"" Writer's Wanderings: The dark side of Disney--Fantasmic

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The dark side of Disney--Fantasmic

Those of my readers who subscribe to my Journeys newsletter received a Disney World edition this week. We had planned for the whole family to be together for a week there but learned shortly after making deposits on the vacation home that one son and his wife were expecting to deliver a baby that week. They allowed us to take the "big sister" along however and so 11 of us (7 "big kids" and 4 under the age of 5) spent a whirlwind week soaking up all that is Disney and remembering the times together when our boys were small.

Disney World has changed over the years. I wonder what Walt would think of it now? More and more, the rides are getting darker and spookier. While we enjoyed many of the shows and rides with preschoolers (It's a Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, etc.) there were some we entered and had to quickly exit. One such show was Fantasmic.

Fantasmic is the huge production put on in the evening at Disney MGM. The last time we saw it--a few years ago, it was a spectacular water, laser, video, parade, and fireworks show all rolled into one. The theme was Mickey's Fantasia movie and pink elephants danced across walls of water spray, green laser lights drew cartoon characters in the mist, and boats full of princesses and other happy Disney characters passed before the crowd. If Dorothy had been in the crowd with Toto, she might have turned to her little dog, hid his eyes, and exclaimed, "We're not in Disney any more!"

The villains--mostly female, by the way--have been made as popular as the heroes and heroines. They are featured in honored positions in the parades and in Fantasmic, they are the stars. Mickey's dream has turned into Mickey's nightmare and it will be the nightmare of many a young child in the weeks following thier Disney adventure watching the "evening spectacular."

So, a word of warning for those of you taking those impressionable youngsters. When the ride says "might frighten young children," you can almost count on it. If you can, ride first to preview the ride. Some of the rides are on video segments at the Disney site and may give you some idea. Also, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is an excellent reference, giving you some idea of what to ride with each age group you take.

One more thing: Don't expect to see everything all in one week. That's why all the signs leaving the park say "See ya real soon!"

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