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“Some imagination, huh?”
―Mickey at the end of the show
Fantasmic! is a long-running nighttime show at both Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, now recently added to Tokyo DisneySea. It is about the power of the imagination, showcased by Mickey experiencing a dream during a night in which he is sleeping. It originated at Disneyland in 1992 after Disneyland's entertainment department was asked to create a nighttime spectacular involving water and fireworks to invigorate the space in front of the Rivers of America. Disneyland Entertainment employed the resources of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering as collaborators. Much of the area around the Rivers of America needed to be reworked, including terracing the walkways to accommodate viewing and modifying part of Tom Sawyer Island so that it could act as a stage for much of the show's live action.
In 1996, Walt Disney Entertainment in Florida partnered with Imagineering and Feature Animation to bring a new version of the show to Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly the Disney-MGM Studios), featuring new animated and live action scenes. The Rivers of America at the Magic Kingdom was not conducive to a duplication of the layout at Disneyland, so a new purpose-built 10,000 seat amphitheater was built at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Intended to boost low attendance numbers at that park, the new Fantasmic! show was also seen as a needed replacement for Sorcery in the Sky, an aging nighttime fireworks show.
A third edition of Fantasmic! debuted on April 28, 2011, at Tokyo DisneySea in Japan. It features a new theme song and, being set in the Mediterranean Harbor area of the park, is done in the round with a series of barges, with a central "hat" stage for Mickey and other characters to appear from.
The show is located on the waters of the Rivers of America at Disneyland and on a stage across the waterway. A tavern and tall trees act as a backdrop for the show. To begin, lights around the Rivers of America fade and a female narrator introduces the story.
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. Are the powers of Mickey's imagination strong enough, and bright enough, to withstand the evil forces that invade Mickey's dreams? You are about to find out. For we now invite you to join Mickey, and experience Fantasmic!… a journey beyond your wildest imagination.
The show follows a dream of Mickey Mouse that he has one night while fast asleep, which begins with him in formal attire directing a water show on the river. The show's signature water projection screens are activated, onto which animation from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence from the film Fantasia. Musical scores from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and the "Imagination" theme accompany the animation as Mickey conducts animated shooting stars pyrotechnics launched from the six pyrotechnic barges on the river.
The animation then blends with live performers interpreting different flowers. The petals then become huge green leaves and combine with onscreen animation to become flora and fauna of the jungle. The lighting and music change to a jungle beat, and Kaa from The Jungle Book makes his way across the island with beams of light firing from his eyes. Accompanying this scene are three floating barges carrying King Louie and blacklit monkeys across the river, dancing along to the beat.
The music segues to a contemporary rendition of "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Dumbo, as animated pink elephants appear onscreen and in the form of performers on the island. The elephants then seem to be puppets dancing on strings, which serves to transition into a sequence based on Pinocchio. Three large puppets are manipulated by nine performers with fiber-optic "strings" stretching 30 feet above the puppets.
Onscreen animation shows Jiminy Cricket underwater searching for Pinocchio. An animated Monstro the Whale interacts with live splash effects on the river. The storyline progresses as Mickey notices his dream becoming darker. A concussion cannon is fired from Sailing Ship Columbia, which has been transformed into Captain Hook's pirate ship, where Hook, Smee, Peter Pan, Wendy, and the pirates participate in a stunt sequence as the ship makes its pass. Following the ship is an articulated crocodile barge, with the sound of a ticking clock emanating from its tail.
The music turns darker, as the Evil Queen appears on stage, calling for her magic mirror — which appears onscreen in animated form. The mirror informs the Queen that the three princesses are fairer than she, and that "in Mickey's imagination, beauty and love will always survive." In anger, she moves to her cauldron, where the Queen transforms into the Witch. The hag summons "forces of evil" to transform Mickey Mouse's dream into a "nightmare Fantasmic." Onscreen, we see her face dissolve into that of Ursula. Ursula sings a bit of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" and joins the plot against Mickey as her two pet eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, glide across the river. Onscreen, the face of Ursula transforms into Chernabog. Animation from the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia accompanies Mussorgsky's score.
A pyrotechnic burst of flames heralds the arrival of Maleficent, beginning the climactic showdown sequence. Maleficent rises 30 feet from the stage and transforms into a dragon onscreen. The animation gives way to a 45-foot animatronic dragon, who rises from the stage before breathing fire onto the river. Mickey appears as the Brave Little Tailor and uses a magic sword to destroy the dragon. As the dragon screams, the villains who have appeared are also destroyed onscreen, and the sequence ends with a pyrotechnic burst from the river.
Following an appearance by Tinker Bell, the Mark Twain Riverboat crosses the stage, piloted by a black and white Mickey Mouse, dressed in attire from Steamboat Willie. Approximately fifty Disney characters dance on the ship in a ribbon routine. The sequence is accompanied by searchlights, fountains, and pyrotechnic effects.
Mickey appears on top of the tavern as Sorcerer Mickey, and "conducts" laser beams, fireworks, and lighting effects that span the length of the river stage. In a flash, he disappears from atop the Tavern, and re-appears center stage, resuming his formal attire. Mickey says to the audience, "Some imagination, huh?" and with a laugh, he disappears in a flash. A final burst of pyrotechnics is accompanied by searchlights placed around the tavern and stage. As a finale, a brilliant green flash of pyrotechnics ignites on the water where the river once again becomes quiet and dark.
Disney's Hollywood Studios version
As the lights fade, a female narrator gives a brief welcome and mentions of the powers of imagination. A very faint musical note is heard, swelling and growing into a dramatic chord in the complete darkness. Once the chord strikes, two tall columns rise on stage left and right, with roving spotlights, until finally Mickey appears center stage. He conducts various water fountain effects, until bringing up the giant water-mist "screens", which, in conjunction with a few flares, fade into the famous "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene from Fantasia.
A loud cannon blast erupts. Live characters re-enact battle scenes from the movie Pocahontas. Governor John Ratcliffe and his fellow Englishmen fight against the Native Americans, followed by John Smith. As John Smith climbs to the very top of the mountain, a Native American warrior moves to strike Smith when Pocahontas arrives; the water screens spring back up, and Grandmother Willow appears, with a quote from the movie; the lights dim on the battle, and the Colors of the Wind scene plays out on the screens.
The show then moves into classic dancing scenes with Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip, Cinderella and Prince Charming, and Princess Jasmine and Aladdin. Three small floats now arrive, with Belle and the Beast, Ariel and Prince Eric, and Snow White and her Prince each contained in their own float. As each float reaches the center, the spotlight shines on it, with the accompanying signature melody from each movie — "Beauty and the Beast" "Part of Your World," and "Someday My Prince Will Come", respectively.
The music takes on an eerie tone as Mickey's dream takes a turn for the worse. The Queen appears and concocts a spell amidst pyrotechnics and other special effects, and turns herself into a hag. She invokes the help of Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar, Frollo, and Jafar. Jafar uses his magic to send Mickey to the Cave of Wonders. After escaping a wave of lava, Mickey encounters Jafar, who transforms himself into a giant black cobra, appearing on both the stage and the mist screens. Seeing a magic lamp, Mickey rubs it, assuming it will help him. Unfortunately, Jafar is transformed into a genie and calls upon Hades, who then calls Chernabog, who summons spirits from the dead.
As Chernabog finishes, Mickey comes face to face with Maleficent, who transforms into a 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon that sets the waters ablaze. Guests as far as halfway back in the theater can feel the heat from the fire. Mickey, now in his Brave Little Tailor outfit, manages to create a wall of water around the island, smothering the flames and defeating the dragon. He destroys the villains using the power of his imagination and his sword. Maleficent dies as the water splashes with a large firework bang.
All is quiet until we see Tinker Bell fly to restore the mountain. Magical stars sparkle in the mountain as the Steamboat Willie riverboat approaches. Then a spark of pyrotechnics ignite from the riverboat, revealing Mickey, looking as he did in the original short, controlling the boat. As it glides past the audience, various Disney characters appear aboard Steamboat Willie, dancing with golden streamers. A celebratory atmosphere prevails amid a flurry of fireworks.
With another flash of pyrotechnics, Mickey appears atop the highest point of the mountain in his Sorcerer outfit as fireworks, fire, and water light up the stage. As the finale concludes, Mickey disappears from the top of the mountain with another spark of pyrotechnics, a small explosion in the main stage and simultaneously reappears in his shiny tuxedo suit. A small applause from the crowd and Mickey says, "Some imagination, huh? Ha ha!" Pyrotechnics shoot out of the main stage and barges on the moat, he vanishes one last time to the final notes of the music while a cone of lights and searchlights bright up the stage for a few seconds. All turns dark once again and the show has concluded.
Tokyo DisneySea version
The show begins with the tune of the Sorcerer's Apprentice as out of the stars, Sorcerer Mickey emerges on a tower of stars in a comet. The new theme song, Imagination plays as Mickey conducts the water and images of different characters appear on the tower. The music shifts into the instrumental Fantasmic theme and continues into Sorcerer's Apprentice as Mickey conducts the stars and sea and calls on the Magic Brooms. The waters rise and we enter the sea with Ariel singing Part of Your World, with Crush and his sea turtles swimming in the background. The dancing fish from Fantasia's Nutcracker suite also appears as does Jiminy Cricket in his bubble, who pops it and fills the sky with bubbles.
When Rafiki is about to hold up Simba though, Stitch appears instead (similar to one of the Inter-Stitch-al trailers of the film) and the music goes into an electric guitar version of Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride with Stitch conducting the water while Angel pilots Stitch's red speeder shooting plasma blasts. Mickey appears again, accompanied by the show's theme song and When You Wish Upon A Star and sets the stage for an appearance by the Genie singing Friend Like Me as well as the scene of A Whole New World. As Aladdin and Jasmine fly off, the music segues into Cinderella and a sequence based on the Disney Princesses.
After the Princess medley, Mickey encounters the Magic Mirror and asks "Who's the most powerful Sorcerer of all". The Mirror tells him "True magical power lies within the mirror, gaze deep into your own reflection… Look closer… That’s it, closer…". Mickey is then trapped inside, allowing the Witch and the villains to take control, each one appearing within the mirror. The Witch calls on the assistance of Ursula (singing Poor Unfortunate Souls) and Chernabog (whose appearance is accompanied with a mix of Night on Bald Mountain and Hellfire). The witch laughs at the power of Imagination and the last villain emerges from the mirror: Maleficent who shows the power of her imagination by turning into her dragon form. Mickey defeats Maleficent with his magic wand and the power of his imagination. He falls back into his sleeping body and with a wave of Tinker Bell's wand, the show moves into the finale, with a reprise of the song and many of the good characters appearing on the barges, including regular Mickey. The barges stop and Sorcerer Mickey reappears on the tower, clad in a glowing white robe to conduct the final fireworks and fountains as the theme builds. Mickey then remarks "Some Imagination, huh?" and disappears, with a few notes of the Sorcerer's Apprentice theme and the final fanfare. The tower takes on the appearance of the Sorcerer's Hat and the exit music plays.
However, the character line-up can sometimes vary between shows as other random characters are occasionally featured instead. For example: During the special 20th anniversary performances of the show in May 2012, Roger Rabbit, Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf (all of whom previously appeared in the finale during the earlier years of the show's existence) made appearances.
Walt Disney World's version of the finale currently includes Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Pinocchio, Geppetto, Snow White and her Prince, Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Dopey, Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie, Mulan, Belle, Beast, Ariel, Prince Eric, Tiana, Rafiki, Br'er Bear, Stitch, Pocahontas, John Smith, Meeko, Baloo, Mary Poppins and Bert.
As in Disneyland, the character line-up has gone through changes since its debut. For example: Hercules, Phil and the Chimney Sweeps appeared on the boat regularly in the past.
Barge 3: Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu
Differences between the versions
Although the shows in Disneyland, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Tokyo DisneySea are similar in many respects, there are some differences between the three versions.
In the old Disneyland version of the finale, as soon as Mickey says "Some imagination, huh? Ha ha!", the cone of lights immediately turns on and fireworks from the barges surrounding the stage ignite. This caused the audience to view how Mickey "vanishes". Now, like the Disney World version, there is a spark of bright pyrotechnics as soon as the line is said. In the Tokyo DisneySea version, this illusion is created by pyrotechnics at Mickey's platform, followed by a quick release trap set within the platform.
The choreography of the Opening Mickey and Sorcerer Mickey in both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios are different in their own ways. At Tokyo DisneySea, this choreography is completely removed, as this show has a different opening.
Whereas the show is performed on the Rivers of America at Disneyland, Disney needed a new nighttime draw for Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater built at Disney's Hollywood Studios was made specifically for Fantasmic!
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the show runs for almost 27 minutes (due to the montage of Disney clips inside bubbles, the additional villains, and the wall of water at the climax), compared to Disneyland's which is only 22 minutes. The Tokyo DisneySea version runs at approximately 23 minutes.
The Jungle Scene with Kaa, King Louie, and the monkeys from The Jungle Book at Disneyland is replaced with a tribute to The Lion King at Disney's Hollywood Studios. However, King Louie and the monkeys do appear briefly in the bubble scene. Tokyo DisneySea uses characters from both films series, as well as video from Tarzan to accent the "Circle of Life" scene from the Lion King.
The Peter Pan re-enactment from Disneyland was replaced with scenes from Pocahontas at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the request of Michael Eisner, who wanted more recent films in the show. However, Mr. Smee appeared in the WDW version of the finale from 1998 to 2002 and again in 2014. By next year it should have Pirates of the Caribbean Segment instead of Peter Pan segment at Disneyland.
The "Pink Elephants on Parade" clips and Pinocchio puppets are replaced with a montage of many clips from Disney features inside bubbles at Disney's Hollywood Studios. However, they do appear briefly in the bubble scene. Clips of the bubble montage are found in "The Little Mermaid" / "Finding Nemo" section, while clips of "Pink Elephants" are projected on the screens during the "Friend Like Me" segment from Disney's Aladdin found in the Tokyo DisneySea version.
Ursula's reprisal of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" is taken out at Disney's Hollywood Studios to introduce the other Disney villains. She plays a smaller role in the Florida show than in the California one. In Tokyo DisneySea's version, her role is identical to California's version, with the exception that the song is in Japanese.
More villains are featured in the Florida version. Many of the additions are villains from Disney animated features released after the Disneyland version was first introduced.
In California, Mickey destroys the villains by pointing a sword at the Dragon and saying, "You may think you're so powerful, well, this is my dream!" before light shoots from his sword toward the villains. In Florida, he still says this, but before he destroys the villains, he causes a wall of water to block out the island and douse the flames; he then marches over to the sword in the stone and pulls it out.
Instead of the Mark Twain riverboat, the characters in the Florida show dance on a smaller boat based on Steamboat Willie. Tokyo DisneySea uses four barges refurbished from previous shows performed in the Mediterranean Harbor.
In the California version, the giant snake that comes out on the stage is Kaa from The Jungle Book; in the Florida version, the snake is Jafar from Aladdin. Also, Jafar has a much bigger role in the show than any other villain except for Maleficent. Tokyo DisneySea uses a redesigned Kaa as a moving float during the "Circle of Life" segment.
Having been updated, the California version's Maleficent dragon is considerably more advanced than its Florida counterpart and has a wider range of movement. Tokyo's dragon consists only of the head and neck emerging from a mirror. It is unknown if it is a puppet or an animatronic.
The final battle scene in Tokyo DisneySea's show differs from both its American counterparts. While both California and Florida versions pit Brave Little Tailor Mickey against the dragon Maleficent, Sorcerer Mickey is the one who battles Maleficent at Tokyo DisneySea. Instead of using a sword, Mickey shoots fireworks from a magic wand topped with a Hidden Mickey emblem.
Unlike the US versions, Tokyo DisneySea's show does not open with the "Welcome to Fantasmic!..." phrase as part of the opening act; instead it starts off with Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice. The narration is recited as part of the pre-show announcements in both Japanese and English, by two male voices, instead of a female voice.
The Finale music at Tokyo DisneySea is almost identical to the US versions except when the chorus sings the "Imagination" theme song instead of Bruce Healey's lyrics for the US versions. The choreography is different as well, with no dancing ribbons.
The music of the Villain segment of the show is almost identical to Disneyland's version, with two notable exceptions: in the Chernabog scene, the music is instead a mixture of "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Hellfire"; and instead of the Evil Queen's Transformation to the Old Hag, Mickey is the one who summons the Magic Mirror and the power of evil.
The dialog in Tokyo DisneySea's version is in Japanese. When translated from Japanese to English, Mickey's dialog in Tokyo DisneySea's version is literally the same as the US versions (except when Mickey calls the Magic Mirror and the magic of romance).
In all three versions Bruce Healey's Exit Music can be heard after each performance.
Tokyo's Princess Sequence does not include vocals, but a more orchestral soundtrack than its US counterparts. It also features Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora. The US versions feature Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Snow White and her Prince.
Tokyo's version features Ariel (as both human and mermaid), Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog (as animation), and Snow White (Theme and Finale). Cinderella is the only Princess featured who does not appear in all three versions. Belle and the Beast are featured as animation only; they do not appear in the Finale.
During Walt Disney World's years Mickey has had total of 3 three different swords. The first one that was used from (1999-early 2003)was thin and long, the second one that was used from (2003-late 2011) was remodeled and was a bit bigger and pointier, and the current one is a lot larger and has more effects that include a red light beam effect that shoots toward the dragon.
In early 2014, Disneyland got new World of Color fountains that move to Mickey's movements, but were shortly taken down due to problems. They kept the new fountains, but they don't move.
In late 2011, Walt Disney World was given new firework effects in the finale which includes Mickey's new fireworks that appear behind him and new finale fireworks. Likewise, Disneyland got new firework blasts at the end of the show. During the 2011 refurbishment, the show returned to 7 shows a week and was given new dragon lighting effects. During the 15th anniversary, Walt Disney World was given new lights on the princess barges, like Disneyland's, and new low smoke effects and new fire in the dragon's mouth where it hits the water, The lift at the top of the mountain was experiencing problems and now comes up slower than it normally does for the performers' safety.
in 2010 Disneyland was given new lasers for the finale that move.
in (1999-early 2002) the way Mickey disappears was there were flash fireworks all around the stage and so from any angle you could not see how he disappeared, but in 2002 Mickey was given a spark blast around his elevator to make it more magical for the audience.
In the intro of the WDW version, almost any one can see Mickey coming up the lift; Disneyland's lift is so fast when the lights hit Mickey he just came up.
A Taste of Fantasmic!
Due to the typical rainy weather in Florida, Disney Hollywood Studios will present a Taste of Fantasmic! which contains just the fountains and launches off the preloaded pyro, as it is too dangerous to unload it. This show is about 5 minutes.
With the success of FastPass viewing for the World of Color show at Disney's California Adventure, Fantasmic! at Disneyland started to offer the service. On December 12, 2013 Outdoor Vending Carts converted to FastPass machines were placed along the Big Thunder Trail offering Blue, Yellow, and Green Section FastPass tickets. Only guests with FastPass tickets are allowed in the viewing areas. Limited stand by viewing is available in small sections around the viewing area. In addition to FastPasses guest may also purchase a Dining Package at Blue Bayou or Riverbelle Terrace for a reserved viewing section. Aladdin's Oasis also offers a To-Go dinner package but it only grants the purchaser access to the Blue Section. For a limited time Hungry Bear restaurant also offered a reserved viewing section called the Dessert Party.