Where to Watch Happily Ever After Fireworks at WDW
Wishes fireworks farewell was a tough night for me. Jimminy Crickett’s narration began on that Spring evening, and for once, I wasn’t the only one reaching for a tissue. As enormous bursts of light cast a bright white glow on my face for the final time, I closed my eyes for the briefest moment, not wanting to miss a moment, and made a wish on a Disney- made shooting star just like the soundtrack instructs. As quickly as it began, the final booms and streaks of light faded into the darkness, and Wishes became a thing of the past. I knew the new fireworks show on the horizon was set to be an epic one, and I was right. But even I didn’t anticipate what came next.
Happily Ever After is the newest nighttime spectacular lighting up the skies above Cinderella Castle nightly. The show at Magic Kingdom, which made its debut last year, is the first of its kind that fully immerses viewers with digital projection mapping technology, a newly written and recorded soundtrack, and of course, enormous explosions of fire and light. Sounds great, right? Well with any new show an increase in excited park-goers is to be expected, but a new show at Magic Kingdom always seems to draw the crowds like no other making prime viewing spots for this show hard to come by. Yes, viewing spots on Main Street that were once great for Wishes are no longer the same now that a new show has taken over. How can you go about getting a great spot for Happily Ever After? Learn from my mistakes!
Where NOT to Watch
The first time I saw Happily Ever After, I had secured what I thought was going to be a fantastic viewing spot; sightly to the left of Cinderella Castle slightly in front of Casey’s Corner. And it would have been a great spot…if I were seeing Wishes. I could see the entire sky perfectly well, but only the top spires of Cinderella Castle were visible to me, so I wouldn’t have a problem seeing the fireworks!
Wrong! The digital projection mapping the Imagineers created plays a large part in the overall viewing experience of Happily Ever After (HEA). For Wishes, Cinderella Castle served as sort of a backdrop for the fireworks, not really playing a large part in the show. With HEA, prime castle viewing is a must, and seeing just the top portion just won’t cut it for the best show experience, which is why I recommend not watching from Main Street. Even if you arrive early and have a spot right at the foot of the castle, there will always be part of the show that you won’t be able to see.
So, you chose to ignore my advice and choose to watch the show the traditional way. If you’re watching from inside the park and insist on the Main Street viewing experience, arrive early. Very, very early…as in about 60-90 minutes before the show. Disney has cut down on the amount of fireworks in the show in comparison to Wishes, so make sure you and your party can see the entire castle, base to spire, when your’re choosing your spot.
*Tip: There is a little ‘hill’ on Main Street right before the Partners statue creating a natural high ground. This is the best spot to catch the show from inside the park!
Now that we’ve covered where not to watch from, let’s get to the good stuff!
A Fantasy of Fireworks
Yes, the projections are a large part of what makes HEA impressive, but if you’re like me, you’re all about the pyrotechnics! I’ve seen the show once from Main Street and don’t think I’ll ever feel the urge to do it again, at least not until some of the novelty wears off. But If I’m staying in the park during the show, I definitely want to catch the fireworks! So I had to figure out a way to do just that without being stuck on a crowded Main Street with a bad view.
The answer came in the land of dreams, almost like a fantasy. Can you guess which Magic Kingdom land I’m talking about? Yep, Fantasyland is the hands down best place to watch the fireworks from if you’re in the park! Head back to the bridge leading to Be Our Guest restaurant and turn your eyes to the sky. The fireworks completely encompass you and as you turn your head to look from explosion to explosion, you’ll feel like you’re right in the center of the show! For a firework fanatic like me, this is prime viewing!
One Last Look Back
Park days are long, especially for young guests who have been up and at it since rope drop. It’s unfair to expect children to be able to stay awake and not get cranky as the wait for the fireworks show becomes 20, 40, 50, 60+ minutes, and I don’t blame the countless parents I see forgoing the show for the parking lot.
Instead of opting for the monorail, though, choose to leave the park before the show starts and take the boat back to Transportation and Ticket Center. After you disembark, don’t head for your car just yet, walk up the gangway and simply turn around. The boat launch of the boats at Transportation and Ticket Center is a great viewing spot for HEA! Your sightline from the dock is directly in line with the castle, and the choreography will not be lost as the soundtrack is played from the boat launch!
Fireworks on the Beach
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, the crowds inside the park for HEA are immense, overwhelming, and not really worth fighting for a good spot. The projections are a large part of the show from inside the park, but I found myself frustrated when I couldn’t see all of them from my spot, and I spent more timing craning my neck to see the bottom of the castle than I did enjoying the fireworks, which are much, much more exciting to look at than projections.
In my opinion, HEA is best viewed from outside of Magic Kingdom with a drink in hand and toes in sand. For a relaxing firework viewing spot complete with a beach and a head-on view of Cinderella Castle, exit the park and take the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Leave enough time to get a drink from the Oasis Lounge to-go (thank me later), and hit the beach!
The Polynesian is the best place to watch the show in my opinion, as the sheer magnitude of the pyrotechnics take center stage. I am a firm believer that a nighttime show at Magic Kingdom should focus mainly on fireworks-not projections- and while you can still see the changing castle projections from the Polynesian beach, the fireworks are what will draw your focus, and I can guarantee, they’re worth watching! I have seen the show from all of the locations listed here, and top honors certainly goes to the Polynesian as the best place to watch from. So, where will you choose to catch the show? Let me know in the comments!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!