Walt Disney World's Fantasmic!: Tough to describe, but a heck of a show
Written: Apr 3, 2012
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Crazy water and pyrotechnic effects, great music, lots of characters
Cons:Long wait, uncomfortable seating, not much of a plot
The Bottom Line: Fantasmic was one of my Disney favorites — the effects are over the top and it's just really fun to watch.
Unlike many of Walt Disney World's attractions, I'd never heard of the Fantasmic! show until I started researching for my trip. I quickly learned that it's considered by most to be a "must-see" at Disney World, so of course, I decided that I must see it for myself.
Fantasmic! — yes, the exclamation point is part of the official name — takes place in Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, an enormous theater that supposedly seats 6,900 and has some standing room.
Just the theater is kind of impressive. You walk in and see this big mountain (50-foot tall, according to Wikipedia) surrounded by water. Around the top are all kinds of lighting and speaker equipment, like you'd see for a concert setup.
There's a little bit of pre-show entertainment, with a few jokes and some audience participation-type stuff that kids will probably like. I found it boring and used the time to look through the day's pictures on my camera.
When the show finally gets cranking, it really is something. The whole thing is supposed to be Mickey Mouse's dream, which means that Disney has plenty of leeway to have a somewhat disjointed plot.
I'm going to attempt to provided a synopsis, but if you want to be surprised, just skip it, and I'll sum it up like this: there are some really awesome effects using water and pyrotechnics, and you get to see a whole bunch of Disney characters and movie clips, and there's some good music and action and dancing. So it's got all the good stuff you want from a show rolled into one, there's just not a whole lot of a plot.
Synopsis of the action
During the first part of Fantasmic!, Mickey Mouse is doing his Sorceror's Apprentice conducting act, and they have all these awesome light and water effects.
I'm not sure of the order of all the stuff after that, but they show clips from some of Disney's classic movies, and characters appear on the mountain to reenact a few movie scenes. The most prominent one is John Smith a fight scene from Pocahontas, which I thought was a strange choice. But one of the parts that I enjoyed the most is when floats start coming out from behind the mountain. The floats have characters like Rafiki from the Lion King, Belle and the Beast and Ariel and Prince Eric on them, and they all dance to music from their movies.
Of course, we have to have some sort of Good vs. Evil-type clash, so the Wicked Queen comes out. Then a big dragon comes out and sets the water on fire. That's one of the most visually startling effects, and you can feel the heat at your seats. But of course Mickey uses water to put it out.
And then everything's better. Tinkerbell comes out, and then a giant white riverboat comes out from behind the mountain with all the Disney characters riding on it. Steamboat Willie Mickey, in all his black-and-white glory, is driving it, which I thought was really cool. And then regular Mickey comes back and there are some cool pyrotechnics, and then it's over.
(End of synopsis)
I know that when explained, Fantasmic! sounds kind of bizarre. But, to be honest, it's just really freaking cool to watch. When I return to Walt Disney World, it's one of the few things that I will make certain to see again.
Unfortunately, since Fantasmic is thought of so highly, everyone wants to see it, and it usually only shows once a day, right around park closing time, so most Internet sites suggest that you get in line around 90 minutes before showtime. If you're at Disney World at a time that's not crazy busy, though, I would think you could get away with getting in line a little later.
The theater is outdoors and uncovered, so keep the elements in mind when planning to attend. The seating is also on uncomfortable metal bleachers — if you happen to have a sweatshirt or something with you, I'd sit on that, because your rear's going to be asleep by the time the show's over. On the bright side, you can bring food in, so you can eat while you wait for the show to start.
If standing in line/sitting on uncomfortable bleachers for over an hour near the end of a day at the amusement park doesn't sound like your cup of tea (and it certainly didn't sound like mine), there's a thing you can do that's called the Fantasmic! Dining Package. You can reserve it for one of three Hollywood Studios restaurants: Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano and Hollywood & Vine. You can even use your Disney Dining Plan table-service credits for it.
Brown Derby is the priciest of the three, costing around $55 apiece or two dining plan credits for the meal package, which includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for each person. But the other two are cheaper at around $35-40. We did Brown Derby and made an early dinner reservation so that we'd have some time in the park after dinner before heading over for Fantasmic!
At your dining package dinner, you will get a card for guaranteed Fantasmic seating. You still need to get there 30-40 minutes before the show, but you'll have a place to sit without wasting an extra hour of park time in line for it. The seating is on the side of the amphitheater, but there aren't really any bad seats for the show. It also seemed like fewer people exited on that side, so it was easier to get out quickly.
I think Fantasmic! would be enjoyable for people of any age, but you might be wary of having young children sit too close. Parts of it could be scary, and the heat from the fire is disconcerting to adults, so I imagine it would freak kids out a little bit.
One thing I did really like was that a lot of different Disney movies were featured. So if your favorite characters and movies aren't well-represented in the theme parks, odds are they might at least turn up here.
If you can make time for it in your trip, Fantasmic is definitely worth a look. It was one of the most over-the-top, Disneyfied things we saw, and was one of my favorite attractions of the whole trip.
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