Cheering Down Main Street: Disney World Varsity Spirit Spectacular

by | Nov 7, 2021 | Magic Kingdom, WDW Blog, WDW News

On Sale Now- The Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction Special from WDW Magazine!

If you’re at Magic Kingdom in mid-November, you may see a parade with hundreds of festively dressed cheerleaders and dancers make their way down Main Street to holiday music. This event is the Varsity Spirit Spectacular at Disney World, and for parents of participating kids, it’s Disney magic at its purest.

The Varsity Spirit Spectacular at Disney World features hundreds of high school cheerleaders and dancers from around the country dancing down the parade route at Magic Kingdom. 

In 2016, my then high school cheerleader, Austin, participated in this event. Prior to this, we never even knew of an event where he could be in a Magic Kingdom parade, walking down Main Street with the festive castle gleaming in the background

Austin is now a college cheerleader in his senior year and highly recommends cheerleaders, especially guys, have this once in a lifetime experience.

Varsity Spirit Spectacular: Disney World Revives Event for 2021! 

Like pretty much everything, the 2020 Varsity Spirit Spectacular was impacted by the pandemic. 

For 2021, it’s back at Magic Kingdom with performances scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 20, and Sunday, Nov. 21.

varsity-spirit-spectacular-sign-coronado-springs-wdw-by-trisha-daab

The Varsity Spirit Spectacular Christmas cheerleading experience is back at Magic Kingdom this year. Photo by Trisha Daab

Varsity Spirit Spectacular is an event featuring high school cheerleaders and dancers who are captains, co-captains, and officers for their squad. In matching uniforms, they follow the typical Magic Kingdom parade route with a choreographed dance to holiday music. 

Typically, there are under a thousand performers, split into two groups for the two performances. So what you see is about 400 teens dancing down Main Street in holiday colors with festive poms. It’s really quite a sight! 

An Unforgettable Experience

The event is inclusive of all teens but tends to be predominantly girls. The year Austin performed, in 2016, there were 800 kids, about 790 girls and less than 10 boys.    

Most of the guys didn’t perform the dance routine and instead got to lead the parade down Main Street and hand out festive pom-poms to guests.

The boys definitely enjoyed that experience! 

Getting to see my son with that huge smile on his face, walking down Main Street handing out the poms to guests with the festive colors, music, dancers and Cinderella Castle in the background was an all-the-feels moment! 

This was not our first trip to Disney together, but it was the first time it was really just the two of us at one of our favorite places during the most magical time of year. 

disney-world-varsity-spirit-spectcular_magic-kingdom-cheerleading_daab

Austin and I love being at Magic Kingdom during the holidays. Photo courtesy of Trisha Daab

A few years later, we were able to do another trip during the holidays for a WDW Magazine event. No parades down Main Street, but we did get holiday treats, and it was Austin’s first time seeing Sunset Seasons Greetings at Hollywood Studios. 

hollywood-studios-christmas_daab

Austin and I at Hollywood Studios last year. Photo courtesy of Trisha Daab

Did you know? Guess which actor in the Marvel movies was a college cheerleader! Hint: He’s a member of SHIELD. Get the answer at the bottom of this post!

Tips For Seeing Varsity Spirit Spectacular at Disney World

Planning to be at Magic Kingdom during the 2021 Varsity Spirit Spectacular? Here’s what to expect: 

  • Surprisingly larger than normal crowds. This event may include less than a thousand participants, but many are traveling with at least one or multiple family members.
  • A lot of cheerleaders running around if you’re staying at Coronado Springs. This is the main resort for the event. It has registration and the practice sessions, and most performers stay at this resort.
coronado-springs-ballroom-varsity-spirit-spectacular-rehearsal-by-trisha-daab

Rehearsal in the Coronado Springs ballroom for Varsity Spirit Spectacular. Photo by Trisha Daab

Some tips for viewing Varsity Spirit Spectacular at Walt Disney World:

  • A great place to watch is right in front of Casey’s. The best shot of the castle is in the background when the athletes come around the bend. Another good spot is right at the end of Main Street. You’ll have the entire stretch of Main Street with the castle in the distance. 
  • If you have a performer in the event, figure out where they are placed during the practice sessions and stake out your place on Main Street accordingly. 
  • As there are so many performers, they are put into two groups, Team Mickey and Team Minnie. Team Mickey usually performs on Saturday and then Team Minnie on Sunday
  • The parade is usually around 2 to 2:30 PM before the typical 3 PM afternoon parade. With the current modified operations and the calvacades instead of parades, these times may change. 
  • On the Monday after the event, there is a breakfast at Coronado Springs, usually with character stations set up. You will need an event wristband to get in.
disney-world-varsity-spirit-spectacular_wrist-band_daab

The Varsity Spirit Spectacular event wristband complemented my purple Magic Band. Photo by Trisha Daab

The Most Magical Place To Cheer

Disney World is home to many national and even international cheer events throughout the year. These events can draw huge crowds. Depending on your resort, you may be waking up to the sounds of clapping, music, and gasps when cool stunts are performed. 

There are so many cheerleading events at Disney, in 2018, ESPN Wide World of Sports opened a 300,000-square-foot venue specifically designed for cheer and dance events

Fun Fact: In July of 2021, cheerleading was officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Cheerleaders around the world are hoping we will see cheerleading in the Olympics in Paris in 2024. 

The All-Star Resorts are the most popular for many of these athletes, especially at the college level, because they offer large open spaces for practicing. 

  • UCA College Nationals
  • University World Cup Cheerleading Championships
  • International World Cheerleading Championship
  • The Cheerleading Worlds
  • D2 Summit
  • Varsity Spirit Spectacular

Some of the events are currently listed on the ESPN website

Did you know? Answer Time! Guess which actor in the Marvel movies was a college cheerleader? Hint: He’s a member of SHIELD. Get the answer at the bottom of this post! It’s Nick Fury. Yep, Samuel L. Jackson was a college cheerleader. 

Not sure if you’re going? You can just get more information about a potential Disney vacation.

Destinations To Travel 2021 Disney World ReservationsKnow your dates?
Disney Travel Agent Quote
Just need advice for now?
Disney Vacation Planning Help

Your Complete Guide to 2021 Christmas at Disney World

2021 Disney World Christmas Food and Drinks: Full Menu

Christmas at Disney World: Decorations, Snacks, Entertainment and More

Written by Trisha Daab

epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu
Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food, characters, and stories you will find at Walt Disney World. She also writes the “With Kids” and "Character Magic" columns for WDW Magazine, though she enjoys Disney almost as much without kids. Almost! Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
Trisha Daab

Written by Trisha Daab

Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food, characters, and stories you will find at Walt Disney World. She also writes the “With Kids” and "Character Magic" columns for WDW Magazine, though she enjoys Disney almost as much without kids. Almost! Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom