May 1992 – present
Frontierland – This massive show takes place on the Rivers of America. To find the waterfront, head through the main entrance to Frontierland, and you’ll see the Rivers of America at the end of the walkway.
In the early 1990s, Disney was hoping to bring new excitement to the Rivers of America, which had always been one of the quietest areas in the park. Disney hoped to create some sort of entertainment for nighttime, when Frontierland was especially quiet compared to the rest of the park. To that end, Disney designed a brand new show, which would combine water and fireworks to amaze audiences of all ages.
Before the show’s debut, the waterfront underwent various renovations. First, the front end of New Orleans Square became a tiered walkway, to create a larger viewing area. Second, Disney built in walkways to keep traffic flow moving through the land during shows. And third, the front of Tom Sawyer Island was reworked to create a small stage with hidden spaces to house special effects. Fantasmic! finally opened in 1992, and has been one of the most popular shows in the park ever since.
- Fast Pass – yes
- Single Rider – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 25:00
Fantasmic! is a journey into Mickey Mouse’s imagination. The show begins with Mickey himself, and he invites the audience to join him on a trip through his dreams, which are slowly turning into a nightmare thanks to the sneaky villain crew. Before long, Mickey’s dreams have spiraled out of control, and he has to fight the villains to take back his imagination. The sequences in the show are as follows:
- Kaa, King Louie, and monkeys from The Jungle Book
- Pink elephants on parade from Dumbo
- Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket, and Monstro from Pinocchio
- Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook, Smee, Pirates, and the Crocodile from Peter Pan
- The Evil Queen (Snow White) and various villains
- Maleficent in dragon form from Sleeping Beauty
Once Mickey stops the dragon and regains control of his imagination, the Mark Twain Riverboat appears on the waterfront. A large ensemble of Disney characters waves from the different decks on the riverboat, as Mickey steers the ship off into the night.
MY RATING: ★★★★★
Fantasmic! is a phenomenal show. It uniquely combines projections on massive water screens, live action, pyrotechnics, and boats racing around the waterfront. The story is cute, the special effects are elaborate and exciting, and the music is great. If you were to see only one show during your trip, it should absolutely be this one.
Note: When I visited Walt Disney World, I had the opportunity to see the Hollywood Studios version of Fantasmic!, and was actually very disappointed. Though the show is much bigger, and is set in a huge stadium, it’s not the same. I talked to a few cast members who had seen both shows about their experiences, and we all agreed that Disneyland’s show is MUCH better.
If you can, I’d absolutely recommend purchasing a dining package to see this show. It makes all the difference, especially with the dining packages in seated sections. I’d seen Fantasmic! From random places in New Orleans Square and Frontierland in passing before, but never had a great view. Once I tried a dining package, watching the show was an incredible experience.
For guests not interested in a dining package, your options are very limited. You have the option to grab fast passes for the show, but do so as early in the day as possible so you don’t miss your chance. These fast passes operate like World of Color, where they don’t affect whether or not you can grab another one for a different attraction. Without a fast pass, you’ll have to be creative. Cast members are vigilant about keeping traffic moving in this area, so you won’t be able to stop and watch from any walkway in the area, sit on a wall, or stand right behind a dining package viewing area. Your best bet is to stake out a spot along Frontierland or Critter Country up to 45 minutes before the show, but even then you’ll have a side (or even blocked) view.
Though most of the show’s viewing area is in New Orleans Square, the show itself resides in Frontierland, since the Rivers of America belong to the wild west.
Three Disney parks have a Fantasmic! show: Disneyland, Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios, and Tokyo DisneySea. Each show features different characters and special effects, but the main storyline is the same.
Belle’s Fantasmic! dress is reportedly the most expensive costume at the resort, with some speculating a cost of $45,000.