Fantasmic! is set to return in November to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, reportedly with some changes to the original run. Along with its new animated additions, Disney should consider pulling more focus on Mickey’s imagination exploration to fill out its plot.
When it comes to Fantasmic!, the two versions that are frequently compared are the original in Disneyland and its Floridian counterpart in Walt Disney World. While they both have similar structures, composition, characters, and visuals, the two are completely different animals in terms of both performance and plot. It’s this latter element where the Disneyland variation continuously triumphs over Disney World’s, but that might change with the upcoming reopening.
There are already talks of re-staging the production and eliminating certain bits like the Pocahontas segment and introducing elements from Mulan, but Disney should also consider fleshing out the story for its new version. What better way to give the new Fantasmic! more meat on its bones than by giving more time to the master mouse himself? The selling point of both versions are Mickey’s battle with Maleficent and a whole host of Disney villains, ending in a climactic fight with a giant animatronic dragon. If Disney is smart, they’ll expand upon that, possibly introducing new action sequences like the snake encounters with Kaa and Jafar.
The floats featuring the various characters and the displays of animation on the water screens are all well and good, certainly a feat of Disney Imagineering. However, the live performances are still something special, particularly those that involve the Disney characters. Watching Mickey duke it out with Maleficent is great and worth the watch, but how cool would it be if Mickey joined in on Mulan’s training montage or there were some extended scenes from “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice?” For something that has Mickey in a starring role, he doesn’t make that many appearances on stage, and he’s not the only one who could benefit from some more attention either.
Disney has some of the most recognizable villains in all of fiction, yet the ones who get the most attention in the Disney World version are the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Jafar, and Hades. While other favorites like Chernabog, Scar, and even Frollo have their appearances, their appearances are so brief they’re almost an afterthought. To further offset the whimsical nature of the first half of the show and better set up the triumphant ending, Fantasmic definitely needs to go darker.
The giant dragon at the end is only one of the marvelous special effects the show has, and Disney certainly has the resources and a host of Imagineers at their disposal. Including new characters, more Mickey, and more focus on his battle with the Villains would not only give Fantasmic! a more focused plot, but allow Disney to use more of their iconic scenes and sequences to show off Mickey’s incredible imagination.
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