Welcome to Extinct Attractions. This week, we’ll be going on a trip across the pond to what is regarded as the best theme park in the world, Tokyo DisneySea.
Yesterday, Tokyo Disneyland celebrated its 37th anniversary, though without most of the fanfare for obvious reasons. The resort always goes all out for anniversary celebrations, almost always debuting a new parade for every fifth anniversary. This year, the new Beauty and the Beast and Big Hero 6 attractions were set to open. I was especially excited to see the Beauty and the Beast ride open because it is the first ride to tell the classic story of a tale as old as time.
However, today’s trip takes us to Tokyo Disneyland’s sister park, Tokyo DisneySea, which was home to one of the most exciting nighttime spectaculars of all-time.
Our story begins in 1992, a time when Disney Parks production was at an all-time, with new attractions being added constantly and Euro Disneyland preparing to open to the world. It was the early days of Michael Eisner’s self-proclaimed Disney Decade, and the entire company was booming. With the success of so many different pieces of IP,, Walt Disney Imagineering and Entertainment thought of an exciting new nighttime show that would blow away everything they had done before. Disneyland was the first park lucky enough to get Fantasmic, with Walt Disney World receiving the show a few years later.
Over in Tokyo Disneyland, the main park wasn’t in need of a nighttime show, but they were looking for something more spectacular when their new park opened. But they didn’t stick with the tried and true with Fantasmic, opting to create a brand-new show, BraviSEAmo. Eventually, that show ran its course, and the park decided to bring in the old standby and introduce Fantasmic to an international audience on April 28, 2011
Via Japan Guide
One issue that Fantasmic had in Tokyo was a distinct lack of a stage. Both domestic versions had built a stage for the action to take place, but because of how Tokyo DisneySea is laid out, the designers were forced to use a wide variety of barges instead, giving the show a more dynamic feel since everything was moving around constantly.
Rather than completely start from scratch, they repurposed some of the floats that they used in their Christmas lagoon show, with the most impressive being the transformation of a Christmas tree into Mickey’s Sorcerer's Hat that could retract into itself.
As I stated earlier, the show was much more dynamic without a stage, which both impressed me and left me missing the stage from the other versions. It was nice to be able to see almost everything in the show well regardless of where you were standing, with the drivers doing a nice job covering all of the ground. But at the same time, the lack of a central stage where there were multiple characters interacting made the scope feel a bit less grand. I continually found myself trying too hard to focus all over the place.
Via Disney Geek
It was nice, though, to have the central barge be a shapeshifter that could be a hat, mountain or screen to be projected on. This show utilized a lot fewer water screens than its counterparts, which was nice to have a clearer image of these scenes by using the center barge, but also limited who could see what since the barge was basically a circular screen.
It was also cool because a bunch of different characters like Mickey, Stitch and Cinderella would show up on the barge throughout the show. You never knew who might pop up next.
Speaking of characters, that’s the one major part of the show where I felt this version was lacking. We saw a lot of dancers, but the number of actual Disney characters who appeared in costume was relatively low. They used screens of just one or two characters instead of the wider variety that you see in the other versions.
There was also no major action piece like Pirates of the Caribbean or Pocahontas, which I think could’ve been really cool in this format. When you have so much space to work with, it had the potential to be very thrilling and kinetic.
Via Tom Bricker
All that being said, I did really enjoy the end of the show. The effect that they used with the dragon emerging from the Magic Mirror was really awesome to watch and well-executed (even if the dragon didn’t have arms). And once Mickey defeated Maleficent, the characters finally emerged with some pretty niche ones coming out as you would expect from an attraction in Tokyo.
But my favorite part was the very end where the entire show hit its true crescendo and ended with a bigger bang than either of the other versions. It just leaves you so joyous and filled with Disney magic that you can’t help but smile.
All in all, I would put it right about equal with Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ version where it's flawed but still immensely enjoyable, while Disneyland’s version sticks around as the quintessential version of the show.
Thus far, we haven’t heard any word about a replacement for Fantasmic in Tokyo, and it could be quite a while before anything emerges if Tokyo Disneyland cuts costs to try and rebuild its business when things can get back to normal. Originally, the show was set to close March 25, but ended up closing February 28 when the parks closed temporarily. Luckily, Disney had already filmed a showing and posted it on YouTube to commemorate the show, a touch that I really appreciated.
Well, here’s what’s coming next week.
- This Universal show is based on a Paramount franchise whose sixth installment released in 2019.
- This show combined live action with 3D.
- This show was one of the earliest theme park shows to use CGI.
Via Saying Images
Thanks for reading and have a magical day!