BACKSTORY (May 13, 1992–Present): Barnette Ricci, Fantasmic’s first show director from Disneyland Entertainment, was asked in 1991 to create a night-time spectacular involving water and fireworks to fill the space at the Rivers of America. The use of mist screens was discovered by the team on a trip to France. Disneyland Entertainment employed the resources of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering as collaborators. The Rivers of America had to be drained in order to install the show’s extensive lighting, effects and sound equipment, in addition to a new track for The Columbia and Mark Twain. Initially planned for an audience of 65,000, the area was soon expanded to hold 11,000. The walkways in New Orleans Square were also modified, but were already considered one of the benefits of building the show in that location. Initiallly titled “Imagination River Spectacular” it morphed into “Imagination” and then finally “Fantasmic” (coined by Disneyland’s VP of Entertainment at the time, Robert McTyre). The “story” behind Fantasmic is that guests are getting a peak into the imagination of Mickey Mouse, as he attempts to ward off the evil forces that invade his dreams. The song “Imagination” plays throughout the performance which is scored by Bruce Healey. Thin plot, but plenty of fun visual impact!
In 2007, new barges with LED lighting were added; one year later, lower-smoke fireworks were installed as well as the upgrade of analog to digital for the mist screen projections. In 2009, Flotsam and Jetsam from “The Little Mermaid” were added as well as a gigantic new Maleficent dragon. The new dragon was 45' tall (5' taller than the previous incarnation).