Disneyland Resort Update: FANTASMIC! Returns

Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA


Uh, hello?  Anyone here? 
Man it's dusty.  Go away for a few weeks, and housekeeping just falls apart.

So, um, hey! We're back. Again.  When we last left things, Ghost Town Alive! was all the rage.  Well, it still is, but we're coming back to the Disneyland Resort this week for a glance at the things that have happened in the month since we've last posted an update.  Today's report comes from nighttime at the Rivers of America.  Ready?  Lets go!

Remember... Dreams Come True Projections on the Rivers of America

This isn't a brand new development, but I hadn't had a chance to photograph this earlier.  Regular Disneyland visitors know that the Rivers of America have been a traditional alternate fireworks viewing location, complete with piped in music to fit the pyrotechnics.  However, the park has added new projections onto the FANTASMIC! screens to add a visual complement as well.  Similar to the It's A Small World area, these projections are largely what's cast onto Sleeping Beauty Castle when the Remember... Dreams Come True fireworks are played, and they lend a nice extra touch to disperse crowds throughout the park during nighttime shows.


Of course, the main story is the return of a beloved classic in a new iteration.  Last Monday, Disneyland's birthday, FANTASMIC! officially reopened to throngs of eager fans excited to see what the first real revision of the show in its 25 years of existence has brought. 

Conceptually, the show plot remains the same.  Mickey Mouse uses his incredible imagination to create beautiful scenes of wonder, but soon, villains hijack his dreams, and he must defeat them.  The show has been enhanced with almost subtle gestures to strengthen this storyline (subtle might be subjective, though; to casual guests, they're probably subtle, and to veterans of the show, they may stand out noticeably), and fans of the show will probably pick up on how these reinforce the plot much more than before, when the show was still, at heart, a clip show with a light storyline overlay.

There have been changes, of course, which may be odd for longtime fans (like myself) who have grown so accustomed to seeing the show in its old version.  Scenes involving The Lion King, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Tangled replace or supplement old scenes from The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Snow White.  The score has been re-recorded with a much more orchestral and dramatic flourish, and the vocals have been redone with new singers.  There are also elements of the show imported from Tokyo Disney Sea's FANTASMIC!, such as some allusions to the "Imagination" theme song developed for their show, a greater emphasis of Sorcerer Mickey, and even a different role for the Magic Mirror.  Check the picture captions for more detailed thoughts.

The photos below contain spoilers, of course.  But since this is a show, photos don't quite do the whole performance justice.  For that, you need to be there live.  Still, lets take a photographic tour of the new FANTASMIC! to see how it stacks up with the original!

If you don't care about spoilers at all, here's video I recorded from my visit last week.  Well, technically my friend held my phone, so that I could take photos.

I know that I cannot ever fully objectively critique this show, because it played such a key role in shaping my Disney love as a child.  So there are definitely changes that I don't quite like, while other changes I actually do see as improvements.  But I figure that in time, I will grow accustomed to the new FANTASMIC! and enjoy it *almost* as much as I did the original.  Undoubtedly, new FANTASMIC! is visually spectacular, with the use of projection mapping particularly appropriate to accent this combination projection, pyrotechnics, and stage show--moreso than in the fireworks shows around other parks that are increasingly becoming more "Castle shows" than actual fireworks shows.  The cast seems bigger, and the show just more grand than before, and the spectacle has certainly been enhanced.  For many, that is probably a more enjoyable change, though for others, it may seem a little overdone and too "in your face."  For example, those who love projection mapping will marvel over the grandeur of FANTASMIC!'s, while those who find it a crutch my feel it detracts from the more purist beauty of the previous iteration.  Overall, though, I believe it remains a truly fantastic show that should be a highlight to everyone's trip to the park.

For now, Disneyland is having three showings of FANTASMIC! a night to accommodate the rush of crowds thrilled to see the show.  I imagine this will probably continue for the duration of the summer, until the novelty has worn just a bit.  At the end of the day, it's great to have this wonderful classic back in a spiffy new form.  Here's to another 25 years to dream a fantastic dream!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.