Review: Fantasmic Dining Package at Hungry Bear Restaurant
Hungry Bear Restaurant sells the cheapest Fantasmic Dining Package, which offers reserved seating to the nighttime spectacular at Disneyland. This review features food photos, thoughts on whether the special seating section and meal are worth the money, and our overall assessment of the dinner and experience.
Fantasmic has once again returned to Disneyland after a two-plus year hiatus. This is relevant because there’s currently a ton of pent-up demand for Fantasmic, with locals eager to see it for the first time in a couple of years jockeying with tourists for views of Disneyland’s best nighttime spectacular. It’s been a busy summer season, and that’s particularly true along the Rivers of America before, during, and after the nightly showings of Fantasmic.
Our experiences trying to see the spectacular have been nothing short of chaotic, to the point that we’re now waiting to see it again until the off-season. Multiple fights have broken out, and it’s easy to see why–even trying to navigate through Frontierland and New Orleans Square can be downright nightmarish. This is not the least bit hyperbolic, and is a huge reason why you might want to buy a Fantasmic Dining Package.
Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of choices if you want access to a reserved viewing area for Fantasmic at Disneyland. There are four different options for acquiring a pay-to-play FastPass for Fantasmic: River Belle Terrace (x2), Blue Bayou, and Hungry Bear Restaurant.
Notably, the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Package is the least expensive choice at $35 per person. It’s less expensive because it’s available at the Critter Country counter service eatery rather than a table service restaurant like the other three options.
For the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package, you choose from a special down-home menu featuring barbecued pork ribs, grilled salmon salad, or a barbecued half-chicken as your entree. That’s served with bacon potato salad, seasonal vegetables, a dessert and fountain beverage.
The vegetarians out there can instead order a plant-based Impossible sloppy joe sandwich with seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit, dessert, and fountain beverage. Kids meals include barbecued ribs, mac and cheese, and a plant-based Impossible sloppy joe slider.
Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package Pricing
- $35.00 per adult (ages 10 and up) plus tax
- $25.00 per child (ages 3 to 9) plus tax
As Hungry Bear Restaurant is a counter service dining option, gratuity is neither included nor necessary.
Advance reservations are highly recommended for the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package and can be made on Disneyland.com or via the Disneyland app up to 60 days prior to your visit.
Reservations have become easier to score, but we still recommend booking at least a month in advance for the best range of times. Same-day reservations can be made on a limited basis and are subject to availability. (Don’t count on this working out–book the package in advance.)
Your Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package reservation will include a time to pick up your food. Meal pick-up times are normally 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM, though times may vary based on the Fantasmic! schedule.
Reservations made for 3:00 PM through 6:45 PM will include a FastPass voucher for entry into the reserved viewing area for the first performance of Fantasmic! that evening. Reservations from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM will include a FastPass voucher for entry into the reserved viewing area for that night’s second show.
At Hungry Bear Restaurant, you’ll receive one reserved viewing area FastPass for each On-the-Go Package purchased. Vouchers are valid only for the designated show time on the same day as the dining experience. Packages and vouchers may not be refunded, redeemed for cash, exchanged for a different date or time, or sold.
Your voucher lists the location of your viewing area, the time you should arrive at your viewing location and the show’s performance time. Early and late arrivals will not be accommodated. Although the best seating location is for Blue Bayou, the FastPass area for Hungry Bear and River Belle Terrace flank the dead-center seating of Blue Bayou and are still really good.
If at all possible, our strong recommendation would be to book between 3:00 pm and 6:45 pm in order to receive a FastPass for the first show. This is because the first showings of all Disneyland nighttime spectaculars are significantly busier–but that’s irrelevant to you with the reserved viewing area FastPass. Those typically sell out for both showings every single night, making the reserved area equally busy for both showings.
Why this matters is because the standby seating or viewing areas for Disneyland’s other nighttime entertainment is significantly less busy for the second showings. You’ll presumably be wanting to watch Main Street Electrical Parade, World of Color, or whatever seasonal offerings are being shown in addition to Fantasmic. That’s easier if you watch the first Fantasmic via the reserved area.
Another upside of doing the first Fantasmic is watching the fireworks from your spot almost immediately thereafter. Typically, the first showing of Fantasmic will wrap up, and then Disneyland’s fireworks will be presented around 10 minutes later. The second performance of Fantasmic will occur about 30 minutes after that.
If you’re planning on watching the first Fantasmic, stay in your spot after it ends to see the fireworks–there are mist screens with projections on the water and most of the pyro is visible. You won’t have time to get a spot on Main Street after seeing Fantasmic, so don’t even bother–it’s a lost cause.
Reservations for the Hungry Bear Fantasmic Dining Package were tough to score during the busy summer season when we did this, so we didn’t have much in the way of choices. Due to that, we opted for the later showing by default.
Our time was the last pickup slot of the evening, and there was a backlog of guests all arriving around the same time with only one cash register serving everyone. Consequently, the line was really long and took forever. We’ve been back to Hungry Bear a few times since, and have not spotted this scenario play out again. Still, something to consider if you’re stuck with that last time slot of the evening.
We also had a long wait for Fantasmic itself, but that was by choice. If you want a prime spot in the front row, you’ll need to line up early–at least 30 minutes before the show, and probably more like 45 minutes. This “line” isn’t particularly organized, so it can be a bit frustrating.
Our advice would probably be to not worry about the front row, and save yourself that stress. Sitting a bit back from the front is still good, and arguably better than the second “row” of this area. If you’re in the front row, you look through the handrail along the waterfront; if you’re in the second row, it will effectively block part of your view. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in the third or fourth rows of the seating area, as it slopes upwards away from the water. As far as the seating area goes, I think front or back is best, and back is pretty laid back as compared to front.
Alright, let’s move on to the food review for the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package…
For our entrees, Sarah ordered the chicken and I ordered the ribs.
Both were shockingly good. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, and the ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and delicious. There were a couple fatty sections, but nothing out of the ordinary.
One specific highlight was the s’mores dessert. Great texture, consistency, and flavor. My only complaint is that they were too small! Happily would’ve traded my broccoli for another section of these bad boys.
Overall, we were both pleasantly surprised by the cuisine quality given that this is an “on the go” package. We were expecting a brown paper bag of loose food (we did this ~5 years ago, and that’s more or less what it was). The cuisine is a definite step up for the new iteration of the Hungry Bear Fantasmic Dining Package.
Again, the Fantasmic Dinner Package at Hungry Bear Restaurant costs $35 for adults. A normal meal at Hungry Bear would cost around $17 to $22, but that’s not really an apples to apples comparison.
For one thing, the cuisine quality in the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package is more on par with French Market or Plaza Inn, the buffeteria tier restaurants at Disneyland. For another, the dessert is significantly smaller than the pricey options at Hungry Bear, so that value isn’t quite the same.
On balance, I’d ascribe about $20 in value to the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package, and that’s probably on the low end of the value range. (We don’t drink soda, so that had zero value to us. YMMV.)
Whether the Hungry Bear Fantasmic Dining Package is worth it is a matter of how much Fantasmic matters to you. You can rationalize this by telling yourself that you’re only paying a $10 per person for premium for the Fantasmic seating. It’s possible that understates the value of the food. Don’t let the grab and go nature of it fool you–this food is somewhere between counter service and table service quality.
To that point, there’s a huge area along the Rivers of America set aside as reserved viewing for the Fantasmic Dining Packages. Even the best standby spots for Fantasmic are now fairly far off-center or in a cramped and small standing-only section. (Read our Fantasmic Viewing & Photography Tips for more info.)
Even in an ideal scenario, you’d need to stake out one of those spots an hour or more in advance or get really lucky with the second showing if you do standby for Fantasmic.
Ultimately, the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package is well worth the ~$10 premium per person. Even if the food isn’t worth $20 to you for whatever reason, this package is still worth it. The time and headaches saved plus the comfort of the reserved area and avoiding the chaos of the standby section makes this money well spent.
That’s not true of every Disneyland upcharge offering. In fact, we’d say the batting average is around .250, with the Hungry Bear Dining Package being one of our top overall picks in terms of bang for buck. (In case you’re curious, we’ve also done new reviews of the other nighttime spectacular dining packages–see our World of Color Dessert Party Review and Main Street Electrical Parade Dining Package Review for photos and commentary. Spoiler: we loved one and hated the other.)
Personally, I think paying less and doing the Hungry Bear grab & go package works out pretty well. Fantasmic has a pretty wide viewing radius, so you can barely tell you’re off-center. (All of the Fantasmic photos in this post were shot from the Hungry Bear section…do they look noticeably off-center?) Hungry Bear gets our endorsement because it’s cheapest and most convenient.
Alternatively, paying more and having the front and center view for the Blue Bayou package is another great option–our preference/top recommendation if your budget allows. Although Blue Bayou is the most expensive, that restaurant is a Disneyland institution, and the superior experience makes it worth the extra money. River Belle Terrace is pretty underwhelming, making both of its dining packages our least favorite picks.
Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!
Do you agree or disagree with our take on the Hungry Bear Restaurant Fantasmic! On-the-Go Dining Package? Are you a fan of this counter service spot? Any menu recommendations here? Have you done the Blue Bayou or River Belle Terrace Fantasmic Dinner Package? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!
Is it likely that more slots open up for this package closer to the date? Due to an issue with my account I wasn’t able to reserve (despite logging in 60 days in advance!) and by the time Disney app help sorted my issue it’s now showing as sold out for my dates mid-Jan 2023. Hoping I get lucky with additional slots/cancellations!
We just used your strategy last weekend and it worked perfectly. I agree with the other posters that the line gets pretty backed up. Too bad there is no mobile order option somehow. My sister exchanged for the burger even though they said “no substitutions” and she said it was decent. I liked the chicken, solid portion and the Smores was yummy! I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it without the package for sure but it was filling. I asked about the DVC discount on a whim and the CM gave us the 10% (I didn’t see this mentioned in your blog) no clue if this is standard practice but it was a nice surprise (made the value even better) We sat dead center about 4th row. Fantastic! I remembered instantly how this show is so much better then WDW. When the Columbia appears!!! Chills!! All in all we felt it was well worth it. Immediately after we just stood up and saw Halloween Screams with the projections on the Island. Great effect! I have to add we had the funniest CM doing crowd control. He really was loving his job. He kept telling the crowd on the ground “Fantastmic-Sit! Fireworks-Stand!” and then had us chanting it over and over again. Hilarious!
Tom, do you guys have a magic key to visit Disneyland? Any inside info or thoughts on why no renewal options for those within 20 some days of renewal? Looking like they’ll just let passes expire.
I just did this experience on Sunday night. Our food pick-up time was 8:15. There was only one window handling all the reserved pickup meals so although it was a short line, it took a long time to get the food. The ribs were excellent. My friend was in a scooter, but it wasn’t a problem for her to drive it through the roped-off areas to our assigned section. We were centered with TS island without poles or railings blocking our view. We were seated at the back of the roped-off area because of her scooter, but we didn’t have any problem seeing the show. The hardest part for me was sitting on the ground for so long. I did not plan ahead to bring something to sit on. For me, the $35 was well worth it!
“Multiple fights have broken out, and it’s easy to see why…”
I was going to say this on your post about the Genie+ posts but I’ll leave it here. I realize that Disney’s not entirely to blame, that there are American culture things and even things like hotter weather leading to the weekly fights at the Parks going viral on social media. But Disney needs to have some serious conversations about what they can do to ease the tension and pressure on guests that is leading them to take it out on each other. I had hoped that eliminating the 60-day window for FP+ and tightening dining windows, etc, would help, but they’ve managed to come up with *new* ways to make it all more stressful than it was before. The more pressure and stress the guests feel while they’re there (whether that pressure comes from getting a short wait or getting a good spot or finding an affordable meal), the more likely the fights will continue. Disney needs to address the stress and pressure issues.
*typo – “post about Genie+ UPDATES”
The really frustrating thing is that Disneyland used FastPass for Fantasmic, and it was widely assume they’d transition that to a virtual queue like they did for World of Color. That did not occur, and it’s my understanding that the reason why was to “increase park capacity” (by having people stand around, staking out spots for longer).
It’s one thing when there are circumstances outside Disney’s control or they get caught by surprise. In this case, they had years of experience seeing how congested this area gets and there was a viable solution…they just chose not to use it.
Great post, but what’s up with the Pink ads? Obnoxious/ kinda racy/and every 15 seconds! No complaints about any other ads.
It really does seem like Hungry Bear seating is as good as River Belle Terrace seating, so at least that decision is a no brainer. If it’s nearly as good as the Blue Bayou seating, making reservations for lunch at the BB in conjunction with the HB would be my recommendation.
Thanks for the “stacking” recommendations in terms of Fantasmic (1st show) then fireworks. Will doing the MSEP (2md show) after that be relatively easy since it’s the later show, or is that probably too much for a single night?
I’m glad you said this, this is what we’ve done for our reservations in a few weeks… I booked Blue Bayou for lunch, and Hungry Bear package for dinner. The Fantasmic seating for Blue Bayou seems a little volatile – I know it has to be requested from your server currently, but the website does have a reservation system built (it’s not bookable but it’s there), and I’m concerned the policy could change before we get there.
My only concern is cancellation fees for the HB package – if we do get Fantasmic through BB, will we get penalized for a late dining cancellation at HB?
Thanks for the answer on fireworks…
Sitting on the ground is not an option.. I’ll be with a 70yrs old (arthrosis but not in a wheelchair)… any of the other dining packages can secure us a seat pls?
Disney was very accommodating with my 70 year old parents after we told the staff that there was no way that my dad could sit on the ground for that long. They gave my parents a table at Harbour Galley. My parents were happy and had a great time watching from that area.
At what time, 60 days out, do reservations typically become available?
We got ours when they released at exactly 6 am Pacific time 60 days out.
In my opinion one of the best things about this blog is that it doesn’t engage in hyperbole or overstate things.
That being said, having just experienced Fantasmic on a busy day I think you are under selling how awful the standby experience is. The approach Disney is taking to manage the crowds is objectively unacceptable. It’s unfortunate that a dining package is almost required, but this is a splurge I wish I would have made. Its insane to me that world of color is using a virtual queue and the approach to these shows is nothing short of total anarchy.
Other than that, how did the trip go? You had been planning extensively and mentioning it for months…did it live up to expectations or not? Really curious to hear your perspective–good, bad & ugly!
Thanks for asking. It was great. We did a full day at Disneyland and full day at DCA.
All of your resources really helped, and we were able to put together two amazing days for the kids. It was very crowded, but Genie+ held up pretty well and was worth the cash. Your hotel recommendations were spot on (you can’t beat the location of your top picks).
Not that this is anything anyone should ever be proud of, but the day we pulled off at Disneyland felt like the best day I’ve ever put together when operating as tour guide. Getting three generations and 9 people through almost every headliner (skipped Rise and Peter Pan deliberately), all of the nighttime shows, having multiple long breaks to enjoy food/ambiance, and never waiting more than 20ish minutes was a feat. Can’t ever thank you and Sarah enough for all the advice.
We did this exact strategy in June. For what it’s worth, we got a reservation last minute by checking frequently in the evenings leading up to the day of our visit. One thing I think is worth adding: if you really want the best possible view, get to the fast pass return spot at least 45m+ before Fantasmic starts. They have people start queuing up and only the first 25-50 people get actual on the rail seating, and everyone else is viewing between gaps of people in front of them. I don’t know when the very first people got in line, but we came 20-30m early and ended up where we were in the second row of seating (I found a space in a gap where my kids could see great). Also bring a towel/blanket and prepare to sit for a while between seating and show starting—the ground is hard (if you forget you can get a haunted mansion tombstone towel from the shop in New Orleans square). If your space is reserved some members of your party can come and go periodically— I recommend settling in and then sending someone in for beignets and hot cocoa.
How does the seating actually work? Does everyone just push to the rail? How would it work if you had a couple people in wheelchairs in your party?
I’d also like to know the answer to this….
Everyone has to sit on the ground, except for those in wheelchairs. Where you sit on the ground is based on what parts of the designated dining package viewing area are available when you get there. I don’t use a wheelchair, so I sat on the ground but it looked to me like those in a wheelchair had possibly the best view of everyone because there’s no standing allowed in the reserved viewing are once the show starts (at least when I was there in mid-June, I assume that is standard operating procedure). I hope that helps!
Can the fireworks at the castle be seen from here after Fantasmic?
Yes. After Fantasmic, they encourage you to stay where you are to watch fireworks. They play the music there and also do projections on the water for the full experience.
Yes, and there are projections on the Rivers of America.
I forgot to mention, but this is another benefit of doing the first Fantasmic–you can stay in your spot for the fireworks, which occur shortly afterwards.
Is Frontierland and/or New Orleans square easy to navigate if you’re not trying to watch the show?
It’s not impossible, but I’d recommend avoiding that side of the park unless around Fantasmic unless you can’t work around it.
thanks tom! we’ve got this booked for september!