The Dapper Dans

Dans1Our family loves everything that has to do with music.  My husband is a professional piano player and band teacher.  The girls play violin, piano and cello and participate in a kids’ musical theater troupe.  We play “Name that Tune” around the dinner table at night and most of the songs we choose are from old musicals.  And you can add to that list that we all LOVE barbershop.

A colleague of my husband’s is a member of the Westchester Chordsmen, a four-part harmony chorus that performs locally as well as around the country.  The gentleman of whom I speak is a recently retired music teacher and he had been telling my husband for years that the girls had to see The Music Man.  Well, a couple of years ago we finally did, and the girls just fell in love with the Buffalo Bills, the quirky School Board-turned-quartet featured in the film.

Dans2Considering all of this, our first family trip to Disney World a few years ago absolutely had to feature some time spent with Disney’s famous barbershop quartet, The Dapper Dans.  In the midst of the general hullaballoo of a Disney vacation,  it is wonderful to take the time to enjoy the bits of magic that Walt Disney himself felt so strongly about instilling into guests’ Disney experience.  Some time spent sitting along Main Street, Mickey Bar in hand while enjoying a performance of the Dapper Dans is a great way to immerse yourself in that Disney magic–and to slow down a bit!

The Dans have been performing at Disneyland in Anaheim, California since 1959 and at Walt Disney World in Florida since 1971.  While they often perform as a barbershop quartet, there are several Dapper Dans on the parks’ cast member roster, allowing them to form a larger singing ensemble from time to time.  One of the lesser-known facts about the Dans is that they frequently incorporate an instrument called the Deagan Organ Chimes into their performances, on which each of 8 chimes has 3-octaves of a single note making up a C-scale.  It’s a lot of fun to watch the chimes in action!  Another interesting tidbit is that the Dans are all fitted with tiny microphones which amplifies their voices on a series of hidden speakers on the upper floors of the Main Street storefronts.  This enables park guests to hear the Dapper Dans singing throughout Main Street even if they are not right in front of them enjoying their show!  These are the bits of Disney magic that my husband is always on the lookout for during our vacations.Dans3

It’s easy to spot the Dans, sporting a rainbow of striped vests, colorful pants and be-ribboned straw boaters, strolling around Main Street, USA.  The music on Main Street is a perfect pairing for the tunes sung by the Dapper Dans, with songs from Oklahoma, The Music Man or Hello, Dolly piped throughout the area.  They are extremely friendly (they are Disney Cast Members, after all!) and are always available for a chat.  We like to greet them in the morning on the way to Fantasyland with a hearty, “Hey Dans!” as we head toward the path around the castle.

The Dapper Dans perform 9 shows daily at the parks and can usually be seen riding up Main Street on the back of the trolley in the morning at Disney World.  If you’ve been sprinkled with extra pixie dust during your trip, you may be treated to a personal serenade while getting a haircut in the Harmony Barbershop.  In Disneyland, you can expect to see them gliding by on their bicycle built for four!

Dans4Be sure to grab a Times Guide when you enter the Magic Kingdom as it lists all of the park’s performance times throughout the day.  Make a visit with the Dapper Dans a priority the next time you are at Disney!

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