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Disneyland favorite Dana Daniels to appear at Wizardz Magic Theater on Monday night

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Disneyland favorite Dana Daniels to appear at Wizardz Magic Theater on Monday night

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Ask any performer who ever got to see Wally Boag during their formative years. Who sat in the audience at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon and then watched as this master comedian - day in & day out - wowed the crowds at Disneyland. And they'll pretty much admit (just as Steve Martin did in his 2007 memoir, "Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life") that ...

... My fantasy was that one day Wally would be sick with the flu, and a desperate stage manager would come out and ask the audience if there was an adolescent boy who could possibly fill in.

Well, Dana Daniels eventually did just that. Climbed up onstage and then - just like Boag did -- wowed the crowds at Disneyland. Though Daniels took a somewhat roundabout route to the Golden Horseshoe.

Dana Daniels in his old Peco Bill garb back
when he appeared in Disneyland's Golden
Horseshoe Revue

"I actually got my start at the Park out as a character performer. Playing a character in one of the parades or shows at Disneyland," Dana remembered. "In fact, the first time I met Wally face-to-face, I was still wearing my Goofy shoes. I told him that I was interested in becoming his understudy at the Golden Horseshoe. And since I was just out of high school at that time ... Well, obviously I was far too young to play his traveling salesman. But Wally still encouraged me. Suggesting that I come out for the auditions that they annually held for performers at the Horseshoe."

And Daniels must have impressed the Entertainment staff at Disneyland. For - when the new Fantasyland opened in 1983 - Dana was pressed into service as a strolling magician. Where he'd then entertain the Guests who were waiting in line by performing comic juggling and/or by doing close-up magic.

"I learned an awful lot from my time performing in the streets at Fantasyland. How to hold a crowd's attention. More importantly, how to entertain a group of people who don't all speak the same language," Daniels continued. "And I was then able to use these skills when I finally got the chance to perform at the Golden Horseshoe."

Dana Daniels doing his comedy juggling routine at Disneyland's
New Fantasyland back in 1984

Mind you, this was after Boag retired and Dick Hardwick was now playing the traveling salesman role at the Golden Horseshoe. And given that Dana was far closer in age to Dick than he was to Wally ... Well, Disneyland Entertainment was now more amenable to the idea of Daniels becoming Hardwick's understudy.  But even with the thousands of people that Dana had performed in front of in Fantasyland (not to mention the hundreds of times that he had seen Wally perform his act), Daniels was still a nervous wreck the very first time he appeared in this role.

"I remember standing at the back of the Golden Horseshoe and  thinking about how surreal this all was. How I'd dreamed about being able to play this part and now I was finally going to do it," Dana said. "I didn't get all that much rehearsal time. So that first performance was kind of a blur. All I remember is that - when I came offstage - I had sweated through my shirt. And since I never sweat when I'm onstage ... Well, I guess that was just nerves."

Well, Daniels eventually got over that case of nerves and then settled in for a good long run at the Golden Horseshoe. First serving as a sub in the Revue from 1983 - 1986, and then performing as the headliner in the Golden Horseshoe Variety Show from 1995 through 2003.

Dana Daniels and Richard Allen in the Golden Horseshoe Variety Show

And ever since his Disneyland days ... Dana's been on something of a hot streak. He was named the Comedy Magician of the Year & Stage Magician of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts in Hollywood, CA. And has served as the opening act for such celebrated  performers as Ray Romano, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Tony Orlando.

But since Daniels got his start in show business working at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon on its beautiful little jewel of a stage ... Well, he still has a fondness for working in rooms where he can get real close to the audience. Like the Magic Castle back in May. Or just last week at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach. Or - better yet - at Wizardz Magic Theater at the Seralogo Hotel & Suites in Kissimmee, FL on September 30th.

"I love working at Wizardz," Dana enthused. "It's this great intimate space to perform in. Where you can really get in close to the audience. Plus it's always nice to get back to Orlando and perform in front of some of my old Disneyland fans."

Dana Daniels and his feathered friend, Luigi the Psychic Parrot

So if you'd like to see Dana Daniels (not to mention his longtime partner, Luigi the Psychic Parrot), then make your way to Orlando's only close-up magic theater. Wizardz is literally just down the road from Walt Disney World at 5678 US 192. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the fun will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

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  • Thank you so much for this story

  • Actually Luigi died earlier this year.  It was a great loss for the magic community.  Dana is a great performer and Luigi will be sorely missed.

  • RE: The Shocker ... While it is true that the original Luigi did pass away last year, Dana continues to work with another  parrot that (for the sake of continuity as well as for all those folks who just loved the role that that Psychic Parrot played in Daniel's act) is being called (onstage, anyway) Luigi. As Dana told me last week when we talked on the phone, "If Lassie and Shamu can continue on as characters long after the original collie and killer whale are gone, so can Luigi."

    I hope this note clears up any confusion JHM readers may have

  • Didn't I see that he was using a dove for a bit after the original Luigi died?  Did that not work out or was the dove just a filler until he could find the next Luigi?

  • Dana uses the dove when he performs in Hawii it is to hard to ship Luigi to Hawii.

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