Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland both possess versions of Fantasmic, but which can claim the title of superior show? This is a difficult question because both Fantasmic shows have their merits.
On a recent trip to Disneyland, we viewed Fantasmic on the Rivers of America, and the show was indeed spectacular. The use of the actual Mark Twain Riverboat as well as the Sailing Ship Columbia add a certain level of realism and grand scale to Disneyland’s Fantasmic that is just not matched in DHS. The sheer size of the Rivers of America and the set for Fantasmic in California really just give this show more staying power than the one in Florida. In addition, the fact that we could walk up to the railing of a bridge and simply watch Fantasmic without having to make the death march down into the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater amongst hundreds of screaming adults and children really made the entire experience far more palatable to me. The crowd flow control in Disneyland was also far more organized than it is in Florida. I do not blame Disney for this issue in Florida; I blame the guests. The Disney castmembers clearly state where you should go and where you should not go, but people do not listen. They feign ignorance and just keep walking wherever they please. In Disneyland, the visitors seem to be more locals who know how to walk around the parks without causing painful gridlock in congested walkways. Also, Disneyland is simply a smaller park with less capacity, so there are fewer people present in the park than in WDW.
Now, I did enjoy Disneyland’s Fantasmic, but I did not really enjoy having to stand for the duration of the entire show. The DHS version wins with regard to seating; I like being able to sit down and enjoy the show. I can even take better photos because I am sitting and not balancing by leaning up against a rail. As I stated earlier, the logistics of getting to Fantasmic in Florida are absolutely miserable. When the castmembers open up the theater, visitors do not follow their directions. People start pushing and shoving, and they are just generally rude. At one viewing, I actually had a man push his way through the crowd and then fall on top of me. He was angry that I was standing where he wanted to stand. That is just ridiculous. If everyone just followed directions and let the castmembers do their jobs, the walk into the amphitheater would be far easier.
With regard to both shows, I just can’t get enough of Fantasmic. I love both shows, and I cannot say that I like one show more than the other. However, there are certain elements of each show that are superior to the other. In Disneyland, the whole Peter Pan/Captain Hook sequence is excellent. There are pirates swinging from the Sailing Ship Columbia; the crocodile chases after Captain Hook; and there are explosions. This scene is very well done. On the other hand, the Pocahontas scene at DHS leaves something to be desired. I would rather see the Peter Pan sequence in Florida. In California, the jungle scene with the “monkey boats” is less exciting than it is in Florida. The music is better in Florida, and the entire scene is more enjoyable. I also prefer the end of the show in Florida where Sorcerer Mickey is stationed high atop a mountain conducting the fireworks. In Disneyland, he is standing on top of a building on Tom Sawyer’s Island. The Disney World version is just more exciting and brings a more spectacular end to the entire show.
Finally, if you are going to see Fantasmic at DHS, please invest in the dining package. You can eat your meal at one of the Table Service establishments in DHS, and then you can proceed to a special viewing area for Fantasmic. It is a much less stressful way to view the show, especially if you hate waiting in the mob of people that forms at the entrance to the amphitheater before the show. We enjoyed dinner at Mama Melrose’s Italian Restaurant, but there are other dining locations that participate in this program as well. Disneyland did not have a similar plan; this park only gave the option of a dessert party of sorts. You could pay $60 a person for a variety of snacks and desserts. This was very overpriced, and it did not even include a meal. We went to see the second showing of Fantasmic on a fairly crowded day at Disneyland, and we did not have a problem viewing the show. I would not pay $60 a person just for dessert. You can easily view the show without this special plan.
Overall, Fantasmic is a must see in Disneyland or in Disney World. It combines all of the excitement of fireworks with the storytelling prowess for which Disney is well known. The effects are excellent, and the performers do a spectacular job every night they perform the show. Make sure to catch this journey into Mickey’s imagination at Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios the next time you make the trip out to one of these parks. Until next time, have a magical day, and keep moving forward!