What are the can't miss shows / experiences at DL and DCA?

Hi there,

My wife and her partner are making their first-ever trip to Disneyland in just under a month, with one day in each park (Sat March 2 in DL full day, Sun March 3 in DCA until about 5 p.m. so no World of Color, no park hoppers). I’m helping them with planning but I only have relevant WDW experience. I’m curious what are your priority shows / experiences I should recommend? Fantasmic or fireworks? What’s the best of the Avengers campus performances? How does the DL parade compare to MK’s? If you were to do one character meet 'n greet in each park, what would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!


Is Fantasmic currently running? It doesn’t show up on the list of attractions in the TP.

F! in Disneyland is currently down. It’s supposed to reopen late May.

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oh - man!

NO ONE TOLD ME THIS. I am going early May. This makes me so sad.

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Sorry! :frowning:

Back last April, Maleficent’s Dragon, which was used for Fantasmic!, exploded, not much unlike what happened to him at the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom back in 2018BC. But after the DL version burned up last summer, the MK’s version stopped breathing fire. The dragon’s name is now “Murphy” :person_facepalming:

But after that, they decided to suspend F! in DL this past July to redo the show, looking like Murphy will be removed from the production.


This is so sad. DLR F! is so much more fun (to me) than WDW F!

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Thanks all for the replies re: Fantasmic. I’ve educated myself on DLR rides (particularly those that are different or don’t exist in WDW) but as you can see I’m not tracking other shows / entertainment at all.

Any entertainment suggestions per my original post?

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The Magic Happens parade is fantastic! The music is amazing. You can’t (I can’t) help but sing and dance with it and the floats are great. Do not sleep on this parade!

Fireworks … what are her dates? If they are showing Wondrous Journeys, this is DO NOT MISS!! Even if it’s just projections without fireworks, she needs to do this show. Best show I’ve ever seen. If it’s projections only, watch from Main Street near the middle (Penny Arcade area is good) for full immersion in the projections.

Avenger’s Campus shows are smaller, shorter. It’s possible to time it so you can watch them all in succession, but if she has limited time, it may not be worth it. I like the Warriors of Wakanda probably the best, then Dr. Strange, then the Avengers show. Others would probably have a different order. :rofl: It’s relatively easy to catch the Spidey show with the Animatronic. That is probably the most WOW factor show.

What’s cool about DL is that she will just see characters out and about walking around. On Pixar Pier you can often see characters from Inside Out, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story. Lines are usually pretty short. Just be on the lookout, check the app, and be prepared to go with the flow! It’s much less organized/queued up for characters there. I prefer it that way, but if you’re used to WDW it could be disconcerting.


Oh no! I don’t remember it ever coming up. :frowning_face: Sorry we missed this important detail.

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That was not directed at my delightful travel helpers.
Just shock!


Honestly, I didn’t think it was better or that much better than the WDW version, but I’ve only seen the post-covid WDW version and folks say it is much improved. There are things that I like about the DL version such as the pirate ship! But the WDW version has the added advantage of bleacher seating. Having stood and waited for many a Fantasmic, I can’t overstate the importance of that!


@Julianne_fki’s recommendations for shows are SPOT on! One the main reasons we continue to enjoy Disney parks are the nighttime entertainment and parades.

Wondrous Journeys is one of our favorite of all favorites even without the FWs, so definitely agree to prioritize that at the end of a DL night. If they are doing Mickey’s Mix Magic instead though, then that one is still fun but has more of a remix light-hearted dance party over the usual burst of emotions from all the other nighttime spectaculars so definitely not a must-see. We usually prioritize doing rides with slightly less crowds when Mickey’s Mix Magic is the DL evening show.

The Magic Happens parade for us is tied (with the now retired Soundsational) as the best daytime Disney parade we’ve seen. The floats are gorgeous, the music so catchy. WDW’s Festival of Fantasy while a great parade with solid floats, isn’t quite at the level of our 2 favorite DLR parades, at least in our opinion.

As for Avengers Campus shows, with just one day if there’s a lot of DCA things she wants to accomplish in general, I wouldn’t prioritize more than Spidey animatronic (really easy to catch) + 1 other longer show. The Dr. Strange Show is probably my favorite of the longer shows but the line to get in is usually pretty long, especially for the latest shows when it’s twilight or already dark as the area it’s done in lights up really beautifully. My next favorite that’s pretty easy to catch is the Guardians Dance-off in front of the Mission Breakout ride. Gamora & Star Lord are hilarious and if you at all like Guardians, particularly the music aspect of it, it’s a great one to watch. The Avengers show on the headquarters building is good, but I wish they would change it up from the same plot every time. If you eat at Pym’s Tasting Kitchen, it can be easy to time the show to when you eat and knock out 2 priorities at once. And also, I really love the lunch/dinner menu here.

As for character meets, those change so fluidly that the best thing to do that day will be to check the app and gameplan what ones look interesting that day. I love the Royal Hall & meeting 2-3 princesses (usually all a surprise until you get in) and there can be a dip in the waits around noon-ish. Meeting Mickey & Minnie at their houses is also an amazing experience but I would plan to go early as the wait builds really quickly & doesn’t die down. And Minnie usually only meets until 3ish in the afternoon. Over in DCA there’s Anna & Elsa with a permanent meet in the Character Close-up inside the Animation Building but as Julianne mentioned there’s TONS of roaming and pop-up characters along the the Pixar pier. We most often seem to see Sulley near the Pixar ball fountain across from the entrance to the Pixar-Pal-Around wheel or the Incredibles meeting near the fountain inside the plaza where Incredicoaster is. There’s also the Cars that meet in Carsland too. And it’s such a great photo opp at the Cozy Cones. Sometimes they’ll have rotating seasonal characters in a gazebo under Goofy’s Sky School and also potentially a seasonal option inside the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (right now those meets are all for Lunar New Year characters but in March it’s unknown if there will be any characters or who they will be).

So bottom line for characters: keep an eye on the app and also eyes peeled around the parks for pop-up meets and it should be fairly easy to catch at least one in each park that’s amazing.


It’s such a bummer that it’s been down for so long and will still be down until end of May. Chiming in with Jeff’s apologies that this was a very important detail left out. BUT you’re also going for Pixar Fest and there should be a new Pixar Parade as well as plenty of fun Pixar meets and themed treats.


It’s this.
The pirate ship.
So freakishly close.
I’ve never even seen a POTC movie, but that music! Iconic!

We got to sit on the ground in 2018. Standing would have been a problem for my mom.

We saw each of the three nighttime entertainment things (WOC was dark): DL fireworks, F!, Pixar parade. On the last night we floated out there which one we should repeat. All nine of us voted for F!.

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OP - I am so glad you started this thread! So many good tidbits.

I hadn’t even thought of entertainment beyond the nighttime stuff. My DD will love the Avengers stuff.

Me too - and so does my older DD. This DD isn’t as big on characters. But I sure am! Maybe she will surprise me. Or we will have just the right encounter.