Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios Scheduled Almost Every Night From July 2nd To September 30th

by josh on June 13, 2011

Edit: If you’re wondering where you can see these shows “officially,” here’s how.

1. Go here: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/calendar/

2. There’s a dropdown menu right above the calendar where you can select your month.  Pick July, August, or September.

3. Mouse over the Park hours for any date and click.  It will show the Fantasmic time as well as the opening/closing/parade times.

4. You can change the day from this view by clicking the “previous day” and “next day” arrows above the date.  Note that if you click the “back” button on your browser that it may revert back to the current month and you’ll need to reselect July, August, or September.

Disney has unexpectedly added Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios to every night from July 1st through September 30th.  As you may be aware, Disney has limited the number of Fantasmic shows per week since January 2009, scheduling the show on as few as two nights each week.  This made it relatively easy to visit the Studios on low crowd days as any day without Fantasmic or Extra Magic Hours, particularly early in the week, would be an excellent day to tour.

Scheduling Fantasmic every night has both positive and negative implications.  On one hand, the show may very well be easier to see and require an arrival time closer to the start of the show.  Since 2009, it has been necessary to arrive at Fantasmic 60 or more minutes early to secure seats for the first show of the night.  The Theater seating is horrendously uncomfortable and temperatures are only marginally lower around 7pm – not to mention the evening humidity.  On the other hand, if they limit the shows to one each night, they may still not be able to meet demand.  The Hollywood Hills Theater, where Fantasmic is shown, seats just under 7,000 people, with standing room for another 2,000-3,000.  On an average day, 30,000 people visit the Studios.  That means only about 30% of the people that enter the Park will be able to see Fantasmic, assuming only one show is scheduled.  While not everyone has intentions to see the show, many do.  Prior to January 2009, Fantasmic “sold out” most nights, even when the show was featured every night.  Since June, July, and the first two to three weeks in August will see above-average overall crowds, it’s likely that most Fantasmic shows will continue to play to a packed house, at least until the latter half of August.

One of the other major benefits of days without Fantasmic was that Studios’ crowds lowered significantly after 4pm, leading to significantly lower wait times by 5:30pm.  Because so many people will be sticking around for Fantasmic every night, we can expect less of an evening dropoff.  Plus, Fantasmic won’t be starting until the official Park closing time, meaning Fantasmic begins at 9pm when the Studios’ operating hours are 9am to 9pm.  This means many people will be doing the attraction thing until at least 8:30pm, keeping wait times high.  The 9pm start throws some people off because it seems like the show is starting after the Park closes.  While this is technically true, it’s worth pointing out again that the theme parks don’t actually shut down at the closing bell.  Shops often stay open for 30 to 60 minutes after the official close and many restaurants accept reservations right up and sometimes after the posted closing hour.  That means those people will be eating inside the Parks well after close.  While Fantasmic technically begins at “Park close,” everyone is welcome to stay for the show.  Disney is well aware of the crowds that will be pouring out of the Hollywood Hills Theater at 9:30pm and they’ll have as many buses as possible on hand to deliver guests wherever they may be headed.  Another consequence of Fantasmic ending after the rest of the Park closes is that nearly everyone will be headed directly for the exit and many will be headed right for their Disney bus line.  This creates quite the bottleneck, with uncomfortable tension between thousands of people that are shoulder-to-shoulder after spending a few too many hours in the Florida heat .  As I pointed out earlier, you can expect at least a few of the major Hollywood Boulevard stores to remain open for those exiting Fantasmic and looking to buy.  My advice is always to hang back and let the masses exit in front of you.  Take a minute to stretch, tell a joke, smile, and loudly tell your partner how much you LOVE EASYWDW DOT COM.  Then proceed to a store with its lights on and peruse the goodies for about 20 minutes until the Park clears out.  You’ll have a much easier exit and spending that time looking at Mickey coffee cups is a lot more pleasant than standing outside in the humid Florida night, even if you have no intention of purchasing anything.

Unfortunately, the additional Fantasmic shows seriously change crowd patterns and ultimately the recommended Parks.  While there have been rumblings that Fantasmic would return to daily performances, there was no indication that this change would be implemented now.  I’ll be reworking the Crowd Calendars for July, August, and September.  Hopefully changes will be minimal and easily worked around.  After I go over the new information, I’ll be back with some tips for those of you who want to keep your itinerary the same, regardless of any recommendation changes.  If there is one positive about Fantasmic, it’s that it does cause people to arrive at the Park later in the morning, causing waits to increase slower.  If you are planning to see Fantasmic, your best plan of attack will be arriving prior to Park opening and then heading straight to Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.  Get these out of the way and you have nothing to worry about.  You can then take a break around 1pm-2pm and return around 6pm for dinner, additional rides on the headliners with FASTPASSes collected earlier in the day, and then enjoy Fantasmic.  If you have no interest in seeing Fantasmic, the three-quarter day may be your best bet, where you arrive prior to Park opening and stay until 4pm or whenever you complete your itinerary.

While Fantasmic certainly has its detractors, it’s one of my fondest memories growing up at Walt Disney World.  I keenly remember the first time I saw it in 2002 and have enjoyed each and every show since.  Sure the story doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense, but the spectacle and technology are still relevant and fun in 2011.  Hopefully the additional shows will allow more people to enjoy throughout the summer.

Thanks to Ellie from the comments section for pointing out that Fantasmic is not currently scheduled on September 2nd or 27th and the Studios will be closing at 7pm on those dates.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellie June 13, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Almost every night. Not on 9/2 and 9/27.

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Ellie June 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm

My comment above looks stupid now… but Josh hadn’t added the exceptions earlier.

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josh June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm

What about now? Even dumber? ^_^

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Kristie June 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Thanks for the update Josh.

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Ellie June 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I’ll just say I’m impressed with the quick analysis, write up, and post!

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Vikki June 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

I’m not sure whether I should hope for this to extend to October or not. I had given up my desire to see Fantasmic because of the insanity of trying to see it, but if it’s every night, Josh points out that it will make all the evenings more crowded. I also read a rumor on another blog that Wishes might be ending … any speculation that they might be upping the Fantasmic performances to cover a gap in MK fireworks?

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josh June 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I don’t think there’s any precedence for a lengthy time in between Magic Kingdom fireworks shows, but I could be mistaken. They seamlessly changed from Wishes to Summer Nightastic and then back to Wishes as far as I know. There are always rumors about new shows because at some point the rumors will be true – they will do a new show. They have a lot going on at the moment and didn’t opt for a new summer fireworks show, which may or may not indicate they’re actively working on something else. With the Fantasyland Expansion, Carsland add-on, and various other things, they’re spread relatively thin at the moment. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear about a new show this fall or beginning of next year, but I wouldn’t bank on anything. The great majority of Disney World vacationers visit once every couple of years at most, so the fact that Wishes may be a little “old” to some doesn’t really affect the masses.

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Marcelo June 14, 2011 at 4:33 am

They certainly are not making your life easier these last few days, huh? hehe. Back to the drawing board once more Josh! Do you think they will do the same in october and november?

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Jennifer June 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

According to the Disney website, there are no extended hours or Fantasmic currently listed on Wednesday, July 29th. I am particularly interested in this date as we were planning to tour the park on this date specifically because there was no Fantasmic. Is that just an error that will be corrected later, or is there really no Fantasmic on that date?

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josh June 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

Sounds like you’re looking at June 29th. July 29th is a Friday and there is Fantasmic – http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/calendardayview/?asmbly_day=20110729

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Teresa M. June 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

Planned to go to HS on Wed. 8/24 since we are not going to Fantasmic and this was not a scheduled night. What do they say about the best laid plans? How do you think Wednesdays will be affected?

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Ann M. June 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

We’re planning to see F! in Aug but I was hoping for a second show to be added and dropping my F! dining pkg. What are the odds of 2nd shows being added now? I’m thinking not too good.

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josh June 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Word is that there will only be one show each night, but that could change. We’ll know what they’re up to in July by next Monday at the latest and that should give us a good idea about whether or not they’re planning to add a second show. If they don’t add a second in July, it’s highly unlikely they would add second shows to August or September.

I’ll have to take a closer look at August. I’m currently doing September and working backwards because a big update to July is expected here in the next couple of days and it would be silly to spend ten hours revising it now just to revise it again on Friday. It should take a few days to recompile August and September.

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