Mickey with fireworks at night

A Fantastic Guide to Fantasmic! at Disney World

With its flashy fountains and pyrotechnics, a star-studded cast of popular Disney characters, beloved music, and an action-packed story sure to have you on the edge of your seat, Fantasmic has long been a must for any Walt Disney World vacation. Sadly, due to the pandemic, the thrilling nighttime spectacular was forced out of commission for quite some time, taking a two-and-a-half-year pause. 

However, following its Covid-19 hiatus, Sorcerer Mickey is finally back on the stage of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater once more. Fantasmic is back at Disney World in Hollywood Studios, and we couldn’t be more excited! 

Ready to see Mickey battle it out with the forces of good and evil on your next trip to Disney World? Keep reading for everything you need to know about watching Disney’s Fantasmic!, from how to get the best seats to which characters you’ll see. 

Fantasmic, Hollywood Studios’ Epic Nightly Battle of Good vs. Evil

Premiering at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Fall of 1998, more than six years after it first debuted at Disneyland, Fantasmic! has been a Walt Disney World favorite for over 24 years. More than just a fireworks show, this nighttime spectacular is a kaleidoscope of pyrotechnics, lasers, colorful water effects, well-known songs and much-loved Disney characters. A compelling combination, to be sure! 

Starring Mickey Mouse, the show’s story takes guests through the mouse hole and into Mickey’s vivid imagination. However, what starts as a fairy tale soon turns into a nightmare, with Mickey duking it out with some of the most diabolical Disney Villains, like Aladdin’s Jafar in the form of a glowing-eyed snake or Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty towering menacingly as a 40-foot-tall dragon. Will good triumph over evil? You’ll just have to watch and find out. 

Where and when is Fantasmic at Disney World? 

Fantasmic takes place down Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, with at least one showing per night. Showtime is typically at either 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM on evenings with only one show, while twice-nightly performances are usually at 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM. Seating begins 90 minutes before showtime.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that due to the nature of Fantasmic’s open-air setting, showings may be cut short, postponed or canceled altogether in the event of inclement weather.  For the most up-to-date information, refer to the My Disney Experience app

With the addition of a heroic, all-new sequence following its November 2022 re-debut, the show runs for 29 minutes from beginning to end, a roughly two-to-three-minute increase over its previous, pre-COVID iteration. Whether it’s the only showing of the night or the last of the evening, the show often starts when Hollywood Studios closes for the night. So, plan your time accordingly. 

Are reservations required for Fantasmic in Disney World?

You don’t need a reservation to see Fantasmic! at Disney World. That said, reserved seating can come in handy if you don’t want to waste time waiting in line or absolutely must have a more centered view, and can be booked with the Fantasmic Dining Package or possibly Disney Genie+. We’ll have to see once the show opens in a few days. 

What characters are in Disney World’s Fantasmic?

Longstanding favorites in Fantasmic at Walt Disney World include characters from such popular animated films as Pocahontas, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and The Little Mermaid

Following the show’s post-pandemic makeover, Fantasmic fans are also sure to love a heroic sequence that lets guests “journey with our heroes,” with brand-new appearances by Disney characters from Moana, Mulan, Frozen 2 and more. All in all, it’s an excellent opportunity to cram a ton of character sightings into a very short period of time. 

Best Places to Watch Fantasmic!

Disney World offers a day filled with immersive rides, exciting shows, loveable characters and all sorts of family-friendly fun. While you certainly should cap off at least two of your nights with showings of the Epcot and Magic Kingdom fireworks, we can’t imagine a more perfect finale to such a magical day than Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios. 

Needless to say, you won’t want to miss it. But where are the best seats to watch Fantasmic? Well, you’re in luck. As the show is held in an outdoor amphitheater with bench seats curving around the lagoon towards the stage, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. 

Having said that, the closer you can get to the middle section (typically reserved for those with the Fantasmic dining package), the more centered your view will be. The far-outside sections, meanwhile, should be avoided at all costs, as you can miss the projections on the water screens, and the music can be out of sync during certain scenes. 

You’ll also want to consider how close to the front you want to be – or not. Although sitting near the water will get you closer to the action, making it easier to snap photos of the show, being immersed in the show isn’t always a good thing, as you could get wet from the water screens or feel hot due to the closeness of the pyrotechnics. Not only will sitting at least halfway back protect you from the show-made elements, but it will also help you to take in the entire display all at once. 

The only way to get reserved seating for Disney World’s Fantasmic is with a Fantasmic Dining Package or, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, Disney Genie+. Can’t get a reservation? No worries – there’s also plenty of standby seating. 

Fantasmic Standby Seating

You might think that standby seating at Fantasmic means settling for the worst views in the house. Luckily, that isn’t the case. In the past, standby seating was located in the four areas on the right-hand side of the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. At close to half of the amphitheater’s six sections, there are abundant opportunities for a great view, even if you aren’t able to plan ahead. 

Just remember that seeing the show on standby can potentially mean a long wait in line, especially if you want to score the best seats the standby section has to offer. So, we recommend you consider the rest of your plans for the day to determine whether it might be worth it’s worth the wait or time for an upgrade.  

Fantasmic Disney Genie+ Seating 

Previously, FastPass+ (Disney Genie+’s pre-pandemic precursor) seating for Fantasmic was located in the four sections of the amphitheater’s left-most side. So, should Disney allow guests to reserve seating for the show using Disney Genie+, this is where we anticipate it will be. Personally, we love this option as it saves us the hassle of waiting in line for an hour or more for a good spot, freeing up precious time to do other things on our list.

That being said, Genie+ service isn’t currently offered for any of Disney World’s nighttime spectaculars. However, given that the show is held in an amphitheater, along with the show’s incredible popularity, Genie+ would be both relatively easy to implement as well as helpful for crowd control. Not to mention, the possible boost in Disney Genie+ sales. 

On the bright side, should Disney use Genie+ for Fantasmic, we anticipate that there will likely be a fair amount of availability later on in the day since many people tend to save their early Genie+ reservations for the park’s most popular attractions. It may even be a freebie reservation in addition to your regular selections. Only time will tell. 

Fantasmic Dining Packages

Everyone’s gotta eat. So, why not follow up dinner with another equally sweet finale in addition to dessert? Along with Hollywood Studios food favorites like burgers from the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater and the 50’s Prime Time Café’s fried chicken, diners with Fantasmic Dining Packages are treated to the best seats the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater has to offer.  

Typically located in the middle two sections of the amphitheater, dining package reserved seating offers the most centered and, as a result, best views of Fantasmic. Although you can’t just stroll into the theater three minutes before showtime and expect a good spot (25 minutes prior is when you’re expected), this does cut down on your wait time considerably compared to sitting in standby. 

Advance reservations for Fantasmic Dining Packages opened on October 26, 2022, and are highly recommended due to the show’s popularity. 

Advance reservations are highly encouraged, although there may be some same-day reservations available on a limited basis. However, please be aware that even if Fantasmic is canceled, your dining reservation still stands, and no partial or full refunds will be offered.  

What is included with the Fantasmic Dining Package? 

Depending on which of the five restaurants you choose, in addition to a non-alcoholic beverage, each Fantasmic Dining Package includes either an entrée and appetizer or dessert or, where applicable, one full buffet. All five options also come with one guaranteed seating voucher per person, which grants the guest access to the Fantasmic Dining Package’s reserved viewing area in the center of the amphitheater. 

However, while the sections are reserved, seats are not assigned and are available exclusively on a first-come, first-served basis. The check-in area is located next to Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage, and you must arrive at least 25 minutes before the start time. 

50’s Prime Time Café 

Nothing says ‘family’ like sharing a meal together at the dinner table. Designed to look like a kitschy, ‘50s-era kitchen, 50’s Prime Time Café cooks up all-American comfort food and old-fashioned fun. Be sure to mind your manners (keep your elbows off the table!) as you tuck into cozy classics like fried chicken, pot roast and meatloaf. And you better finish your vegetables before having dessert – try the pineapple upside-down cake or warm apple crisp. 

  • Lunch & Dinner: $51 (plus tax & gratuity) per adult, $22 per child (ages 3 to 9)

Hollywood & Vine

Can’t get enough Disney characters? Indulge in character dining at Hollywood & Vine. In the morning, your little one’s favorite animated stars take center stage for the Disney Junior Play n’ Dine Breakfast. At lunch and dinner, it’s Minnie’s Seasonal Dining, when the mouse-with-the-mostest throws seasonal soirees complete with themed décor, outfits, music, and menu.  

  • Breakfast: $54 per adult, $36 per child 
  • Lunch & Dinner: $71 per adult, $47 per child  

Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

Say ‘mangia’ (Italian for ‘eat up’) at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. Located in the backlots of Grand Avenue, this eclectic Italian eatery dishes up authentically inspired dishes and welcoming vibes. Dig into carb-licious pasta or savory strip steak or chicken beneath a canopy of rustic wood beams and twinkle lights before finishing with some tiramisu. 

  • Lunch & Dinner: $54 per adult, $22 per child (ages 3 to 9)

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Cruise into the Sci-Fin Dine-In Theater for a dinner and a show you won’t soon forget. Made to look like an old-school drive-in movie theater – complete with tables shaped like classic cars, car hop servers and pulpy sci-fi clips – this retro restaurant is as whimsical as it gets. While you watch the movie, fuel up on fully loaded burgers as you bathe in the glow of illuminated taillights and a blanket of glittering stars. 

  • Lunch & Dinner: $49 per adult, $22 per child (ages 3 to 9)

The Hollywood Brown Derby

You won’t find a classier joint at Disney’s Hollywood Studios than The Hollywood Brown Derby. Based on an iconic eatery of Hollywood’s Golden Age, The Hollywood Brown Derby is the only signature restaurant with a Fantasmic Dining Package. The only thing more elegant than the dining room’s dark wood paneling and star-studded décor is the menu, which features filet mignon, coq au vin and duck à l’orange. Save some room for a slice of Grapefruit Cake, a mainstay of Tinseltown’s heyday. 

  • Lunch & Dinner: $73 per adult, $29 per child (ages 3 to 9)

Is the Disney World Fantasmic Dining Package worth it?

Between the tasty meal and the convenience of enjoying reserved seats for the best view in the house, the Fantasmic Dining Package and Disney World can definitely be worth it. Is it a little expensive? Sure, especially if you opt to eat at The Hollywood Brown Derby or do a character meal at Hollywood & Vine. 

However, there are some more affordable options. 50’s Prime Time Café, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and Sci-Fine Dine-In Theater serve up respectable food and oodles of charm at a fraction of the price. Still, between the bottomless eats and character extravaganza that is Hollywood & Vine and the upscale food and setting of The Hollywood Brown Derby, depending on your group’s interests and budget, even the pricier options can be worthwhile, especially when you factor in the VIP seats.

Tips & Tricks for a Fantastic Fantasmic! Experience

Hoping to make your Fantasmic viewing experience as fantastic as possible? Here are some simple suggestions to make the show as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. 

  1. Waiting around for the second showing could snag you better seats. On nights with two showtimes, the first showing tends to be busier than the second. So, as long as you don’t mind staying out later, consider sticking it out for the last show of the night. Then, once the earlier audience exits, swoop in to claim your victory and more centered seats without as much of a wait.
  1. Get in line early for a more centered view. If you want the best views of Fantasmic on standby, you’ll need to show up early. The amphitheater opens 90 minutes prior to showtime. In the early days following the show’s return, plan to be there for the opening or risk being stuck on the edges. Otherwise, for a chance at being close to the middle, arrive at least 45 minutes to an hour before showtime.
  2. Avoid the closest rows if you want to stay dry. Think of the first chunk of rows at Fantasmic as the splash zone at SeaWorld, only with Disney characters and screens of misting water awash with colorful movie scenes instead of frolicking marine mammals. Pick a spot further back if you prefer to stay dry.
  3. Bring snacks with you to power you through the pre-show wait. An hourlong wait followed by the 30-minute show can be brutal, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve had dinner and you’re dealing with hangry kids (or adults, for that matter). In addition to all the other eateries around the park, you’ll find several restaurants located just outside the amphitheater. So, grab something to snack on to bring with you beforehand and avoid both the crush at the concession stand, as well as any crankiness.  
  4. Watch your little ones during scary moments. Believe it or not, Mickey’s imagination isn’t always cheese, rainbows and butterflies. Things can get pretty dark when the Disney Villains come to play, and younger children may find certain scenes frightening. Consider giving the show a watch beforehand on YouTube to gauge your child’s potential reaction or, at the very least, keep an eye on them during the show in case they become too concerned with Mickey’s safety. 

Well, Fantasmic fans, that’s a wrap on our guide to this perennial favorite. Where do you like to sit when watching Fantasmic? Which Fantasmic Dining Package restaurant is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! Wish you could make the dining packages a little more affordable? Check out our discount Disney World tickets.