Fall is here, and in the mid-Atlantic region where we live, that has meant much cooler weather, a lot of rain, cloudy days, and cooling temperatures. There’s a lot to love about fall. Halloween, colorful trees, pumpkin baked goods, and hot apple cider are a few of my personal favorites. But I’m still missing the hot, beachy days of summer, and I haven’t quite finished mourning their passing yet. So for this week’s WHAT TO DO WEDNESDAY, I am taking us to warm, coral reef waters with Finding Nemo -The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This charming Broadway-style show opened in January of 2007, and personally, I think it makes a superb addition to Animal Kingdom.
The Basics: This show calls DinoLand U.S.A. home in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Finding Nemo – The Musical runs about 5 times a day, so you have several opportunities to find a time slot that works with your schedule. This is what I think of as a mini-musical. It has all of the wonderful things a musical has – a story, acting, dialog, and of course plenty of great tunes. The Finding Nemo show runs about 40 minutes, all in one act. Stylistically, this is the Finding Nemo story told with wonderful music and the magic of puppeteering. This a show that will befriend adults, charm little ones, and probably even get a smile out of a teenager.
- Style – This show is so pretty. The colors alone are so enticing, but it is the puppeteering that really makes it magical. The puppets and the puppeteers, especially the main characters (Nemo, Marlin, Dory, etc.) stand together and apart simultaneously. It’s so fascinating. Other times, the puppets take the focus, and the puppeteer is almost unseen. Some of the puppets are so large they take several puppeteers to bring them to life, such as Crush and the pelican. It’s amazing how everyone moves together to bring one idea to the audience.
- Length – This attraction is just the right length. 40 minutes gives you time to sit down in a beautiful theater, where you can rest your feet and enjoy the air conditioning. But, 40 minutes isn’t too long either. You are entertained and engaged, and it doesn’t take an overly large chunk of your day. AND, probably most importantly, it’s not too long for kids to sit still through. Especially because the show is in constant motion.
- Interaction – There are many times where the puppeteers enter the audience area, which really immerses you in the musical. My favorite part is the jellyfish. Puppeteers with giant jellyfish on poles make them appear just as if they were floating in the ocean. It’s really neat. I also happen to really like jellyfish. As long as they are nowhere near me when I am swimming in the ocean.
- Plan a show time. At the start of your day check your Guidemap and Times Guide to see when the show is scheduled for the day. Come up with one or two of the performance times that you think would fit your schedule. If you don’t pick a time, you may find yourself leaving the park having missed all of the performance times. I like to couple the show with lunch. For example I may go see the 11:00 AM show and eat lunch right after. OR, I may have lunch first and then see the 1:00 PM after eating.
- Arrive Early. While the theater is large, it can only hold so many guests. If you wait until 11:55 to show up for the 12:00 show, you may find the theater full. Arrive at the show queue about 30 minutes prior to the performance to give yourself the best chance of getting a seat at your chosen performance time. Animal Kingdom is a big place, give yourself plenty of time to walk to the theater as well.
- Don’t stress about your seat. Seriously. I’ve sat in several different places in this theater, closer to the stage, further back, more to the side – and I’ve enjoyed it equally every time.
- Think forward. – While I think this is a very family/kid friendly show – there are always kids who can’t make it through. If you have a little one with a short attention span, or who may become frightened in the dark after an extended time, grab a seat near the exit so you can easily slip out if you need to.