We went to Phuket Fanta-Sea in spite of the fact that our trusty tour arranger said everyone enjoyed it. Normally those types of things I avoid. I am not everyone. However, I do love Disney World and the glossy brochure won me over. The brochure promised a fabulous buffet, shopping and an extravagant show. They were right on 2 of 3 counts.
The show sent out a van to pick us up, but we had to wind our way through the Indigo Pearl Resort to get it. Nai Yang Beach is a bit off the beaten path. We met the van in front of the resort and climbed in for the requisite 30 minute drive to the show. Upon arrival at the gate we found a koi pond with a waterfall situated between the gate to the park and the ticket area. Only one person per party was allowed to go up to the ticket booths and they looked like they were prepared for much larger lines than the ones they had the night we were there. My husband got the tickets and I looked around at the impressive front area. It is very Disney-esque in design with ornate gilding and oversized features. Then we went through the security with metal detectors and bomb sniffing dogs. Not so Disney, at least as far as I remember. The tickets we were given had everything on them, buffet time, table assignment, show time, gate number, seat and transport van number to get home. Everything was repeated on a sticker they insisted you wear on your chest like a preschooler on a field trip.
A long bridge canopied with fairy lights led into the shopping area.
The shopping area was very Disney like too. Designed to the last detail. We happened to be there at Christmas time so there was a special Christmas show on one of the stages and several smaller shows and demonstrations going on all over the place. And lots of shopping. Every imaginable doodad from postcards to gold jewelry, much of it with elephants on it. You could also visit the arcade or play one of the games on the boardwalk. We were amused by the chubby American teen shooting gangsta style on one of the games. Honestly, who was he fooling? There were also snacks in case you couldn't wait for the Golden Kinnaree to open or had had the foresight to skip it. The prices were all a little higher than you would pay anywhere else, but it's Thailand, they weren't that much higher. I really enjoyed the festival atmosphere of the thing.
We headed to the buffet early to avoid the rush. There is one thing wrong with that statement. Rush. Probably because it was Christmas week, there weren't very many people there. We stopped at the bathrooms to wash up first. They were immaculate. Monk would have been pleased. Then we headed out to find our table. The dining room is cavernous. Think of the largest wedding reception hall you can imagine and then double it. The two side areas weren't even set up for service and we pretty much had a table to ourselves. The buffet looked good. There were lots of offerings from all over the world, a carved meat area, attractive tables of petitfours. Sadly, the food doesn't live up to its image. While it looked great, it tasted bland, watery and unappealing. Drinks were extra. The Golden Kinnaree was the only bad meal we had in Thailand.
The show more than made up for the bad meal. I had expected some slap dash Third World affair, but I was treated to a full Las Vegas style treatment. Ethnic dancing, aerialists, a love story, the struggle between good and evil, seven elephants and a rainstorm, all on stage and all told without words. I sat completely gaga for 90 minutes and it was hours before I didn't see it again every time I closed my eyes. It might be a little intense for small children what with the scary masks and the explosions. The whole show was magnificently choreographed. If you do one thing on Phuket, this should be it. (Why you went all that way to do one thing I don't know, but it's your choice.)
After the show we headed right out to our van. The vans were all lined up in the parking lot and thanks to the stickers on our chests, the employees could take us to the correct one without having to say a word. The trip home was uneventful even though we had to find our way back through the Indigo Pearl to get home.
Phuket Fanta-Sea may seem fake and phony, but it was extremely well done and enjoyable. If you hate Disney World, you won't like this. Just skip it. But for us, at $30USD a head, it was an evening well spent. I just wish I had skipped the meal and eaten at the beach.
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