The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World

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The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
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When talking about stunt shows, it’s hard to nail down every single type out there. There are circuses, automobile shows, extreme sports, and narrative-based experiences that tell a complete story from beginning to end. Whichever kind you prefer, you’re always in for a treat if you get the chance to watch some of the world’s greatest stunt professionals do what only they can do.

No two live stunt show experiences are alike, as each has its own unique flair and feel. Some shows work hard to entertain through the lens of history while also wining and dining you. Other shows like launch themselves off the success of a feature film, continuing the story into an exciting new medium. In any case, there’s a lot of hard work, training, and death-defying stunts that go into each of the best live stunt shows in the world. Here are some that are absolutely worth checking out.

Medieval Times is “an experience unlike any other”

The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Kifor production/Shutterstock

What’s so great about Medieval Times is that it isn’t just a stunt show — it’s an experience that transports you back to the days of old, when kings and queens were the world-class celebrities and knights their primary entertainment. This “dinner and a show” is usually housed in a built-to-scale replica of an 11th-century castle (though the Toronto branch is located inside a government building), and features some of the best historical drama that you could witness in person. If King Arthur is your guy, then Medieval Times is the show for you.

The show itself centers around a tournament in which six colorful knights duel, joust, and compete in a series of historically accurate games to win the title of “Champion” and become the new defender of the realm. The story itself changes every couple of years, with the current iteration (in effect since 2017) featuring a queen in the lead role rather than a king. Aside from the medieval tournament games, there is also a lot of well-crafted falconry and equestrian choreography, which always keeps the audience in awe.

Medieval Times’ attention to detail and complex dinner theater has kept it alive for almost 40 years (impressive for any live performance), bringing lots of excitement and entertainment to us lowly peasants. It’s no wonder that it’s one of the best live stunt shows in the world.

Lights, Motors, Action!: Extreme Stunt Show proved electrifying

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The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

Disney’s hit stunt show ran for nearly 20 years before it officially shut down in 2020, but it always proved itself to be an exciting, adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. “Lights, Motors, Action!” revolved around a series of automobiles, motorbikes, jet-skis, and the unnamed “hero” himself, often playing like a segment from “Mission: Impossible.” Taking cues from just about every action film car chase, “Lights, Motors, Action!” makes you wish you were a daredevil.

Fueled by various car chases, explosions, and other impressive stunts, “Lights, Motors, Action!” was unique in that the show revolved around the making of a “movie” and forced its participants to dodge cameras (some of them live-streaming for the audience) the entire show. The stunt show also did an excellent job at making the audience feel like they were watching the making of a movie, and since it’s was a Disney production, Herbie the Love Bug and Lightning McQueen of “Cars” fame even made guest appearances over the years.

Indiana Jones' Epic Stunt Spectacular! will make you want to punch a Nazi

The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Paramount Pictures

Another Disney World production, “Indiana Jones’ Epic Stunt Spectacular” has been around for over 30 years and was a stunt show trailblazer, encouraging theme parks to incorporate live stunt shows into their arsenal. Based on the events of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” this show reenacts some of the film’s greatest hits, including the famous temple escape and Nazi plane explosion scenes. It was even overseen by Indiana Jones co-creator George Lucas himself!

This action-packed show works hard to bring Indy’s story to life in a way that watching it on a screen never could. Here you feel the action and the explosions on your face as Indy faces his Nazi adversaries. They even incorporate live audience members into the production during the Cairo street scene, allowing children of all ages to help Indy and Marion on their quest. The show’s commitment to its source material and the inclusion of audience participation (often including a stunt actor plant in a Hawaiian shirt) make this show truly epic.

“Indiana Jones’ Epic Stunt Spectacular” is still going in its original Orlando location at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to this day, and unlike most stunt shows Indy’s has remained largely unchanged since it started in 1989. Its massive impact on live stunt shows everywhere only further proves that it’s one of the best.

Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular is an epic showdown you won't want to miss

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The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Igor Lushchay/Shutterstock

Riding off the success of Disney’s successful stunt shows, Universal attempted its own based on the underrated 1995 Kevin Costner film “Waterworld,” and it seems to have been more successful than the movie itself! This stunt show follows the events of the film as Helen, her crew, and the Mariner himself battle the villainous Smokers after discovering dry land.

The show itself is a 16-minute explosion that cleverly utilizes a combination of pyrotechnics, sea-warfare, jet skis, physical stunt work, and even a crashing seaplane in the shocking finale. The stunt actors’ commitment to their “Waterworld” characters and the impressive set piece they perform on are just as commendable, bringing this forgotten world to life with an original story in a way that only Universal can. It’s truly a wonder that a “Waterworld” attraction has outlived countless others based on even more popular films, but once you’ve seen the show itself you’ll understand why.

“Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular” is still going strong around the globe, with shows every day at the Universal theme parks in California, Japan, Singapore, and the newest one in Beijing that opened in 2021. If this isn’t one of the best live stunt shows in the world, then what could be?

Cirque du Soleil is a performance you can't afford to miss

The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

This nearly 40-year strong contemporary circus has been critically acclaimed around the globe for decades, but it originated in Quebec with two street performers. Since then, Cirque du Soleil, which means “Circus of the Sun” in French, might not be the first show you think of when you hear “stunt show,” but we’d be remiss not to include it here. With nearly 20 different productions currently active around the globe, Cirque du Soleil has proven to be a historic trendsetter.

Neither a stunt show nor a circus in the traditional senses of explosions or animal acts, Cirque du Soleil is a lot classier than that. With a unique blend of acrobatics, juggling, elaborate sets, creative lighting, fantastical costuming, and music, they work hard to tell a specific story in each act. The organic movements of each performer feel more like art pieces than stunt performances, captivating their audience through their intriguing dance. We might not immediately think of their work as “stunts,” but there’s no doubt that’s exactly what they are.

Cirque du Soleil is a powerful contemporary circus that works hard to live up to its own name. For the most part, it succeeds with literal flying colors, bringing timeless energy to a live stunt show that you won’t find anywhere else.

EAA AirVenture is an aviation wonder that you have to see to believe

The Best Live Stunt Shows In The World
Jana Harrer/Shutterstock

Yes, airshows are technically stunt shows — they require a staggering amount of training unlike anything else. Held each year at the Wittman Regional and Pioneer Airports in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the EAA AirVenture is no doubt the largest gathering of aviation enthusiasts in the United States, maybe the world. It might seem like San Diego Comic Con for airplane junkies, but it’s so much more.

The AirVenture is one of the greatest live stunt shows in the world, featuring every plane imaginable from warbirds and home-built aircrafts to vintage planes and ultralights. This airshow has it all! The aerobatic displays are breathtaking, showing off some of the best aerial performers out there. Sure, this is a bit different than explosions and jousting, but if watching planes makes your heart swell, then this is the stunt show for you.

The EAA AirVenture has been around since 1953 and continues to garner an audience of hundreds of thousands each year. If you can make it, you won’t be sorry!

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