Fantasmic is the nighttime show at Walt Disney World that I have the most personal childhood memories from. The soundtrack is engrained in my brain. And because all of my Disney trips since 2017 have been with young children who couldn’t stay up late, I hadn’t seen Fantasmic in almost a decade. During our family trip this September, our girls were finally old enough that I knew a night at Fantasmic (followed by a rest day at the resort) would make it into our plans!
Because this was one of the most important parts of our trip, I wanted to make sure we had excellent seats for the show. But usually excellent seats for Fantasmic mean a LOT of waiting at the end of an already long day. And long days plus long waits plus tired kids is a recipe for disaster. So I decided to try out the Fantasmic Dining Package – a relaxed meal in the middle of the day, plus reserved seating in the center sections for the show at night.
But just how much of a premium did I have to pay for the “privilege” of those reserved seats? Did it work out for my family? And might it be worth considering for your next trip? Let’s dive into the math to find out.
Explain the Math
In order to figure out the value of the dining package, we need to determine two things:
- The extra cost of the package compared to the food alone
- Tangible benefits associated with the package
The first here is seemingly easy. Take the cost of the package minus the cost of our food and call that the “extra cost” for the package. But really you could calculate this three different ways:
- (Cost of package) – (Cost of food ordered)
- (Cost of package) – (Cost of food that we would have ordered when paying ala carte)
- (Cost of package) – (Maximum possible cost of food covered by the package)
The first calculation tells us exactly the premium we paid just for the package. The second would show us how having the package may have influenced us to buy more food than we otherwise would have, and therefore shows how much extra we spent on “upgrading” to the package food and on the package itself. And the third shows us the lowest possible price we’re paying for the package if we all order the most expensive possible options to “maximize” the perceived value of the package.
The tangible benefits associated with the package can also be calculated a couple of ways. We’ll definitely want to figure out how much additional time in the park we get since we don’t have to go claim seats early like we otherwise might have done. And we’ll also want to talk about seating for the show itself and compare what may have happened with and without the package. Both of these are going to be a little hand-wavy, because I didn’t make my family split up and run a head-to-head test (there’s always next time …), but we’ll stay as mathematical as possible!
My Family’s Costs
We opted for a Fantasmic dining package at lunch – which is what I recommend because it takes you out of the park at the hottest and most crowded time of day. We ate at 50s Prime Time Café, which is the second-cheapest option. And I personally don’t like any of the food at the cheapest option (Sci Fi Diner), so this seemed like a good compromise. That meant that for a family of four – two adults and two children, we were paying $146 (plus tax and tip) for our dining package.
For our lunch, each child received a meal and a drink, and each adult could do an entrée, an appetizer OR dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage. Here is what we ordered:
- Fried Herb and Garlic Cheese ($10)
- A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes ($28)
- Sustainable Verlasso Salmon ($27)
- Dad’s Favorite Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake Ala Mode ($10)
- Goofy’s Salmon with Mac and Seasonal Cupcake ($14)
- Aunt Betty’s Chicken Strips with Mac and Stained Glass Dessert ($12)
- Pomegranate Lemonade ($5.49)
- Cherry flavored Coke Zero ($4.99)
Let’s call it $111, which gives us a dining package cost or premium of $35. And really, this isn’t much different than what we’d normally order anyway. In fact, I was encouraged to spend slightly less by going with an included beverage instead of an old-fashioned at the old-fashioned diner. You can check out some of our reviews of the dishes in this post.
If we wanted to maximize our value on the plan, both kids would have had to order the salmon, and both parents would have had to order the sampler plate. Additionally, no desserts would be allowed. Instead, two orders of onion rings would complete the meal. If we did all of that, our premium for the dining package would decrease to $28, or $7 per person.
My Family’s Results
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, great seats for Fantasmic were incredibly important for me. It was a low-crowd day (crowd level 2, to be exact) at Hollywood Studios, but even still – the arena entirely filled up for the one show of the night. If we didn’t have reserved seating, I would have been lining up for seats about 80 or 85 minutes before showtime. You can never be too careful, people!
With the dining package, we walked up to our ticket redemption location with just 40 minutes to go until showtime instead. The reserved seating area closes at 30 minutes before showtime, so that was as close as I was willing to cut it. In those 45 additional minutes in the park compared to our hypothetical non-package scenario, we were able to ride Rise of the Resistance (a whopping 17 minute standby wait) and Toy Story Mania (a 4 minute standby wait). It was our second time on both attractions for the day, and each was so much fun! Nothing beats a little family competition, or working together to save the galaxy (or … be saved by the Resistance).
And how about our seating? We ended up in the third row of the very center section of the arena. It was absolute perfection. Mickey, Pocahontas, Aladdin, Elsa, and Moana were all right in front of us, and my kids had a perfect view of it all. It was also the first time my kids had ever participated in (or even heard of) “The Wave,” so everything was spectacular.
What Does This Mean For You?
- At a potential package cost of $7-8 per person for a family, the Fantasmic Dining Package is good for families that don’t want to pay for Genie+ or ILL for saving time. We saved 45 minutes – and in order to save that same amount of time with Genie+ or ILL on the same day, it would have cost us $20 per person. $7 or $8 per person is a much better deal in that case.
- The Dining Package is potentially very good for people who are really prioritizing prime seating for the nighttime spectacular. The two center sections are totally blocked off from non-package guests. If enough guests purchase the package and show up in time, you won’t have access to the center sections without the package. But on low-crowd or two-show days, you could also gamble, and show up just after the reserved seating “expires” at 30 minutes before showtime, and sneak in right when they open any remaining center seats.
- The Dining Package could also be a great decisions for families with kids that can’t sit still for a long time at the end of the day. Even 40 minutes of waiting for a single show at the end of a 12-hour, 20,000-step day can totally break my children. We got frozen lemonades for each of our girls, which took them about 30 minutes to eat. Parenting hack. But if you think your kids couldn’t do a 60 or 75 minutes wait, the package may help you avoid tired crankiness at the end of the day.
- If you wouldn’t regularly spend park time doing a table service meal, or you wouldn’t order an appetizer or dessert with your meal, or you don’t mind paying more for Genie+ or ILL, or you are fine with arriving early and waiting a long time, or you like gambling with seating with late arrival … all of those signs would point to good reasons to avoid the Fantasmic Dining Package.
Have you used the Fantasmic Dining Package before? Would you purchase it again?