Disneyland's New Fantasmic Show 2024: What’s Changed & How Long Is it?

By Gillian Blum Posted:
Fantasmic, Disneyland logo, Moana, Mickey Mouse, Maleficent Dragon

Just over a year after unexpectedly closing following a destructive fire, Fantasmic! is back at Disneyland Park in California — but, it looks a little different from what had been there before.

In April 2023, Disneyland's roughly 45-foot-tall, full-body Fantasmic! dragon caught fire, and the nighttime spectacular was closed indefinitely. It re-opened on May 24, 2024 to a packed audience, but that came with many changes.

How Long is Fantasmic! at Disneyland?

Fantasmic! is a roughly 25-minute nighttime spectacular on the banks of the Rivers of America in Disneyland. It features live performers, fountains (both choreographed and acting as screens), pyrotechnics, bright lights, and fireworks.

The first few rows of the audience (which are not benches like in Walt Disney World, but ground to sit on) are within a splash zone.

Fantasmic! brings audiences along as Mickey Mouse delves deeper and deeper into his own dream. 

His imagination conjures up various songs and scenes from iconic Disney movies, mesmerizing fountains, and swashbuckling adventures. But Mickey's dream is taken over by Disney villains, who make his dream darker and darker.

Historically, this ended with a steamboat full of beloved characters after an epic battle with a dragon. The steamboat remained, of course, but the dragon did not see the same fate.

[ Disney World's Rumored Villain Land: News & Everything We Know (2024 Updates) ]

What Changed in Fantasmic! in 2024?

Mickey Mouse in Disney Fantasmic show
Disney

When Fantasmic! re-opened in 2024, it became clear that this newest iteration was fairly different from the version that closed after the fire.

Disney released some footage on May 22, two days before the new version opened, which showed the two main changes: the return of the Peter Pan segment, and the lack of any dragon whatsoever.

Of course, there are several more minor changes throughout the nighttime spectacular too. So, what all changed from 2023 (Fantasmic! 2.0) to 2024 (Fantasmic! 3.0)?

Opening

Both 2.0 and 3.0 open with a projection of circular specks of light floating slowly around the front of Tom Sawyer's Island. But once the lights converge in the center, that's where the changes begin.

2.0 moves right from the lights converging into the build-up to Mickey's entrance, whereas 3.0 (and WDW's show, which this opening closer resembles) offers a bit more ahead of it.

In 3.0, a spotlight illuminates the center of the island, surrounded by two poles. As the poles rise from the ground, several lights move in half-circles around the front of the poles. The lights go still, and Mickey appears (though not in the same large puff of smoke as was used in 2.0).

However, there is no musical change between 2.0 and 3.0 — rather, Mickey just appears at a different musical cue in both. Additionally, in 3.0 the projections around Mickey are all gold, but in 2.0, they were both purple and gold.

The Flower + Kaa

There appears to be just one difference in the flower segment — that being the color of the fountains. The water is more of a gold color in 2.0, and a pink-purple color in 3.0.

Once Kaa appears, there is a more noticeable difference. In 2.0, the flower moved offstage during the brief Lion King fountain screen interlude, whereas in 3.0, the flower remains for Kaa. The flower adds even more kinetic energy to a fun, bright, and movement-filled scene.

As such, Kaa takes a slightly adjusted route when entering, to avoid crashing into the flower which has remained center stage.

Leaves as Pinocchio Falls

As will be explained in more detail later, 3.0 has a significant increase in vine imagery when compared to 2.0. On the fountains, when Pinocchio is falling down, what were blades of grass in 2.0 have been replaced by leafy vines for 3.0.

Peter Pan Replacing Pirates of the Caribbean

This was one of the changes announced prior to 3.0's debut, and is an homage to the original Fantasmic! 1.0 that closed in 2016.

A bit before both shows' halfway marks comes a stunt sequence on a pirate ship.

In 2.0, this was themed to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise starring Johnny Depp. The scene featured a battle for Captain Jack Sparrow's compass. Actors played the aforementioned captain, Elizabeth Swann, and several other pirates familiar to fans from the movie series.

In 3.0, though, the segment's original theming from 1.0, the animated classic Peter Pan, has returned. In the new sequence, there is a battle between Peter and Captain Hook.

Peter and Hook chase each other around, Peter does flips and tricks, and to Wendy's delight, jabs are thrown — it's classic Peter Pan fun.

From the ship's deck, Wendy tells Peter to be careful. Meanwhile, Hook has climbed the ropes on the ship (the torn sail scraps from 2.0 have been removed for the Peter Pan version) to meet Peter who is already up there. The Fantasmic! theme music plays, and they sword fight before Hook falls from the top of the ship.

After a beat or two, there is a ticking sound, indicating the coming of Tick Tock Croc, or as Peter calls him in Fantasmic!, "Mr. Crocodile." Peter asks Mr. Crocodile if he "like[s] codfish," as Hook cries for help.

The ship in 3.0 appears slightly before the one in 2.0 did, as 2.0 had a longer introduction. 3.0 also features a crocodile projection that looks very convincingly like a three-dimensional figure.

Animation Before the Princesses and Princes

Immediately following the ship, the fountains go back up, offering animation of Mickey's sorcerer's hat, but the animation itself is different in 3.0 and 2.0.

In 2.0, the hat's stars floated off the hat, before a crescent moon was painted on with a paintbrush. This is skipped in 3.0, with the moon appearing on a relatively more still hat. But that is not the biggest difference in this fountain segment.

Like with the opening lighting and timing, Disneyland's 3.0 pulls in a sequence similar to one in WDW's Fantasmic! that was not a part of 2.0. Whereas 2.0 jumps right into the next segment, 3.0 has a short animated montage of dancing princesses and princes that are not included in the upcoming barges.

In order, the new Disneyland animation features:

  • Tiana and Naveen (The Princess and the Frog)
  • Aurora and Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White and Prince Florian (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

A Whole New Variation on "A Whole New World"

The sequence 2.0 jumps right into after the sorcerer's hat animation is a pan over Agrabah, the kingdom from Aladdin, before zooming out and up to the clouds. This is where 3.0 aligns again — but only somewhat.

During the instrumental portion ahead of the "A Whole New World" segment, the projections in both versions show clouds moving. In 2.0, Aladdin and Jasmine (as live characters, not projections) are visible riding a magic carpet. They continue as the lyrics begin, and the carpet becomes more visible as it is less obstructed by cloud projections.

In 3.0, the same music plays, and the cloud projections lessen as the lyrics begin. But, Aladdin and Jasmine are not on a magic carpet. Instead, they dance a duet similar to the ones in the next portion, just on Tom Sawyer's Island rather than on a barge.

The Evil Queen

After unchanged Princess barges and Magic Mirror segments, the Evil Queen (as the hag) appears almost identically. The main difference is the fountain and lighting colors. In 2.0, the water and lights were red, but in 3.0 they are yellow.

Both versions still turn green for the hag's spell.

The Dragon (And the Lack Thereof)

Here it is, the most infamous of the changes. Despite it being central to Fantasmic!'s iconography since before 1.0 even opened, a dragon does not appear in Fantasmic! 3.0.

Instead of Maleficent turning into a giant dragon animatronic that breathes fire, as she did in 2.0, the villain rises up on vines and battles Mickey in her original form. It is worth noting that there are vine-like stems in 2.0 too, before the projections and dragon begin, but they are black-and-green (as opposed to just green), and look very different from the new vines, which remain longer in 3.0.

With the loss of the dragon also comes the loss of the projected Maleficent casting her spell before a montage of villains laughing condescendingly at Mickey. Quite simply, there is no need to distract audiences from anything that may be happening behind the screen.

As such, the fire sequence starts far earlier in 3.0 than it does in 2.0. Not only that, though, but there are at least 30 seconds more of build-up before Mickey starts speaking again in 2.0 than in 3.0. However, it doesn't seem to have a massive impact on the overall duration of the show.

In 3.0, instead of the dragon breathing fire, Maleficent shoots firework blasts from her staff, then seems to shoot fire onto the Rivers of America from her staff too, leading to the same water-on-fire moment from 2.0.

There are also some slightly different fountain colors here. In 2.0 the fountain near the end of the villains' dying montage (which shows up in both) are red, whereas in 3.0 they are purple and green.

Tinker Bell and the Mark Twain

Following the Tinker Bell projection sequence, the fountains begin to dance again, all rainbow and bright. The 3.0 choreography differs slightly from 2.0's, with the newer version being a little more eye-catching and kinetic than its predecessor.

Then, as always, the Mark Twain floats in, bringing many of the live characters featured in the show already back out for the finale, as well as some new faces too.

The sequence itself and the choreography in it remain unchanged, but some new characters were added and removed in the transfer from 2.0 to 3.0.

Of course, the characters listed are always susceptible to changes, both regarding the primary 2.0 lineup and the new 3.0 lineup.

(May 25's two 3.0 performances were used for this list.)

Both boats include:

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Goofy
  • Donald Duck
  • Pluto
  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Belle (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
  • Eric (The Little Mermaid)
  • Rapunzel (Tangled)
  • Flynn Rider (Tangled)
  • Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
  • Prince Florian (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
  • Tweedledee (Alice in Wonderland)
  • Tweedledum (Alice in Wonderland)
  • Cinderella (Cinderella)
  • Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)
  • Aladdin (Aladdin)
  • Jasmine (Aladdin)
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
  • Mad Hatter (Alice in Wonderland)
  • White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland)
  • Jessie (Toy Story)
  • Woody (Toy Story)
  • Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)
  • Green army man (Toy Story)

Removed for 3.0:

  • Phillip (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Perla (Cinderella)
  • Suzy (Cinderella)
  • Pocahontas (Pocahontas)
  • Second green army man (Toy Story)

Added for 3.0:

  • Mirabel (Encanto)
  • Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)
  • Elena (Elena of Avalor)
  • Dopey (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

Is the Fantasmic! Dragon Gone Forever?

Fantasmic! Dragon
Disney

It is honestly a little tricky to believe that Disneyland's Fantasmic! will never have a dragon again. Historically, the dragon is almost synonymous with the show. It is on much of the merchandise for the show, the cover of the soundtrack's CD, and a billboard right outside the amphitheater where the show is performed at WDW.

There have been two iterations of the dragon in Disneyland's Fantasmic! — 1.0's dragon head and 2.0's full-body dragon. However, there have been times in WDW (which usually uses the 1.0-style dragon head) when there has been no dragon before.

In fact, the Maleficent ending (barring the new vine projections and certain other special effects) is actually what happens in WDW when that sequence runs on B-mode (an alternative way to keep the show going in case of technical issues). Essentially, the current no-dragon version is the same as what would happen whenever there were technical difficulties with the dragon animatronic.

As such, perhaps the show is actually just running on long-term B-Mode. Fantasmic! had been closed for over a year when May 24 hit. With summer tourists on the horizon, Disney may have decided it was worth simply opening the show on an improved WDW B-mode while the dragon is still being fixed.

The incident wherein the dragon caught on fire was destructive to the technology, expensive to fix, likely somewhat unsafe for guests, and far more likely fairly unsafe for cast members. It would be unsafe and unwise to bring back the show with a dragon that was not quite safe enough or ready enough to go on without a problem.

The 2.0 dragon was dubbed Murphy by cast members and fans in the know. The figure was named after Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." When something went wrong with Murphy the dragon, it went really wrong. If it takes some time to get Murphy up and running safely, fans will certainly be willing to wait.

And, hey, at least many fans were just pleased that the dragon was not a projection on a water screen.


Fantasmic! plays at least once every day at Disneyland at 9 p.m. PST. On certain days, there is a second show at 10:30 p.m. PST.

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- About The Author: Gillian Blum

Gillian Blum has been a writer at The Direct since 2022, reporting primarily from New York City. Though she covers news from across the entertainment industry, Gillian has a particular focus on Marvel and DC, including comics, movies, and television shows. She also commonly reports on Percy Jackson, Invincible, and other similar franchises.