Today is the 62nd anniversary of the opening of the original Disneyland in California, but that’s not the only reason for celebration at “The Happiest Place on Earth” right now. After several months on hiatus to accommodate the construction of the park’s upcoming “Star Wars” land, an updated “Fantasmic!” will offically return to the “Rivers of America” tonight following two nights of previews exclusively for attendees of this year’s D23 Expo. The nighttime spectacular, which stars Sorcerer Mickey Mouse, is also celebrating the 25th anniversary this summer, making its return extra special. Combining live performers, projections on water screens, fireworks, and other special effects, the show has become a Disneyland classic and in time has also found its way, in slightly altered form, to both Tokyo DisneySea and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Unlike its Disneyland counterpart, the Walt Disney World version of “Fantasmic!” is located in the specially-constructed “Hollywood Hills Amphitheater” as opposed to an existing body of water like “Rivers of America.” Since the amphitheater is hidden back behind “The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror,” some extra assistance is needed in pointing out the path that leads to it. The above billboard depicting one of the show’s most memorable moments, when Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” transforms into a dragon to battle Mickey, helps point the way to the amphitheater’s otherwise nondescript Sunset Boulevard entrance wedged between between the “Tower of Terror” restrooms and “Theater of the Stars.” Whether at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida or its original home at California’s Disneyland, the imaginative “Fantasmic!” has proven itself to be a major crowd-pleaser over the course of its first 25 years will no doubt continue to be for a good many years to come.