One of Disneyland's most popular nighttime spectaculars is the Fantasmic! show that takes place select nights on the Rivers of America. This show is stepped in Disney history, nostalgia, and features fabulous special effects. Our guide has you covered from history of this beloved show, guide to getting the best spot, dining packages, and more!
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History of Fantasmic! at Disneyland
Disneyland's Fantasmic! debuted in 1992 and has been a beloved part of Disneyland entertainment ever since.
Fantasmic! includes fireworks, live performers, water effects, pyrotechnics, music, watercrafts, decorated rafts, animatronics, and projections! When Fantasmic! first debuted it was the first of its kind to incorporate so many different elements into one performance. The addition of Fantasmic! to Rivers of America meant that some reworkings of Disneyland had to take place including terracing the walkways to accommodate viewing and changing the front section of Tom Sawyer Island (now named The Pirate’s Lair) with the goal that it could act as a stage for most of the show's live action.
Fantasmic! was well received and now has regular showings more than 20 years later at Disneyland in the Disneyland Resort, Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and Tokyo DisneySea in Tokyo Disney Resort.
I never recommend watching YouTube videos or reading a synoposis for any entertainment or ride you're experiencing for the first time. The surprise is half the fun! But since Fantasmic! does have moments that might startle small children, it might be helpful to know what the show will feature so you can be prepared.
Warning: synospis and video below feature spoilers, scroll past if you'd like to be surprised!
Fantasmic! starts with the imagination of Mickey Mouse set within the water of Rivers of America where he transforms into Sorcerer Mickey and takes us on a trip to some of our favorite Disney movies like Fantasia, Aladdin, The Lion King, Tangled, and Pirates of the Caribbean – featured on state of the art water screens.
Fantasmic! also features beautiful live action scenes such as Aladdin and Jasmine delighting guests on their musical carpet ride, the Sailing Ship Columbia with action packed moments from Pirates of the Caribbean, rafts lit up with lights and well adored Disney princesses including Belle, Rapunzel, and Ariel.
The show includes the classic good vs. evil struggle when Mickey is pulled through the magic mirror and enters a world of Disney's most famous villains. The show stopping villain here is none other than Maleficent as Mickey gears up to fight the 45-foot dragon.
Of course, with all things Disney, the good prevails. In an epic finale, the Mark Twain Riverboat paddles its way along the river dotted with every Disney character imaginable. Words alone cannot materialize the images all the fascinating water effects, lasers, pyrotechnics, fireworks, and live action scenes Fantasmic! brings to life.
For a literal play-by-play of the show itself, check out this Wikipedia article.
Or if you prefer to watch it all play out on video, watch the video below!
How to Watch Fantasmic! at Disneyland
Fantasmic! takes place on Tom Sawyers Island and looks out over the Rivers of America in Frontierland. The length of the show is 27 minutes and during peak times of year there are two show times at 9PM and 10:30PM. If you're visiting during a peak time of year (summer, holidays, spring break) you can expect nightly showings and mulitple shows. During less crowded times of year (January-February) you might see only one evening performance or in rare cases only showings on the weekends.
Your best bet to plan for watching Fantasmic! is so check the Disney website calender for the entertainment schedule on the day of your visit. You can also easily find this information in the park by asking a cast member or consulting the Disneyland app or park maps.
There are three ways to watch FastPass! at Disneyland: using FastPass seating, dining packages, or standby.
Viewing for the show takes place alongside the wrought iron gates that surround the Rivers of America in Frontierland and New Orleans Square. Three different view sections will be roped off with dining packages viewing, FastPass viewing, and standby viewing.
Those with the dining packages have the best view with their area roped off right in front of the main stage. Dining package viewers are also guaranteed to be able to sit during the show which is a nice perk in itself. The Blue Bayou dining package guests sit in the dead center of the viewing area, right up to the railing and all guests sit on the ground. The River Belle Terrace dining package guests sit to the right of the Blue Bayou guests, right up to the railing and all guests sit on the ground. The Hungry Bear dining package guests are placed to the left of the Blue Bayou guests and will likely be asked to stand.
FastPass viewing takes place on either side of the dining package area and standby viewing is given to whatever space is left after that.
Let's break down the details for each of these viewing areas so you know which one is the best pick for your group.
FastPass for Fantasmic!
Disneyland offers FastPass viewing for Fantasmic! which works very similar to the way FastPass is used for other key attractions in the park. Basically, your FastPass will assign you a colored viewing area and this is a way to save your spot for the show in advance. Be prepared that you may be asked to stand when you're in the FastPass section and there is no guarantee you'll be able to sit for the show.
FastPass distribution for Fantasmic! begins when Disneyland opens and must be obtained in order to secure a guaranteed spot to view the show. Distribution kiosks are located along the Rivers of America adjacent to Frontier Landing. Fastpasses for the first show are distributed until they are sold out before the second show time Fastpasses are distributed. Remember that Fantasmic! Fastpasses can be held concurrently with all ride Fastpasses. Plan to arrive at least 45 minutes to an hour before the show starts (although your Fastpass will tell you 30 minutes) because it’s first come, first served in your section. People will be lining up early to get their spots- even with a FastPass!
You can also use MaxPass to secure your FastPass selection for Fantasmic! to save yourself a trip across the park which is another great perk of MaxPass.
Dining Packages for Fantasmic!
You can purchase Fantasmic! dining packages for the Blue Bayou Restaurant, the River Belle Terrace, and at the Hungry Bear Restaurant.
Blue Bayou Restaurant Dining Package
The Blue Bayou Restaurant is one of the park’s most popular dining experiences. The Blue Bayou is an indoor, upscale restaurant with a view of Pirates of the Caribbean. Their Monte Cristo sandwich is a crowd favorite! This package includes a 3-course meal, which has a starter, entrée, and dessert.
This package includes admission to the reserved viewing area for a designated performance of Fantasmic! that night. Please note that the viewing area is separate from the restaurant location. Blue Bayou guests receive the best viewing location: dead center in front of the show. If you want the best seats, make sure to arrive one hour prior to the time on your return ticket for Fantasmic!
- Price: Lunch is $62 per adult and $29 per child (ages 3 to 9) and dinner is $72 per adult and $29 per child (ages 3 to 9), tax and gratuity not included.
- Reserved seating at Blue Bayou Restaurant begins daily at 11:30 AM for lunch and 4:00 PM for dinner.
Blue Bayou dining guests are also the only guests guaranteed to be able to sit down during the show. The Blue Bayou dining package comes with cushions for guests to sit on during the performance: one per person, per meal purchased.
Check out our most recent review here.
River Belle Terrace Dining Package
The River Belle Terrace enjoys a picturesque view of the Rivers of America. Dining options include classic American dishes like fried chicken, baked beans, and more with a Southern flair. Each dining package includes a 3-course dinner (starter, entrée and dessert). The River Belle Terrace package includes admission to the reserved viewing area for a designated performance of Fantasmic! that night. The viewing area is separate from the restaurant location.
- Price: Lunch $45 per adult; $25 per child (ages 3 to 9). Dinner is $45 per adult and $25 per child (ages 3 to 9), tax and gratuity not included.
- Guests can upgrade to premium 8:00 PM seating for an additional $25 per adult and $15 per child (ages 3 to 9) and enjoy their meal as well as the first performance of Fantasmic! from their seat on the outdoor patio.
The River Belle Terrace dining package guests sit adjacent to the Blue Bayou dining packages which allows for a great view of the show. River Belle Terrace dining package guests are typically allowed to sit during the performance. If you want the best seats, make sure to arrive one hour prior to the time on your return ticket for Fantasmic!
Check out our most recent review of the dining package with the upgraded seating!
Fantasmic! On the Go Package at Hungry Bear Restaurant
There is also a Fantasmic! On the Go Package at the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country. Guests can choose one of 4 delicious entrees from a menu created especially for this event. Options include cedar salt-roasted sustainable salmon, barbecue chicken, blackberry barbecue pork riblets or a mushroom and leek frittata. All dishes are served with a medley of wild rice and cranberry-apricot grains as well as kale and garbanzo bean salad. Guests can dine at any of the restaurant's tables or take their meal to go.
- Price: The cost for this package is $29.99 per adult and $19.99 per child (ages 3 to 9); tax is not included.
- Reservations for meal pick-up times are normally available from 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM. However, times may vary based on the Fantasmic! schedule.
- Reservations made for 3:00 PM through 6:45 PM will receive a voucher that permits entry into the reserved viewing area for the first performance of Fantasmic! that evening.
- Reservations from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM will receive a voucher permitting entry into the reserved viewing area for that night's second show.
When picking up their meal at Hungry Bear Restaurant, guests will receive a voucher that allows entry to the reserved viewing area for that evening's performance of Fantasmic! Hungry Bear's reserved viewing is sandwiched on both sides of the River Belle Terrace and Blue Bayou's reserved dining areas. Keep in mind you will likely be asked to stand in this viewing area. If you want the best seats, make sure to arrive one hour prior to the time on your return ticket for Fantasmic!
Standby for Fantasmic!
The standby viewing areas for Fantasmic! have the worst views compared to the FastPass sections and dining packages. These standby areas should really only be utilized if you plan on seeing the show at the last minute. And even then, you can grab a FastPass at the beginning of the day and still have better viewing.
Some guests like opting for rolling the dice on the standby section so they don't have to worry about getting to the viewing area early to get a spot. If you want to see Fantasmic! but don't necessarily want to devote an hour saving a spot, then trying to grab a place in the standby viewing area can be a good choice. But just keep in mind that viewing in these areas are not guaranteed and it is first come, first serve which means that many guests are turned away right before the show starts on busy days.
Guests with Disabilities
Disneyland strives to accommodate all guests and this includes those with disabilities. There is a special area between the River Belle Terrace dining section and the FastPass viewing that is reserved for guests with disabilities. We recommend that guests with disabilities still pull a FastPass and when you arrive a cast member will lead you to an area for guests with disabilities. This section is typically reserved for those in wheelchairs and ECVs along with their families.
For dining packages, guests in wheelchairs or ECVs are seated near the back of the section so they're not blocking the view of other guests so these areas are all seated.
Pro Tips for Fantasmic! at Disneyland
- The first viewing of Fantasmic will always be the most crowded so similar to the advice we give for fireworks, we recommend watching the later showing if you don't plan on purchasing a dining package. If you have your heart set on the dining package experience, the first show is the best choice since the dining package viewing areas can often be combined for the second showing making your view a bit more crowded.
- If you are at the first show time of Fantasmic! and fireworks are scheduled that night, then stay where you are to watch the Rivers of America put on a magical show with projections that play against the screens of water in sync with the fireworks show.
- Be aware that Fantasmic! may be scary for small children. The show can get bright, loud, and a bit scary at times.
- Blue Bayou is currently the only dining package that offers guests a complimentary seat cushion.
- Since the show takes place on water, guests in the very front may get wet.
- The only option for chair viewing is the upgraded package for River Belle Terrace. All other options, dining packages included, only offer seating on the ground.
- FastPass viewers should be prepared to stand throughout the show.
- Do not lose your FastPass! Keep them in a safe place until it's time to arrive to your viewing area.
- Always arrive early to the viewing areas- even if cast members aren't allowing guests to line up yet, you will see people hovering about waiting to jump in line when they do.
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