Should You Take Your Young Child to Fantasmic?
I recently paid a visit to the Fantasmic! show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I was on my own, so had a bit more time to watch the crowd than I typically have when I’m with my family. While most guests appeared to enjoy the program, my personal observation was that many of the very young children (aged about 4 and under) were either asleep or crying by the end of it. While obviously some little ones do have a good experience at Fantasmic, it’s a problem for a sizable enough subset of small kids that you may want consider whether this is the right attraction for you at this stage for your family.
Here are some things to think about…
What Time is the Show?
Fantasmic showtimes vary considerably throughout the year. During the winter holiday season, there may be three Fantasmic shows, with the earliest being at about 6:30pm. That’s an hour that most preschoolers are familiar with. However, during the summer, the first Fantasmic showing may start in the 9:00pm range, with the later show perhaps at 10:30pm. When they were preschoolers, my own kids would have been cranky disasters if I had them in a loud, busy environment that late at night. What is your child’s personality like?
Are There Any Factors that Will Counteract the Impact of a Late Show?
If you’re coming from another time zone, or if your child has had an exceptionally lengthy nap, Fantasmic’s late hour may not be as impactful. Or if you’re trying to get your child to adjust to a later hour, then Fantasmic’s late start time may be a benefit.
Is Your Child Capable of Sleeping Late the Next Morning?
When my kids were small, they’d wake up with the sun, no matter what time they went to bed. If that’s your child, too, then you may be setting yourself up for a heap of cranky-kid trouble later in your vacation, even if your tot does make it through Fantasmic. This issue may not be as important if you’re heading back home the next day and know that Junior will catch up on his zzzzz’s during the plane or car ride.
What’s the Weather Like?
During the summer, it’s certainly possible for it to be in the 80s-90s with 99% humidity, even at night. Everyone, including your child, will be more prone to meltdowns if the temperature and humidity are high. It’s unlikely that any of you will enjoy the show if you’re physically uncomfortable.
On the flip side of this, during the winter months, it may fall into the low 40s during the evening. If you’re not sufficiently bundled up for this, then that may pose a different set of problems.
When you’re at the Magic Kingdom’s Wishes show or Epcot’s Illuminations, there are nearby indoor areas where you could sneak away to warm up or cool down. This is not the case at Fantasmic. The theater is somewhat removed from other areas of the park, and you may not be readmitted if you decide to leave.
How Heavy is My Child?
Strollers are not allowed into the Fantasmic theater seating area. Depending on where you sit in the theater, stroller parking could be nearly a football field away.
If your child falls asleep in your lap during the show, you may have to carry him up stairs (without a railing) and walk a substantial distance carrying him. Can you do this? Can you do this given the predicted weather conditions? In a large crowd?
What Else Have We Been Doing Today?
If you’ve had a quiet nap and pool day, then you and your child may be emotionally and physically ready for a late show. If you’ve spent the past 12 hours on a forced march through the parks, your chance of having a successful evening may be greatly diminished, regardless of your chosen activity.
Is My Child Afraid of Fire?
There are many fire elements during the show, some towering several stories high. If your child is in a pyrophobic phase, you may want to skip the show, or at least choose to sit in the very back of the theater.
Is My Child Afraid of Loud Noises?
While Fantasmic doesn’t have the relentless percussion of a traditional fireworks presentation, there are several very loud, unexpected bangs. If your child is sensitive to noise, you may want to wait and enjoy the show during your next visit to Walt Disney World.
Is My Child Afraid of Villains?
The Fantasmic storyline (such as it is) is villain intensive. They’re on stage; they’re projected on a water screen; there’s spooky music; Malificent looks extra evil. If your child freaks any time he sees Ursula on screen, this is not the time to see Fantasmic.
Does My Child Have a Real Attachment to Mickey?
Some kids just love Mickey. Like reaaaallly love Mickey. These kids may not be ready for Fantasmic. During the show, Mickey appears to be in actual peril. There’s a GIANT fluorescent snake with piercing headlight eyes that threatens to gobble up our favorite rodent with once swipe of his massive fangs. I find myself nervous for Mickey’s safety every time I see it, and I’m an adult who’s fully cognizant of prevalence of the happy ending trope in Disney entertainment.
Are You Seeing Other Evening Spectacles Such as Wishes or IllumiNations?
If you’re already seeing Wishes and IllumiNations, adding Fantasmic to the mix could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, or it could help with shifting the family’s circadian rhythms to a different time zone. Depending on your situation, your other evening plans may impact your enjoyment of the show.
How long will you have to wait to get into the theater?
During busy times of the year, guests may begin queuing to enter the Fantasmic theater up to 90 minutes in advance of the show. This could try the patience of anyone. Does your child have the stamina to attend to a performance even after waiting around for a substantial amount of time?
There is now the possibility of using a FastPass+ selection for Fantasmic, which can substantially reduce wait times, but if you choose this option, you’ll also have to consider how that impacts other aspects of your enjoyment of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For example, using a FP+ on Fantasmic means that you’re likely forfeiting the opportunity to use FastPass+ for the preschool-friendly attraction Toy Story Midway Mania. Is this a good use of a scarce resource?
How are You Getting Back to Your Hotel?
If you’re using Disney’s free transportation system to get back to your hotel, you may face substantial waits as 8,000 other guests also try to use the buses and boats to get back to their hotels. It’s not uncommon to find that you’re getting back to your resort 1-2 hours after the show ends. Consider how this added time may impact your overall enjoyment of the experience?
While Fantasmic is a long-time favorite attraction of many guests, it may not be the best choice for families with very young children. What have your experiences been? Did you take your kids when they were small? Are there preschoolers who adore Fantasmic? Did you have to leave the show with a screaming child? Let us know in the comments below.
7 thoughts on “Should You Take Your Young Child to Fantasmic?”
Erin, you are perfectly right. My kids are 8 and 6 and by all means they are not ready for Fantasmi due to ALL the reasons you listed. Also, I’m glad you showed the 1-2 hours transport time to the hotel since many visitors (and even travel agents) assure that by staying on site you’re always minutes or steps away from the magic…
A lot of very well thought out points in this article that parent(s) may not be thinking about when planning whether to go or not. This is slightly off-topic but as someone from the Central time zone, when I went to Disneyland in CA I found it particularly tougher with young kids for the nighttime fireworks shows with the 2 hour time difference. A 9 PM fireworks show felt like 11 to the kids. I thought they’d really love Fantasmic and World of Wonder but we just ended up with crabby kids from trying to keep them occupied while waiting for the shows to start and then ending up frustrated when they couldn’t see anything.
My kids have the ability to sleep through ANYthing when they are tired. Last trip my DD(almost 3 at the time) slept through the StarWars Fireworks and then Fantasmic. We just kept picking her up and moving her. I was certain that I would have a wide awake kid when we got back to the condo, but she slept in the car on the way there, on the couch while we got he bed ready, and then slept all night!!! I think we wore her out 🙂
The Osborne Family Light Show during the winter/Christmas season is a great alternative for young children at Hollywood Studios- bright, happy, upbeat, no waiting in a line to get in or out- still crowded- but much better option!
We just returned from a week at Disney and took our kids (the youngest is 3) to see Fantasmic for the first time. We went with another family whose kids are terrified of “witches” (defined as any angry old woman). This show was the highlight of the trip for all 5 kids. They all spent all day at the park then went to the 2nd showing of Fantasmic (7:30). We had great seats and everybody had a completely unobstructed view. My 3 year old sat in my lap and her heart certainly was beating fast, plus she flinched at all the fireworks, but she was ecstatic by the happy ending. The kids who were frightened of witches didn’t exactly like Malificient but they also noted that she seemed kind of glamorous (there are a LOT of sequins on that outfit). Nobody was crazy about the snake sequence but nobody cried then or at the dragon. Afterwards they all gave it a standing ovation. We hung back until they started to clean up the stadium to avoid the rush and we got to be escorted out through backstage. Everyone who worked there was really nice and it felt special to get to see that area. By the time we got out to the busses they would take you wherever you needed to go so we waltzed right on. The kids fell asleep peacefully on the bus. on the way home they all agreed that Fantasmic was their favorite part of Hollywood Studios and a couple of them insisted that it was their favorite part of Disney World. Certainly you know your kids best, but I would never have thought mine would be that into it. I was fully prepared to have to leave with a miserable child or two, but I’m so glad we gave it a shot. It will definitely be a must do on any future visits.
Great advice Erin,
I love Fantasmic, but I always feel as though it is a BIG commitment to make, no matter how many times we see the show.
The planning, preparation and the fact that the show is lengthy, is not to be taken lightly, let alone the overwhelming audio visual effects that can take an already tired kid over the top.
Thirsty kids also might need to take a P break just as you need it the least!
You know what, I always think Disneyland’s show is much more to take in for a kid. At WDW you look down on the action instead of up.