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Disneyland Article
Will Disneyland Spend Millions To Bring Back The Fantasmic Dragon
Mercury News
Brady Macdonald
“Fantasmic” fans all want to know one thing now that the beloved nighttime spectacular has returned after a yearlong hiatus following a terrifying blaze that destroyed the show’s signature dragon: When will Disneyland bring back the massive animatronic?

Disneyland officials have said “Fantasmic” would not include the dragon figure when the show returned, but instead feature new special effects during the battle scene between Sorcerer Mickey and Maleficent.

“Fantasmic” returned on Memorial Day Weekend with a 35-foot-tall Maleficent on a cleverly disguised scissor lift not seen on a regular basis since 2009 when the 45-foot-tall audio-animatronic dragon first debuted.

What Disneyland hasn’t said is whether the animatronic beast with a problematic history will rear her fire-breathing head ever again or remain in retirement.

Disneyland has become extremely skilled at snatching opportunities from disaster.

Disneyland leaders used the yearlong pandemic closure of the Anaheim theme park as an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourist destination. The result: The recently-approved $1.9 billion DisneylandForward proposal that maps out the next four decades of growth at the theme park resort.

Murphy the cursed dragon nicknamed after Murphy’s Law has had a long and troubled history at Disneyland.

Why spend millions bringing back a constant source of headaches if nobody complains about the returning show or even notices the difference?

It’s a question that Disneyland brass is almost certainly contemplating as “Fantasmic” emerges from the ashes and presents the park with another chance to make lemonade out of lemons.

Leaving “Fantasmic” dark for a year saved money that would have otherwise been spent on performers, backstage crew, pyrotechnics and other special effects for a show that likely costs five figures per night to stage.

The dragon-free show gives Disneyland something to promote at the beginning of the summer when nothing new is really happening at the parks.

Nighttime spectaculars like “Fantasmic” are essential to the Disneyland business model that relies on evening shows to persuade visitors to stay longer and spend more money in the parks. The “Fantasmic” dining packages that bundle a meal with a reserved viewing spot almost certainly cover the cost of putting on the show.

The money saved on replacing Murphy can be plowed into a final push to complete the transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure which is set to debut in late 2024.

How much would a new “Fantasmic” animatronic dragon cost?

Animatronics cost anywhere from $10,000 to well over $1 million for just one figure, according to the Garner Holt Productions website.

“Detail, scale, fluidity of motion and many other factors contribute to how much the unique design and fabrication of world-class animatronics will cost,” according to the Garner Holt Productions website.

The “Fantasmic” dragon created by Garner Holt Productions is one of the largest animatronics ever built and has more functions than almost any animatronic figure at Disneyland, according to Garner Holt Productions.

“It is one complex creation,” Garner Holt wrote in a 2012 blog post. “I love it because the character is just so extreme.”

The “Fantasmic” dragon featured 60 microprocessors to keep the animatronic perfectly in sync. The dragon’s head had a special effects package that triggered fire, mist and lights.

“Nothing compares with the complexity and enormity of this character, but the show payoff is equally enormous,” Garner Holt wrote.

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