The Epcot International Festival of the Arts returned for its second year at Walt Disney World this year with an expanded menu of art — visual, culinary, interactive and performance. One aspect you won’t want to miss is the Disney on Broadway concert series that takes place each Friday through Monday during the festival.
If you think these concerts are just like any other Disney productions, think again. Of course, they are top-notch concerts featuring beloved Disney songs that the audiences will recognize. But what you may not realize is that the featured singers are actual Broadway stars — and they are performing a collection of songs from their well-known productions, as well as other Disney Broadway shows.
The Disney on Broadway concerts take place three times a day (5:30, 6:45 and 8 p.m.) four days a week (Fridays through Mondays) at America Gardens Theatre during the festival, and they are included in the regular admission to the theme park. These concerts are a wonderful way to introduce children to the magic of Broadway or, for those who have visited New York City, an opportunity to relive popular Disney productions. If you’re lucky, you might even get the opportunity to meet the performers!
There are three weekends left to take advantage of these free concerts. Make your plans now:
Feb.2 to 5: Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White singing songs from “Tarzan,” “The Lion King,” “Aida,” “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Feb. 9 to 12 and Feb. 16 to 19: Ashley Brown and Josh Strickland perform songs from “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Mary Poppins,” “Newsies” and “Frozen.”
My family and I attended two of the shows last weekend with Kissy Simmons and Alton Fitzgerald White. We chose that weekend because my daughter who is interested in theater really wanted to see the Broadway stars of “The Lion King.” Simmons starred at Nala in “The Lion King” on Broadway, on national tour and in Las Vegas. White is Broadway’s longest-running Mufasa in “The Lion King” with more than 4,000 performances.
Here are some tips for attending the Disney on Broadway concerts:
** If you want a guaranteed seat for a particular show, you have two options. Passholders can obtain complimentary wristbands for reserved seating by going to The American Adventure beginning at 11 a.m. each performance day. Each passholder can get up to four wristbands while supplies last.
** All guests can purchase the Disney on Broadway Dining Packages for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Each package includes a three-course meal or full buffet, depending on the location. Participating restaurants include Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Biergarten, Coral Reef, The Garden Grill and Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room. The prices range from $44 to $70 for adults and $21 to $42 for children ages 3 to 9. Tax, gratuity and required Epcot admission are not included with dining package cost. Call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-7463 to reserve.
** Guests who don’t have reserved seats can join the standby queue to the right of the theater. This is what my family and I did. On Saturday, the park was very crowded, so I was surprised that getting in line about 30 minutes before the second performance allowed us to get second-row seats. By the time the show started, however, the theater was full.
** If you want to see a particular show but the theater is full, know that you can stand at the back of theater just outside the ropes and see and hear just fine. We did that for one of the shows on Saturday and it gave us a different perspective from sitting up close.
** One unexpected bonus of our evening was getting to meet Simmons and White after the last performance. There are not official meet-and-greets set up, but much like on the Great White Way, fans waited for the performers to exit the theater in hopes of meeting them. It is up to the individuals and their schedules as to whether they are able to stop, but both Simmons and White were gracious with their fans. They took photos and even signed “The Lion King” playbill that my daughter brought with her. If you want to try to catch the performers, wait at the back of the theater on the right side.
** Excited about the Disney on Broadway shows? The kiosk across from the theater has a selection of merchandise for sale.