Fireworks are back at Walt Disney World! Happily Ever After returns to Magic Kingdom July 1, which will be the first time that fireworks light up the night at Walt Disney World since the park closed in March 2020. We can't wait to "look up and reach to the sky" with this iconic nighttime spectacular. And beginning Oct. 1, 2021, a brand-new nighttime spectacular, Disney Enchantment, will illuminate the park all the way from Main Street, U.S.A. to Cinderella Castle as part of Disney World's 50th Anniversary Celebration. No matter which spectacular show you'll be taking in, we've compiled a list of our favorite places to watch fireworks so that you can get the very best view! We've even included the ways you can catch other nighttime entertainment at Magic Kingdom, such as the Electrical Water Pageant.
The Best Spots to Watch Fireworks at Magic Kingdom
If you want to get the full show with the castle projections, or if it’s your first time watching it, we highly recommend staking out a spot at the hub (the area in front of Cinderella Castle) or Main Street, U.S.A. Happily Ever After is more than just fireworks — the projections and lighting are truly incredible and worth seeing at least once. Most showtimes for summer 2021 start at 9:15 p.m., but always double-check the schedule on the day of your visit. With effects from Disney Enchantment extending all the way down Main Street, viewing options will be a little different come October, with more space to take in the show. Don't worry — we'll update this guide with our best advice when the new show debuts, so keep hopping back!
To get a central view, you'll want to arrive at least an hour ahead of time and head straight towards the castle. With the anticipation of fireworks returning, and especially with the debut of an all-new spectacular in October, we expect people will be staking out prime spots two hours or more ahead of time. Get there early for the first few weeks. On typical days, you can be on the edges of the hub if you arrive about half an hour before the show begins. However, if you arrive too close to showtime, you are often directed away from the hub by cast members and channeled further down Main Street.
Before the show starts, cast members will carve out space for foot traffic by using tape on the sidewalks. You'll need to make sure you're within the viewing area and not standing in the designated taped-off walkways, or else you will be asked to move. If you're not a fan of large crowds, we'd suggest arriving extra early so you can find a spot directly in front of a planter or some kind of barrier, so you don't have people on all sides of you. Cast members will instruct people to fill in all available space, so if that's not something you're comfortable with just yet, you may want to consider an alternative viewing spot, which we've detailed below.
In past years, if you wanted a guaranteed spot at the hub, you could reserve a fireworks viewing spot with a Fireworks Dessert Party (currently, these parties are unavailable). At these parties, you could savor delicious treats and relax at Tomorrowland Terrace. Once it's time for fireworks, you could enjoy seated viewing at the terrace or reserved standing room in the Plaza Garden, which is a prime spot in the hub. We hope these parties return soon!
Unconventional Spots to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks
So what if you're not able to snag a prime hub spot to watch the fireworks? While the early frog gets the flies, let's be real: It's not always possible to break away from the fun to stake out a spot. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the fireworks throughout the park. The music plays around Magic Kingdom so you can sing along. We highly recommend Fantasyland as a secondary location. You still get the view over the castle and you can even turn around and watch the exterior fireworks with Beast's castle from Be Our Guest restaurant. Once the show is over, you are in the perfect position to hop on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Peter Pan's Flight with much shorter waits. Just know that generally, the back of Cinderella Castle (and some nearby walkways) is roped off for safety during the fireworks show.
Other great spots include Frontierland, which is less crowded, so you can maximize ride time before and after the show. While everyone will be wading through the crowds by the castle, you can already be enjoying Big Thunder Mountain. We recommend a spot on the bridge by Splash Mountain, which gives you firework reflections over the water, as well.
Head to the entrance of Tomorrowland for another viewing spot — you may even get an angled view of the projections! Enjoy the show and then be ready to hop on Space Mountain to end the night.
There are also limited spots at the Main Street, U.S.A. train station by the entrance, though you should get there early for this vantage point.
Another twist is to enjoy Happily Ever After while you're having fun on rides! Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the Tomorrowland People Mover, Splash Mountain, Astro Orbiter and Dumbo are all great attractions to experience during the fireworks if you time it just right. Keep an eye on wait times during the hour leading up to the show, so you can sync it with the show.
Exiting Magic Kingdom After Fireworks
You sang, you danced, you may have even gotten a little misty — and now, the show is over. So where do you go? Well, expect a mass exodus once Happily Ever After ends. While the park may not be closing, most guests take this as an end-of-the-night signal and start making their way towards the exit. If you have tadpoles, be sure to hang onto hands or secure them in the stroller. If you're not ready to leave, and you're on the fringes of the hub, our suggestion is to duck out to a land or ride to avoid the crowds. Most people will head down Main Street, while others may head through a big gate that cast members open near Tomorrowland that cuts around to the main entrance. If you're ready to leave after the fireworks end, in our experience, that big gate is the best way to go — if you turn towards Main Street, you'll find it nestled just next to the Plaza Inn and Tomorrowland Terrace. For this reason, if we know we're leaving after the show, we tend to stick to the right side of the castle to watch, then make a speedy exit. If you head down Main Street, you may be diverted through some of the shops towards the exit. (You know what that means — if you're hoping to do some evening shopping, you should give it some time after the fireworks end for the foot traffic to die down.) No matter which way you exit, cast members will help direct you.
Because so many people are exiting at once, if you are using Disney transportation, be sure to pack your patience. (We personally find the monorail to be the fastest option back to the parking lot.)
Where to View Fireworks Outside of Magic Kingdom
You don't even need a ticket to Magic Kingdom to enjoy the fireworks! You can utilize the resorts and areas around the Seven Seas Lagoon to get some frogtastic wide views of the fireworks.
The easiest spot to get to is the Transportation and Ticket Center. The area near the ferry boat dock provides excellent straight-on views of Magic Kingdom. The music is still played here, so you can enjoy the show and then have a quick exit to your car with no long waits for the monorail.
Disney's Contemporary Resort
We have to mention one of the best spots outside of the park — California Grill. This rooftop restaurant gives incredible views while enjoying Californian cuisine. Just know you will be getting an off-center view, but this unique vantage point makes up for it. There's even a special observation deck to watch the show. If you're dining during the show, music is piped in and the lights are dimmed. But every dinner guest gets a special perk! If you've eaten at the California Grill at any time during dinner service, you can return to watch the fireworks later from the observation deck — just show your receipt.
There is also a hidden gem of a spot by the walkway between the Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower. If you turn left as you exit the Contemporary, there is limited seating on the balcony beneath the monorail.
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
Grab a Dole Whip and watch from the beaches at the Poly. Or book a reservation at 'Ohana for delicious food (we recommend the noodles) and great views. 'Ohana reopens July 9 and bookings are available now.
The music plays throughout these areas of the Polynesian Village Resort, including Trader Sam's, so you won't miss out on the iconic soundtrack of Happily Ever After.
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Located on the shore, enjoy fine seafood dining at Narcoossee's with an impressive view of the fireworks across the water. Head out to the marina and beach areas for some great outdoor views by the lake.
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Believe it or not, you can enjoy the fireworks from the Fort Wilderness beaches! It is farther away so it's not recommended for your first time watching, but it is a relaxing spot and the music plays here, as well. You'll even get to see the Electrical Water Pageant as it finishes its trek around Seven Seas Lagoon.
Specialty fireworks cruises are back, as well, departing from each of the above marinas.
Special Event Fireworks
While Happily Ever After (and soon to be Disney Enchantment) is the regular nighttime spectacular, Disney offers special firework shows exclusive to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. These shows are full of extra pizzazz with more exterior fireworks that are sure to wow tadpoles and frog parents alike. Back in 2019, we even caught the fireworks from the Transportation and Ticket Center for a wonderful view over the water (hooray for unconventional spots!)
There is also special fireworks for Fourth of July and New Year's Eve, but these have not returned since prior to COVID-19.
Note that for 2021, Disney After Hours Boo Bash will be in place of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and no special fireworks have been announced. Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks will return to Magic Kingdom during the holiday season on select nights, though!
Other Magic Kingdom Nighttime Entertainment
Though Happily Ever After is the main nighttime spectacular for Magic Kingdom, there is still plenty of fun once the sun sets as smaller nighttime entertainment continues.
Electrical Water Pageant
Whimsical sea creatures will light up Seven Seas Lagoon in this nightly water parade. The parade starts at 8:40 p.m. and rotates through the lake for an hour. It is viewable from the Magic Kingdom hotels, as well as Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge.
Once Upon a Time
The Once Upon a Time projection show occurs about half an hour after Happily Ever After, as Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast shares bedtime stories with Chip. See scenes from Disney classics such as "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Frozen." This show is temporarily unavailable.
The "Kiss Goodnight"
Stick around past the official park closing time and you might just hear a special closing announcement. Cinderella Castle lights up for a brief farewell message about half an hour after park close. After a long day, it's that extra pixie dust that adds a nice touch to an already magical day! (So far, the Kiss Goodnight has only hoppened on New Year's Eve as a way to welcome 2021, but we're hopeful it'll make a return soon.)
Other Nighttime Spectaculars
Also returning July 1 is EPCOT Forever, celebrating the past, present and future of EPCOT with fireworks and special effects. Since the fireworks take place above the World Showcase Lagoon, you can easily view them from anywhere around World Showcase. Most showtimes for summer 2021 will start at 10 p.m. With the current showtimes, unfortunately, it is not possible to watch the full shows of both Happily Ever After and EPCOT Forever on the same night. Learn more about EPCOT's upcoming nighttime show, Harmonious, debuting Oct. 1! Both EPCOT Forever and Happily Ever After will sparkle into retirement in late September to make way for these new spectaculars, so catch them while you can! Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios, "The Wonderful World of Animation" projection mapping show will return Aug. 1.
Are you excited that fireworks are back at Disney World? Where will you be watching Happily Ever After? Let us know in the comments below!