Top 10 most popular videos for 2011 from Disney, theme parks and special events

in Disney, Entertainment, Theme Parks

It is New Year’s Eve Eve and 2011 is rapidly winding down. And this year brought more viewers to our videos than ever before. With incredibly exciting happenings beginning all the way back in January and continuing throughout the year, our video cameras captured the best, most interesting and unique special events, new attractions, and entertainment throughout the worlds of Disney, theme parks, and beyond.

But our 10 most popular videos for 2011 don’t all coincide with the 10 most popular stories we recently counted down. Our YouTube channel is indeed more popular than ever, having just reached 20,000 subscribers this week and topping 18,000,000 (that’s million!) total views, more than 14 million of which came in 2011 alone. Some of last year’s top 10 most popular videos brought hundreds of thousands more views this year, but the list below will include only the most viewed new videos we created in 2011.

Now on with the countdown…

Our Top 10 Most Popular Videos for 2011

10. AquaDuck POV full water slide aboard Disney Dream cruise ship

112,000+ views

Who knew a 1-minute ride on a water slide could result in the 10th most popular video of the year? Aboard my first-ever trip on Disney Cruise Line, during one of the first-ever voyages of the new Disney Dream ship, I rode and recorded a trip on the first-ever water coaster on a cruise ship: the AquaDuck. It quickly became one of my favorite rides anywhere, largely due to the incredible views offered while slipping through its tubes, and it’s obvious that thousands of others feel the same. It’s also worth noting that this is the only video to make the countdown that prominently features me (and my wife Michelle), for a brief moment at the beginning, as well as my legs throughout. The Disney Fantasy launches in March 2012, and I look forward to having a chance to ride that ship’s AquaDuck as well!

9. Mickey’s Soundsational Parade shot high above Main Street USA at Disneyland

112,000+ views

Another new favorite that debuted in 2011 is Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland, featuring fun upbeat renditions of classic Disney tunes combined with exquisitely-designed floats and character costumes. It instantly became my favorite daytime Disney parade as soon as I saw it and it was even better to watch it for the first time (and video record it) from the unique vantage point of being around 20 feet above Town Square on a temporary media platform. That angle separates this video of the parade from most, offering eye-level views with the tops of each float.

8. Paige O’Hara (voice of Belle) performs songs from Beauty and the Beast at the 2011 D23 Expo

151,000+ views

Sometimes it’s a single event that proves to be the most popular of the year. In last year’s video countdown, the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter drew the most total views across many videos. This year, it was a once-in-a-lifetime gathering of Disney Princess voices at the 2011 D23 Expo during the Disney Legends ceremony. The number 8 spot goes to Paige O’Hara’s solo singing performance of a medley of “Beauty and the Beast” songs, with many more to come on this list.

7. Jodi Benson (voice of The Little Mermaid) performs “Part of Your World” at the 2011 D23 Expo

207,000+ views

Jumping more than 50,000 views higher, the always-popular Jodi Benson, voice of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” put on another amazing performance of “Part of Your World” for the excited crowd of Disney fans at the D23 Expo. Her Disney Legends award acceptance speech brought many to tears as well, with her excitement about being a Disney cast member for decades finally culminating in this moment.

6. First Look: New Haunted Mansion mirror effect with animated Hitchhiking Ghosts at Walt Disney World

226,000+ views

Just as it made our top 10 list of most popular stories in 2011, our video of the new interactive ghosts in the finale of The Haunted Mansion was hugely popular this year. This video was not only embedded on many theme park web sites, but also technology-based web sites, showing off Disney’s newest innovations. Moreover, I even found out that Walt Disney Imagineering has been using this exact video to show off their creation during presentations, both internally and outside the company. I was told this video captures both the effects as well as guest reactions better than any video Disney was able to capture themselves – a great compliment!

Not making this top 10 list but worth noting is the rather popular video walkthrough of the new interactive queue at The Haunted Mansion:

69,000+ views

With less than one-third of the number of views of the interactive ghosts video, it’s clear that the world is more impressed by the mirror effects than the new crypts, but still interested in both.

5. Lea Salonga (voice of Mulan) performs “Reflection” at the 2011 D23 Expo

245,000+ views

The most popular of the Disney Princess performances at the 2011 D23 Expo was Lea Salonga’s pitch-perfect singing of “Reflection” from “Mulan.” Despite being more than 10 years since the movie came out, Salonga sounded exactly as she did when she sang for the film back in the late ’90s and the attending crowd was completely impressed. But as exciting as this moment was, it still wasn’t the most popular Princess performance of the year.

4. “Tangled” Rapunzel tower at Disney’s Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2011

258,000+ views

The popularity of videos is highly unpredictable. While some special events and performances are obvious that they will become widely viewed, others are big surprises, such as this rather simple video of a temporary display set up at Walt Disney World for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. It was a display intended to promote the film “Tangled,” which did very well at the box office and was on its way home to Blu-ray and DVD. And promote it certainly did, with more than a quarter-million views from Rapunzel fans enjoying her sparkling hair and faint strains of song. Unfortunately, the display was removed when the event ended. Fortunately, Rapunzel found a new home at the Magic Kingdom where guests can meet her in person.

3. Full Ride: The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at California Adventure, Disneyland

260,000+ views

A ride through the first new Disney dark ride in several years easily became our third most popular video of 2011. We captured The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure in HD and binaural audio, offering a clear view of all its scenes, characters, and amazing new Audio-Animatronic figures. While there are many other videos of the ride on YouTube, some predating ours during the ride’s “soft opening” period, ours has become one of the most viewed, thanks to our many followers like you! (And we think we did a pretty good job at capturing the ride too.)

We also have a second full video of the attraction, featuring an on-ride interview with an Imagineer who programmed its animatronics. That video and interview aren’t quite as popular as the ride itself, but certainly worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.

2. Chewbacca and an Ewok dance to Guns n Roses at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2011

372,000+ views

Like in 2010, Star Wars Weekends provided one of our most popular videos of the year. In fact, a clip from Dancing With the Star Wars Stars became our second biggest video, thanks to G4, MTV, and many other popular sites sharing it for their audiences to enjoy. And it was certainly a unique sight this year, with Chewbacca dressed as Axl Rose and an Ewok dressed as Slash rocking out on stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But even these popular “Star Wars” characters didn’t come close to the most popular “characters” of the year.

1. Disney Princess voices sing together at the 2011 D23 Expo

504,000+ views

Each Disney Princess voice was popular singing by themselves, but when the four joined together in song, it became an unforgettable magical moment. The joint performance by Paige O’Hara, Lea Salonga, Anika Noni Rose, and Jodi Benson at the 2011 D23 Expo brought a standing ovation in person, tears on stage, and more than a half-million views on YouTube – and still growing. It’s a moment that will likely never happen again and I’m happy to have been able to capture and share it far beyond the few thousand people who were there to see it in person.

Honorable Mentions

Though the top 10 most popular videos feature some of the best Disney and theme park entertainment 2011 had to offer, many other videos this year brought hundreds of thousands of views worth noting here.

Disney’s “Up” house created in real life and flown for National Geographic show

1,395,000+ views

The single most popular video on our YouTube channel in 2011 was not created by us, and thus not included in the list above. It was a clip from “Good Morning America” showing a first-look at a real-life version of the house from Disney/Pixar’s “UP” lifted into the sky by balloons. With nearly 1.5 million views, it’s our most popular video ever and though we didn’t make it, we’re happy to share it.

“I See The Light” from Tangled as performed on the Disney Dream

634,000+ views

The single most popular video that we did make in 2011 wasn’t actually a video at all, but more of a slideshow. With well over a half-million views, an audio performance of a song from “Tangled” aboard the Disney Dream combined with a few photos became surprisingly popular, though it’s now clear that anything Rapunzel-related was big this year. Video recording was not allowed during this stage performance, which is why this presentation was needed. I can only imagine how many views it would have gotten had it been a real video.

Star Tours 2 ride – New Destinations, Darth Vader, and more at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

224,000+ views

Just before the debut of the new version of the Star Tours ride, Disney released a first-look at some of the new scenes featured within and since video recording is not allowed inside the ride, this video became one of the year’s most popular.

Halloween Horror Nights 2011 scare zones at Universal Orlando (Preview Night)

94,000+ views

Videos from Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights are always popular and a look inside this year’s scare zones fell a bit short of the top 10, with just under 100,000 views.

Phineas and Ferb meet-and-greet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World

95,000+ views

Disney Channel characters are always popular and the appearance of Phineas and Ferb at Disney’s Hollywood Studios also brought just under 100,000 views – not quite enough for this year’s top 10 list, but still quite popular.

Anika Noni Rose (voice of Tiana) performs “Almost There” at the 2011 D23 Expo

89,000+ views

Of the four Disney Princess voices that performed at the 2011 D23 Expo, Anika Noni Rose was the only one not to make this top 10. Some wondered why she was receiving a Disney Legends award after only being part of the Disney universe for a couple years, but with nearly 100,000 views on her song, it’s clear she is almost as popular as the rest.

“Magic, Memories, and You!” projection show on Disney’s Cinderella Castle premiere

81,000+ views

Early in the year, Disney debuted a Cinderella Castle projection show that stunned on lookers, both in real life and on YouTube. The technology brought this video tens of thousands of views.

“Real” Mermaids swim in the Disneyland Hotel pool

84,000+ views

Another simple video that became surprisingly popular was this quick clip of “mermaids” swimming in the Disneyland pool during a one-night special media event. It’s definitely entertaining, but still shocking that it has received as many views as it has.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures hands-on gameplay for Xbox 360 at D23 Expo

71,000+ views

One of the most highly-anticipated Disney video games in a long time was “Kinect Disneyland Adventures” and our first hands-on look from the D23 Expo entertained gamers while they waited for its November release.

Kermit and Rowlf sing “Rainbow Connection” at the 2011 D23 Expo

69,000+ views

Another smile-inducing (and tear-jerking) performance at the D23 Expo Disney Legends awards ceremony was its finale, when Kermit the Frog and Rowlf the Dog sang “Rainbow Connection” together in honor of Jim Henson. While not as popular as the Disney Princesses, this video was shared widely.

Star Tours 2 grand opening dedication with George Lucas, Bob Iger and more at Walt Disney World

56,000+ views

George Lucas used the Force to command more than 50,000 views for the grand reopening of Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, along with Disney CEO Bob Iger and a few other celebrity guests.

2010 Video Update

Last year’s top 10 videos became even more popular throughout 2011, bringing millions of additional views throughout the year, some even more popular than newer videos. Here are a few updates to the best of the best of that bunch:

Boba Fett dances to Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2010

468,000+ views in 2011

Darth Vader and Stormtroopers dance to Michael Jackson at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends 2010

437,000+ views in 2011

Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (Lotso) meet and greet in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World

267,000+ views in 2011

Mickey Mouse shows off dance moves at the D-Street grand opening at Walt Disney World

246,000+ views in 2011

The Little Mermaid voice Jodi Benson sings at the Disneyland Resort

227,000+ views in 2011

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey queue at the Wizarding World in Universal Orlando

129,000+ views in 2011


The year began with a trip on the Disney Dream, which not only brought one of our top 10 most popular videos but also many others. From there, the year’s excitement included the grand openings of The Little Mermaid and new Star Tours rides, the exciting new Mickey’s Soundsational Parade, impressive enhancements to The Haunted Mansion, and another amazing D23 Expo.

But beyond these top 10 videos and honorable mentions, we have created hundreds more for your entertainment, all of which can be seen on our YouTube channel. Our goal is to bring you inside the magic of Disney, theme parks, and special events and judging from our 20,000+ subscribers and 18 million+ views, we think you’re enjoying it!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to make sure you receive all of our newest videos as they are released in 2012 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

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