Is Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Really Worth Your Time?

There’s nothing like seeing all the Disney characters in one place at the same time — especially if they are all teaming up to fight the forces of evil, just like in the popular Disney’s Hollywood Studios show Fantasmic!.

That billboard alone is enough to make you want to catch this epic battle of good and evil. Fantasmic! is a 30-minute firework and water show with over 50 performers and a giant mechanical dragon. But even with it being as awesome as it is, many guests wonder if it is worth their time to include Fantasmic! in their daily Park plans.


To answer that we will take a hard look at a few different factors including the story, the characters, the special effects, the viewing area, and the showtimes. Fantasmic! first opened in Disneyland in 1992, but it was refurbished in 2016 and re-opened in 2017. You can also watch versions of Fantasmic! in Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World . We’re going to focus on Florida’s version of this iconic show.

The Fantasmic! Story

First we’ll look at the story of Fantasmic!. The basic story in all the Fantasmic! shows is the same, we enter Mickey Mouse’s dream and travel through different realms fight against the forces of evil culminating in a battle with the dragon form of Maleficent. Similar to Mickey’s Philharmagic, the story isn’t very strong, but it gives us a chance to visit different Disney characters. If you are looking for a thoughtfully-crafted story, this probably isn’t for you. But if you are just looking for a fun 30 minute experience with cameos from your favorite Disney characters then it’s worth your time.


Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios

The Characters

Tons of different Disney characters appear throughout the story. In the Disney World version there is a sequence that involves characters from Pocahontas. When the Disney World version opened in 1998, Pocahontas was only three years old and still pretty popular. With the addition of Governor Ratcliffe, John Smith, and Pocahontas, the show will fill any adult who grew up belting out Colors of the Wind with a wave of nostalgia.

The Villains

The climax of the story features Disney Villains from all kinds of Disney movies, including some rarely seen like Hades from Hercules. Throughout the performance we see other characters make appearances from a variety of Disney movies including Peter Pan, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. Most of them appear on the ferries that float through the end of the show. If you want to see from afar a large selection of Disney characters (but you don’t need to meet them in person), Fantasmic will do that for you.


The Special Effects

The special effects are everything you’ve come to expect from a Disney nighttime show. There are fireworks and explosions, water projections, smoke effects, and a gigantic mechanical dragon. All of the special effects are pretty standard for Disney and aren’t too bad. The water projections at Disney World are a little lackluster and not nearly as nice as the ones in California Adventure. The stand out effect is definitely the mechanical dragon which is modeled after the dragon form of the evil fairy Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. Turning into a dragon is probably one of the coolest skills a Disney villain can have. The dragon moves its head, roars, and shoots flames at Mickey Mouse. The two have a stand off in the end where, of course, Mickey uses his magic powers and wins.


The Viewing Area

Now we are going to look at the viewing area for the show. When Fantasmic! opened in Hollywood Studios, they built a whole theater just for the show. People start lining up to get into the theater usually 90 minutes before the show begins. The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is a standard round theater with uncomfortable bench seats. It can get crowded and be uncomfortable if you don’t like feeling enclosed or large crowds. There is also a dessert party option available in Hollywood Studios that guarantees you seating for the show.

Fantasmic! at Disney World


The Showtime

Finally we’ll look at the showtime. Fantasmic! only shows at night in the park. Since Fantasmic! takes place in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater the rest of Hollywood Studios will usually empty a little during the show since the theater holds almost seven thousand people at its maximum capacity. The show only happens at the end of the night and other than that the theater lays empty. We feel like they are maybe missing out by not doing a middle of the day show that would use the theater. It could also spread out crowds a little more in the middle of the day if they did a daytime show (plus, families with young kids could knock this attraction out while the kids are still relatively energetic).

The Verdict

Taking into account the fantasy of seeing all these characters together and the energy of the music and special effects, Fantasmic! is definitely worth seeing at least once. Whether you want to use subsequent nighttime visits to the Park to watch the show over and over is a matter or preference — or a matter of practicality. With popular attractions perhaps seeing reduced waits during the nighttime show, it might be worth it for ride fans to use the Fantasmic! show time to fit in a first, second, or third ride on their favorite attractions instead.

How do you feel about Fantasmic? Let us know in the comments.

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7 Replies to “Is Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Really Worth Your Time?”

  1. I love it and would see it every time if I could. Unfortunately we don’t go a lot and it has taken a back burner to other priorities. And my family doesn’t live it as much as I do.

  2. Have not read the article. Just here to say, yes, yes it is worth your time. It is wonderful and lovely and gives you the chills!! It’s my fave, can you tell? 😍

  3. I’m not sure there is much of an argument here for or against the show. It could be more compelling. One thing worth noting, but missing, is the fact that this has become a show that is only accessible to the rich. All of the decent seating is now reserved for people who have paid a premium. Even the fastpass seating is now second-rate. I don’t even waste my time on it anymore.

    Also a good portion of this show is very dark with emphasis on the evil. You should keep this in mind with small kids.

    1. I usually sit in the back because I use an ECV and I’ve always been able to see well. I’m not sure what you want to see close up, but I’ve always felt it’s a show best appreciated from a little further away so you get the whole picture.

  4. I think if you’ve never seen it on either coast, then WDW’s version is definitely worth it, and potentially even repeatable. There’s nothing wrong with (except for that lengthy, outdated Pocanhotas section.)

    The problem is if you’ve already Fantasmic! at Disneyland, where its location on the Rivers of America and Tom Sawyer Island, its use of the Sailing Ship Columbia, the far-better dragon, and the super-sized Mark Twain finale (in place of that cramped, dollar-store Steamboat Willie)–and really, just being smack in the middle of Disneyland instead of in a Six Flags-esque outdoor stadium off to the side)–make it far more spectacular.

    My partner and I are former Dineyland vets who have spent the past several years falling in love with WDW (which we very strongly prefer now.) But having experienced Fantasmic! in Anaheim, we were pretty underwhelmed with Orlando’s version. (Really, that interminable Pocahontas section needs to be towed out to sea and sunk.) In seven years of WDW trips, we’ve done so much at WDW so many times, but Fantasmic! at DHS we’ve done exactly once, and that was enough for us.

  5. Fantasmic presses all my emotional buttons. Any trip to Hollywood Studios is planned around it. If any of my friends are Disney newcomers and want my help planning a trip, it’s probably the first thing on the list. The mix of characters, the score, the stunning effects, the atmosphere in the amphitheatre as you wait, and the leisurely walk out using the front exit – it’s just a great experience. I’m from the UK, but if they ever announce Fantasmic is ending, I would have to make a special trip to see it one more time.

  6. I saw Fantasmic once, and that was more than enough. I was coming out of Tower of Terror and they had apparently just opened the theatre for the queue to enter. I had always been curious about the show so I joined in the throng, and there I was in the amphitheater.

    First, I enjoyed the effects. There’s also a nice “feel good” element to the show.

    That being said, the story is practically nonexistent, and is really an excuse for shoehorning as many characters as possible onto the stage. This is probably great for little ones, but I needed more. I enjoy the acrobatics in Festival of the Lion King, and the stunts in Indiana Jones, but Fantasmic failed to hold my attention.

    Finally, the theatre suffers (like many Disney venues) from backless seating, which is tough on people who have bad backs. The gooe news, though, as the article said, is that the show tends to empty out the park.