It’s an exciting time to visit Disneyland now that so much entertainment has returned (with even more to come)! Nothing ends a perfect park day better than a nighttime spectacular. The songs that play in your head for the following few days and the smile on your face are the free souvenirs that come from experiencing these magical shows. Whether it's been a while since you've visited or your first visit (be sure to get a 1st visit button!), here's everything you need to know about experiencing the Disneyland shows and entertainment in both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. We'll go over our favorite seasonal entertainment, Disney 100 shows as well as year-round shows. You are going to want a Disneyland multi-day ticket so you can take time to see them all — let's jump in!
Our Very Favorite Disneyland Shows
Disneyland Park is home to several large shows, with fireworks, Fantasmic! and World of Color as the largest (and most spectacular) nighttime entertainment. (Fantasmic! is temporarily paused through spring 2024.) The Magic Happens parade is back! At times, there are seasonal parades, as well. You'll want to keep hopping back for updates as shows change and as more entertainment returns. Many of these shows offer Disneyland dining packages. Our Disneyland dining packages post goes over the pros and cons of each one (and which packages we say are worth paying for). Plus, we share the details on two musical acts with Disney characters that you won't find on on any schedule. But they will certainly add Disney magic to your day.
We frogs make it no secret that we love fireworks, especially at Disneyland. This nighttime spectacular is more than just a fireworks show. It’s an experience filled with Disney magic and nostalgia. Fireworks do not always take place each night. You’ll encounter nightly fireworks during some weeks of spring break, summer and holiday time, as long as the winds stay down. But don’t despair if there are no fireworks on the night you visit. A projection show takes place instead. With a hoppin’ score, lasers, snow and more, you’ll be singing along in the streets. "It's a good, good, good time!"
The Disneyland app and entertainment schedule denote which fireworks show is scheduled and if it will be projections only or with fireworks. Which show? What do you mean? Well, there are many different fireworks shows that vary based on the season, festival or even sometimes during an After Dark party.
- Wondrous Journeys — Running Jan. 27, 2023, through Aug. 31, 2023, Wondrous Journeys is an all-new projection show with fireworks Friday through Sunday and other select nights. It's part of the Disney 100 anniversary celebration. This new nighttime spectacular features a new song and makes a nod to all 60 Walt Disney Animation Studios films to date. The show is filled with artistry, music, storytelling and heart. Projections turn Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle, the façade of “it’s a small world” and the Rivers of America into an artist’s canvas as fireworks fill the sky.
- Mickey’s Mix Magic — This show was developed for Mickey and Minnie's 90th birthday "Get Your Ears On" celebration. It's now used for transitional seasons and as a projection show for weeknights and sometimes when fireworks are canceled due to weather. You can watch it on Main Street, U.S.A., in front of the castle or by "it's a small world." You'll be dancing and singing in the streets whether there are fireworks or not. We love the music, lasers and "snow."
- Halloween Screams — This Frog Family-favorite fireworks show takes place on weekend nights and holidays during Halloween Time but with just music and projections during the week. It's toadally worth waiting for a spot near the castle so you can see the monster of scaremonies Jack Skellington, Zero, Oogie Boogie and all the colorful projections. It kicks off Sept. 1, 2023.
- Believe … in Holiday Magic — During Holiday Time, there are special fireworks shows. You'll fall in love with the peaceful holiday version of fireworks, with projections and holiday music. It ends with snowfall and castle lighting that will wow you all.
Where can you catch the fireworks? The iconic view has you standing in front of the castle, in the Hub or on Main Street, U.S.A. We like Main Street, U.S.A. (except where noted above) because we can see the castle but also experience the projections on buildings and other special effects there. You can see projections on the outside of “it’s a small world,” and that’s a great spot to watch if you want to avoid crowds. You can hear the music and see projections on Rivers of America. It's a peaceful and less-crowded spot to watch. Our post on the best places to watch Disneyland fireworks has all the hopful details.
Fantasmic! (Temporarily closed until spring 2024)
Mickey has quite the imagination when he dreams up Disney characters on Rivers of America. But things quickly turn into a nightmare when evil villains, including Maleficent as a fire-breathing dragon, take over. This show is a great way to end your day at Disneyland. It has drama, catchy, uplifting music, projection on water screens and a boatload of live characters (literally), not to mention pirates swinging in!
This show may take place nightly at peak times and just on weekends at other times. There are often two shows, one before and one after Disneyland fireworks. If you stay after the first Fantasmic! or arrive early for the second show, you’ll be treated to a beautiful fireworks view, allowing you to catch two shows from one location. It’s not the iconic castle view, but it’s pretty nice seeing the fireworks go off over Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The fireworks projections are visible on water screens.
The second show is usually easier to get a good viewing location, especially if you jump in place right after the fireworks. Look for dining packages that get you reserved viewing areas closest to the water and center stage. Read more about it in our post on fantastic tips to view Disneyland Fantasmic!. (Heading to Disneyland while Fantasmic is undergoing refurbishment? No worries! A new projection show — Heartbeat of New Orleans — will take place on Rivers of America beginning Sept. 29, 2023.)
You may not think of parades as shows, but this is live theater … just without the theater. Parades can vary and come through for just a limited time, such as the Main Street Electrical Parade, which returns every few years. (It ran summer of 2022 with a new finale.) The Magic Happens parade has returned!
Then, during Holiday Time, you have the Christmas Fantasy Parade. It usually runs once in the daylight and once as the park gets dark. During the Oogie Boogie Bash, a separately ticketed Halloween party at Disney California Adventure, party guests can enjoy the Frightfully Fun Parade, filled with Disney villains.
Keep an eye out for parade dining packages at Plaza Inn. If not, you’ll want to get in place early, especially if you want a shady spot for any daytime parade. The parade viewing area is different from the dining area. You can reserve a Plaza Inn dining package here.
Other Disneyland Park Shows
These smaller acts will add some Disney magic to your day:
- Encanto Projections on "it's a small world" — For a limited time, catch a visual montage to the hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Disney’s "Encanto" every 30 minutes from about 8:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. This projection show is back in 2023.
- Storytelling at Royal Theatre — Join Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones as they retell the tales of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tangled" with humor and fun (and the help of the characters). You can sit on the floor or on benches. The shows are silly, short and sweet, perfect for short attention spans.
- Tale of the Lion King — This African storytelling by Storytellers of the Pride Lands, a troupe of traveling performers, retells the Story of the Lion King through dialogue, song, dance and percussion. It’s found the home it deserves in the Fantasyland Theater. On show days, you can pick up themed treats at Troubadour Tavern. The tadpoles can color free crafts before the show.
- Dance Parties — The Disneyland dance parties have a revolving cast of characters showing off their dance moves. It's not really a show, but it's toadally fun for the tadpoles to dance along with the characters. Many times the dance parties are themed with the season and take place weekend nights from 7 to 11 p.m. There is not always a dance party. They usually take place during holidays and summer. Check the entertainment schedule to see if there will be one during your visit. Summer 2023 sees the return of Stitch's Interplanetary Beach Party Blast!
- Queenie and the Jambalaya Jazz Band — While Fantasmic! is on hiatus, you can enjoy a few sets of sizzling, live New Orleans jazz tunes and Disney fan favorites on weekend evenings. The band plays on a moving raft in Rivers of America. Fountains and lighting create beautiful scenery. Queenie leads musical call-and-response interactions with the audience and always shares her sense of fun! Between the sets, lively background music plays around New Orleans Square to keep the festive vibes flowing.
- "The Heartbeat of New Orleans — A Living Mural" — Beginning Sept. 29, 2023, watch the the tale of a bayou frog called by the jazz music of New Orleans on Rivers of America.
Disney California Adventure Shows
Disney California Adventure has nighttime and seasonal shows that keep that park fresh all the time.
World of Color
The world is a carousel of color. And you’ll experience this when it’s projected onto breathtaking, synchronized fountains of water. See Disney movies and characters projected on water screens, and it’s all set to music and audio. As with fireworks shows, there are holiday versions of World of Color for Lunar New Year and the Festival of Holidays — World of Color: Season of Light.
Hop over to our post on World of Color to learn more about this must-see show and the dessert party you can reserve if you want to sit and relax for showtime, as well as dining packages that offer a reserved standing viewing area. Dining packages are available at Wine Country Trattoria or Storytellers Café. Park guests can join a virtual queue for this show in the Disneyland app at noon each day (as long as they have entered a theme park and have an eligible ticket and park reservation).
As part of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebration, there is a new World of Color - One show. The new show features new and classic courageous, loving and inspiring characters as well as a new original song, “Start a Wave,” along with 17 other compositions. It's the first Disneyland Resort nighttime spectacular to include characters, music and scenes from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, the Avengers and Star Wars all in the same show. This show began in January 2023 and is set to run for about 18 months, with no end date. However, during holiday time, you can catch World of Color — Season of Light instead.
Rogers: The Musical
A new limited-time addition to Disney California Adventure Park, "Rogers: The Musical" is a comical, musical featuring the Avengers and friends. Fans were able to catch a glimpse of this frogtastically cheesy musical spectacular in "Hawkeye" on Disney+. Since then, super fans have been begging to see it live on stage! This 35-minute, one-act musical debuted at the Hyperion Theatre June 30, 2023, and has showings Tuesday through Saturday most weeks through Aug. 31, 2023. Hop over to our post on Rogers: The Musical for more details.
Other Disney California Adventure Shows
- Avengers Campus — Throughout the day, catch smaller demonstrations of Avengers springing into action around the land. Watch Spider-Man show off his new Spidey suit as he tests it while leaping from one building to another during The Amazing Spider-Man! It takes place near the main entrance to Avengers Campus. On the Avengers Headquarters building, Black Widow and other Avengers fend off attackers in a stunt show: Avengers Assemble! In the Sanctum, Dr. Strange demonstrates some mysteries of the mystic arts. The Dora Milaje lead a lesson in Warriors of Wakanda: The Disciplines of the Dora Milaje. You can participate in a dance-off with StarLord and Gamora in front of Guardians of the Galaxy. Help learn skills with Nick Fury. You can look each of these shows up in the Disneyland app to see showtimes and find out more about Avengers Campus characters in our post.
- Disney Junior Dance Party! — If you have tadpoles in your family, don’t miss Disney Junior Dance Party. Your little ones can get the wiggles out and see their favorite characters from Disney Junior shows. There are bubbles, characters and familiar songs. What's not to love?
Disney California Adventure Holiday Shows
There are seasonal shows and shows on smaller stages in this park. Enjoy festivals such as Lunar New Year, Food and Wine Festival, Halloween Time (with the Oogie Boogie Bash Halloween Party and Dia de los Muertos) and Festival of Holidays. Each season brings smaller acts that we love so much.
There is not a regular parade at the moment, but at holiday times, look for processions, such as Mulan and Mushu's Lunar New Year Procession during Lunar New Year or the Frightfully Fun Parade during the Oogie Boogie Bash separately ticketed event.
During Halloween Time, one of our favorite shows to catch near Plaza de la Familia is A Musical Celebration of Coco, with dancing skeletons and a singing Miguel puppet. You'll want to stand across from the Plaza de la Familia entrance near Goofy's Sky School.
During the holidays, do not miss the Viva Navidad! street party with Mickey, Minnie and the Three Caballeros joined by energetic dancers and musicians. We like to stand near Bayside Brews, which puts us near the center float.
Of course, there are several smaller acts and singing groups in both parks. There is so much park entertainment! Our ride-free guide to Disneyland entertainment has even more suggestions.
You can also catch seasonal live music around the resort as part of Celebrate Soulfully in February and June.
Unscheduled Musical Acts With Characters
These cute performances are not on the schedule, but they are toadally worth catching.
The Straw Hatters
In Town Square about 10:20 a.m., catch the Straw Hatters perform. As they play, various Disney characters may hop by to dance and maybe even play an instrument of their own. On a recent visit we got Pluto, Donald, Mickey and Minnie! You'll find this spot between Disney Showcase and Mad Hatter.
The "Happiest March Along on Earth"
Here's your chance to be in a parade. At 11:45 a.m., the Disneyland Band plays songs at the castle. Then Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Chip and Dale dance in through the castle to join in and march with the band to the train station in Town Square. You can get in line behind them and follow them to Town Square. They will do a performance there in front of the train station at noon.
To catch any of these Disneyland shows, you’ll need a park ticket and a theme park reservation. We can help you save some green with discount multi-day Disneyland Resort tickets. Most entertainment takes place in the afternoon or evening, but a few smaller acts are in the morning.