Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!

We have been in Hollywood Studios the past couple of weeks looking at the Frozen Sing-Along and Voyage of the Little Mermaid.  Well, today’s show offers a little different experience than either of the past two we have covered.  If you have young kids that love watching Disney Junior, then this will probably be their favorite show of the trip!

I’m getting a little carried away, so before I go any further let’s get started with our…

Know Before You Go Essential Facts

  • The Show is located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • There is no height requirement
  • Fastpass + is available
  • The fright factor is 0 out of 5
  • Guests may remain in a wheelchair/ECV
  • Assistive Listening, Audio Description, Handheld Captioning, and Video Captioning are available
  • The show is 24 minutes long
  • The show opened on October 1, 2001. It was last updated in 2013 when Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins were added to the show.

Those are the facts, now who’s ready for some fun?!

Photo – Disney

Come inside, its fun inside!  This phrase has been made famous by the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song, but it is also the perfect way to describe Disney Junior – Live on Stage!  This upbeat show invites kids to dance and sing as they help Mickey & the gang prepare a surprise birthday party for Minnie.  The clubhouse features favorites like Toodles and the Mouseketools, and also incorporates characters from Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  All the characters are puppets, who interact with a very energetic live host named Casey.  Together the crew tells a three part story that teaches kids the value of teamwork and friendship.  Today, we will look at the creation of the show, how it has evolved over the years, and what you can expect when you visit today.

The show opened in 2001 under the title of Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!  However, the show actually goes back a little further than that.  June 7, 1999 was the opening date for Bear in The Big Blue House: Live on Stage!  This was a 15 minute show that featured Bear and his friends from the popular television show Bear in The Big Blue House.  Bear was a life size walk around character, while the rest of his friends were puppets.  The stage was elevated several feet above ground level to give the puppeteers room to work.   The backdrop for the stage was The Big Blue House, where a live host interacted with Bear and his friends.  The formula of puppets, a live host, fun songs, and lots and lots of energy made the show a big success.  Bear in The Big Blue House: Live on Stage! ran for a little over two years, before being closed in August of 2001 to relaunch the show under a new title.

With Bear being so successful, Disney decided to incorporate even more characters from other Playhouse Disney television shows.  The stage and backdrop were reworked to feature all the new characters.  The Big Blue House was replaced by a giant storybook with pages that could be turned to unveil a new backdrop for each new story in the play.  The upbeat live host was still part of the show, and it was their responsibility to turn these giant pages while keeping up the energy of the audience.  The new version of the show opened October 1, 2001 under the name Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage!

From 2001 to 2008 the show remained largely unchanged, with only a few characters being swapped out to keep the show up to date.  The big change came in 2008 when Mickey Mouse and the Clubhouse crew took the place of Bear and The Big Blue House.  Along with Mickey, the Little Einstein’s and Handy Manny took over the supporting role of JoJo’s Circus and Stanley.  This changeover marked the real beginning of the show we have today, although the name wasn’t changed until 2011.  At that time, the show became known as Disney Junior – Live on Stage! in order to match the newly named block of television programming on the Disney channel.  The final change came in 2013 when Sofia the First and Doc McStuffins were added to the lineup, replacing Handy Manny and the Little Einsteins.

That brings us to today!  The full lineup of the current show is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Before the show begins the doors to the theater open and audiences are allowed to pick a spot on the floor to sit.  There are no chairs in this show, although those in a wheelchair or ECV will be allowed to remain in their respective vehicles.  For everyone else, it’s criss-cross applesauce time!  This isn’t the most comfortable seating for adults, but once the show gets going you will understand why this setup is necessary.  The primary reason for this seating arrangement is for line of sight to the elevated stage.  By having the audience sit on the floor, the show is able to give the illusion that the Disney Junior characters are walking around the stage.  This is reinforced by the live host, Casey, as he or she does walk all around the stage.

Now this next part is a little spoilery, so you may want to cover small ears.  About halfway through the show I got up and walked to the very back of the theater to take some pictures.  Standing at the back of the space allowed me to see the top of the stage and how the magic takes place.  There is a series of channels cut out of the stage allowing the puppeteers to move all over, while displaying the puppet above.  In between these channels there is enough solid ground for Casey, the live performer, to also walk all around the stage.  The dance that both Casey and the puppeteers have to perform to look as though they are moving naturally is very impressive!  Thanks to their skillful performance, the audience below has no idea the amount of planned movement occurring on the stage above.

What the audience does see is a fast paced story featuring their favorite Disney pals.  With everyone seated, Casey comes out and welcomes the audience.  Next, they invite everyone to shout out their name for Casey to hear.  Among the shouting, the familiar high pitched voice of a certain mouse can be heard.  Casey asks if that was Mickey’s name they just heard, and sure enough Mickey Mouse pops up on stage.  Mickey asks the audience if they would like to come to his clubhouse.  Of course you have to recite the magic words to make the clubhouse appear.  Do you know what the magic words are?  That’s right!  Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!  With the help of the audience, the magic words bring the clubhouse to life.  The theme song begins to play and kids all over can be heard belting out the familiar chant of M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E.  When the song gets to the role call, the rest of the Fab Five pop up on stage.  Donald, Daisy, Minnie, and Goofy join Mickey.  The one character that doesn’t make the show is Pluto.  Sorry Pluto fans, he must be out burying a bone or chasing Chip and Dale up a tree.

When the theme song concludes, Minnie leaves the stage and Mickey tells everyone that they are planning a surprise party for Minnie’s birthday!  In order to pull off the surprise, Mickey needs some help from the rest of the gang.  Daisy volunteers to take care of the big sign, Goofy wants to be in charge of the birthday cake, and Donald is tasked with creating a song to sing at the party.  While all three are very willing, they each have a lot of questions and are in need of some help.  Well, when you need help at the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, you are in luck.  Mickey sings his song to call on Toodles and the Mouseketools show up on a giant Mickey head hanging from the ceiling.  The three Mouseketools are revealed, a tiara from Sophia, a stethoscope from Doc McStuffins, and a treasure chest from Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

Photo – Disney

The first tool is the tiara from Sophia, which will help Donald know what kind of song to sing.  Mickey and the gang leave the stage as Sophia’s theme song begins to play.  Casey walks over to the giant storybook and turns the page to reveal a backdrop with Sophia’s castle.  Next, Sophia pops up on stage.  I don’t want to give away the whole story here, or ruin the surprise at the end of Sophia’s tale, but you can expect to see Prince James, Princess Amber, and Cedric (or Seadric as Sophia likes to say).  In the end Sophia learns she can do anything with the help of her friends, which leads Donald to realize he should do a sing-together song for everyone at the party.  With his problem solved Donald leaves again, and the next theme song begins to play.

Doc McStuffins is up next, and the pages of the giant storybook are again turned, this time to reveal the bedroom of Doc.  Lamby, Chillie, Hallie, and Stuffie all join Doc on stage and begin to dance.  Casey invites all the kids in the audience to stand up and dance along with Doc and her friends.  Well, Stuffie gets a little carried away and Lamby ends up on the receiving end.  As you might have guessed, Doc McStuffins has a patient that needs to be attended to.  Doc runs into some problems, which actually require the help of the audience.  This is another surprise I won’t ruin here, but kids will love this part of the show.  After the audience helps burst the bubble of Doc’s problem, the story has a happy ending.  Doc learns that having a friend to cheer you on is a big help.  Goofy takes this story to heart, and decides if he has a friend to cheer him on he can bake the cake for Minnie’s party. With his problem solved Goofy leaves to go bake his cake, leaving only Daisy in need of a Mouseketool.  The audience helps call on Toodles one more time, which means it is time to search for some treasure!

Photo – Disney

The final turn of the storybook page reveals Jake, his pirate ship, and the Neverland Pirates crew.  Yo ho, it looks like it’s time for some adventure.  Sadly, ole’ Captain Hook is up to no good again and he has taken Jake’s treasure chest full of gold doubloons.  The crew sets sail to find Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.  Thanks to Scully up in the Crow’s Nest, the troublesome duo are spotted and Jake devises a plan to get close without being seen.  They employ some clever disguises to sneak up on the unwitting Captain, but they still need some help from the audience to get him away from the treasure chest.  The audience helps by clapping in a very clock like cadence and soon the cowardly Captain Hook runs away.  The treasure chest is recovered and gold doubloons begin falling from the ceiling.  After Jake’s story concludes, Daisy comes out and talks to Casey.  Seeing Scully up high in the Crow’s Nest of the ship reminded Daisy that she too has friends in high places.  She is going to call on their help with hanging Minnie’s birthday sign, and with that the final piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy all meet back up at the clubhouse just in time to surprise Minnie.  Mickey gives the audience the cue and everyone yells “SURPRISE!” when Minnie walks through the clubhouse door.  Goofy shows off the cake and Donald sings his song to Minnie while the audience gets up and dances one more time. Minnie is so excited to share her birthday with all of their new friends and thanks everyone for coming.

So, that is Disney Junior – Live on Stage!  Like I said at the beginning, I have been waiting a long time to see this show.  I knew it was very popular, but I don’t watch a lot of Disney Junior myself so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  When I first walked into the theater and saw the elevated stage and people sitting on the floor I didn’t know what was about to happen.  I certainly didn’t expect the skillful display of puppetry, nor the amount of fun audience participation that followed.

My niece and nephew loved this show!  The chance to get up and dance and move around made this a very unique experience.  All of the other shows at Walt Disney World require you sit relatively still in a seat.  If you have a kid that loves to move and shake, that can be asking a lot!  Well, at Disney Junior – Live on Stage! kids have the chance to work out their wiggles while enjoying a fun show. Even if they don’t move around much, there is still so much to see and take in with the different puppets and different stories.  I’m not sure my little niece knew exactly what was happening at all times, but she was still mesmerized by the upbeat action.

Speaking of upbeat, our host Casey may be the most upbeat Cast Member I’ve ever seen in a show, and that’s saying something at Disney!  When I was at the back of the theater Casey ran by me two or three times as she interacted with the audience.  Each time she had the biggest smile on her face, and a literal skip in her step.  Her energy was contagious and made the show so much fun for the little kids.

Overall, this show is like watching a live version of an episode of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Or, more specifically, like watching a live crossover episode where they also have Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake.  If you have young kids that like any of these characters they should love this show!

The only critical thing I can say about the show is that it is very age specific.  Once your kids outgrow watching these shows on Disney Junior, they will have outgrown this show as well.  That leaves a fairly small window of time to enjoy it.  However, if you have anyone in your group that is the right age, it will be worth the trip for the whole family.  Seeing the joy on your child’s face during the show will make this a worthwhile experience.

With the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse no longer airing new episodes, and with all the changes going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’m not sure what the future holds for Disney Junior – Live on Stage!  My hope is that it continues to live on, following the pattern of being updated every few years.  Like I said before, this show is unique and right now there is nothing else like it at Walt Disney World.  If you do have small children in your group this can even be a good use of Fastpass+ as there aren’t many other options at Hollywood Studios for kids under 48” tall.  The show is usually offered ten times daily, starting shortly after the park opens.  Be sure to check your Disney app or a times guide in the park.

That just about wraps up our time for today.  If you are subscribed to the podcast and listening at the release of this episode, I am probably busy enjoying Pandora – The World of Avatar for the very first time!  I can’t wait to come back and share with you the newest addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I hope you will come back next week to hear all about our latest visit to Walt Disney World and the exciting new experiences we discover.

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Thank you so much for tuning in today!  I do hope you come back next week.  I know I am looking forward to our next time together.  Until then, wherever you are, have a magical day!  Thanks for listening and remember to make each day a ride worth taking!

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