Fantasmic! Guidelines

 Fantasmic! has become more popular in recent years since it’s opening in 1998 and as a result, it’s become more difficult to get into a showing while getting good seats.  The show is different from other nighttime spectaculars we find at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot.  For starters, Fantasmic! is in a stadium with a fixed capacity (6,900 people seated and another 3000 standing) in a corner of the park that tells a coherent story that can be understood by everyone and uses live action and video to convey the story.  After seeing Wishes and Illuminations, it’s a nice change of pace to not be in awe of seeing “dynamite in the air” but rather, a story with some great visual effects.

How early

The first (and arguably) most important step is determining when to go get a seat.  The amphitheater opens hours before the first showing but you certainly don’t want to show up way in advance and waste time you don’t need to be wasting sitting on cold metal benches.  On the other side of things, most folks don’t want to be part of that 3000 standing or have a bad seat. Here’s a simple way to know:

Off-peak season: 20-30 minutes before showtime
Peak season: 40-60 minutes before showtime
Holidays: 60-90 minutes before the first showtime 

Great, right? But it helps if you know which time period applies to you. Let’s start with the easy answer and move backwards.  Holidays are any days or days around a major US holiday.  These include Presidents Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  If you’re going to the Studios at around those holidays (basically that means “the week of”), then you’ll need to arrive at the theater at least 60 minutes before showtime.  The good news is during these times there are multiple shows per night, in which case ALWAYS go to the last show of the night for the lowest crowds.

To determine between off-season and peak season, I refer to the handy-dandy Crowd Calendar atTouringPlans.com where they rank each day on a scale of 1-10 (1 being dead and 10 being ridiculously crowded).  If you’re going on a day of 7 or higher, you’re going during peak season and below 7 (that’s 1-6 to be exact), then you’re in the off-peak season.  Like those going during holidays, if you’re going to the Studios, regardless of time of year, and there is more than one showing of Fantasmic, ALWAYS go to the last showing of the night and be ready to go in as soon as the previous show is over and they let you in.

Where to sit

So now we know how early to go but how about where to sit?  I’m sure Cast Members will tell you it’s great everywhere, but that’s not true.  As you might gather, being as close to dead center (both in terms of in regards to the theater as well as the rows in your section) is ideal but truth be told, you’ll want to be slightly off-center because it’ll give you a perfect vantage point for the video displays on the mist screens.  Also, some sections at the extreme end of the theater will not match up the music to what you’re seeing during the princess scenes.  So the best sections to sit in are any between Malificient through Pocahontas. 

Where to sit in your section is a little easier than the rest to determine.  I would avoid the first few rows (especially during windy nights because you could get a little wet).  Anywhere from mid section and up will be fine.  Also, if it’s just you or maybe you’re going with a friend (so that’s 1 or 2 people), try walking up and down sections that are “full” because often guests don’t want to sit too close to one another so they leave space between them and the next group that is enough room for one or two people to sneak into. Just ask.  It should also be noted that if it’s cold the night you go, sitting closer to the water might not be a terrible idea (as long as it’s not windy) because when the moat is set on fire, it will feel really good.  Of course, it’s blistering hot, that fire may not feel so great so you’ll want to sit higher up.

I’m not a fan of this next tip but some people insist on it.  Some people want to leave early and get ahead of the massive crowds that temporarily inundate the Studios while they exit Fantasmic.  If you’re one of those people and you want to basically see Fantasmic! but leave ahead of the crowds, it’s safe to leave once you see Steamboat Willy come into the moat.  All that you’ll be missing is characters waving to you from the boat and then a final appearance by Mickey Mouse on the mountain. 

I know there are people who hate to do anything “commando touring” but unlike the other nighttime shows, you can get locked out if they run out of room and during the busier times of the year, that is a very real possibility (in that it will happen, it’s just a question of when). 

Agree with what I said? Disagree? Have a story to share sparked by this column? Share your own idea by posting a comment below.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 by