2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Published: March 15, 2010 at 11:28 AM
Fantasmic! opened at the then-Disney-MGM Studios in 1998, following the original Disneyland version of the show, which has been playing on the Rivers of America in Anaheim since 1992. (A third version will open at Tokyo DisneySea next year.) Fantasmic! presents highlights from many classic Disney films, in live action and animation projected on water screens in front of a massive outdoor stage. Mickey Mouse provides the focus for the show, as it's his dream that brings together all these classic Disney moments, culminating in his fiery battle with Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent.
The Walt Disney World version of the show plays in Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, which was built for the show. The other big difference between the two versions has been the frequency with which it plays. Until last year, when the schedule was cut back, the Disney World version played nearly every night, unlike the California version, which plays only during summers and holidays.
The shows differ in a few other ways: The Disney World version plays a few minutes longer, due to additional clips of villains. And the final character flood takes place on Steamboat Willie's steamship, instead of on the Mark Twain, as it does in Disneyland. To me, the Mark Twain's always been more visually impressive than the smaller Steamboat Willie ship, but the Florida version fits better within the theme of the show. A black-and-white Mickey piloting Steamboat Willie's boat makes sense. Mickey on the Mark Twain... not so much.
Despite playing in a massive theater (with room for more than 9,000 visitors), Fantasmic! remains a tough "ticket" most nights, making various dining packages at park restaurants that guarantee a Fantasmic! seat popular options. This show's enduring popularity made it an obvious top seed, but in which bracket?
The show's use of recorded voices and programmed effects would suggest it might be an animated show, but with dozens of live character actors and technicians bringing the show to life each night it plays, ultimately I placed it within the live show bracket. The show's use of pyro and water screens also makes it a difficult one to film, but I've embedded the best version I've found on YouTube to date for your Monday-at-work time-killing pleasure:
Please tell us your thoughts about Fantasmic!, and its chances within the Best Live show bracket, in the comments.