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The Fantasmic! Breaking Point

I was listening to a recent episode of the Be Our Guest Podcast where the cast discussed the topic of does Disney listen to it's guests and the answer seemed to be "when they want to, yes they do".  With the current deplorable Fantasmic! scheduling situation, I'd definitely agree with that conclusion.  No matter how many people are upset by the scheduling issues, no one at Disney seems to be listening.

On a recent trip to Hollywood Studios, I decided it was time once more to stop by Guest Relations to complain about there not being a Fantasmic! showing that night.   I usually expect to get an empathetic sorry from the Cast Member along with an unsaid agreement that the schedule cut back of Fantasmic! is wrong.  After all, it's pretty much been the norm of what I've encountered but on this occasion, I was met with a "ho-hum" sorry I'm disappointed but there's nothing we can do about it response.  Whereas in the past I found a common begrudging apology, this time I found the attitude to be more of a "this is how it's gonna be, pal" response.

All over the Disney Internet community I've talked to people who uniformly are in agreement that Fantasmic! is nearly impossible to experience (and enjoy) anymore because of the cut backs.  It's been almost 3 years now since Disney cut back Fantasmic! from at least one show every night to just a few shows per week.  Fantasmic! has become one of the most difficult attractions to see because the crowds range in size from mammoth to overwhelming.  Trying to see the first showing of Fantasmic! routinely requires 60-90 minutes of waiting, while the second showing of Fantasmic! is relatively easier to see, but still requires at least 45 minutes of waiting.  Either scenario is too much to handle for many families.

I find it hard to believe that even the typical Walt Disney World guest that doesn't read anything online or do any planning has come to the same conclusion and complained as well, but where is the tipping point?  When is Disney going to remedy the situation? It just seems despite a clear consensus among guests that the current Fantasmic schedule is inconvenient and frustrating, Disney management is unwilling to fix the problem, let alone identify it.

All too often we hear from Disney about the important of guest feedback and new changes that come to Walt Disney World as a result of "guest demand" and yet in this case, there's nothing.  Is Disney listening? Yes, I think so.  Do they care enough to act? No.  Clearly someone in management is happy with how things are.  They are happy with saving whatever the cost is of those lost nights despite the fact that less guests go to Hollywood Studios on non-Fantasmic! nights and therefore spend less money in the parks.  I really thought by now various divisions inside Hollywood Studios from merchandise to food & beverage to attraction operations would have complained enough about lower sales and attendance figures to warrant a change back.  You can ask any Cast Member in Animal Kingdom and they will tell you that guests have a mass exodus out of their park following the afternoon parade because there's nothing to keep them in the park.

I think by now many guests, especially those active in the Disney Internet community, have cut back their attempts to see Fantasmic!.  It's just too darn difficult and not worth the aggravation considering you can catch Wishes or Illuminations far more easily.  I'm sure if you think about it, you've likely made less attempts to see Fantasmic! over the past 3 years just because of how hard it is to see now.  I know I've seen Fantasmic! just a hand full of times in these 3 years for that very reason.  The real question now is what's next?  How much more can we take? At what point does someone say "Enough, I'm just not going to see Fantasmic! and spare myself the inconvenience"?  The sad conclusion is that more than likely that thought has already crossed the minds of many people.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 by