The other day we decided to get real touristy, something we don’t do often, and go see FantaSea, a mini Asian version of Disneyland minus the rides. It’s a bit pricey for a backpacker budget but we were looking for something to do last-minute and it was advertised as a ‘must see’ show in Phuket.
The whole place is so colourful, everything in their Carnival Village is neon, and it feels like someone was on magic mushrooms when designing the place. There are many things to do before the show starts like playing classic carnival games to win stuffed animals, shopping in one of their many clothing, toys, or jewelry stores, dressing in traditional Thai clothing and have your photo taken, or walking through their animal exhibit.
The main attraction is a Vegas style show loaded with special effects, and traditional attire. The story is called Fantasy of a Kingdom and is based on old tales of an ancient kingdom of Kamala (full synopsis here).
The show itself is good entertainment although it’s hard to follow along with the story line, we had a hard time figuring out what things represented. It’s no Cirque du Soleil but it was cool to see the traditional dancing and costumes.
The buffet was actually quite nice, having a lot of options, both western and Thai. It was a good chance for us to try different Thai foods without having to order a whole dish with the risk of not liking it. They have a seafood buffet option as well but we chose not to indulge as the upgrade was an extra 1,100 THB. There are other restaurants to choose from but the buffet is as add on option as part of a package deal when purchasing show tickets.
Things we weren’t too keen about:
- To kill time after having diner and before the show started, we went to see the ‘Tiger Jungle Adventure’ exhibit. There were several different animals on show such as bunnies, mice, and strange ducks (they sure like there little animals here). And then there were the tigers. I hate paying to see caged up animals and have never really done so except for the Australia Zoo in Brisbane, and this is why: There were two tigers on display when we were there, two gorgeous white tigers cooped up in a rather small concrete room with no greenery and only a small pool. One was fast asleep but the other was extremely unsettled, pacing around their lonely concrete only enclosure. He was literally walking circles around a concrete pole, going around it over and over again, eyes wide, pupils as big as they could be and mouth hanging open but not panting. Everyone was is aw, taking pictures and pressing their faces to the glass and all I could think was, it seemed like the poor thing was drugged up. I’ve heard of tigers being drugged so that they are docile for tourists to take photos with, so it would make sense that they would drug them to keep them up and active for tourists to watch. I definitely don’t know any of this for sure, it was just the impression I got, and who knows, maybe they are kept somewhere nicer when not on display but it just didn’t sit right with us. Needless to say I didn’t take any photos and we didn’t stay in the exhibit long.
- Absolutely stunning animals, trained to entertain and walk around with people on their backs. I was able to count at least 14 elephants onstage and 4 outside for riding (whether they were also part of the show, I’m not sure). They all seemed to be rather young, none of them having any signs of tusks and all quite small. They didn’t appear to be mistreated though, and when they walked around, their trainer never hit them or used negative reinforcement, but it still made me uneasy as to how FantaSea could have obtained or how and where these giant beauties are being kept, so we chose not to pay for a ride, but instead fed and cuddled them.
All in all the experience as a whole was alright; the only thing that brought down our personal experience were the animals and how they may or may not be treated. But it’s up to you to decide what you feel comfortable with. It’s your choice to decide where you want your money to go, but in our opinion as travellers, we need to be conscious of what we’re supporting. The choices we make affect the world of tourism and the countries we visit. It’s only because of us that they feel the need to lock up these animals and to galavant them around for entertainment. That being said, the show was good, all of the staff were helpful, friendly, and always smiling, pre show entertainment was fun and being able to dress up in traditional Thai clothing was a unique experience I’m sure we won’t get again, but we didn’t leave feeling all that great about what our money went to.
We’re giving FantaSea as a whole a 3/5 rating because the theme park itself is good fun but the exploitation of what should be, wild animals, for our entertainment just did not sit right with us and we probably wouldn’t pay for it again.
- Show + Buffet Diner = 2,200 THB
- Show only = 1,800 THB
- Show + Buffet Diner = 2,000 THB
- Show only = 1,800 THB
Transport to/from hotel = 300 THB per person
Book online, at your accommodation or at any street stand selling tours.