By Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
9:48 PM EDT, September 5, 2012
More seating will be added for spectators of "Fantasmic," the outdoor, end-of-night show at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
The benches – identical to the ones already in use at the theme park's amphitheater near Tower of Terror – should be in place by the end of the month, Dan Cockerell, vice president of Hollywood Studios, said Wednesday evening.
The new seating will be placed in areas currently designated for guests to stand to watch "Fantasmic," he said, therefore the overall capacity will not rise. About 9,000 folks can watch the show per performance.
Disney researchers interviewed Studios guests and found results that weren't exactly surprising.
"Lo and behold, we discovered that guests that were sitting have a significantly better experience than the ones that were standing," Cockerell said.
Guest satisfaction is key indicator for getting folks to return to Disney theme parks, he said.
"We're looking for more and more ways to kind of get a hassle-free experience for our guests, make it more comfortable for them, more convenient," he said.
Cockerell said he didn't expect big changes coming to the 14-year-old production, which features a slew of Disney characters, music, drama and pyrotechnics.
He said that features tried at Disneyland Resort shows in California, such as the glow-with-the-show mouse ear hats and other kinds of interactivity, could possibly be incorporated.
"We're considering all of that. Something we're learning on both coasts, once we figure out something that works on one coast, let's share it with the other and see if it works on those guests," Cockerell said.
The show continues to get the highest guest rating of all the attractions at Hollywood Studios, he said. More than 90 percent of guests rate "Fantasmic" as "excellent" or better, he said.
The spectacle factor may be the key to their enjoyment, he said.
"I think it's just the magnitude," Cockerell said. "It's just sort of bigger than life."
DBevil@Tribune.com or 407-420-5477
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