I’ve written before about the folly of cutting Fantasmic! shows when the cuts were announced a few months ago but today, we can start to see the effects of the cut and truly realize the ramifications of the change as it pertains to crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Months ago I felt the cut, among other reasons, would be a terrible mistake because of what it would do to crowds on Fantasmic! nights and we clearly see those effects now.
Starting earlier this month, Fantasmic! was cut to just two shows per week. The result has been 5 days a week of miniscule crowds beyond 4pm and on nights where Fantasmic! is being shown, a packed Hollywood Hills ampitheater well before the show even starts. I’ve spoken to a number of Cast Members who work Fantasmic! as well as those who simply work in the Studios and all have given me the same basic story…on nights where there is no showings of Fantasmic!, it’s dead and on nights with Fantasmic!, it’s chaos.
Adding to the problem this cut has made, let’s not overlook one key factor; it’s only January! January is a typically slow month at Walt Disney World. In fact, it ranks with September as the slowest month of the year at Walt Disney World since most families went on vacation last month for Christmas and New Years and won’t have enough time off for a real trip until Presidents Week in February at the earliest. So if we’re seeing the sort of crazy crowds we see now in the middle of January, what’s it going to be like when we enter spring break time? Or summer?
The message I’ve heard from a number of Cast Members is that the cut in showtimes of Fantasmic! will vary depending on crowds and that during busier months, there will be more showings of Fantasmic! than just the two we have currently in January. Regardless of if they only cut Fantasmic! by 2 nights per week, the bottom line is when you have nights where there is no Fantasmic!, you will have crazy crowded nights when the show is on and empty evenings on non-show nights and when the crowds return later this spring, it’s going to be far worse a problem.
While I do believe crowds overall are down due to the slowdown in the economy, I don’t believe crowd levels are down to the point where a cut in Fantasmic! is necessary. If you’ve been to Walt Disney World in the past 2 or 3 months, it’s hard to believe there’s an economic slowdown in the United States when you are in the parks and see how crowded they are. Again, crowds may be down compared to a year ago at this time, but there are still more than enough guests who come to the parks to make Fantasmic! more than worthwhile to show every night.
The key for anyone reading this column is to tell Disney you’re upset they’ve cut Fantasmic!. If you have a trip planned for anytime this year, try to imagine not only fitting in which night to see Fantasmic! while you are down here but also contend with the artificially high crowds that you’ll encounter as a result of the cuts. Planning a successful trip to Disney World is hard enough without this obstacle. Send Disney an email and tell them you’re upset Fantasmic! is being cut at all and that they should restore it to at least one show per night for the entire year, everyday. If you’re still not convinced, well, talk to me after you come down on that trip you have planned and let me know how it was trying to see a show of Fantasmic!.