Walt Disney World Makes Changes to Its Maleficent Dragon Following Fantasmic! Fire

Fantasmic! Fire
Credit: @neilthefurious (left), Disney (right)

On Saturday, April 22, 2023, one Disney Park’s iconic Maleficent Dragon suffered an unfortunate fire during a performance of Fantasmic!. Thankfully, all of the Cast Members and performers working at the show were safe, and Guests were all evacuated to areas of the Park that were not affected by the fire.

While the incident is definitely causing a lengthy closure for Fantasmic!, its effects are spreading to Walt Disney World with changes to how Guests will see this Disney villain in the Park.

Fantasmic! at Disneyland Park

Credit: Disney

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The fire broke out shortly before the finale of Fantasmic! at Disneyland Park on Saturday night during the point in the show when Mickey, ironically enough, defeats Maleficent and the other villains who had invaded his dream. Initially, some Guests watching the show did not realize something was wrong given the context of this point in the show, but as the fire quickly spread it became clear that this was a serious issue and performers and Guests were removed from the area.

Several videos of the incident were shared from Disneyland shortly after Guests cleared the area:

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Saturday’s incident understandably forced the closure of Fantasmic!, while an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire and ensure that all of the proper repairs are made before the show is able to reopen. (While Disneyland’s version of Fantasmic! has a B-Mode so it can operate without the Dragon, it is unclear how extensive damage to the rest of the sets are and how this could impact the show’s closure.)

At Walt Disney World, theme park reporter Scott Gustin confirmed with Disney that the Maleficent Dragon featured in the Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy parade will operate without its flame effects. Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will remain unchanged during this time as the Dragon used in this version of the show is an entirely different operation from its Disneyland counterpart.

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This weekend’s incident marks the first time there has been a fire with the Dragon in Fantasmic! but it is actually not the first time Disney has dealt with a Maleficent fire altogether. In 2018, the Dragon used in the Festival of Fantasy parade caught on fire, and the parade operated for several weeks following the incident without Maleficent. Thankfully, no Guests or Cast Members were injured in this incident either.

Upcoming Fantasmic! Changes

While Fantasmic! at Disneyland remains closed for the foreseeable future, and while the Dragon effects will continue to operate at Hollywood Studios, there is one more change in the works for the show.

The east coast version of Fantasmic! is set to close for refurbishment temporarily and will be unavailable on May 1 and 2, 2023. This refurbishment was already planned prior to the Disneyland incident and will likely consist of routine maintenance work that typically takes place once annually at the show.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."