Welcome to Fantasmic! Tonight, our friend and host, Mickey Mouse, uses his vivid imagination to create magical imagery for all to enjoy. Nothing is more wonderful than the imagination—for in a moment, you can experience a beautiful fantasy or an exciting adventure! But beware… nothing is more powerful than the imagination—for it can also expand your greatest fears into an overwhelming nightmare.

The opening to Fantasmic asks a question that many of us have been wondering about for over a year and a half. Will the new version of the show be embraced by fans or will its changes go too far? Our months of waiting are over. On Saturday the 15th, Fantasmic returned to the Rivers of America in Disneyland’s Frontierland.

As was mentioned right here on MiceChat, guests who were able to visit the Parks and Resorts presentation at the D23 Expo were rewarded with a Fastpass good for viewing the show.  The MiceChat staff headed to Disneyland with hope in our hearts and vivid imaginations.

First, let’s reassure you that this is not an entirely new show. Most of what you loved about Fantasmic is still there in some form or another.  However, significant changes were made, most notably in the music, which sounds to be fully rerecorded. Also, you’ll find two new princesses, new animations, a new dancing monkey scene, and the substitution of Pirates of the Caribbean for Peter Pan.

Below, you’ll find some glamor shots of the new show along with some video.

Our HUGE thanks to Scott Attula and Stephenie Pashkowsky for taking the time to shoot this show for us after a long day working the D23 Expo!!!

The colors are much more vivid in this version of Fantasmic.
Digital mapping projectors are used to cast images across the entire Fantasmic stage.
Mickey appears throughout this show. It is his dream after all.
The new monkey scene.

The big change in the show is the swapping of Pirates of the Caribbean for the old Peter Pan scene.  The idea is mostly the same. You’ve got pirates and stunt work in the rigging of the ship. However, it’s a bit hard to know what’s going on here and the visuals and audio don’t really match the rest of the show. Fantasmic is a show about Mickey’s imagination and is entirely built around Disney animation. The use of live action movie characters here does seem out of place. A quibble perhaps, or a clear indication of what makes this show feel a bit off.

They’ve found a way to force Johnny Depp into another Disney attraction. Good grief.

The princess scene has been extended with an Aladdin and Jasmine sequence. They open the segment on a flying carpet.

Then the princess barges appear.

After multiple rehearsals with Ariel in her human form, they ultimately played it safe and put her back in her fin. We like her this way.

Snow white is gone, replaced with Tangled.

And with Snow now missing in action, there wasn’t an easy segue to the Evil queen. So the queen got cut from the show.  The Magic Mirror now appears out of context.

The hag appears already transformed and WITHOUT her cauldron.

The dragon is more prominent in this show. He rises very slowly from the pit of the stage and you see the whole thing happen. Previously, he rose in darkness as projections on the mist screens hid the stagecraft of the dragon’s appearance. Is it better now that you see how the dragon works or was the surprising reveal of a full sized dragon on stage of the old show better?

Poof, evil defeated and cue the glorious Mark Twain finale.

SOCAL Attractions 360 got some good video of the new show. It’s hard to shoot, but listen for the audio changes and watch the scene transitions in particular. You’ll notice immediately that this show has been rethought from beginning to end:

This one is still sinking in. Not quite sure yet how much of my uneasy feelings about this show are just my discomfort with the changes and music or that perhaps they’ve chopped the show up in ways that make some of the transitions feel forced. I didn’t leave this show with that heartfelt emotional feeling that it’s always given me in the past. It LOOKS beautiful, the special effects are neat, but there were a lot of net losses for me that weren’t replaced with something better than before. I miss the Evil Queen, the Pinocchio sequence, and the Tick Tock float. I’m baffled that they didn’t try to fix the Urusla scene. Remember the old Ursula barge from the early years of the show? Or the replacement electric eels? there’s nothing there now but more mist screen projections.  I suppose that my biggest gripe is that the show, which is still HIGHLY entertaining, feels like a step toward the fountains and projections of World of Color, when it would have been better served with more of the stagecraft magic of the original Fantasmic. The old show had one magical and surprising reveal after another. This version relied too heavily on projections.

In the end, I still enjoyed myself. I left conflicted, but entertained. Had I never seen the old version of the show, I’d have loved this one. Which is the same exact feeling I get when I see the inferior Orlando version. Disneyland’s Fantasmic was always better. Still is. But a bit of the magic has worn off for me. I’m curious how you feel.

Are the powers of Mickey’s incredible imagination strong enough and bright enough to withstand the evil forces that invade Mickey’s dream? You are about to find out. For we now invite you to join Mickey and experience Fantasmic!—a journey beyond your wildest imagination.