Fantastic Fantasmic! Fascinates
by Rose Folan
ALL EARS® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the September 17, 2002, Issue #156 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
We all know that Disney is very good at telling the story of good vs. evil.
We see it in their movies and shows all the time. But what makes Fantasmic!, the night-time extravaganza featured at Disney-MGM Studios, a stand-out is how it manages to keep us enthralled while it tells this age-old story in spectacular style. Although it's a little heavy on villains, I think this is one of Walt Disney World's best shows. In fact, I'm planning to see it again when I visit WDW in a few weeks, so I thought it would be interesting (and fun) to learn more about the show and to share some ALL EARS® reader experiences and tips.
For those who haven't yet seen Fantasmic!, the show takes us into the dreams of Mickey Mouse. It is filled with special effects, familiar music and characters. But when the villains invade Mickey's dreams, things turn dark. As many readers point out, Fantasmic! may not be suitable for all children. Parents need to decide beforehand if this show might be too intense for them, or if they need to prepare the children for what's ahead.
Remember: it is held at night; portions of the show are very dark; it includes loud noises and fire; it has a large (and sometimes scary) villain presence. In the end, good does triumph over evil (of course, this is Disney!), but that may not be enough to keep nightmares away for some children. But even your own children can sometimes surprise you...
ALL EARS® reader Frances Marsh shared an interesting discovery she made when she found her husband wasn't up to attending the show with her and their two children, Francesca (3 1/2) and Anthony (10). Francesca was very afraid of Ursula and didn't want to go, but Anthony was really looking forward to the show. Frances convinced Francesca to attend by offering to buy her a stuffed Minnie to hug and hide her eyes in during any "scary parts. Well, what happened was a pleasant surprise for Frances.
Francesca decided, "that Minnie was scared of the villains and dragons, etc. She decided all by herself that she would protect Minnie and cover Minnie's eyes during the scary parts. Francesca herself enjoyed the show immensely. I saw her laughing at the villains while at the same time tightly covering Minnie's eyes. I did not plan for her to 'handle' the villains this way, and I couldn't recommend it to someone else, because each child is different, and you'd never know ahead of time whether this method would work or not. However, it was a wonderful solution for us. I couldn't have come up with a better solution if I tried." Very cool outcome!
And here are some cool facts about the show:
- Fantasmic! premiered at California's Disneyland in 1992; it opened at WDW in October 1998.
- Fantasmic! island features a 59-foot man-made mountain.
- The moat surrounding the island holds 1.9 million gallons of water.
- The water screens pump 2,400 gallons of water into the air every minute.
- The dragon is 40 feet tall and weighs 32,000 pounds.
- The snake is 100 feet long and 16 feet high.
The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater can hold more than 9,000 guests (6,500+ seats, 2,500+ standing room). The downside to this is that, even at this size, the theater fills up fast. Some readers suggest getting in line up to two hours before the showtime. This can be difficult with children who might get bored during the long wait.
Some reader tips for passing the time include: get food outside and have dinner either in line or when you get your seats; bring books to read; bring coloring books and crayons, or other toys to keep the kids occupied before the show.
Another option that can cut down on the wait time is the Fantasmic! Dinner Package. By dining at one of three Disney-MGM Studios restaurants (Hollywood & Vine, Brown Derby or Mama Melrose's), guests can receive a pass for the reserved seating area at Fantasmic! With this pass, guests do not have to enter the Amphitheater until a half-hour before the show starts. The Fantasmic! Dinner Package can now be reserved through WDW Dining as a fixed price, "prepaid" dinner package (similar to the Candlelight Processional dinner packages offered during the holidays), but a credit card is required. And remember that a Priority Seating is different from the Dinner Package, so be sure to specify the Fantasmic Dinner Package when booking. Visit www.allears.net/din/fantdin1.htm for more complete information on this Package.
Here are some reader tips that might help:
*Remember that the Package does not guarantee a seat, and you must still arrive by your designated time and via the special entrance.
*Although there is no extra charge (above the meal cost), the Package can still be expensive for a family, so check prices before you book.
*The Brown Derby may not be the best restaurant choice with kids. Consider this and check the menu before you book it.
*Be prepared for a long walk from the special entrance to the Fantasmic! seating area.
All in all, most readers seem to agree that the Fantasmic! Dinner Package is a good option for those who prefer not to spend time waiting in line. But the participating restaurants are priced comparably with other Disney dine-in venues, so take this into consideration.
Finally, here are some other reader tips:
- Use high-speed film to get good photos.
- Seats are hard metal benches and can be uncomfortable, bring a blanket or sweatshirt to sit on.
- Sit further back if kids are afraid of fire and to avoid getting wet.
- Ask to sit near the end of a row if you think your child may be frightened -- makes it easier and less disruptive to leave.
- Bring earplugs for the kids.
- Bring a jacket during the cooler months.
- Plan to wait a bit after the show to avoid the crush leaving.
- The second show, on nights when it's offered, is less crowded.
To read more about Fantasmic!, visit: http://allears.net/tp/mgm/m_fantasmic.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.