Top 5 Broadway Shows for Kids

'The Lion King' marquee at the Minskoff Theatre
'The Lion King' marquee at the Minskoff Theatre (Photo: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images). Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Broadway shows really do offer something for everyone these days. There are lush (or sometimes edgy) revivals of classic musicals and plays, clever original musicals, huge blockbusters, jukebox musicals, and more. But not all of these options are ideal for family audiences. If you're headed to New York City with the family in tow, though, you've still got your pick of some amazing shows! These Broadway shows are great options for the whole family: family-friendly enough for younger kids, but entertaining and well-made so the adults won't be bored at all.

1. The Lion King

Why: Without a doubt, the perennial favorite choice for a child’s first Broadway show is Disney’s The Lion King. Winning 6 Tony Awards, Julie Taymor’s visionary and innovative production, based on the Academy Award-winning animated film, helped spur renewed interest in Broadway for the younger generation.

What: The Lion King tells the story of Simba as he grows up on the African prideland, learning valuable lessons about family and love. Scored by pop-rock icon Sir Elton John, this gorgeous musical with triple-threat actors and African animal puppetry is a feast for the eyes and ears. 

2. Wicked

Why: Why not? It’s among the most successful musicals in Broadway history — and for good reason.

What: Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked is a prequel to the famous story The Wizard of Oz, telling the tale of Elphaba, a green-skinned outcast with magical powers, and Glinda, her popular rival-turned-friend, in the years before Dorothy appeared in Oz. This show is darker in tone than the familiar Judy Garland flick, but the language is clean and the minimal violence occurs offstage, in Greek style. At 2 hours 45 minutes, Wicked may be too long for restless small children, but it has become the family and teen must-see Broadway show

"Wicked: Behind the Emerald Curtain" backstage tours are also available. Cast members from the show lead the 90-minute tour, which features a close-up look at Tony-winning costumes, sets, original costume and set renderings, and more.

3. Aladdin

Why: It's splashy, classic Broadway with a Disney sensibility: a cute story combined with massive production values and the iconic songs you already love.

What: Nearly 20 years after the animated Aladdin, Disney presented this stage adaptation. While there are some new songs (written by longtime Disney composer Alan Menken) and new characters (Aladdin now has a trio of human sidekicks, rather than his monkey Abu), the heart of the story remains the same: a poor boy falls in love with a restless princess and enlists the help of a wisecracking genie to raise his status so he can be an eligible suitor. The new additions do make the show run a bit long — 2 hours and 35 minutes — but the sheer joy of watching "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World" come to life is worth the time it takes.

4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Why: Who wouldn't want to see the magic of the Harry Potter universe brought to life? The next-generation sequel is designed to appeal to current kids as much as to their parents who grew up on J.K. Rowling's novels.

What: 20 years after the final Potter novel, young Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy become inseparable friends, bonding over rocky relationships with their famous fathers, and accidentally set off a time-tripping plot that threatens everyone's existence. The show is so long that it's split up into two separate full-length plays (you can see them back-to-back on the same day with a dinner break, or on separate days), but it's packed full of heart, humor, and how-did-they-do-that live magic and illusions.

5. Frozen

Why: Remember how Frozen was pretty much the biggest animated movie in years? Now, it's onstage, and it's bigger (and sparklier) than ever.

What: The stage adaptation of Disney's blockbuster hit is the same story you remember: young queen Elsa suppresses her ice powers until she can't hold it in anymore, leaving her endearingly awkward sister Anna to try to save the frozen kingdom with the help of an ice seller, a prince, and some animal sidekicks. Out of all the kid-friendly shows on Broadway, this one probably hews the closest to its animated predecessor, so if you're looking for something comfortable and very familiar, it's probably your best bet.