La Nouba at Downtown Disney

Nightlife, What's New — By Kristen Manieri on February 21, 2011 at 2:41 am

Ever wake from a zany, colorful, trippy dream and wish you could close your eyes and slip back into your fantasy world again? This describes, almost exactly, how it felt the other night as I joined the audience in standing ovation applause at the finale of La Nouba. I, along with more than 1,600 audience members, sat with eyes glued to the stage  as the genius and  extraordinarily talented Cirque du Soleil crew revealed one awe-inspiring act after another. A blend of theatrics and acrobatics, stunts and tricks, this ninety-minute show is an unforgettable addition to anyone’s vacation plans.

Green Bird c/o La Nouba

Arriving at Downtown Disney, the gigantic, white circus tent where La Nouba is performed gives the first indication that what happens within its walls is going to be spectacular. One of the few permanent Cirque du Soleil venues in the world, this 1,671-seat theater at Downtown Disney’s West End was the first freestanding structure ever built for Cirque du Soleil.

Guests settle into plus, red seats and patiently await the show’s start as a pair of clowns wander through the aisles poking fun at tourists and at each other. At exactly 6 .p.m. or 9 p.m., depending on the show you’ve purchased tickets for, the lights dim and the unforgettable characters begin to move through the theater. The iconic Green Bird, the strongman known as The Titan, the juggler, and the dancers each make their entrance in their own unique and amusing way.

What ensues is a series of acts featuring circus staples (high wire, juggling, trapeze) created artfully anew, blended with dance and given a live, operatic soundtrack. Highlights include a mesmerizing aerial ballet performed with giant streams of red silk, a hilarious trampoline segment, and a happy-go-lucky juggler (Jongleur) who grins widely as he throws (and catches) more clubs, rings and balls than I can quickly count.

Diabolos c/o La Nouba

But the most memorable moment, as most would agree, is when the Diabolos take to the stage. These Chinese yo-yo dancers, who look no more than five years old, delight the crowd as they juggle and toss a wooden spool, all the while smiling so sweetly and dancing so daintily.

While adult tickets run from $57 all the way up to $124 each, there truly isn’t a bad seat in the house. I’ve seen the show three times; first from the nosebleeds, next from a few feet from the stage, and most recently, from a seat in section 204. Located in the theater’s horizontal and vertical middle, section 204’s vantage point is, in my opinion, the best.

Be sure to arrive with enough time to grab dinner before your show. There are several great restaurants within close proximity, including House of Blues immediately next door. Parking is free at Downtown Disney and it’s easily accessed by shuttle for those folks staying at hotels on the Disney property.

Kids will definitely enjoy this show but I’d encourage moms and dads to save this experience for when their children are at least seven. Even though the tickets for kids begin at three years old, I still think that the show is a little far out for little ones. In fact, there were two young kids sitting in the row directly in front of me who looked to be about five years old…. they were both asleep by the half-way mark. Save this performance for when your kids will really appreciate it.

But definitely plan to go at some point as this is one Orlando experience that shouldn’t be missed. Packed with more ‘wows’ than any other live show the area has to offer thus far, La Nouba will undoubtedly be a vacation  highlight you’ll remember for year’s to come.