Fantasea, is a night-time show with elephants in Phuket. There, I just sucked the fun out of it, in one single sentence. Let me try again, Fantasea is the show to see, in Phuket, but it's more than a show, they've built a park around it, with side shows, carnival games, a large buffet dinner hall, carp ponds, elephant walks and stunning themed gift shops, and I haven't even got to describing the show itself, which is definitely the high point.
A typical tour package including a buffet meal for Fantasea will cost you 1600 baht plus transfer plus booking fee. You can also book just the show and enjoy a meal at the restaurants there, but the buffet is really part of the event. It's served in a large stylish hall, adorned with lights and statues and fluffy cloud ceiling. In a way it's typical of the whole site, well designed, well themed, and the food, well executed. A good choice of Thai food and western food, served in a pleasant way by smiling staff, in stunning surroundings.
The show starts at 9pm with the auditorium open at 8:30pm. The buffet is before the show, I arrived at 7pm, enjoyed my meal, and had some time to explore the shops. And what beautiful shops, some white tile with mirrors, some rich textured Asian themes. There's a good selection of Thai handcrafted gifts too, which adds to the theme.
They could have just made the entrance to the show a simple gate, instead its an elephant temple styled like the temples at Ayutthaya and Siam Reap, but with fountains and light shows and sparkle. Once inside the roof is covered in hanging vines, like a jungle cave, and then we reach security. This is the point at which your bag is searched, and cameras and phones have to be handed over to security, who carefully store it in a padded bag.
There's no video or photography allowed inside, and I would be no exception.
The show is amazing, elephants do stunts, magicians saw members of the audience in half with giant saw tooth blades. Elephants appear from thin air, people turn into tigers, laser drawn elephants play with the cast, there's shadow theatre, comedy, even traditional Thai farm scenes, how did they train those chickens and goats to run across the stage?
My favorite parts of the show was the sky-dancers, who appeared above your head, and dived into the audience, only to be pulled back by bungy ropes. Also what we call the ankle-breaky dance, the dancers step carefully in and out between bamboo sticks. The sticks are snapped together to make the rhythm, and one mis-time and their feet will be hit by the crashing sticks.
The finale is the perfectly trained elephants, doing a performance that puts Lipizzan horses to shame. Lipizzan horses can walk sideways? So what! Thai Elephants dance pirouette with each other!
Once out of the show, you have time to try the carnival stalls, most of which are the knock-this-down-win-a-stuffed-animal kind. After you've spend a few tickets, the stall holder will usually ensure you win something, even if it means giving you an extra dart to throw, or just handing it to you for trying hard.
This show is a must see, if you visit Phuket. Not only that, because there is no video and no photography, the show is so much more enjoyable. I spent far more time enjoying it, than photographing it for others.
Siam Niramit [added]
There's a competing show, called Siam Niramit, also in Phuket. I went to see it, but it's a sepia copy, quite literally. They have a parade in colorful traditional dress, but they light the parade ground with orange sodium lights that wash everything out! Why?? Why have them dress in colorful dress then wash it out with cheap street lighting? Likewise inside, the show is lit in dull orange, giving a sepia color to a sepia performance with sepia joke (yes singular, and that was a labored joke). The food is very good though, better than Fantasea food.
With so much talent in Thailand, learned from childhood, why have an cheap chinese MP3 player playing traditional music!? I suspect bad creative direction.
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