In early 2016, it was announced that Fantasmic! was going to be going down for a refurbishment along with other attraction in Disneyland to make way for the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion, little did we know what was planned. On a May update of the Disney Parks Blog, it was announced when Fantasmic! returns it would have “new magic” which sent the Disney Universe into a fit, which I think happens pretty much daily but this was a bigger than normal one. Speculation grew as the actual 25th anniversary date grew closer, but as with what happened 25 year ago, so did the rains in Southern California. While it was never announced to happen, it is believed that the return of El Niño bringing heavy rains may have been one of the reasons Fantasmic! was unable to celebrate its 25th birthday with the first performance. As the summer grew closer, so did the biennial Disney D23 Expo which brings thousands upon thousands of Disney’s most die hard fans to the gates of the Disneyland Resort.
The D23 Expo had already been scheduled and almost sold out when June 15, 2017 hit and the Disney Parks Blog confirmed Fantasmic! would return to the Rivers of America on July 17th, 2017 (Disneyland 62nd Birthday) which would lead this die hard fan to change his return flight. For anyone that has been to a D23 Expo, you know surprises are a big part of the event. During the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts panel on Saturday, Bob Chapik announced the return of Fantasmic! would happen that night and we all were going to be given Disney Fastpass for it. That surprise brought the 7,000 fans to a roar!
We were given our choice of Saturday or Sunday for either of the showings (9:00 p.m. or 10:30 p.m.) and, after some challenges, guests were given a wristband and credential for whichever show they had chosen.
Me being me, I picked the first show that night! Finding the perfect unobstructed view right next to Tower A (told you — die hard fan) this was the first performance to the public of the new Fantasmic!
My feelings after this first viewing were very mixed because, if you couldn’t tell by now, I loved the original! There was nothing wrong with the show, just different and as with most Disney fans different is always hard to accept.
Things I loved about the show:
- Keeping many of the same iconic scenes including the flower, Kaa, and King Louie
- Enhancing the villains while keeping the most of the same footage
- Paying tribute to the Pinocchio marionettes
- Updating the Princess float parade by adding Rapunzel and Flynn
The overall show is still Fantasmic!, but not the show I have known and loved for almost 25 years, which just means I need to see this show over and over again because it is great! The additions of Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King are a perfect way to bring the new Disney Classics into the show while keeping the emotional attachments that were already there. If I may note my only two downsides to the show, they would have to be the addition of Mickey’s “ohhh” throughout the opening of the show and removing the original exit music and inserting the Tokyo DisneySea music.
On July 17, I had already booked the Fantasmic! dinning package with the grab-n-go option from the Hungry Bear Restaurant which worked out very well and the food was far better than expected.
Having the chance to see the show a second time in the matter of days I was really able to put together how I felt about it, it is good just not great to me and the main reason I think is because I had just seen the source martial for this version just a few months ago in Tokyo. Disneyland Fantasmic! came full circle from being the most original show I had ever seen to being a knock-off of the Tokyo DisneySea version. Again, this is not a bad thing, but hearing the same score rearranged from Tokyo threw me. The visuals are amazing and do a better job in conveying the story of Mickey again getting into trouble ala the Sorcerers Apprentice scene in Fantasia, but this is not Mickey’s dream so much as it is an adventure. The points I said I really enjoyed from above still hold true and were enough to bring me back to sitting right next to the fencing along the rivers during that first summer, but again, the rehashing of the other show would knock me back out. I am still a firm believer in updating and plussing classics without destroying it all and this is a perfect example of a good change. I know I will get past the few drawbacks I have from the show and love it — no matter what, it is still the best version of Fantasmic! in any of the parks!
Oh, I was also able to take video from the other side of the river so you can choose which you like but if you want to see the center view head over to Doug’s coverage of the opening night here.