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Tips and tricks for Fantasmic (How to watch)

HomeTips and tricks for Fantasmic (How to watch)
Tips and tricks for Fantasmic (How to watch)

Hollywood Studios’ nighttime show is called Fantasmic! and it’s well worth your time to see, but it can be tricky to make sure you see it without long waits.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you avoid long lines, get the best seats, and make an easy exit from the show.

What is Fantasmic?

Fantasmic! is the primary nighttime show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The exciting 29-minute spectacular is performed in a large theater (which means you get to sit while you watch it!) and features lots of Disney characters, projections on water screens, boats, fireworks, water effects, and great music. It’s a fantastic visual treat, though some little ones may find some of the darker scenes to be scary.

The return of Fantasmic! after its closure included some technical enhancements and a new segment with Mulan, Elsa, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Moana.

How to Watch Fantasmic!

In the past, there were 3 different ways you could get a seat to watch Fantasmic!:

  • Use FastPass+ (guaranteed seats)
  • Pay for the Fantasmic Dining Package OR Fantasmic Dessert Package (guaranteed seats)
  • Wait in the Standby Line (no guarantee)

The show is presented in a huge outdoor theater that seats 11,000 guests, and during busy times of the year, people are often lined up in the Standby Line an hour or more beforehand to get in. We don’t wait an hour for anything, and don’t suggest you don’t either.

But with Fantasmic returning after so many things have changed (Genie+, no Disney Dining Plans, etc.) we have to do a little guessing on how things will work while we wait for Disney to release more details.

Fantasmic is Standby Only (for Now)

Unfortunately, until (at the latest) November 30, the Standby Line is the only way to get a seat for Fantasmic!. At that time, Dining Packages open, which would give you 2 different options for seating (paying for the Dining Package or standing in the Standby Line). That just leaves us wondering about Genie+.

Will Fantasmic Use Genie+?

Probably the most common questions we are hearing right now are from people wondering whether or not Fantasmic! will use Genie+.

While Disney hasn’t officially confirmed anything, if we had to guess, we’d bet “yes”, but not immediately.

It isn’t unusual for Disney to utilize Genie+ for other shows like Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Frozen Sing-Along at Hollywood Studios and Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue….and Beyond! at Animal Kingdom.

Adding an additional Genie+ opportunity would definitely be appreciated, especially during the upcoming busy holiday season.

However, there are probably a few kinks to work out with the operations of the show – and we already know the popular Dining Packages are returning, but those don’t begin until November 30.

Our best guess is that if Genie+ is added, having that start around the same time when the Dining Packages return would make a lot of sense.

Historically, the giant theater was divided up into 3 distinct sections – 1 for standby, 1 for dining packages, and 1 for the precursor to Genie+ – FastPass+.

We could (eventually) see something similar:

Fantasmic seating

Back when FastPass+ was in use at Fantasmic, since most people would use their first FP+ selections for the more popular attractions in the morning and afternoon, there was often still availability later in the day for Fantasmic!.

If Genie+ does return, there’s a good chance we’d see the same, which would make a Fantasmic! Genie+ reservation a good choice after you’ve finished with the headliners.

If Disney keeps the same seating configuration that they had with FastPass+, you’ll probably notice in the image above that the possible seating area for Genie+ isn’t as great as what you could get with the Fantasmic Dinner Package, but the slightly less than ideal seating is significantly better than spending an hour or more in line waiting for a Standby seat.

Fantasmic! Dining Packages (with prices)

We are excited to say that, yes, the very popular Fantasmic! Dinner Packages are returning!

They won’t be back right at the reopening, however.

For the first few weeks, the show will be Standby Only, but reservations for Dining Packages for performances November 30 and beyond are now available to book.

Here are the details:

What is included in a Fantasmic! Dining Package

  • An entrée and appetizer or dessert at select full-service restaurants or one (1) full buffet (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage
  • One voucher for guaranteed seating at Fantasmic! in a reserved area (you get your voucher when you dine)

Prices

If you want one of the Fantasmic! Dining Packages you’ll have 5 different restaurants to choose from.

Important: Keep in mind that spots for the Fantasmic! Dining Package at each restaurant are limited, and you will need a special Fantasmic! Dining Package reservation (and not just a regular dining reservation) to get the reserved seating.

50’s Prime Time

  • Price: $51.00 (ages 10 & up) and $22.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • About this restaurant: Classic American comfort food, ’50s kitsch and a good old-fashioned family gathering take you back to a bygone era.

Hollywood & Vine (character meal)

  • Price: Breakfast – $54.00 (ages 10 & up) and $36.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • Price: Lunch & Dinner – $71.00 (ages 10 & up) and $47.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • About this restaurant: Celebrate breakfast with Disney Junior Stars or enjoy lunch and dinner with Minnie and friends at seasonal dining parties.

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

  • Price: $54.00 (ages 10 & up) and $22.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • About this restaurant: Mangia in the backlot of Disney’s Hollywood Studios at this casual but colorful Italian eatery with a California twist.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

  • Price: $49.00 (ages 10 & up) and $22.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • About this restaurant: Do dinner and a show ’50s-style at our drive-in “theater,” featuring all-American cuisine and sci-fi movie clips.

The Hollywood Brown Derby

  • Price: $73.00 (ages 10 & up) and $29.00 (ages 9 and under)
  • About this restaurant: Do dinner and a show ’50s-style at our drive-in “theater,” featuring all-American cuisine and sci-fi movie clips.

How to Make a Reservation

The easiest way to make Fantasmic Dining Package reservations is to book them online.

How the Fantasmic! Dining Package Works

First, to use the Fantasmic! Dining Package you’ll need to book a special reservation at one of the restaurants.

This is really important to know because we often hear from people that book a regular dining reservation instead of one of the special Fantasmic! Dining Packages. The 2 reservation types are different – so make sure you’re booking the correct thing.

On the day of your reservation, after checking in and being seated, you’ll be given a voucher. That voucher is what you’ll take with you to the show that night.

Seating at Hollywood Hills Amphitheater begins 90 minutes prior to show time, and you’ll enter the Amphitheater on Sunset Boulevard next to Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage.

The space for Dining Package people will remain open until about 25 minutes before the show starts. At that time, they’ll begin filling any of the open seats in the Dining Package area with guests without packages.

That means you MUST arrive at least 25 minutes prior to show time to be seated in the reserved section. Otherwise, you may not get a seat at all.

One last thing:

Your exact seat is not assigned. It is first-come, first-served. If being up close is important to you, make sure you arrive earlier rather than waiting for right before the show starts.

So what’s the catch?

You might wonder why everyone wouldn’t just book the Fantasmic! Dining Package, but there is at least 1 downside: the meal times can be weird. Like eat-dinner-at-3:00 weird. If you’re OK with eating at off-peak times, this will be a good option for you.

One more possible downside:

The show gets canceled due to weather (rain = too slippery for the performers) and sometimes due to technical difficulties. In the event of a cancellation, typically you won’t automatically be issued a new pass for another night or be given a refund.

(Note: some people have had success stopping by guest relations and being issued a voucher to return on a different night. Park admission would be required to do that, and it’s not something that you’re guaranteed to get.)

About the show schedule

When Fantasmic! returns in November, the schedule will vary during the first couple weeks and then have a set time.

Here are the showtimes, which were posted on Oct. 21, 2022:

  • Thursday, Nov. 3-Monday, Nov. 7: 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 8-Sunday, Nov. 16: 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 17-Sunday, Dec. 25: 9 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 16Onward: 8 p.m.

Note: It is always important to check daily showtimes while you’re visiting, because times are always subject to change.

The times when the show is offered vary throughout the year, so here are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind:

  • Fantasmic! is a 29-minute show.
  • The show is often scheduled after or at the official park closing time. The closing time is really just the time that you need to be in line for an attraction. The park will still be open after that to allow you to take pics, shop, and see Fantasmic.
  • During busier times of year, two shows might be offered. The second one will always be much less crowded, but the Fantasmic Dinner Package is only available at the first show.
  • For less busy times, Fantasmic may not be scheduled nightly, so check the schedule for your trip dates to make sure it’s an option.
  • During the winter months, the show is sometimes scheduled pretty early (around 6 or 7), making it much easier to see it for people who can’t stay up late.

Where to sit

Once in the theater, no matter which section you are in, aim to get as close to the middle section as possible and at least half way back.

Sitting further back will allow you to see the whole show more easily and avoid getting wet (which happens to many people sitting in the first couple of rows). However, people sitting closer to the front can snap better pics of the boats as they float by.

Eating at your seat

Since the theater is outdoors, you can bring food in to eat while you sit. In the past, there was even a concession stand inside the theater that sold snacks.

Making a graceful exit

When you enter the Fantasmic seating area, you’ll enter via the upper left. However, if your goal after the show is to exit the park, we’d suggest exiting to the upper right. That will take you right to the front of the park, and allow you to exit easily.

Important note: This secondary exit may not be available every night.

Historical Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience Information

Disney has announced the return of the Dining Packages, but it looks like they won’t be bringing back (at least right now) the old Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience.

But because we are nothing if not hopeful, here is the historical information just in case.

Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience (not confirmed for 2022)

Unlike the Dessert parties for Harmonious and Disney Enchantment, this experience was a lot more low-key. Instead of attending an actual “party”, upon arrival in the theater guests that booked the Fantasmic Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience received a box of Fantasmic themed snacks which featured both savory and sweet items, a bottle of water and a specialty alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage in a light-up keepsake cup.

In addition to the snacks and light-up cup, guests also received a special light-up credential that was their pass into the reserved “VIP” seating area for the show.

The cost for this experience was $39 for adults and $19 for kids.

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Heather Thomas

Molly KH

Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

We are not on the dining plan, so I believe I would actually pay more at H&V breakfast to have the dining package, correct? Not sure if Fantasmic is worth the extra money I would have to pay, or if it would just be easier to risk the crowds and sit in general seating. Thoughts?

Melanie

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

We just went and did the Fantasmic Dining Package and the show was cancelled due to thunderstorms. We were allowed to go to the show using our passes another night it just had to be within 5 days of our original date. We had to change our original plans but thankfully we had park hopper passes and could do that.

Lori

Friday 15th of March 2019

Hello! Do you happen to know if the music that is played before Fantasmic starts is available for purchase? It is so upbeat and fun. My daughter loves it. Thank you!

Dani

Monday 10th of September 2018

When do reservations typically open for this package? We are staying on property March 2-9 and would love to try this package in place of a dinning option.

James Manning

Monday 4th of June 2018

We were able to get the Hollywood & Vine package with Lunch. And I think breakfast is also available as part of this package. Dinner was sold out when we tried to get the reservation, but our lunch res definitely includes Fantasmic.