One of the most magical parts of a visit to Disneyland is seeing the fireworks at the end of the night. The Frog Family members are fireworks junkies, especially Disneyland fireworks. Over the years, we've viewed spectacular shows from different spots both inside and outside the parks. We have varying favorite locations based on our time limit, plans and location. This guide to the best places to view Disneyland fireworks includes locations that work for any fireworks show but especially Disneyland Forever (which returned June 7, 2019). Because the show is heavy in projection, ideally you'll want to view Disneyland Forever fireworks from one of the four main viewing areas.
What to Expect When Viewing Disneyland Forever
When Disneyland Forever debuted as part of the Disneyland Diamond Celebration, it forever changed the way we viewed Disneyland fireworks and set the course for future shows. Disneyland Forever introduced projection technology that displayed the images not just on the castle, but also on the buildings of Main Street, U.S.A., the façade of “it’s a small world” and water screens at Rivers of America. The technology was then applied to the return of older existing shows (such as Remember … Dreams Come True, Halloween Screams and Believe … In Holiday Magic) that have run since Disneyland Forever went away (but luckily not forever).
The projection technology made the classic shows even more magical and was used to create new shows like Together Forever and the recently ended Mickey’s Mix Magic. The projection viewing locations around the park help to spread out the crowds and gives viewers multiple ways to experience the fireworks besides just cramming in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Disneyland Forever also includes other surprises and special effects to immerse viewers in the show, and those may vary by location.
Disneyland Forever has a toadally amazing soundtrack with seven themed sections featuring characters from “Peter Pan,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” “The Lion King,” “The Jungle Book,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Frozen” and more. It evokes nostalgia for the history of Disneyland and Disney movies new and old, and I’ll admit it has caused me to shed a tear or two. Now I can shed tears of joy at its return! Below, I will discuss the various viewing areas so you can find your own best place to view Disneyland Forever so you can end your night with a bang.
What if the fireworks are canceled?
An advantage to watching Disneyland Forever is that there will still be a show even if the fireworks get canceled. Canceled? What? Does that really happen? If there are high winds at altitude, the fireworks may be canceled. In fact, we’ve seen shows that got started normally with fireworks, but then, partway through, dangerous winds picked up and the fireworks stopped while the rest of the show went on without missing a beat. It used to be a big letdown when the fireworks got canceled before or during the show, especially if you had staked out the perfect spot. But we have exciting news! If Disneyland Forever fireworks get canceled, you may get treated to Mickey's Mix Magic instead. This popular show (with projection, music and special effects) was designed to go off with or without fireworks. It will have you dancing in the Disneyland streets and happy that DJ Mickey is there to spin some magic for you. So, "C'mon everybody get your ears on. It's a good good good good time!"
Check out our video of the recently ended Mickey's Mix Magic fireworks show, as seen from Main Street!
Best Places to View Disneyland Fireworks Inside the Park
Inside Disneyland Park, the fireworks are extraordinary. Any fireworks show creates a nostalgic, emotional journey through light and sound. Enhancements such as narration, sound and music make it worth the effort to see it in the park. These elements blend with fireworks and special effects (lighting, fire, lasers and projection) to provide a magical finale to your visit. Shows are generally at 9:30 p.m. each night.
Watching Disneyland fireworks from Main Street, U.S.A.
Main Street, U.S.A. is our number one choice for watching Disneyland Forever. Stand in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. (from Central Plaza to the Train Station, between the buildings) for the show. You'll get the iconic castle view in the distance, are treated to projections all around you and snow falls. In Disneyland Forever, there are elements that pop out of the buildings' roofs and other special effects that you won't get anywhere else. This is also the best location for making a quick exit after the show.
Let’s talk strategy. You’ll see people sitting on curbs before the show, but the best view is from the middle of the street. You’ll have to judge the crowds to know when to hop in place. Eye up the area an hour before the show, but you may get lucky on less-crowded nights and hop in place maybe 30 minutes (or less) before the show on other nights.
If the street still looks empty, don’t disappear into a store for long, or you may come out a minute later and realize that everyone suddenly appeared in the street. The cast members will announce to the curb-sitters that the best view is in the middle, and everyone moves in at once. Standing in the area across from Gibson Girl should put you in a great spot to view the main projection, as well as fireworks and castle effects. Plus, it snows there!
On nights where there is a nighttime parade run (such as the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade through Sept. 30, 2019), you'll have to wait for the parade to pass by before hopping from the curbs and sidewalks into the street. You can usually get a good spot by just waiting for the parade to pass.
If you stand towards the back of Main Street, U.S.A. in the circle in front of the flag pole, you are slightly raised above the street crowds. You cannot see the projection as well as the people between the buildings, but you can get a pretty good overall view of the show with less obstruction from trees. Just position yourself so light poles are not blocking your view. (We unfortunately can't help you when it comes to other guests holding up cell phones or putting kids on their shoulders to block your view. They block us, too.) That spot puts you even closer to the park exit if you are leaving after the show.
Check out our video of Disneyland Forever, as seen from Main Street!
Getting the iconic castle view
Usually the best fireworks view with the most effects and Disney magic is right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s a great spot to see Disneyland Forever if you are okay with waiting at least two hours for a good viewing location in front of the castle. You can see projection on the Matterhorn from there — and there are some fun surprises coming from the Matterhorn in Disneyland Forever.
You can stand further back around the hub to get a pretty good view, but trees and distance can make it harder to see the projections. You’ll want to grab a location that is close to the castle and near the Tomorrowland side of the traffic circle with a view of the Matterhorn. There are a lot of trees, so choose a spot that does not have a tree (or umbrella) blocking your view of the castle. Unfortunately, some of the best, centered spots are reserved for people who booked VIP tours or other packages. When in doubt, always ask a cast member for their advice on where to watch in that area. Some areas are designated walkways. You can also get an OK or slightly obstructed viewing spot here closer to showtime, but if you want a really close spot, you’ll have to put in some waiting time.
If you are deciding between the castle location and Main Street, U.S.A., we enjoy the Main Street, U.S.A. viewing with projections on the buildings, snowfall, special effects and the castle ahead in the distance. Plus, you can invest less time than in securing a castle view. Snow does not fall right in front of the castle, but it is the best spot for viewing Tinker Bell and close castle fireworks.
If you do decide camp out for the front-row view of the castle, there will be people walking in front of you because that becomes a walkway. It can be very distracting and take away from your experience. It's not perfect, but sometimes the best places to view Disneyland fireworks are those where you can find room to see them.
If a nighttime parade is running during your visit, you'll need to hop in place early for a parade location that is also close by the spot where you want to watch the fireworks. That means scouting out your spot about two and a half hours before the parade.
One of the best places to view Disneyland Forever is near "it's a small world." The projection is clearest on “it’s a small world” and the fireworks are close by. The fireworks get shot off behind Toontown. (Mickey never seems to complain about that, does he?) While the show is off to the left of "it's a small world," you can see and hear the fireworks well. The clear view of the projection makes this a special viewing area.
The viewing area can vary for this show. Sometimes cast members close the “it’s a small world” ride and move the viewing area back, closer to the raised areas across from "it’s a small world.” They will put a rope up along the edge of the brick area. BONUS: You'll have a lot of choices in elevations with steps and raised areas that can get you above the crowd. Other times, you can get closer to the fence in front of the ride. It depends on winds at elevation. For past fireworks shows, this area tended to be way less crowded, but we think the secret is out. You can still get great viewing at this location without the same time investment as a castle location.
When should you hop in place? Depending on other nighttime entertainment in the park some nights are easier than others. If there is a nighttime parade, hop in place early for the parade and you will be in good shape to watch the fireworks that follow. On other nights you can hop in place 20 to 60 minutes, depending on park crowdedness. We suggest bringing a blanket and sending a runner for turkey legs and chimichangas at Edelweiss snacks (Mobile Order available) to snack on while you wait. Many people remain sitting on steps, benches and the ground right in and near the raised areas, which might good for tired families.
Here’s how to get the best view of Disneyland Forever at "it’s a small world.” You want a clean, clear view of the front panel under the clock face, so make sure that pesky attraction sign is out of your way. The sign has a hinge on the left. Cast members will open the sign and keep it that way through the show, so position yourself so that you are not behind it and that it will not block your view of the show or the fireworks. In general, you'll want the least-obstructed view of the entire front of the "it's a small world" facade. We like standing more to the right for this show.
Viewing from Rivers of America
Rivers of America is one of our favorite in-park locations for viewing the fireworks because you can usually time it before or after a showing of Fantasmic! (when it runs).
If you are watching the 9:00 p.m. Fantasmic! show, just stay in place after the show ends and watch the 9:30 fireworks show from there.
You'll have about three minutes between the end of Fantasmic! and the beginning of the fireworks — that’s two shows from one location! The less traveling you do in the park around fireworks time, the easier it is. Stay put, and you will not be disappointed. You'll hear the music and narration, and the projections will be shown on three water screens. We have watched from the tiers below the entrance to French Market, and the fireworks were perfectly centered above the Fantasmic! stage between two water screens.
Viewing Disneyland fireworks from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Some of the Disneyland fireworks are shot off just behind Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, making that land a great place to view the Disneyland fireworks. It's a new favorite spot to watch the fireworks (once you've experienced the full show in all its glory, of course). But please note that this is not an official viewing area. There is no projection, music or other effects that you would otherwise experience in the official viewing areas, because fireworks are not thing in that galaxy, far far away. The cast members talk about the bursts as a celebration or even a battle. So if you want to catch the "celebration," get in place just a few minutes early. We found great viewing just outside Docking Bay 7, on the raised area overlooking the spires and the Millennium Falcon. The fireworks are very big there because you are so close, and the view of the beautiful spires certainly adds to the show.
Best Places to View Disneyland Fireworks Outside of the Park
The Disneyland Forever projection takes place only inside Disneyland Park. You can catch some of the fireworks from other locations. Even though we prefer watching the fireworks from inside the park, there are several great viewing locations outside of the park that allow you to see the larger and higher explosions. It's not ideal, but sometimes your Disneyland day doesn't allow for proper fireworks time. Your tadpoles may be too tired, you don't have a park ticket/valid pass or you might just need a more relaxing, crowd-free location.
View from your hotel room or balcony
Some on-site and off-site hotel rooms, or even hotel pool decks, have great fireworks views. You can dress your tadpoles in their jammies, watch the show and then hop into bed. It’s HEAVEN not being miles and miles from your nice warm bed! We have watched them from the Marriott Courtyard on Harbor Boulevard near the park entrance (as low as $140 a night). Any of the hotels in that area may offer a great view of the action, but be sure to request a room with a fireworks view or find out if they have a pool deck or lounge with a view. If you are staying at the Disneyland Hotel or Disney's Grand Californian, the concierge lounges provide views of the fireworks. Many concierge rooms at the resort hotels offer fireworks views with the soundtrack piped in for full effect. (By the way, we offer discounts on Los Angeles hotel rooms near Disneyland!)
Hop to the pool deck at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel
You can view the fireworks from the third-floor pool deck at Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, complete with music and narration. You do not need a room key to get in. The button on the elevator even has a fireworks viewing choice! When you exit the doors toward the pool area, make an immediate right. You will pass a bar (drinks or snacks before the show, anyone?) and see people lining up at the railing looking toward Downtown Disney. You can arrive at this spot shortly before fireworks time. If you are not staying near the resort, you can park in Downtown Disney (check prices and validation requirements) or park in the adjacent hotel parking garage (check fees in advance). This is a free, non-stressful way to view fireworks and get to hear the music and dialogue from the show. We like getting the music played for free. Free stuff is our jam! If you're into freebies, here's a blog post with lots of tips on finding free (or almost free) things to do at Disneyland.
Watch from the Mickey and Friends parking structure
We also like to watch the show from the roof of the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Sometimes, we leave the park 30 to 45 minutes before the show to watch from the roof for a quick getaway after a full day in the park. Other times, we simply walk there from Downtown Disney and take an escalator ride up. It never disappoints. Just be aware that the fireworks usually set off many car alarms in the lot, so that can detract from the experience. There are large structures for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, so that now blocks the views of the in-park show, but you can still experience the large bursts. You can no longer see the castle from the structure. We have also discovered that you can see the Disneyland fireworks from the much further Toy Story parking lot, as well.
Watch from the Esplanade or Downtown Disney
You can walk to the Esplanade between the park entrances to get a view of the fireworks. It's free and within walking distance (and shuttle distance) from many hotels. You can't see the castle from there, but you can see the higher fireworks. Sit on the Disney California Adventure side of the Esplanade.
At the other end of Downtown Disney, you can see the fireworks from the railing across from the LEGO Store, between the Monorail and Tortilla Joe's (although there are some palm trees that may enhance or obstruct your view; it’s all a matter of how you look at it). You can find a great and less-obstructed Downtown Disney fireworks view between Splitsville and Tortilla Jo’s. Also, just outside of the security checkpoint at the Downtown Disney parking lot, people will gather to watch the show. When facing the Downtown Disney entrance, stay to the far right. There is a large open space that used to be part of the valet area. You can watch from there without even having to go through security check. Park at Downtown Disney for easy access.
If you want to see fireworks from outside the park, there's a new spot to consider. The Fifth —Anaheim's only rooftop bar and restaurant — is a neat and stylish setting. The Fifth is located on the fifth floor roof of the Grand Legacy at the Park.
We checked it out recently (because you know, "research") and The Fifth has some pluses and minuses. Pluses include a kid-friendly environment (up until 10 p.m., when it becomes 21 and over) with a relaxed vibe and great views of the parks. You can also catch a distant view of the top of World of Color. The Fifth offers different themed entertainment each night. We enjoyed dancing to the live band. Leap danced like it was our honeymoon all over again.
The negatives include limited parking. Expect to get diverted to the nearby Anaheim Garden Walk parking structure for a 10- to 15-minute walk back to The Fifth. Plan on paying $6 to $7 for parking. It's best to walk from your hotel or grab a Lyft or Uber. Be sure to tell your waiter you used Uber to get a discount on your bill. You can make reservations only up until 7:30 p.m., which can add up to a hefty bill of eating and cocktails while waiting for that 9:30 p.m. fireworks show. They are closed Mondays and have a cover charge Fridays and Saturdays. Don't froget to bring a sweatshirt!
The biggest issue of all is that if the fireworks get canceled (as they quite often do for wind and weather), you are out all that money and time. Obviously, the disappointment is the same whether you waited three hours in the park for that perfect view or were planning to view outside the park. (At least if you are in the park you may get an alternate show.) Can you justify dropping around $100 on food and drink at a location because you wanted to watch the fireworks, and then they do not happen? If you plan to eat out and think fireworks would simply be a bonus, you may justify the gamble.
Guess what? The night we visited The Fifth, there was no fireworks show because it was too windy! We took the news in stride (because — drinks), and we used the experience as a warning to our readers. We recommend The Fifth, as long as your expectation of the fireworks is just a bonus. Don't go there only for the fireworks.
Other fireworks viewing spots around Anaheim
There are many other places to catch a view of the Disneyland fireworks around Anaheim. We have even caught the show from Interstate 5 when driving by at fireworks time. (We did not stop on the freeway. The 5 is bad enough.) We have heard of street locations and even gas stations with views, but with little tadpoles to keep safe, we recommend watching from a location away from traffic.
Calculating a fireworks cancellation
Why does the show get canceled? If there are winds at altitude, they will not shoot fireworks off. It may seem pretty calm where you are standing, but they send up a weather balloon to check on things up above. If the winds are too strong or blowing in the wrong direction, they will cancel the show. Usually, Disneyland does not officially cancel the show until right at the scheduled show time. Sometimes they make announcements that the show will likely be canceled, but only the people in the park get that memo. Sometimes they will delay the show's start for up to 15 minutes. We have even been there when they started the show, but then shut it down right in the middle.
We watch the way the wind is blowing the flag on the pole at the Main Street, U.S.A. Train Station. If it is blowing toward Frontierland, it seems that fireworks might not happen. If it is blowing gently toward Tomorrowland, we may be in the clear. Ideally, we like to see that it is not blowing at all. A noticeable breeze is bad news for the show.
Before you go through the task of narrowing down our list of the best places to view Disneyland fireworks, we recommend not investing a lot of time, energy and money in doing it. Yes, if you are in the park, it can be worth it to take the time to get the right location. Do not invest too much in an outside location. Why? Because the scheduled fireworks may not go off as planned, and the show is simply much better in the park. If you choose to watch from outside, use a free locations with easy access.
If you are in the park when the show gets canceled, make the best of it. Enjoy Mickey's Mix Magic. Watch the projections up close — chances are, if you have already seen the show before, you will realize all of the projection details you might have missed while you were too busy gazing at fireworks. You might catch the next Fantasmic! show, which never disappoints, or knock some rides off your list. If you're in the park, it makes sense to stay in the park until closing to continue the fun. Enjoy it, since much of the crowd leaves at this point and wait times dive. Have a backup plan in place (such as getting ice cream or rushing to hit the Fantasyland rides such as Peter Pan's Flight with shorter lines once they reopen) if the show does not go on. Better luck next time!
Where are you favorite places to view the Disneyland Forever fireworks? Do you have any Disneyland fireworks secret spots that you're willing to share? Let us know in the comments below!