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Fantastic Fantasmic: Top Tips and A Reason to Stay Late At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Fantasmic, starring Mickey Mouse

The NYC Traveler Tips For Your Trip

Colored lights on water
Fantasmic, Disney's Hollywood Studios

I remember my friend telling me: "We have to stay late at Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic. And (in an oxymoron way), we have to stay late to get there early." Huh? Well, she was right. Stay late for the show (it is usually scheduled after sundown) and try to get there early so that you get a good seat. And no, we are not mispronouncing fantastic, cosmic or anything. The show is really called Fantasmic!

If you ask either long time Disney fans or newcomers to describe this night time spectacular, you would get as many different descriptions as you would people: fireworks, dramatic presentation, water show, pageant, music and movie revue.

Obviously, it was worth the wait, figuratively and literally. So, here are our tips:

* Getting in:

The Standby Queue: line up as early as 60 minutes (or maybe more) ahead of the scheduled start time.

The Lightning Lane: a paid entry that has designated seating.

Night photo Fantasmic, Florida
Disney princess in Fantasmic

* When to line up?:

If you have Lightning Lane, the Disney app will tell you when you book it. Otherwise, the cast members standing at the entrance will tell you when the standby line opens up. Enter between the Beauty and the Beast Theater and the Tower of Terror.

* What to do while you're waiting for the show to start?: Disney used to have someone warming up the crowd, sometimes the crowd amuses itself doing the wave, but most people take the opportunity to have a snack (there are concession stands and rest rooms inside the theater area) or to relax. Bring your portable phone charger. You can also practice the best way to take photos or videos while you wait. Remember, it's a night show, so make sure your device can handle different light levels. Also, as always, flash and video lights are never a good idea.

* Where to sit?:

When it's really busy, the cast members will guide you to where you can seat, you might not be allowed to choose. Most people want the middle, like a theater, and don't mind how far back the seat is. Some people want to be in the splash zone, because part of the show entails water and you can get wet. However, you might be on the first or third base line, meaning not in the center.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Theater
Hollywood Hills Amphitheater

* Can I see everything?

But know that the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, as the venue is called, was designed so that almost every seat is really a good area. Part of the show entails scenes projected on water screens and they are placed on both stage left and stage right, so that each side can see the scenes. During the riverboat/showboat part, where live cast members wave to the crowd as they go by, the vessels enter from one direction and exit out the other after sailing through the water so that everyone can see.

As for the scenes that occur on stage, the drama is choreographed so that the cast members move from one side to another. Anything major that happens takes place center stage.

When the park is extremely crowded, the theater will be full, holding the 6900 people max. An extra 3000 can stand, although I'm not sure I've ever seen that, even during the December holiday season. But, on the off season, you have a very good chance of getting a very good seat.

* Does it take a long time to exit?: Like any other theater, if you're in the back, then you're one of the first ones out. And, since Disney cast members are experts at crowd control, I actually timed our exit. We were sitting in the third row from the front. In less than 15 minutes, we were actually exiting the park, walking to our car. Not bad.

Fantasmic banner of Mickey in Disney's Hollywood Studios
Mickey Mouse, the star of Fantasmic

* What's the plot?:

The show tells the story of Mickey Mouse and his peculiar dream. He orchestrates the music, water, lights and fireworks through the first part of the dream, with hero scenes from Disney movies. The dream takes a dark turn and Mickey has to fight familiar Disney villains, culminating in a dramatic scene that has changed throughout the years and has been different in various Disney Parks. Mickey fights a dragon or a similar demon and conquers it and his inner turmoil. Later, the Disney princesses and their partners come through on the riverboats and in a series of fireworks and final waterworks and a riverboat with some of Disney's most beloved characters, the show concludes.

* What to expect?

There are flashing lights, spraying water, fireworks, loud music and large projections of Disney villains, so those who are bothered by them may want to consider this before viewing.

Scene from Fantasmic, Disney's Hollywood Studios
Mickey commands the stage

But, like many Disney night time shows, you have to see it to understand it fully, especially if you want to preview it before you take the time to see it in person. So, click the link to our YouTube Channel and enjoy!

Happy Travels!

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Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

All photos and videos created and copyrighted by Marcia Crayton, unless otherwise noted.


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