If you have ever seen a Fantasmic show, then you know how amazing it is. If you haven’t, you should definitely put it on your list of things to do next time you’re at the park. Both WDW and DLR have the Fantasmic show, but this post will only discuss the Disneyland version since you guys at Hollywood Studios have it made!
So, you know a Fantasmic showing is about to occur when you start seeing people line up and lay out blankets by the Rivers of America area. And when I say about to occur, I mean it could still be a good 2+ hours away. This can be very frustrating for people who don’t want to dedicate their entire early evening to waiting around on the ground, hungry, restless, and missing out on valuable park time. The chaos of the crowds can also greatly stress out cast members who are charged with keeping people moving along the walkways. The best way to handle this is with a solid plan. It has taken me a while to devise the right plan for Fantasmic, but I have it down close to a science–such a good plan in fact that it almost pains me to give it away.
My first note on this plan is that you have to sacrifice something. You can’t do fireworks, and lots of rides, AND Fantasmic at night. You will have to end up missing out on something. My best advice is to go for the earlier showing. A lot of people are going to be staked out near the hub of the grounds in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or right behind it in Fantasyland. A lot of those people think that they can just walk to Fantasmic right afterwards and find a seat. If you have been one of those people, you most likely have realized you are either wrong or extremely lucky. Head over to the area at around 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. at the latest. This might seem a bit overkill, but when you see the crowds forming and the blankets going down at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., you’ll realize this is actually not so bad. Try and find a seat near the river, especially if you have a blanket or a seat on the bricks near New Orleans Square. If you don’t find your preferred choice of seating, head on over to the River Belle Terrace or the Stage Door Cafe area. These are both located a little bit more on the side, but you can still get a pretty good view, and in most cases you will be elevated to where you are seeing over the heads of the crowd.
It might not seem like you have gotten lucky over in this area but it is actually my favorite place! Usually the seats right next to the railing fill up fast, so wait around if there is a table of people finishing their meal and clearly about to leave. Then wait near the table, but try not to do the hover. Once you have your table, get comfortable. Take some time to go over your pictures, check out your park loot, or get everyone back and forth from the restrooms. Once it hits about 8:15, go ahead and have your dinner option picked out. For me, it is the little walk-up Royal Street Veranda gumbo place directly across from Cafe Orleans above the Pirates ride. They have steak gumbo, vegetarian gumbo, and clam chowder–all of which are delicious. They’re nice and hearty–under $10 a piece–and usually hit the spot when the cool air sweeps in at night. They also have an array of hot beverages which I see a lot of people picking up at this time.
You might think I am a little crazy to ditch the obvious food options that are right next to the River Belle Patio area, but the gumbo is so amazing, and it’s just our routine. You also might think I am crazy to walk with multiple gumbo portions through the crazy Fantasmic crowd to find my way back to my seat. That part may be true, but I have never once dropped anything! At this point, you can sit back, relax, and start on your lovely helping of delicious gumbo right as the show starts. Perfect timing every time!
A few important things to note about this special tip of mine: Better safe than sorry. If it is between one more ride and finding a seat, either dedicate a member of your party to stake out your table or ditch the ride completely. The opportunity will come later and the crowds might be busier than you thought. Additionally, after a while, they will rope off the patio areas so that people don’t just walk up and stand there, so if you don’t have a table a good time in advance, you may be out of luck. Secondly, be prepared to share a table. If you and your spouse are at a table for 6, ready for a romantic Fantasmic cuddle fest, there is a good chance that more people will walk up and try to share the table with you or borrow your chairs. Besides the fact that it would be wrong to say no, once the lights go off in the area, it will feel like just the two of you.
I have made the mistake of trying the later show with the hopes that all of the little kids will be approaching their bedtime and leave after the fireworks show. Do not count on this…ever! Babies and children at Disneyland get the curious ability to withstand almost anything as long as it means more Disney. I mean, how many times have you seen a kid asleep in the stroller amidst tons of loud noises (or better yet, a parade) and thought, “How is that possible?!” So try to get to the early show and enjoy the rest of your night. Also keep in mind that during the later show, lots of rides are more freed up so your waiting times are usually much slower!
I hope these tips help you have the best time at your Fantasmic viewing. Do you have any special tips to share? Let us know!