Today marks the 25th anniversary of the debut of Fantasmic! – the nighttime spectacular on the Rivers of America. Though it will not be performed on its anniversary day, it is still one of the strongest night shows in any Disney park. And, I’m thinking specifically the Disneyland one. Here are 5 reasons why it is one of the best…
The setting for Disneyland’s Fantasmic! is different from any of the other stages in other parks. It’s not as close as the Disney’s Hollywood Studios stage, and not as far as Tokyo DisneySea’s. It’s this in between, just right platform. The audience is nearly in the middle of the action with ships passing by, and princesses dancing right in front of you. But, the actual stage is far enough that there is a genuine awe to the stage effects that take place during the performance.
It could be classified under the stage reason, but I think there’s an amazing transformation that helps make the Disneyland original that much more amazing. During the day, you see, and even walk on the area that everything takes place on. The Mark Twain and Columbia are available to ride on and have a very different story that takes place on them. We imagine it all as fitting these stories. But, at night, Mickey gets a hold of it and we are swept into his imagination. This makes all these once viewed rides and walkways change into something else.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ has a dedicated amphitheater for its stage. Tokyo DisneySea is the closest to Disneyland’s in that we get to see where the action takes place during the day. But that park’s area is an empty lake and the stages are barges that are brought out for the show. Disneyland’s has that unique transformation of scenery that has the audience part of the environment.
I keep mentioning the two other parks that have a version of Fantasmic! Disneyland’s is the inspiration for these. The other two shows are different and unique from the original. But, the theme and story remain the same. If it weren’t for Disneyland’s we probably wouldn’t have the other amazing two shows around the world!
Though “Murphy” the dragon hasn’t been around for all 25 years, this feature of the show is still the most breath taking. A full animatronic dragon emerges from Tom Sawyer Island to combat Mickey and light the Rivers of America on fire! Though large dragons appear in the other shows, Murphy is the only full figure dragon.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios takes the soundtrack of the original and expands on it. But, Disneyland has (although changing) great music that is a good length. Tokyo DisneySea added lyrics to the instrumental theme, and has a different way of expanding on the original soundtrack. To me, the first will always be the best. Again, it’s what inspired the others. It has one of the most recognizable park themes to date. It always makes people picture exactly what is happening.
All of these make me think Disneyland still has the best version of Fantasmic! Even with changes, it is in the spirit of its originality. In a Disney News Magazine article from 1992, there’s a line at the end that explains Fantasmic! to be a growing show. Walt Disney World was the first to capitalize on the idea, but Disneyland will finally expand on its original. It was meant to include more magical moments. So here’s to 25 more years, and beyond! And I look forward to its return in just a couple of weeks.
And, for your enjoyment, some photos and video from within the past 25 years of this great show…