The Fantasyland Theatre of today is home to Mickey and the Magical Map. This stage should not be confused with the other Fantasyland Theater, which closed in 1981. The difference between the use of the British and American spellings of “theater” may be coincidence, or it may have been to help distinguish these very different attractions. The Theatre is used for live performances. But the Fantasyland Theater was used for showing recorded videos.
The Theater opened as the Mickey Mouse Club Theater shortly after the rest of Disneyland on August 27, 1955. Along with The Canal Boats of the World and a lot of Tomorrowland, the Theater wasn’t quite ready for opening day of Disneyland. Regardless, the Mouseketeers performed in Fantasyland as part of the Disneyland Grand Opening. Since this was several months before the Mickey Mouse Club first aired, this was the Mouseketeers’ debut to the world. The theater was also special for the Mickey Mouse Club because, at one point, it was home to 3D Jamboree. This 3D movie was the only in-color production by the original Mouseketeers. It included two shorts, Melody and Working for Peanuts
Like many 3D theaters scattered around Disney parks today, the Mickey Mouse Club Theater changed its show periodically. Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Mickey’s Trailer, Through the Mirror, The Band Concert, Pecos Bill, and It’s Tough to Be a Bird were all shown in the theater at one point. For six months in the 70s, it also ran a live music education program. To fit this theme better, the theater changed it’s name to the Fantasyland Theater in 1964.
It’s interesting to note that the Main Street Cinema was also an opening day attraction, so there were times with two theaters showing Mickey Mouse cartoons in Disneyland. The two theaters have very different structures. The Main Street Cinema provides a central grand stand, from which multiple cartoons can be watched around the room. The Fantasyland Theater features a single screen, and had 400 seats. This made the theater more like the Tomorrowland Theater than like the Main Street Cinema.
As is often the case with theaters in theme parks, the Theater was not the most popular attraction around. So when Fantasyland received it’s overhaul to convert from the circus tents into the current Bavarian Village, the theater closed. This put its last performance in 1981. Today, the Mickey Mouse Club Theater’s space is occupied by Pinocchio’s Daring Journey. The Tomorrowland Theater opened in 1986. The decision to close the Fantasland Theater was several years before the new theater in Tomorrowland was being considered. But the Imagineers were likely thinking about how the new Captain Eo show could serve as a more popular replacement to its Fantasyland counterpart.