueen and other Cars characters will welcome you to the racing academy, where rookie drivers can learn how to race like Lightning himself! It’s a screen-based show behind an impressive full-scale animatronic of Lightning McQueen, who will take viewers through the basics of racing skills. However, the lesson gets off track quickly and takes many interesting turns. Though it’s not the most impressive thing in the world, it is a cute show that is well worth your time. Kids will love the Lightning McQueen animatronic, and parents will still like the entertaining story that goes along with the show. It’s not all that long, so you can easily visit on a quick pit stop. The theater is fairly large, which means you also won’t have to wait long for the show!
Due to its location next to Rockin Roller Coaster at the end of Sunset Boulevard, Lightning McQueen’s racing academy is a great opportunity for younger visitors to have something to do while others ride the most intense thrill rides of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Since both of those attractions are must-do’s for most visitors, having something nearby aimed at a younger audience is a huge plus.