One of the best ways to highlight the end of your day at Disney World is by seeing the fireworks. Disney World fireworks are likely not anything like the fireworks shows you have seen before. There is a great deal of technology, ingenuity and choreography that goes into the three major fireworks shows at Walt Disney World that makes them a giant step above what is done at most 4th of July celebrations and even other theme parks.
So what are the fireworks shows? Magic Kingdom offers Wishes which is, without argument, the most amazing, not to be missed, well choreographed, fireworks show of all time. Epcot offers Illuminations which is an awe-inspiring combination of music, fireworks and laser show projected on a globe in the middle of the lake. Hollywood Studios shows Fantasmic where you experience how Mickey overcomes his nightmares. It takes place in a giant, outdoor amphitheater seated around a lake and mountain where the show takes place. While all of these shows have some fireworks, Wishes is a true fireworks spectacular. Illuminations and Fantasmic have a fireworks component but they are not the primary focus of the show.
1) Check the time in advance and arrive early The shows don’t take place at the same time every night. Check out the times well in advance of your trip so you can work these shows into your daily plan. Arrive early to stake out a spot (see #3 about where the best spots are!). How early you ask? That depends on how crowded the parks are on each day and if you have any special access to see the show. For crowded park days, I suggest that you need to be in the right spot for Wishes, Illuminations and Fantasmic at least an hour or even 90 minutes in advance. When the parks are not crowded, you can get away with as little as 30 minutes. Since Fantasmic actually takes place in a theater, that theater will close completely when it reaches capacity and that does happen regularly.
2) Prepare young children Fireworks can be loud and that can be an unexpected and unwelcome surprise for the little ones in your family. The Disney fireworks at Magic Kingdom are shot off very close to the viewing area making it particularly loud. The lights are turned down around the World Showcase viewing area making it rather dark unexpectedly. During the Fantasmic show, a giant dragon appears and, at one point, the moat in front of the seating area catches fire and you can feel the heat for a few moments. These are all events that can turn even the most courageous toddler into a puddle of frightened, crying goo. So what can you do to make sure that your child is prepared?
I highly recommend watching videos with your child on YouTube before your trip to let them know what to expect. Will it ruin the surprise? It might….but how much will you all enjoy the surprise of a toddler in a full terror melt down? Don’t worry, the show is so impressive in person, you won’t be sorry.
3) For the best viewing, pick the right spot There is a lot of disagreement as to what the “best” spot is for these shows. It really can be a matter of opinion but I will give you mine.
For Wishes, I recommend being on Main Street, as close to the castle as possible but still far enough away so that you are not looking straight up the whole time. Make sure you have an unobstructed view of the castle and the area of the sky above it.
For Illuminations, I recommend anywhere in the World Showcase with an unobstructed view of the center of the lake. (watch to see which way the wind is blowing because the show does produce some bothersome smoke) The bridge between the UK and France or the bridge in Italy are my personal favorites.
For Fantasmic, do not sit in the first few rows since you can get wet and the heat when the lake catches fire can be intense. Anywhere in the middle of the theater, about halfway up from the front row is a good spot. The Mickey and Pocahontas seating sections are in the middle of the theater.
4) Get preferred viewing This tip is not for everyone but it works wonders for people. There are several ways to get some sort of preferred viewing for these shows. Your can make reservations for the Wishes or Illuminations Dessert Party, Fireworks Cruise, Fantasmic dinner package, California Grill and several other opportunities. In some cases, you can even get a Fast Pass for a preferred viewing area although we do not think that is the best use of your Fast Passes. There are so many choices here that I think I am inspired to write a separate blog post on all of the preferred viewing options. Stay tuned for that one.
5) Exercise patience, don’t try to rush for the exit when the show is over I admit that I have been guilty of violating this rule more than once but it always ends badly. You would think I would have learned by now. At the end of a long day, I can almost hear the bed at the resort calling me home and I can definitely hear my feet in protest to my next step. This prompts me to rush for the exit the minute I hear the last firework boom along with 10,000 of my fellow humans, many of whom have strollers or wheelchairs which will, inevitably, strike the back of my foot. Not to mention that being shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other guests who have spent all day in the Florida sun is, well, not a pleasant smelling experience. Trust me, wait a bit and hang back.
What do you think? What are your favorite strategies for seeing the Fireworks shows at Disney World?