The most famous toons perform in this theater in the heart of Fantasyland to the delight of the whole family ...
Arriving in Fantasyland with the railroad guests notice that the actual track is located half way up the berm surrounding the park, so the rooms of the railroad station they are looking at are in fact the second story of the detailed building. Taking the stairways down on the side of the station (with a good view across the Fantasyland from the top) guests will find themselfs next to the Fantasy Festival Stage as it is a kind of extension of the station building, which's ground level houses the stage and backstage area of the theater while the auditorium is found under a glass roof in front of the station building.
Walking through Fantasyland guests could easily miss the theater as it isn't very visible from the distance, due the fact that the stage is "hidden" in the Fantasyland Railroad Station which in now way reveals it doubles us a theater building too. While there is the construction covering the auditorium in front of the station, it one is only one story high (as there is no balcony), making it hard recognize from the distance as the Imagineers were able to keep the heigth of the building down as the rows are not going upwards from the ground level but instead only the last row of the auditorium is actually on the level of the surrounding area and the ground is slowly descending toward the stage so that the guests in the front row actually sit below the level of the remaining Fantasyland.
Thanks to this special trick and the detailed facade and especially the decorated glass roof the theater blends perfectly into the setting of Fantasyland and looks just like another small building from a fairy tale story. Even the advertisement of the current program is very subtle - only one small poster in the center of the facade (in fact the rear wall of the director's cabine), with one entrance to each side names it.
Once inside guests will note that the glass roof is covered from the inside to create a lasting twilight in the auditorium, but a second look reveals that it rests on a detailed steel structure featuring artful decorations just as on the outside. The walls are made out of bricks in a warm red/brown color that blends perfectly into the surrounding but are partly (in the auditorium) covered with dark curtains to create a better ligthing situation for the shows. These take place on the stage inside the ground floor of the railroad station - but this fact is even less special than the unusual dimensions of the stage, which is nearly as wide as the auditorium but with only 5 to 6 meters not nearly as high as "normal" stages tend to be, thereby creating the impression similar to old wide-screen projections.
The style of the building is continued even on the seats in the auditorium which are not real seats but banks as they can be found outdoors too - for the usual duration of the shows presented here they are surprisingly comfortable and allow the adult and teenage guests to sit back and relax - younger guests may feel less comfortable and may need assistance due to the fact that the ground increases constantely but slowly throughout the theater resulting in a smaller height difference between each of the rows, which still allows adults unobstructed views but may hamper younger children.
While sound-, light- and stage-equipement are up to todays standards they are less sophisticated than in the hi-tech-theater Videopolis or the Chaparral Theater - but they blend perfectly in the detailed structure, making them nearly invisible and creating the perfect fantasy setting for Mickey and his friends. Their shows may feature no artistic highlights, no ground braking special effects and no giant sets, but just as the theater's structure they are highly entertaining productions with a big soul and lovely details: small on the outside but huge inside...
The Fantasy Festival Stage is the smallest real theater in the Disneyland Park but features the most famous Disney Characters in its productions: the fab five - Mickey Mouse, Minni Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto - plus their friends and foes as e.g. Chip'n'Dale. Therefor guests should show up at least 30 to 45 minutes (on bussy days up to 60 minutes) before the actual show time as the theater fills up well in advance of every show.
This is only true for the real shows taking place in the theater but not for performances as part of the "Magic Music Days"-program. For these you can show up just in time or even during the presentation as the theater does not fill up and unfortunately many guests even leave during the performances as there are no Disney Characters featured - but if you want to relax for 20 or 30 minutes the musical performances of the youth and amateur bands, orchesters and choruses are just a wonderful offer!
The view is good from all seats, even so younger children who are sitting with their parents may need to sit on their lap due to the small heigth-difference between the rows. As usual the best seats are in the middle section - the only seats you should avoide are the last rows in the two sections on the sides. While they are raised a few extra inch they are located even further away than the director's cabine and rigth next to the door.
Strollers are not allowed in the theater and must be parked near the main entrance in a designated area, when the rope is dropped and guests can proceed into the theater.
The first rows in the front are reserved for young children, as they have a great, unobstructed view from there and are really close to the action. Parents should note that they are not allowed to sit next to their child in these rows, so all children must be able / willing to watch the show parted from their parents.
During the summer months the rear wall of the theater is usually taken out to allow a fresh breath to flow through the auditorium - as the theater is therefore open all day round then it is also a great place to relax and sit down in the shade for a few minutes if temperature sear too high - even if there is no performance about to begin.
When the park opened in 1992 the Fantasy Festival Stage was an important corner stone of its entertainment program as it was meant to be the one stage for family shows with the famous Disney Characters. And even when the Videopolis with the premier of "Beauty and the Beast" in 1993 moved into the same segment the Fantasy Festival Stage stayed immensly popular as its show back then, called "C'est Magique", did feature Mickey and friends together with some modern Disney-TV toons who especially the young guests love to see and expect to see. In fact the crowds were so huge that over the years additional rows were added to the two side-sections (the ones which are to the side of the director's cabine).
With this popularity another problem showed up. Original plans envisioned the stage only to be used during the summer months. Therefor only a glass roof had been constructed above the auditorium, but the sides and the rear were let open allowing the cold air and wind to move freely through the structure with only the stage positioned in the basement of the Fantasyland Railroad Station. According to the original plan this would have been no problem as it envisioned that the shows would be moved into the Videopolis for the winter months. But then this plan was never realized as the popularity of the shows staged in the Videopolis forbid such a step - not to mention the fact that a seasonal closure of the Fantasy Festival Stage would have reduced the park's capacity.
As a makeshift solution allowing use of the stage also during the winter months plastic curtains and gas-heaters were used to shelter the audience from the cold air in the first winter seasons. Still this couldn't be more than a temporary solution. Soon walls were added to the left and the right of the auditorium (thereby also preventing guests from standing on the stairways leading up and down from the Fantasyland Railroad Station when they showed up late for the show and the auditorium was already roped off) and only shortly later the rear was closed off too finalizing the transformation of an covered stage into a fully enclosed theater.
But none of these steps could solve the main problem of the location: the low capacity which tops at aproximately 500 guests - too often guests who lined up in time have to be turned away due to the popularity of the shows with the Fab Five. This might have been one of the reasons why as of 2001 the theater is no longer used for regular scheduled shows outside the christmas season, which still sees every year the return of Le Noel de Mickey - the only pure christmas stage show at the Disneyland Park since it premiered in 1992. But the Fantasy Festival Stage isn't sitting iddle the rest of the year either. Instead the fully equipped theater is now regularly used for the "Magic Music Days"-program.
But fans are still waiting for a return of Disney stage shows outside the christmas season which could re-establish the theater als important element of the entertainment program at the Disneyland Park.