Some Imagination,huh? History of Fantasmic at the Disney Parks

One of the Crown Jewels of Disney’s Hollywood Studios is its nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic! It is the best way to end your park day and highly recommended to at least see once.

You will join Mickey Mouse as he faces off with some familiar Disney villains such as Scar, Ursula, Jafar and Maleficent.

His dreams turn into an overwhelming nightmare and you will dive in with him as he goes through the laughs, romance and adventure that we have seen in some beloved Disney classic films.

But how did such a nighttime spectacular come to be? Is it one of its kind or one of many?

We will answer these questions and share the history of the show. We’re also going to share some tips and tricks on how to best navigate your journey into Mickey Mouse’s dreams.

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Fantasmic Disney Company Photo 2
Fantasmic! Photo Credit: Disney Company


To begin our historical dive into Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one must take a quick journey to Disneyland.

Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios is the sister of the original which came from Disneyland. There was another at Tokyo DisneySea but it closed in February 2020. There are small differences between the Disneyland and Hollywood Studios versions.

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Fantasmic! at Disneyland

Disneyland’s version is shown along the Rivers of America with its projections done on Tom Sawyer Island. It also features 1 or 2 different sequences compared to Hollywood Studios.

Disneyland Steamboat overlooking Frontierland 2 Rivers of America
Disneyland Rivers of America

The Hollywood Studios version is located atop of Hollywood hills at the end of Sunset Boulevard. The show takes place in the Hollywood Hills Ampitheater and houses a 50 foot tall man made mountain. It can seat 6,900 guests with 3,000 additional if standing.

Disneyland’s version debuted on May 13,1992 and was so popular with guests, that Disney brought a second version to Walt Disney World.

The Hollywood Studios version debuted October 15, 1998 and 21 years later, it is still a favorite amongst visitors. Both shows have a 25 minute runtime.

Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios feature water screen projections, pyrotechnics, thrilling and out of this world puppetry. The moat where the show takes place can hold up to 1,900,000 gallons of water.

Fantasmic Disney Company Photo
Fantasmic! Photo Credit: Disney Company

Originally there was to only be one water screen. It was quickly realized that three would be needed in order for all guests to fully enjoy the experience.

This technology has since been incorporated in other Disney shows, like World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

This show boasts and impressive fire on water projection that is run via a natural gas line in the most. It use special technology that will turn it off when the effect isn’t needed.

The Maleficent Dragon sits on an elevator underneath the stage. At full height, it is 45 feet tall and takes 35 seconds to make its onstage appearance.

The recreation of the Steamboat Willie boat boasts 26 of the show’s 50 total performers.

This show is truly a technological marvel in itself. So many pieces put this spectacular show together, but ultimately it’s the marvelous Cast Members onstage and off that breathe that Disney Magic into it.

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Dining Experience

Before we head into the tips and tricks, let’s chat about dining quickly.

You are allowed to bring food from the outside into the amphitheater and there are several Quick Service locations alongside Sunset Boulevard across from the entrance hall where you can grab and go.

Fantasmic Dining Package at Disney Hollywood Studios Minnies Summertime Dine

Fantasmic Dining Package

You can also partake in the Fantasmic Dining Package option. This is where you reservation at one of the restaurants around the park, they give you several different options including the fabulous Hollywood Brown Derby and one of my personal favorites Mama Melrose.

You are placed in a VIP seating area with some choice views. With this, you will get a FastPass to Fantasmic. For more details, you must call 407-WDW-DINE or book online.

Amphitheater Food Options

The amphitheater also has two food stands that serve various items such as hot dogs, dessert trays, pretzels and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options.

As a note, if purchasing alcohol you will only be served two per customer and must be of the legal drinking age to do so. You can also grab some souvenir popcorn buckets and drink cups while you’re here as well.

Fantasmic Dining Package at Disney Hollywood Studios with oysters at the salad bar

Other Things to Remember for Your Visit

Yes there are restrooms, but if you’re flying solo, which if you’re here I’m sure you are, I would suggest you go prior to entering the amphitheater as no one will save your seat.

Moving is also discouraged while the show is happening as it is very dark.

Dessert Party

Finally, if you want to treat yourself, you can partake in the Dessert Parties that are specialty and thrown during Fantasmic.

It’ll feature specialty themed desserts, beverages and a great seat to view the show. It’s important to note that you will be standing to view. You can call or book online to scoop this.

Fantasmic Dining Package at Disney Hollywood Studios Admission Card
Special Seating Card for Fantasmic!

3 Easy Tips and Tricks for Your Visit to Fantasimic!

Now let’s dive into how to make your Fantasmic experience stress free.

1. Get a Disney FastPass

First, get a FastPass if you can spare it. The theater opens 90-minutes before showtime, but guests are always there an hour before so they can bum rush up the hill to acquire the best seats possible.

It’s best to just grab a FastPass and save yourself the headache.

If you have to wait the hour to grab those special seats, the good news is flying solo in this situation will work in your favor.

I tend to go with one extra person because it allows you more wiggle room to get food, potty-breaks and someone can hold the seats once they are acquired.

2. Find the Best Seat at Fantasmic!

I would shoot for a seat near the VIP section. If it’s a hot, humid Florida summer evening, go to the very front. You will get wet!

Save time and eat before the show. That way you aren’t getting up constantly and you’ll be full and not distracted from the show.

3. Have Your Exit Plan

My best tip is my exit strategy. This is only recommended if you aren’t a first timer for the show or if you don’t really care to see the finale. As soon as you see the steamboat go past the middle of the moat, start heading out as quickly as possible.

Once the show ends, it’s essentially gridlock and it could take 15-20 minutes to get back onto Sunset Boulevard.

It’s even worse if you are taking the skyliner or Disney Bus back to your resort hotel. You could be waiting even longer after you escape the crowds. This can be executed easily if you’re doing solo travel or with one or two other solo travelers.

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Final Thoughts on Fantasmic!

Fantasmic! has been a big part of Disney parks history and continues to be a truly magical treat to the end of your Disney day. It continues to sport spectacular technology that is seen all over the Disney parks.

This show embodies the spirit of Mickey Mouse and Disney Magic as a whole. The theater itself is thoroughly impressive with its man made mountain and moat.

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Overall, Fantasmic! is a staple and is a credit to Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Entertainment.

We hope that these tips and tricks will allow you to have a Fantasmic solo experience with the nighttime spectacular.

Fantasmic Show at Disney Hollywood Studios
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Have you seen the nighttime spectacular at both parks? If so, let us know in the comments!

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

About the Author

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

UP NEXT: Hollywood Studios for Adults (Definitive Guide)

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