During our stay in Karon Beach, my family and I were invited to participate in the island’s best known theme park, Phuket FantaSea. Our children have a thing for elephants, and they had been begging to see tigers during our trip, so this was the perfect way to do both. I had heard mixed reviews from friends who had visited previously, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But we were certainly ready to experience some more of the Thai culture and to learn about the story behind the Thai people.
When you book your tickets, you’ll be picked up by the FantaSea team of buses. The coordination of this process is amazing, down to color coding, pick up times around the island and arriving with plenty of time to enjoy the park attractions. You’ll be glad the pick up time is much earlier than the show itself. If you purchased the buffet, it will allow you time to eat and shop. If you purchased the show only, no worries, there is plenty to do and see while you wait for the show.
When we arrived, we felt like we had been dropped off into a Thai version of It’s A Small World at Disneyland. The figurines all around the park, the bright colors and dream-like details, and the whimsical soundtrack all set the scene for the fantasy about to be had. Thai mythology, legends and folklore are built into every aspect of the park. The name “FantaSea” is a combination of the word “Fantasy” and “Sea” to mean “a Sea of Fantasy”. The park was lit up by twinkle lights, colored light displays and bright entrances to each shop and restaurant. There were street handicraft market carts, street food, side shows and games. As for the main attractions, you have the following:
‘Fantasy of a Kingdom’ extravaganza ‘Palace of the Elephants’ theater
Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant Golden Pavilion
Carnival Village shopping paradise Similan Entertainment Center
Viva Bangkok stage theater Magic Mountain
Golden Elephant Cavern Songbird Luminarie
White Tiger Jungle Adventure
We chose to eat at the Golden Kinnaree Buffet Restaurant. This was a hugely impressive dining hall, able to seat 4,000 guests, or 10,000 standing guests. It provided a mixture of Thai and Western foods, spread out around the hall. While my husband and I enjoyed the selection, I would say it was more on the sophisticated side, and didn’t offer my kids much in kid friendly eats. After dinner, we enjoyed a stroll down main street, popping into the many gift shops, enjoying the street shows and even taking pictures with elephants in their fancy show dress. My kids were eager to see the white tigers, so we made our way through a cavernous maze, arriving at a grand display of three white tigers. They were beautiful, and although we couldn’t touch them, my kids were still impressed. Keeping an eye on time, we made sure we arrived to the front of the line for the show. Unless you read the fine details, you wouldn’t know that a half hour before the show, you can take pictures with baby tigers. So we made sure we’d get in first and head straight there for the kids.
Many of the tiger places we’d heard about throughout Thailand, did not treat the tigers nicely, and they were often sedated so that tourists could touch them, hold them and get pictures with them. However, Phuket FantaSea prides itself on its animals and their care. I admit, I expected them to bring out a tiger on a chain and perhaps a little sedated. But to our wonderful surprise, they brought a happy little baby sucking on a bottle to keep it occupied. There, sitting in front of us, with my husband and daughter holding the bottle, was a lively little tiger. It couldn’t have been a better moment for all of us.
Finally, it was show time. The last thing I want to do is give too much information about the show as I want everyone to have the same thrilling experience we did. But I will say this. They have thought of everything, and use every inch of the 3,000 seat theater. The PR director mentioned to me that the show is always sold out, never having a low season. I saw kids of all ages, including my own, engaged for the entire performance, even though it was well past their bed times. I felt like a kid, ooohing and ahhhhing at so many things throughout the performance. If you want to learn about the folklore behind the Thai culture, this show is a must see. We would love to see the show again during our next trip to Thailand.
At the end of the night, as we headed to our color coded buses, I mentioned to the PR director that I felt like I had been in a dream for the past five hours…it was that amazing.