If you had to name your favorite Disney World attraction, which one would you choose? Chances are you’d pick a thrill ride like the Tower or Terror or Rock n’ Roller Coaster. Perhaps it’s a classic ride like the Haunted Mansion or Pirates of the Caribbean. Or maybe it’s even a nostalgic classic that you remember fondly from your childhood like It’s A—yeah, I’ll stop there!
So perhaps it’s surprising to you that, for my number one spot on my list here, I chose not a ride, not even an attraction, but a show. Of course, to its defense, it’s perhaps one of the best, if not the best, show in all the parks.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the nighttime entertainment at the Disney Parks serve almost as a congratulation to park guests for having stayed at the park for the entire day, even long after spending grueling hours in the sun and waiting on line for their attractions. After such a long day, it’s quite rewarding to end it by watching the fireworks or the Main Street Electrical Parade. But for me, nothing quite completed a trip to the Disney Parks than the best nighttime show of them all: Fantasmic!
The show stars Mickey Mouse (who else?) as he uses his imagination to dream up visions fantastic of deep jungles, magnificent colors, and swashbuckling adventures. Unfortunately, his dream becomes hijacked by the Evil Queen and the other Disney Villains to turn it into a nightmare fantasmic! Mickey must use the power of his imagination to banish these dark manifestations and reclaim his dreams once and for all.
Yes, the premise sounds extremely cheesy and corny, but Sweet Celestia, the way they pull it all off is simply beyond description. The colors, the music, the special effects, the water effects, the characters, the action, the drama, the suspense—it all comes together so beautifully to give you so unique a performance that it could only be created by Disney.
Fantasmic was first created for Disneyland in 1993 as a way to add another nighttime attraction to the park other than the fireworks and Electrical Parade. The show utilized the then new development of laser light and water projections in order to showcase clips from previous Disney Works into a unique performance.
The original show in Disneyland takes place on Tom Sawyer Island along the Rivers of America and utilizes many of the pre-existing boats such as the Mark Twain Steamboat and U.S.S. Columbia into the performance.
When the show was imported to Disney World in 1998, it was set in Disney Hollywood Studios (then Disney MGM Studios) as a way to draw in bigger crowds to the park. Unlike it’s Disneyland counterpart, the show takes place within its own special performance arena, thus offering a larger performance area, and in turn, offering a much larger, grander performance.
There’s much debate between Disney fans as to which version of the show is better. For me, the obvious choice would be the Disney World version, not only because it’s the only version I’ve seen in person, but comparing it to the Disneyland version, it simply has more: more characters, more villains, more special effects, more Disney clips—simply more, more more of everything!
Many other Disney fans claim that the World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure is the best nighttime show. I have seen the show through footage on YouTube, and while it certainly is great, I’m always going to be favorable towards Fantasmic. World of Color may be more elaborate when it comes to water projection, but what makes Fantasmic unique is its combination of so many other elements, from live-action actors, to pyrotechnics and fireworks, and to the one thing that separates the two shows, a coherent story!
Fantasmic is such a unique nighttime performance that I always look forward to watching it whenever I visit Disney Hollywood Studios. Yes, you may have to wait two hours before the show starts in order to get a good seat, but the payoff is so worth it. There’s no other way I could imagine ending a trip to Disney other than watching this show. Fantasmic truly is the best way to complete a Disney World experience, and for that, it’s my number one all-time favorite Walt Disney World attraction.