Walt Disney World has added showtimes for Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with two performances per evening now scheduled for many dates during the holiday season and early 2023. Here’s a full rundown of performance times and what to expect in terms of crowds.
You might recall that Fantasmic was scheduled for two performances its first few nights back, but only a single showing thereafter each evening in November and December 2022. To the surprise of absolutely no one, except (seemingly) Walt Disney World management, demand and crowds have continued since, necessitating additional showtimes being added to the schedule.
These Fantasmic has been standby-only since the nighttime spectacular’s return, which will (presumably) continue to be the case until Fantasmic Dining Packages–which offer guaranteed seating in a reserved seating area–are available for performances of Fantasmic starting November 30, 2022 and beyond.
Now, we have more information about the newly-added Fantasmic showtimes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for mid-November 2022 through early January 2023. According to the online show schedule on disneyworld.com and in the My Disney Experience app, showtimes will be as follows:
November 14, 2022
November 15-16, 2022
November 17 to December 3, 2022
December 4, 2022
December 5-25, 2022
December 26, 2022 to January 7, 2023
January 8-12, 2023
If you’re visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios today (November 13, 2022), don’t be surprised if there’s a “surprise” second performance. I have no inside info indicating that this will occur, but there was a last-minute second showtime for Annual Passholders last night, and Fantasmic has been added to the schedule on other evenings this past week.
It doesn’t make a ton of sense to do two performances on Monday night, but not over the weekend. Then again, it didn’t make sense not to schedule two per night to begin with, so who knows!
Note that in some cases, the showtime for Fantasmic is at or even after the park closing time for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While this could be indicative that park hours will be extended, don’t count on it.
Historically, it’s not uncommon for one of the nighttime spectaculars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to occur at park closing or 30 minutes after. This allows Disney to effectively extend the closing time by an hour or more (given the duration of Fantasmic and longer time it takes to clear the park after it ends) but without running rides during that time.
It’s a savvy strategy and one we’re expecting to see going forward. It also allows Walt Disney World to offer more ADRs, which is revenue-generating upside that’s also good for guests for want to eat late and couldn’t find reservations earlier.
As we pointed out previously, having two showtimes for only the first 5 nights of Fantasmic’s return was not going to cut it. This was hardly a bold prediction–it should’ve been obvious to everyone that demand for Fantasmic would be high. It’s not just among locals and Annual Passholders eager to see the new show after it being gone for so long.
It’s among all visitors, who are similarly starved for good nighttime spectaculars at Walt Disney World–or just evening entertainment in general.
Not having multiple showtimes of Fantasmic scheduled for the busy Veterans’ Day and Jersey Week timeframes was a mistake from the get-go. Had Tropical Storm Nicole not messed with crowd dynamics, the weekend after Fantasmic debuted would’ve been much, much busier than the weekend it debuted.
The calendar for November and December 2022 is littered with dates that will be just as busy–or worse–than the last couple of weeks. Each of these are filled with fresh tourists, or people who have not seen Fantasmic in at least 3 years, if ever. In short, demand isn’t going to die down anytime soon, and huge crowds will continue to descend on Sunset Boulevard.
Even though management should’ve known this from the beginning, at least they learned quickly and are adjusting. Not much help to those who visited in the last week or so, but great going forward. Running Fantasmic twice per night will reduce the crowd chaos that has ensued since Fantasmic returned. (It would be great if Walt Disney World could find a way to add a third showing for peak holiday season dates, but I’m guessing that would be a challenge from a performer perspective.)
As for how early you should queue up, it really depends on which showing you’re going to see and how good of a spot you want. It’s also difficult to say because I think we still have not seen the worst of the holiday season crowds. Walt Disney World “only” had 8/10 crowd levels of the Veterans’ Day weekend, and I suspect that would’ve been worse (10/10) without Tropical Storm Nicole disrupting the attendance dynamic.
In any case, my preliminary recommendation is around 60 to 90 minutes in advance for the first show if you’re fine with an average spot, and about 45 to 60 minutes in advance for the second performance of Fantasmic for most ‘regular’ dates during the upcoming Christmas season. Even pre-closure, there were times when people lined up 2 hours in advance for Fantasmic. Granted, this was not most guests–and it was usually possible to get a seat within 30 minutes of showtime.
There are several differences right now as compared to pre-closure. First, Fantasmic has been reimagined and returned for the first time in almost 3 years, so there are a ton of regulars who would’ve skipped it before but now want to see it. Second, Fantasmic will have even more interest among casual guests, as it’s being hyped up by Disney in marketing materials.
Finally, there’s the Park Hopping factor. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a nighttime spectacular, and people will Park Hop from there to one of the other three parks. On top of that, Harmonious and Disney Enchantment haven’t exactly scored well with guests, they’ve just been “popular” due to lack of alternatives. Fantasmic scored incredibly well on guest satisfaction surveys pre-closure, and there’s every reason to believe the reimagined version will do better, not worse.
There’s also the fact that Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will displace thousands of people per evening it’s held, disproportionately causing crowding at EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That’ll lead to even more demand for Fantasmic during the first two months it’s back. In short, there’s a likelihood of heavy crowds for Fantasmic. Even with two nightly performances, you might want to err on the side of lining up early–or buying a dining package.
Speaking of which, these additional showtimes for mid-November 2022 through early January 2023 should have zero impact on Fantasmic Dining Package availability. This is for the simple reason that the limiting factor there is available tables at restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, not seats in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater.
To the contrary, the venue seats 6,900 guests with additional standing room for about 3,000 guests. That’s a massive number, and Walt Disney World will only be able to allocate a fraction of that to Fantasmic Dining Packages simply by virtue of restaurant table space (or lack thereof).
On the plus side, the healthy capacity of Hollywood Hills Amphitheater will enable a good percentage of all guests in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic–especially when the nighttime spectacular has two performances per evening this holiday season.
Nevertheless, it’s likely that demand will still exceed capacity on many nights. The combination of crowds, pent-up demand, and lack of alternatives during the holiday season all but guarantees it.
One thing that does remain to be seen is whether Walt Disney World will add Fantasmic to the Genie+ service. We previously predicted that this would occur, and are honestly surprised that it hasn’t happened yet. That would likely help with crowd control on Sunset Boulevard, as it would mean fewer people lining up an hour or more in advance and clogging up walkways. It’s possible that this is still in the cards, and Walt Disney World doesn’t want to implement this until the initial positive buzz from Fantasmic subsides.
It’s also possible that the logistics or staffing demands of a Lightning Lane entrance for Fantasmic are too difficult right now–or that Disney is perfectly content with people standing in line for an hour-plus for Fantasmic. As we’ve said before, we think Genie+ or using a virtual queue for Fantasmic is the “correct” course of action. I know many of you hate them, but I think this is one scenario where a virtual queue makes a lot of sense. Perhaps Walt Disney World is looking to avoid backlash and will just stick with standby for this one. Regardless, the second showtime makes Fantasmic much easier to see on evenings throughout the Christmas season.
What are your thoughts on Walt Disney World adding a second showtime for Fantasmic during Christmas 2022 and early 2023? Have you experienced the reimagined Fantasmic since its return earlier this month? Thoughts on the Sunset Boulevard crowds and line? What about the substance of the show? Do you think Fantasmic should use a virtual queue or stick to standby? Have you booked a Fantasmic dining package? Is it worth the surcharge to guarantee that you’ll have a spot in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater to see the nighttime spectacular? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!