Phuket's FantaSea is the island's biggest show. With trapeze artists, a cast of hundreds, performing elephants and other animals and an exotic storyline that blends tradition with fantasy you'll have a wonderful evening out here.
Phuket's FantaSea is the island's biggest show. With trapeze artists, a cast of hundreds, performing elephants and other animals and an exotic storyline that blends tradition with fantasy you'll have a wonderful evening out here. But the extravaganza doesn't stop there as FantaSea also hosts one of the biggest buffets in Asia and is set in a theme park that offers carnival-like games, lots of shopping opportunities, a Palace of the Elephants, a Similan Adventure Centre several other food oulets. It's spectacular, it's extravagent, it's impressive and great entertainment value for all.
With building designs that are occasionally wacky, over-the-top costumes, and elephants milling about, Phuket FantaSea has all the subtlety of a mouthful of Thai chillies. But it can’t be avoided; everyone should go once.
Phuket FantaSea bills itself as “the ultimate cultural theme park”, and it’s tough to come up with a better description. The evening peaks with a stage show, but that’s not the only excitement. There’s a village with an assortment of shopping choices – from t-shirts to beachwear to jewellery – as well as carnival games, elephant rides, and restaurants. Everything is big, bright, ornate, and made to impress.
Operations at Phuket FantaSea are slick. Should you let them (and you should), they’ll make sure you’re picked up, fed, entertained, and returned safely to your hotel – all without missing a beat. Transitions from Point A to Point B to Point C are seamless, and there’s always plenty of staff around to keep you heading in the right direction. The size of this well-oiled machine is astounding, and makes its flawless execution that much more impressive.
Food and Fun
The Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant is a perfect example of the park’s grand scale. It cavernous hall seats 4,000 hungry diners, and does so effortlessly. Two long buffet counters serve a mix of Thai and international food, while a changing selection of special dishes get their own kiosks at the front of the room. Wrap up the meal with coffee and a plate of scrumptious bite-sized desserts.
The Golden Kinnaree’s golden exterior, with an intricate peaked Thai-style roof and several statues, is a favourite backdrop for an untold number of pictures annually. But it’s not the only photo op. The Palace of the Elephants, a theatre made to look like a majestic, centuries-old palace – think Angkor Wat – is even more impressive. The luxury boutique is clad in shimmering mirrors and brilliant whites. However, nothing causes shutters to click like the koi pond at the park’s entrance, where a writhing mass of orange, yellow, and white battle for food (available for purchase).
There’s no shortage of ways to pass the time before the show starts. Jump aboard an elephant for a trip around the Songbird Luminarie. Head to Similan Adventure Center, a sea-themed arcade full of games the kids are sure to love. Watch the bartender spin, flip, and toss bottles while dancing a techno-jig at the open-air bar. Shop for that perfect memento; there’s a store (or stall) for every taste and budget. Or visit the photo studio and dress the family in traditional Thai costumes for a unique keepsake.
The Main Event
The theatre opens at 20:30 and guests start filing through security. Cameras aren’t allowed inside, and they take it very seriously. Video cameras, digital cameras, camera phones – basically, everything short of pen and paper that can create an image – must be checked in. The process is quick and painless, and two minutes later you’re in a large hall full of costumed staff, baby elephants, and young tigers, all of which will pose for a photograph with you – for a fee.
The show kicks off in grand style at 21:00. The stage is huge, but the performance space is even bigger. Aisles, ceiling, audience – every part of the theatre is used. While the eye is treated to modern effects like smoke, explosions, lasers, rain, soaring people, the brain gets insights into Thai culture in the form of traditional dances from different regions of the country, shadow puppets, and a fascinating wardrobe. It’s not tough to believe elephants can become accomplished actors, but this show also employs goats, roosters, water buffalo, and doves in supporting roles.
The story isn’t easy to follow, and it doesn’t matter. Loud and funny moments interrupted by quiet, beautiful interludes do a great job conveying the emotion. The end result is a display that’s as dazzling as the sights outside the theatre. Young children, old children, and adult children all enjoy the show.