October 15, 1998
March 12, 2020
Walt Disney Entertainment
James Horner (score)
$45,000 per showing
Fantasmic! is a Disney nighttime show at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. The show features fireworks, live actors, water effects, fire, music, several boats, decorated rafts, and projections onto large mist screens featuring reworked Disney animation. 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.
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, featuring new animated and live action scenes. The Rivers of America at the Magic Kingdom was not conducive to a replication of the layout at Disneyland, so a new purpose-built 6,900 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.
The show is located at the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. An enormous mountain with surrounding trees is the set for the show. As the lights fade, a female voice gives a brief welcome and mentions of the powers of imagination. "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 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..."
A very faint musical note is heard, swelling and growing into a dramatic chord as the chorus sings the intro. in the complete darkness. Once the chord strikes, two tall columns rise on stage left and right, with roving spotlights, until finally Mickey appears centre stage in formal attire. He dances and conducts various water fountain effects as "Conductor Mickey" to the show's theme, 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.
From there, the falling stars of the Sorcerer's Apprentice scene morph into flowers, and a female voice sings the imagination theme. A giant, white flower appears on stage as animated blooming flowers appear on the projection screens. After, music of the jungle is played, the show transitions into a jungle scene. Elephants, giraffes, monkeys, birds, ostriches, rhinos, crocodiles, and cheetahs begin to herd in the mountain. These 2D black-light puppets make noise and dance around on the island while Rafiki and other black-light monkeys do a dance on floats traveling across the water. Simba and Nala from The Lion King run through the jungle in a short projection which transitions into a montage of clips of many classic Disney movies appearing in floating bubbles. Scenes from The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland, Hercules, Pinocchio, Aladdin, Mulan, Cinderella, Lady and the Tramp, Fantasia, Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Frozen pop and float across the screen.
Jiminy Cricket appears in a bubble and pops it with his umbrella to get to his hat in a separate bubble. An animated Monstro next appears onscreen, accompanied by a heavy musical score as he crashes through the waters. The chaotic sea morphs into the flood scene from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". As Mickey looks around in the dark, a ship caught in a storm appears. The screens disappear, and the lights immediately darken.
A loud cannon blast erupts. Live characters re-enact battle scenes from the film, 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 on the water screens to a reprise of the theme.
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 centre, the spotlight shines on it, with the accompanying signature melody from each movie — "Beauty and the Beast", "Part of Your World," and "Some Day My Prince Will Come", respectively floating stage takes the foreground on the water. While in the foreground, LED lights on each floating stage turn from white to multicolored.
The music takes on an ominous tone as Mickey's dream takes a turn for the worse. The Wicked Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 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." Angered by this, she runs to a cauldron, concocts a spell amidst pyrotechnics and other special effects, and turns herself into the hag to turn Mickey's dream into a "Nightmare Fantasmic". Upon being told by the Magic Mirror that she now has the power to control Mickey's mind, On the water screen, she invokes some of the most infamous Disney villains:
- Ursula from The Little Mermaid
- Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians
- Scar from The Lion King
- Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- Jafar from Aladdin
Jafar uses his magic to send Mickey (in his classic attire) to the Cave of Wonders. After escaping a wave of lava, Mickey encounters Jafar, who transforms 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, hoping that the nightmare would end. But unfortunately, it only made matters worse, Jafar is transformed from a cobra into a powerful genie and calls upon Hades (Hercules) who mockingly summons Chernabog (Fantasia), summoning the spirits from the dead to his theme from Fantasia. Animation from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence from Fantasia accompanies Mussorgsky's score.
He summons a blast of fire which appears on stage as Maleficent's classic entrance-by-fire. She prepares Mickey, now in his Brave Little Tailor outfit, to deal with the powers of HER imagination. She rises into the air and the water screens show her transforming into a dragon as all the villains laugh maniacally at the powers of imagination. On stage, the 40-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon sets the waters ablaze breathing fire onto the river. Natural-gas piping allows the flames to burn on top of the water as they spread to take over the stage. Sometimes when the dragon is not present, Maleficent stays as herself, still with the evil powers and ignites fire on the moat not by her mouth, but by her glowing stick. She still gets destroyed the same way. Guests as far as halfway back in the theater can feel the heat from the fire. Mickey, faces the dragon, claiming "You may thing you're so powerful... well, uh...This is my dream!" He uses the powers of his imagination to conduct the water as he did at the beginning of the show and create a wall of water around the island, smothering the flames. He pulls the sword from the stone which shoots sparks through the wall of water, defeating it, As the dragon screams, and as the water screens show all of the villains scream and explode. Maleficent also dies as the water splashes with a large firework bang.
All is quiet, until Tinker Bell appears and flies to restore the mountain. Magical stars sparkle in the mountain as the Steamboat Willie riverboat approaches with sparks falling from the side. Then a spark of pyrotechnics ignite from Steamboat Willie, revealing black and white Mickey in "Steamboat Willie" attire, controlling the boat.
As it glides past the audience, various Disney heroes appear aboard the riverboat, dancing with streamers. A celebratory atmosphere prevails amid a flurry of fireworks and the chorus singing. The sequence is accompanied by searchlights, fountains, fire, and pyrotechnic effects.
With another flash of pyrotechnics, Mickey appears atop the highest point of the mountain as the Sorcerers Apprentice as fireworks, fire, lasers, and water light up the stage. As the finale concludes, Mickey disappears from the top of the mountain with another spark of pyrotechnics, there is a small explosion in the main center stage and Mickey simultaneously reappears in his formal attire from the beginning of the show. Mickey says, "Some imagination, huh? Ha ha!" Pyrotechnics shoot out of the main stage and barges on the moat, as 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. On the last note of the musical score, bright low-level mines go off. The show is concluded. The audience is lit back up as a rendition of the theme plays as the exit music.
The original version of Mickey destroying the dragon was said to involve Mickey walking on the surface of the river and rising up in a column of water to slay the dragon. While some say the effect suffered from technical problems, others suggest former Disney CEO Michael Eisner felt the concept had too many religious parallels. A simpler ending of Mickey using the sword in the stone was used instead. However, the "Fantasmic! Good Clashes with Evil in a Nighttime Spectacular" soundtrack had already been produced with the last track called "Mickey Walks On Water/Evil Destroyed."
In January 2009 the show's schedule was reduced from 7 to 2 nights a week to selected nights each week. These schedule cuts coincided with the opening of the American Idol Experience. It was announced in 2010 that during peak park attendance periods it would be performed three nights a week with two shows per night. The Florida version of the show, unlike the California version of the show, has not undergone a major refurbishment. However, since 2008, the show has been upgrading and replacing some of the technology, without any changes to show elements.
- The Steamboat Willie riverboat originally had "spinning fireworks" that ignited on the side of the riverboat. In 2007, an incident occurred when one of the spinning fireworks flew off of its stand and into the trees. Due to this incident, waterfall fireworks replaced the spinning fireworks when the show entered its 2008 season.
- In summer 2009, the sound system was upgraded.
- In summer 2010, new (low smoke) pyrotechnics have been added to the entire show. At the last second of the show, mine blasts (used in the Disneyland finale) ignite after the stage goes dark.
- In fall 2013, the new show barges featuring LED lighting arrays.
- In Summer 2015, New brighter projectors, New scenes and New Bubble Scenes was upgraded.
The show's schedule will return to seven days a week from July 3 to September 30, 2011.
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, puppets, or the mechanical dragon, 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.
- Conceived and Directed by Barnette Ricci
- Original Score Composed and Conducted by James Horner
- Original Fantasmic! Theme Composed by Bruce Healey
- Music Supervisor: Julianne Jordan
- Performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony
- Soundtrack Recorded at Barbra Streisand Scoring Stage, Sony Pictures Studios Culver City, California, US, Capitol Studios, Hollywood, California, US, The Newman Scoring Stage, 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, California, US, Paramount Scoring Stage "M", Hollywood, California, US
- Soundtrack Mixed at Robert Wise Mixing Stage 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, California, US
- Supervising Music Editor: Jim Henrikson
- Music Editors: Tanya Noel Hill, Dick Bernstein, Philip Tallman, Joe E. Rand, Barbara McDermott
- Temp Music Editor: Mark Wlodarkiewicz
- Additional Music Editors: John Finklea, Michael K. Bauer
- Synthesizer Programming: Ian Underwood, Randy Kerber
- Orchestrations by James Horner, J.A.C. Redford, Steven R. Bernstein, Carl Johnson, Edward Karam, Gary K. Thomas, Nicholas Dodd, Peter Boyer, Randy Kerber, John Neufeld, Conrad Pope, David Slonaker, Don Davis, Jon Kull, Bruce Babcock, Jim Honeyman
- Soundtrack and Album Produced by James Horner and Simon Franglen
- Executive Vice President of Entertainment: Ron Logan
- Album Executive Producer: Chris Montan
- Score Recorded and Mixed by Shawn Murphy, Simon Rhodes
- Soundtrack Editing, Sound Effects, and Surround Sound Services by Skywalker Sound A Lucasfilm Ltd. Company, Marin County, California
- Soundtrack Editing, Sound Effects, and Surround Sound Design by Ben Burtt
- Music Production Manager: Tom MacDougall
- Orchestra Contractors: Sandy DeCrescent, Peter Rotter, Debbi Datz-Pyle
- Vocal Contractor: Sally Stevens
- Music Preparation: JoAnn Kane Music Service
- Assistant To James Horner: Sylvia Patrycja