Fantasmic! is a nighttime show at Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort, Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort, and Tokyo DisneySea at Tokyo Disney Resort, that features fireworks, characters, live actors, water effects, pyrotechnics, lasers, music, audio-animatronics, decorated boat floats, and mist screen projections. The narrative structure of Fantasmic!—although varying differently in set pieces in all three versions—centers on a voyage through Mickey Mouse's imagination that culminates in a battle against the Disney Villains.
Fantasmic! originated at Disneyland in 1992 after Walt Disney Creative Entertainment was asked to create a nighttime spectacular involving water and fireworks to reinvigorate the space in front of the Rivers of America. The area was reworked, including terracing the walkways to accommodate viewing and modifying part of Tom Sawyer Island to allow the show's staged live action segments. The producers employed the resources of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering.
A second version, featuring new scenes, debuted at Disney-MGM Studios in 1998 and a third version debuted at Tokyo DisneySea in 2011, replacing BraviSEAmo!. A new, updated version of the Disneyland version of the show featuring a re-recorded soundtrack in addition to new scenes, lighting, choreography and costumes debuted in 2017.
The show begins with a faint musical note that swells into a lush fanfare, revealing Mickey Mouse onstage. Two Light towers come out from the ground where Mickey is transported into his dream. He then dances and orchestrates various water fountain, pyrotechnic, projection, laser, and lighting effects to the show's theme, until bringing up the mist screens, which fades into the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence from Fantasia. From there, the falling stars of the scene bloom into flowers. Mickey then appears on the mist screens where he is standing in front of the sunset from The Lion King. The show then transitions into a jungle scene from The Jungle Book, featuring a 100-foot-long (30 m) puppet of Kaa and three floating barges carrying King Louie and black-lit monkeys across the river stage. Then the song transitions into Hakuna Matata. The music then segues into an dubstep rendition of "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Dumbo, as animated pink elephants appear onscreen and in the form of performers on the island. The scene then transitions to a "Friend Like Me" from Aladdin. Sorcerer Mickey watches Genie perform all his tricks. Then they go under the sea as they head into the world of The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo. Then a Bubble floats and Jiminy Cricket appears onscreen underwater searching for Pinocchio. An animated Monstro appears suddenly, accompanied by a heavy musical score as he crashes through water. The sea morphs into the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" flood scene. As Mickey looks around in the dark and asks "What's going on?", a ship caught in a storm appears. Captain Barbossa them appears on the mist screens.
A cannon is fired from Sailing Ship Columbia, portraying the Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, and other pirates participate in a stunt sequence. The scene ends with fountains that look like explosions and a cannon fired from the Sailing Ship Columbia. As the scene concludes, Mickey's sorcerer hat is painted on the mist screen and the hat turns to clouds as Aladdin and Jasmine are on a physical magic carpet flying through the clouds while a rendition of A Whole New World plays. Then the carpet fades away and three small barges arrive carrying Belle and the Beast, Ariel and Prince Eric and Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder, with the accompanying signature melody from each film—"Beauty and the Beast," "Part of Your World," and "I See the Light".
The music takes on an ominous tone as Mickey's dream takes a turn for the worse. The magic mirror comes up —which appears onscreen in animated form. The mirror tempts Mickey to enter the darker realms of his imagination, "where powers far greater than yours may awaken." When asked if he has the courage, Mickey accepts the challenge, and the mirror traps Mickey inside its dark depths. The Evil Queen, disguised as the old hag, calls all the villains to partake in Mickey's nightmare which invokes a riled Ursula, (from The Little Mermaid) who ecstatically joins the Queen's plot to destroy Mickey. Ursula calls upon Chernabog (from Fantasia) who summons deceased spirits. He summons Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty) who threatens Sorcerer Mickey, as she transforms herself into an enormous dragon. On stage, the 45-foot dragon sets the waters ablaze breathing fire onto the river. Mickey faces the dragon, claiming that he is in control of his imagination, and defeats the dragon, destroying the villains in the process.
Everything is silent, until Tinker Bell appears. Magical stars sparkle in the tavern as the Mark Twain Riverboat approaches. A spark of pyrotechnics ignite from The Mark Twain as all of Tom Sawyer's Island is lit up in rainbow colors, revealing black and white Mickey in Steamboat Willie attire. The vessel glides past the audience, carrying several dozens Disney characters as a celebratory atmosphere prevails. With another flash, Mickey appears atop the highest point of the tavern as the Sorcerer's Apprentice as he controls a final series of water, fireworks, laser and light orchestrations. Mickey disappears and reappears onstage in his tuxedo from the beginning of the show, bidding the audience farewell and disappears once again in a bright blast of fireworks.
The original Disneyland soft opening and press premiere were scheduled to begin Wednesday, April 29, 1992 and continue through the weekend. By late afternoon, rioting began in Los Angeles following the acquittal of the Los Angeles police officers involved in the Rodney King beating. Promotional materials with the catchphrase "Be Here When the Night Ignites" were quickly pulled from public circulation.
Disneyland's Fantasmic! went through a full technical refresh, aimed at reducing escalating maintenance costs and keeping it looking fresh. A new sound system debuted in the summer of 2007, along with the new show barges featuring LED lighting arrays. A complete overhaul of the lighting system debuted in the spring of 2008. The three mainland lighting towers, which rise hydraulically from pits in the ground prior to the show, were rebuilt with pull out slides for the new Clay Paky Alpha Spots and Washes and redesigned for the new Strong Gladiator IV followspots. The footlights, placed on the mainland side at water level were replaced with LED fixtures, as part of Disney's environmental initiative and improved flexibility. Refurbished pyrotechnic barges were given new technologies derived from Disneyland's Air-Launch Firework (ALF) system. Reworked pyrotechnics emit less smoke than the previous iteration, reducing pollution and improving visibility of the stage, most notable in the finale. This is possible due to there only being a burst charge, eliminating the lift charge.
In 2008, the three original 70mm projectors were replaced with high definition (HD) digital projectors. The animation also received a new digital transfer. New Syncrolite fixtures were added to the mainland and island towers and to the roof of the tavern for use during the finale. The Peter Pan sequence was given a new mechanical crocodile, which, though smaller, can now interact with the scene. The Ursula sequence once featured Flotsam and Jetsam, in the form of jet-ski based floats which snake through the water. These replaced the Ursula float. However, as of summer 2013, these jet-skis no longer appear in the show.
A new audio-animatronic dragon (nicknamed Murphy by fans, after Murphy's law when the dragon went through multiple delays during 2009) was built to replace the previous dragon which was a mechanical dragon's head on JLG cherry picker. The new dragon was designed to be a full-bodied replica of Maleficent's final form in Sleeping Beauty, standing at 45 feet tall. The dragon had initial problems before a scheduled debut date and was unable to operate on said date. The new dragon premiered on September 1, 2009. The Mark Twain finale sequence featuring Disney characters doing a streamer dance was re-choreographed, and the timing of the fireworks in the finale was tweaked.
In early February 2010, the entire Rivers of America were drained. Both the Mark Twain and the sailing ship Columbia underwent refurbishment, and the track along which the ships travel was replaced. The show's underwater effects underwent maintenance as well, and the laser effects for the finale were upgraded. In early May, the refurbishment was completed, and the rivers were restored. Fantasmic! returned for the summer season on May 28, 2010. On August 28, 2010 the 2nd generation dragon broke again. It partly collapsed during a performance. It was restored to the show on November 12, 2010.
During the short after-holiday refurbishment period beginning on January 7, 2014, the show's original stationary fountains were replaced by new World of Color-esque dancing fountains with individual LED lighting and could be articulated to match the movements of performers onstage, effectively dancing with the music. These new fountains made their Fantasmic! debut when the show returned on February 14, 2014. However, the fountains were found to be unreliable, causing many synchronization problems and often falling behind other special effects during the show. Disneyland quietly removed the dancing fountains in 2015. They were brought back in 2017 when Fantasmic! underwent refurbishment.
On November 6, 2014, Disneyland announced new viewing options for Fantasmic!, primarily with the debut of a Fastpass return time system much like the one implemented for World of Color. In addition, new dining packages that include tickets to Fantasmic! were also announced.
On January 11, 2016, Disneyland's Fantasmic! closed for approximately a year—along with other Rivers of America attractions, including the Disneyland Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Sailing Ship Columbia, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, and Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes—to permit the construction of a future Star Wars-themed land to the north of Frontierland.
On July 28, 2016, it was announced that the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America Attractions, including Fantasmic! would be reopening Summer 2017. On April 17, 2017; it was announced that new scenes based on Aladdin, The Lion King, Tangled, and Pirates of the Caribbean would be added to Fantasmic! It was also announced that Mickey Mouse would be appearing in more scenes throughout the show. Fantasmic! officially reopened on July 17, 2017.
The Florida version of the show takes place at the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, with a rocky mountain and a facade of trees serving as the setting. The plot of the Walt Disney World version is fairly similar to that of Disneyland's original version, with the show's introduction and conclusion depicted as nearly identical. However, there are notable differences throughout the rest of the show.
The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater is a purpose-built seat riverside amphitheatre at the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in the Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, that showcases the nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! It is located off of Sunset Boulevard, between the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Beauty and the Beast stage show. The Fantasmic! stage in Florida is significantly larger than Disneyland's, featuring a man-made, 50-foot-tall (15 m) mountain on which Sorcerer Mickey stands and from which the dragon emerges. The amphitheater has 6,900 seats, with room for an additional 3,000 people standing. The moat around the island itself can hold 1,900,000 U.S. gallons (7,200,000 L) of water.
On September 15, 2015, it was announced that Pop Secret would become the official sponsor of Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Prior to this, Fantasmic! was the only nighttime fireworks show at Walt Disney World without a sponsor, with Wishes gaining sponsorship from Pandora Jewelry in 2014, while IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was sponsored by General Electric from 1999 to 2003 and sponsored by Siemens since 2005.
The Florida version has a four-minute-long substitute show, colloquially named Taste of Fantasmic!, that plays when inclement weather prohibits the presentation of the regular show. The alternative show does not showcase any of the performers, floats, or puppets due to the dangerous conditions that are posed to the performers because of the possibility of rain accumulating on the stage. Instead the ancillary show is a brief summation of the conventional show; including a fountain display synchronized to "Little April Showers", a sequence integrating the "Night on Bald Mountain" music, and a finale orchestrated with all of the usual pyrotechnics and musical fanfare from the original show's conclusion.
On February 5, 2010, it was announced the show was to debut on April 23, 2011 at Tokyo DisneySea as a replacement for the current show, BraviSeamo! The show would be a newer and larger version and would feature new scenes from Aladdin, Finding Nemo, and Cinderella, and will take place in Mediterranean Harbor. This was to become the nighttime spectacular for the Tokyo DisneySea 10th Anniversary Celebration "Be Magical!" However, the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 delayed the opening of the celebration for six weeks. The presentation premiered instead on April 28, 2011.
Steve Davison has called this new version of Fantasmic as "Fantasmic 2.0," hinting that the show would be redesigned. The performance is very different from previous performances. The show's score was completely recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, composed by Don L. Harper, as is, Bruce Healey's theme to the original Fantasmic! The new version has new scenes and plot, accompanied with a new song titled "Imagination". This is the only version of Fantasmic! to not have a stationary stage, since Mediterranean Harbor is located in the center of the park. Instead most of the show takes place on barges and boats. All of the character dialogue was recorded in Japanese by the characters' respective Japanese voice artists, excluding the "Imagination" and Fantasmic! songs.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Japanese version (Tokyo DisneySea):
The water projection screens were initially designed with a single screen centered in front of the island. During development, show producers determined that the venue would need three screens to enable viewing along the entire waterfront. In addition to providing story development, the screens hide set changes. The pump house for the water screens and other fountain effects is located in the small structure along the river, just north of the Mark Twain dock. Water for the fountains is supplied via massive intake pipes directly under this structure. The fog system located around the banks of the river uses fresh water to create the fog effects along the river. The river's water itself is not suitable to be pumped through the mist nozzles, as aquashadow dye is added to the river to mask the bottom from guests. In the winter of 2008, Disneyland's Fantasmic! returned from another refurbishment with new high-definition digital projectors, most noticeable in the "Pink Elephants" and "Tinker Bell" segments, where the images look clearer and deeper colors compared to the 70 mm film projections that were used for 16 years.
There are six pyrotechnics barges that can hold up to three shows worth of pyrotechnics each. Two barges go on each side of the stage, and two are at center stage. The pyrotechnics were redesigned during the winter 2008 refurbishment. The show's final blast does not come from any of the 6 pyro barges, but rather 5 mines located along the island banks of the river.
The fire on water effect is created by natural gas lines running beneath the river. The gas simply bubbles up to the surface and 3 flame throwers along the banks of the river ignite the gas. With the original dragon, it initially would be the source of ignition for the water. This would cause the face of the dragon to burn and so 3 flame throwers were added. The new dragon's style of flame thrower sprays the stream of fuel, and then ignites it after it is all airborne, opposed to igniting the fuel as it sprays out. This allows the flame to throw further, aerosolize, and overall be more impressive.
The lighting system consists of three mainland towers along the shore of the Rivers of America, in the audience seating area, along with two island towers, and several auxiliary lighting systems (i.e. the river boxes with the new ColorKinetics ColorBlast 12s that replaced the Stonco Pars). In early 2008 the lighting system was completely replaced, the first major rework since the show opened in 1992. After a 3-month period, the show reopened on March 7, 2008 with new Clay Paky fixtures mounted on the completely redesigned towers, including Alpha Wash 1200s and Alpha Profile 1200s, replacing the old Morpheus PC Spot fixtures. Additionally 2 Syncrolite MX3000's on Tower B and one each on Towers A and C, 2 on each island tower and 2 behind the tavern. These Syncrolite fixtures add much brightness to the show and give a high intensity source of "black-light" effect used throughout the show. The two located behind the tavern are at roof level and act as intense backlighting while Mickey is directing the finale. The followspots were replaced with Strong Gladiator IV. Unlike the previous followspots, these do not accept gobos — most noticeable in the opening sequence where Mickey was formerly lit with a star. The show also includes Vari-lite VL500's on the island towers, and ColorKinetics ColorBlast TR-UV's. Lighting control was switched to an ETC Eos console with fixtures operating in 8 DMX universes. The High End Systems Dataflash AF1000 strobes were recently replaced with Atomic Strobes. And as of February 14, 2014 new LED lighting rings replaced the fountain lighting along with new articulated fountains. 21 fountains to be exact.
Video and audio playback were originally mastered to laserdisc. Originally Triad provided the show control for the complex audio source and mixing systems, as well as programming services for Fantasmic! After the May to June 2007 remodel, there are four J arrays (d&b audio) consisting of two J8s and two J-SUBs per stack and there are three arrays mimicking the placement of the water screens as the primary music source. Along the edge of the mainland (land side of the river) there are Meyer UPA-1Cs that are manually hydraulically raised specifically for Fantasmic! for delay and 2 MSL-2As per mainland lighting tower. The centermost UPA's are also used in Tiana's Showboat Jubilee, running from November 18, 2009 to January 3, 2010. The sound system that is used daily for background music- Meyer UPM's mounted in the lamp posts- also remains active during the show. There is a surround system of d&b Ci90s and Ci60s and various EAW cabinets that are hidden above the River Belle Terrace in a wicker chest, above Club 33, The Dream Suite and the Haunted Mansion roof, as well as various other locations, are mounted on the roof on hydraulic lifts that operate the same way as the lighting mounts located on the Main Street Roofs. These speakers are cued to lift to show position at 2+ hours before showtime. Additional Meyer UPA-1C's are added to the Columbia because as it sails by during the Peter Pan segment, it physically blocks the sound from the island J arrays. All the audio runs off a Meyer/LCS Matrix3 system, with eight tracks of playback and close to forty outputs. There is something in the region of six different areas of sound that are duplicated on three sides of the stage. All loudspeakers, d&b and Meyer are run off d&b D12 or E-PAC amplifiers. The amplifiers are split into two locations, one on the island and one at the control booth. By using the d&b ROPE C control software, engineers can look at both parts of the system from the control area.
The Mark Twain Riverboat is actually powered by the rear-mounted paddle, but is guided by the same replacement track installed at the install time of Fantasmic! It is a real steam-powered sternwheeler, but the steam is regulated by the engineer in the rear of the boat and steam is powered by a biodiesel-fueled boiler. The boiler is regulated at the center of the boat with many gauges and a three-way toggle switch labeled "Slow," "Fast," and "FANTASMIC." The last setting provides the most speed.
The Columbia is CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) powered, unlike the bio-diesel powered Mark Twain. It sports a real cannon that is fired during the Pirates of the Caribbean segment of the show at Disneyland.
Lasers were part of the show from the beginning to the tree above the main building on the island, to the tavern roof itself, and later more were added directly above the stage deck facing upstage, used during the death of the dragon.
The soundtrack for the Disneyland show was included in the 2015 release of Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Disneyland.
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