Things are continuing to return to normal around the Walt Disney World Resort, but one noticeable experience that has yet to come back is Fantasmic, the fan-favorite nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Last year, Disney announced that the show would return to both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2022, but a more specific date has not yet been confirmed. Now, with the news that traditional character meet and greets will soon be back on both coasts later this month, we have to wonder, could Fantasmic be next?
Characters are a major part of Fantasmic
Of course, Fantasmic is iconic for its storyline that dives into Mickey’s dream, featuring Mickey Mouse himself in a number of memorable looks including his Sorcerer Mickey look from Fantasia (1940), characters from loads of hit Disney animated films, Disney princesses, villains, and more.
While much of the show does move the story along through water projections, Fantasmic would not be the marvel that it is without all of the characters that make the experience truly special. What does this have to do with character meet and greets returning to normal? Well, it all comes down to staffing.
Prior to COVID-19 changing things up at Walt Disney World, Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios would occasionally stumble upon what was unofficially known as ‘Character Palooza.’ While not an official meet and greet experience, and not advertised anywhere in the park’s map or times guide or on the My Disney Experience app, ‘Character Palooza’ was essentially a spontaneous character greeting event that would sometimes pop up just beyond the Joffrey’s Coffee cart and gift shop at the exit of Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
‘Character Palooza’ as a totally unofficial meet and greet would be extremely casual, often with no PhotoPass photographers staffing the event (but still friendly Disney Cast Members who were happy to take your photo), and as a result, you’d never know for sure which characters you might see, but you would have one hint– They would most likely be characters seen in Fantasmic!
As a fan of the show, you are probably aware that many of the characters in Fantasmic are only on stage briefly during the show’s finale on the boat. Pocahontas was also featured briefly in the past, however, it has been rumored that the Pocahontas scene will be replaced with another Disney animated film (potentially Moana) upon the show’s return this year. Because the characters are only in the show briefly, their ‘friends’ often make up the rest of their shifts helping with meet and greets! In addition to ‘Character Palooza,’ characters from Fantasmic have been spotted in other locations around the park prior to the show, notably just outside the entrance to the park at off-peak times.
But characters have been back, they’ve just been distanced…
Correct, and due to the spontaneity of ‘Character Palooza’ and other popup meet and greets around the park before Fantasmic in years past, it is possible that creating structures and moving them on a whim to allow for distancing just did not make sense to be done sooner.
On top of this, Disney has not returned to near full staffing levels until recently, with many of the Cast Members returning as of late being those who work in entertainment and are ‘friends’ of characters. Disney has also teased new promotional artwork for Fantasmic which seems to indicate that new characters and stories will be featured in the show when it returns. As entertainment Cast Members have continued to return, another possibility is that Disney has been staffing and training new roles that were not included in older versions of the show.
The return of traditional meet and greets has been one of the last major experiences from the ‘before times’ that Guests have been waiting to see back at Walt Disney World, so this fact in general seems like a step in the right direction toward bringing back Fantasmic. With the recent news that the Spirit of Aloha dinner show would not be returning to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and that the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue would be returning to Fort Wilderness, the next major attraction missing for many fans is Fantasmic. Regular meet and greets return on April 18, 2022, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for Fantasmic’s return (and crossing our fingers) for the end of the month!
We will keep you updated on all things Fantasmic here on Disney Fanatic as we learn more about its return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this year.