As I'm sure most of you know, seeing Fantasmic! at Disneyland can involve a whole lot of waiting if you want to get a good viewing location. People start staking out spots along the Rivers of America as much as 4-5 hours in advance - and even then they are sitting on the ground and not in chairs! Disney offers one of their Premium Viewing Experiences for Fantasmic! for those willing to pay for it. For $59 (plus tax) you get a reserved seat (yes, in an actual chair!) for the show, and a box of desserts and other goodies, plus beverage of your choice.
To book the Fantasmic! Dessert Package, you should call 30 days in advance of the date that you want to see the show. (For June 12, call on May 12, for July 31, call on July 1, etc.) The number is 714-781-4400. Phone lines open at 8:00 Pacific time. Your credit card will be charged at time of booking, and there are no refunds or exchanges. If there are two Fantasmic! shows there will be two Dessert seatings, so you will also need to specify which show you want to see. The package doesn't necessarily book up exactly 30 days in advance, but if you know for sure the date you want to see it, I would recommend calling 30 days in advance. They will give you a confirmation number - write this down and bring it with you. You will also need to bring with you the same credit card that you used to reserve the package.
Lee and I did this on June 12, for the first night of Summer Nightastic! - when we were pretty sure that Fantasmic! would be packed (and it was). I booked on May 12, calling right at 8:00 in the morning, and had no problem getting seats. (In fact, one of the people in line with us while we were waiting for the show had called only about 3 weeks before, and he was able to get in, too!)
Once we arrived at Disneyland we had to go to Guest Services to pick up our tickets. Usually we can go to the Guest Services line that's outside the park (to the left of the turnstiles), but we arrived late in the day and it was closed, so we had to go to City Hall instead. I gave the Cast Member our confirmation number and my credit card - he also wanted to see my photo id and verify my address. And then he gave me our two Fantasmic! tickets for the 10:30 show.
As the next step we actually had to check in for the show at 8:00 even though our show time was 10:30 - they check in all the shows at the same time. This is where they actually let you choose the seats that you want, so people start lining up 30-60 minutes in advance so they can get first choice. The check-in podium is on the first terrace level above the Pirate's Lair raft boarding area - next to a churro cart and a coffee cart. We didn't arrive until about 7:45 and there were already probably 40 people in front of us.
Once they started checking us in at 8:00 things went fairly quickly. They divided us into two lines - one for the 9:00 showing and one for the 10:30 showing. We showed our tickets to the CMs and they checked our names off a list, and then showed us the seating chart where we picked the seats we wanted out of those that were left. There are about 50 seats in three rows. The first row, which is right up against the railing on the first terrace (it's not down at river level) is of course the first to go. We asked if we could stand if we were seated in the back and were told that we could, so we chose seats in the back row. We were on the end closest to the main light tower (next to the control booth). My opinion is that the middle row of seats are the worst, since you have someone in front of you AND you have to remain seated because there is also someone in back of you. (One good thing - people who are down in the lower terrace are NOT allowed to stand during the show, so they don't block the view of those in the reserved area.) Once the CMs wrote our seat numbers down on their chart and our our tickets we left.
At that point it was about 8:15, and it did not appear that they had started seating those who were seeing the 9:00 showing. I assume they start seating 30 minutes before the show starts, but I was not able to verify that since I forgot to ask (as you will read, we were pretty frazzled by the time we arrived for our seating time).
I had intentionally selected the second Fantasmic! because I wanted to be able to watch the new Magical fireworks show from Main Street, and there's no way you can see the first Fantasmic! and then get to Main Street for the fireworks show because they overlap slightly. Not to mention the fact that on opening night I knew Main Street would be packed for the fireworks. Disney encourages those who watch the early Fantasmic! show to remain in place for the fireworks show - you CAN see the fireworks from the Rivers of America, but you can't see anything on the castle, or any of the special effects like Tinker Bell's or Dumbo's flights.
After we had watched the fireworks show we waited for a few more minutes before trying to head back to Frontierland - usually that allows the Rivers of America area to clear out a little bit. But not that night - it seemed like *everyone* was trying to see the second show of Fantasmic! And many people who saw the first show were staying for the second show, so the area was not clearing out like it usually does! It was shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling all the way from the bridge into Frontierland back into New Orleans Square. And at one point we stopped completely for a while - it was about at that point (10:00) that they made the park-wide announcement that the Fantasmic! viewing area was full. But it wasn't full - we still had two seats waiting for us!!!! We were just about at the entrance to Pirates by then - and we were honestly wondering if we were going to make it in time!
Fortunately things started moving again and we finally made it to the entrance to the reserved seating area. It was just beyond the main light tower, and blocked off with a rope. We had to get someone's attention before they let us in. The CM looked at our tickets and took us to our seats, and then, after we sat down, gave us our dessert boxes and took our drink orders. (Coffee, hot chocolate, soft drinks and water were available).
Here's the dessert box with the Fantasmic! logo:
Inside there were five kinds of cheese, packages of crackers, and grapes. For the sweet tooth we had a macaroon, a mini chocolate cupcake with chocolate filling (it would have been a lava cake if it had been warm!), a mini cheesecake, a lemon tart, and a shortbread cookie with strawberry filling, with a white chocolate design on it. There were also two truffles - a chocolate truffle and a white chocolate truffle with some kind of citrus flavor (yuck!).
Here's the drink station:
After fighting the crowds we were a bit frazzled, as I mentioned, so it was nice to sit down. We arrived about 10:15 (and we weren't the last to arrive!), but still had time to enjoy some of our desserts and our beverages before the show started. I think they have done a good job of not placing the chairs too close together - we had more room than we did when they offered this on the balcony of the old Disney Gallery (which is now the Dream Suite). We were sitting on folding chairs, but they had a little bit of a cushion, and were comfortable enough.
The desserts were pretty good, but not great. My favorite was the chocolate cake - neither of us liked the lemon tart. It was nice to see the crackers and cheese in addition to the sweets, but I would've liked to have had more fruit than just the grapes (they were very good grapes, though). In the past they have had chocolate-covered strawberries, but not this time, and I had been looking forward to that. It was a LOT of dessert, though - neither of us came close to finishing everything (we could easily have shared one box) and we took our boxes home.
The show started fairly promptly at 10:30. As you can see in the picture below, we were a little off to the side of the middle water screen, which meant that we had a good view of what was happening on the stage - it wasn't blocked by the water. If we had had seats on the far left side of the seating area I don't know if it would have been as good - we would have been more between two water screens.
But in this picture you can see we had the great view of the stage area.
The Sailing Ship Columbia in its pirate ship guise is always my favorite part of the show. Our view of it was partially obscured by a light post, so we couldn't see it well until it was right in front of us. I love watching all of the stunt men swinging on ropes and sliding between the masts - there's always a lot of action going on! But it goes by way too fast.
One nice thing about being over on the left side of Rivers of America is that you get a good view of the final confrontation between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and get to see Hook swing from side-to-side on the back of the ship as he tries to escape the crocodile.
The crocodile is new - and as you can see in this video clip he has more movement capabilities, and appears to lunge and snap his jaws as he chases down the tasty morsel that is Captain Hook.
The two completely new characters are Flotsam and Jetsam - Ursula's pet eels. Their eyes glow as they slither and glide across the water. Their mouths even open and close. They didn't move quite as much as I thought they would, though. (And what's the difference between Flotsam and Jetsam? They looked identical to me!)
The Maleficent character looked good - I'm not sure how much of it was lighting on the character or lighting on the costume itself.
The other big change to Fantasmic! was supposed to be the new fully animated 3-D dragon...but she's not quite ready yet. So instead we got the Maleficent character rising 30-some feet in the air on whatever lift they use - and swaying in the air as she dramatically waves her arms. Yikes. Looks like a precarious perch to me! And then the dragon was projected on the water screens. It still looked pretty impressive, and I think if you didn't know about the "real" dragon it would still seem like a great effect. (Cast Members informed all those people who showed up hours before the show that they wouldn't see the new dragon - but they chose to wait anyway.)
The show ended as it normally does with the all of the characters on the Mark Twain, and a final on-stage appearance by Sorcerer Mickey.
After the show ended there was no rush to leave - we stayed for a little while waiting for the crowds to clear out. The seating area was a nice little oasis!
It was a great show - and the dessert package certainly makes it a much more civilized way of enjoying it. I really wouldn't have wanted to fight the crowds on Friday - as it was we ended up being in them more than I had thought. I'd definitely pay the money to do it again...though I wish they would bring back the chocolate covered strawberries! :-)
The previous post in this blog was Summer Nightastic! Debuts at Disneyland.
The next post in this blog is Pixie Hollow Enchantment.