Some of the most memorable sights happen at Walt Disney World® when fireworks burst into the air and when night-time shows captivate the imagination. Such are the moments when memories are made. We are often asked by clients where the best viewing spots are at Walt Disney World® to watch the fireworks and night time shows.
In May 2017, "Happily Ever After" replaced "Wishes" as the fireworks show that lights up the sky at Magic Kingdom. Before the fireworks show begins, a castle projection show called "Once Upon a Time" happens -- and Tink's highly recommends you watch it. "Once Upon a Time" lasts about fourteen minutes and is hosted by Mrs. Potts and her son, Chip. Viewers will fly along to Never Land with Peter Pan, enjoy a tea party with the Mad Hatter, dance with Belle and the Beast, and more. After this spell-binding show ends, get ready for some amazing "Happily Every After" Fireworks. Lasting eighteen minutes, spectators who are young and young-at-heart follow along as moments from classic Disney films are revealed. You will experience Woody and his pals as they set about building the castle entirely out of toys, Quasimodo will swing from the castle's turrets, and Maleficent will cause the castle to turn green. And because there always is a little sprinkle of whimsical magic needed in any great fireworks show, look for our beloved Tink to fly across the night sky.
Viewing: If you want a good view inside Magic Kingdom, Tink's suggests you find a spot to plop down near Casey's Corner. Folks gathered around the Crystal Palace also have a great view. There are some spots reserved for VIP experiences and special events, so do be aware of those places. You can go closer to the Castle, but being a bit away allows you to see more of it. If you want to leave right after the fireworks show is over, consider finding a place in front of the park for a quick exit. Once the show ends lots of people turn around and start heading down Main Street to leave the park. If it is really crowded on Main Street when the "Happily Ever After" ends, consider ducking into the shops on either side as you head toward Town Square and the exits. Beware: you might get distracted by merchandise! Another option for viewing "Happily Ever After" is from outside the parks on the beaches at the Polynesian, the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary, and the Wilderness Lodge (some trees were cleared with the latest refurbishment). There is an observation deck at the Contemporary that is a great spot. Bay Lake Tower also has an awesome deck for viewing. If you happen to be eating at the California Grill at the Contemporary, choose a reservation time when the Fireworks take place as you will have an incredible experience laid out right in front of you.
For a walk through the past, present and future, there is no better fireworks show on the planet than at EPCOT. "IllumiNations: Reflections on Earth" takes place around the lagoon in the World Showcase area. There are three parts to the "IllumiNations" story: Part 1: The Earth is Born; Part 2: The Triumph of Life; and Part 3: Hope for the Future. Taken together, the past present and future of Earth celebrate the spirit of humanity. The show is absolutely amazing and remains in your imagination long after you walk out of EPCOT and head back to your resort..
Viewing: Since EPCOT is so large, there are lots of places where you can park yourself to watch "IllumiNations". One issue to be aware of is which way the wind is blowing since there is a lot of smoke during the performance. So don't be caught down wind! Also look around to see if there are any trees, torches, or light poles blocking your view. There will be some areas reserved for VIP experiences and Fast Passes. Another tip: as you look towards the middle of the lagoon try to figure out if you can see all the way to the middle - if you can't you might want to move to a different spot as you will want a clear view. If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts between EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, you will definitely hear the booms and the bangs of the fireworks. You can also head over to the bridge between the Beach Club and the Boardwalk and experience "IllumiNations" from there. While you won't be able to see the low level fireworks and the globe display, you will get to see some of the fireworks that are higher up in the sky. So if you are really into fireworks and night-time shows, Tink's recommends the EPCOT resorts as a splendid place to plant your head on a pillow at night.
May the Force be with you! "Star Wars: A Galactic Experience" first debuted in the Summer of 2016, and it has now become a regularly scheduled fireworks show. Sit back and enjoy the music of John Williams' Star Wars themes as you watch some of your favorite Star Wars characters take center stage. You truly are in galaxies far far away (Star Trek phrases do apply here) as you watch this galactic spectacular unfold. This fireworks show features a lot of pyrotechnic and projections - some super cool imagineering goes on! In addition to the fireworks extravaganza, Hollywood Studios also hosts "Fantasmic!" This night-time show takes place in its own theatre. "Fantasmic!" brings together princesses, heroes and villains as viewers delve into the imagination of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice. By the way, it is fun to experience Mickey's Philharmagic at Magic Kingdom before you see "Fantasmic!" There are a variety of Disney classics that are threaded through this night-time show (Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin, and the Lion King). During the show, when the Evil Queen gathers other villains (Ursula, Cruella de Vil, Scar, and Maleficent) to turn Mickey's dreams into something scary, Walt's beloved Mouse finds a way to save the day.
Viewing: The best viewing area for "Star Wars: A Galactic Experience" is near Grauman's Chinese Theatre (where the Great Movie Ride used to be - boo we miss it). For "Fantasmic!," some areas are already reserved for people who book the "Fantasmic!" Dinner Package (participating restaurants include The Hollywood Brown Derby, Hollywood & Vine, and Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano) or who have a Fast Pass, a Dessert or VIP Experience. But if that doesn't pertain to you, our recommendation is to sit as close to the middle or the back areas for the best views. Be warned: if you sit in the front areas of the theatre, you will get soaked. But if getting wet isn't an issue, Tink's says to go for it and enjoy the fun down front.
There are no fireworks at Animal Kingdom because of the animals. However, Animal Kingdom now stays open after dark on select nights. There is a great night-time show called "Rivers of Light." Set around a lagoon surrounded by DinoLand, Asia, and Discovery Island, "Rivers of Light" uses fountains, water screens, lasers, music, boats and fire to underscore the beauty of animals and the nature that surrounds them. Living in nature and experiencing this is truly part of our human condition.
Viewing: Those who obtain dining packages (at Tiffins or at the Tusker House), or have a FastPass or a VIP experience have special viewing areas. But if this does not pertain to you, our advice is to line up super early - this is one of the newest imagineering extravaganzas at Walt Disney World® so be prepared for lots of people beside yourself who want to see the show.. "Rivers of Light" lasts fifteen minutes and it is amazing!
Final Tips: Some of our Tinkster friends have sensory issues. Our recommendation is to pack some head phones to drown out the noise. Another tip: you can buy magical things at the Parks that light up - there are all sorts of vendors and kiosks that sell Mickey Ears, wands, necklaces, and other things that light up at night - some even blink to the music! This is a great distraction for the kiddos as they patiently wait for the shows and fireworks to start. Bring some snacks in those strollers too, as often times there can be a bit of a wait if you stake out a great viewing spot. Key thing to remember is to have fun during these night-time opportunities at Walt Disney World®!