Earlier this year, Disneyland’s nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic, had a malfunction that saw the climactic dragon go up in flames. Since that time the show has been on hiatus and now Disney has announced that the return won’t be until spring 2024. Upon that return, the physical Maleficent dragon will no longer be fighting Sorcerer Mickey in the finale. In this post, we’ll break down the news and add in some of our own commentary.
Here’s what a Disney spokesperson said tonight:
“Our goal is to always deliver the best possible show for our guests. With that in mind, we are planning the return of ‘Fantasmic!’ with exciting new magic in spring 2024. As teams continue work on the show, we have launched nightly entertainment on the Rivers of America this summer and we are working on even more exciting entertainment offerings for our guests later this year.”
None of this comes as a big surprise for the beloved show. Initially, the return was an ominous “after Labor Day” which didn’t make much sense if you take out the ‘after’ misnomer. Why would Fantasmic return once the summer was over? Today’s news likely reveals that the previous announcement was to just let guests know that the show would not be running during the summer as they bought time to figure out an actual return window.
Unfortunately, the new timeline kind of sucks. I don’t say that to disparage the damage done or to insinuate that Disney is slow playing this. I just say it because I love Fantasmic and want it to return as soon as it’s safely possible.
The spring timeframe does make some sense. Holiday entertainment from September through the New Year is very strong at Disneyland and, for as great at Fantasmic is, the loss can be mitigated much like it has been this summer with Wondrous Journeys. January and February are generally slow at the park so skipping past that to spring isn’t a big surprise. It’s a bit early to speculate on when in spring Fantasmic will return, we’ll save that for 2024!
As for the news about the dragon (affectionately and warily named Murphy) not returning in physical form, I also think it’s a bit early for much conjecture on how the show will change. Maybe there will still be a dragon of some kind without a fire effect? Maybe it will be an entirely new figure with a different ending. Or maybe it will be the ‘B show’ that was more projection based.
If this is truly the end of Murph, I’m sad to see him go. Nothing quite captured the imagination and fantasy of Disneyland as Maleficent rising high above Tom Sawyer Island and then reappearing seconds later as the dragon. Having Mickey fight the giant villain was a larger than life moment and the peak of in-park entertainment.
If that goes away then I’ll be disappointed but it’s not without just cause. Hopefully, something would replace it that could match the scale and wonder. We won’t find out until next spring but I’m eager to see what’s next.
In Fantasmic’s stead will be some temporary entertainment. For the coming months, Queenie and the Jambalaya Jazz Band will play along the river several times a night. Guests can also still see the fireworks and projections from that area each night. I’m curious what other temporary entertainment will be added during the holidays and into 2024. We’ll keep you updated on whatever is coming next!
What do you think of this Fantasmic news? Let us know your thoughts, along with any other questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!