One of the most magical parts of a visit to Disneyland is seeing the fireworks at the end of the night. The Frog Family are fireworks junkies (especially Disneyland fireworks). Over the years, we've viewed the various spectacular shows from different spots both inside and outside the park. We have a few favorite locations that vary based on our time limit, plans and location. Follow our guide full of the best spots. Choose wisely, and we're sure your Disneyland Resort visit will end with a BANG! Literally.
Best Places to View Disneyland Fireworks
Best Places to View Disneyland Fireworks - Inside the Park
Inside Disneyland Park, the fireworks are more than just fireworks. The 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 and lasers) to provide a magical finale to your visit. The current show is Remember... Dreams Come True—one of our favorites that has returned with new projection elements. Depending on when you visit, you may catch one of the holiday-themed shows. Variations of the Disneyland fireworks show include 4th of July, Halloween Screams during Mickey's Halloween Party, Believe ... in Holiday Magic during Holiday Time and a special explosive celebration to ring in the year on New Year's Eve.
Our favorite place to view Disneyland fireworks is—hands down—inside the park. WHERE inside the park exactly? Well, that's challenging. The best place to see them depends on YOUR needs and plans. We know the best place to experience the full show in all its glory, but that is not the easiest spot to access. Securing our sweet spot takes some time, planning and waiting to get the right location. Sometimes the least crowded place makes it an ideal spot! Mostly it comes down to where you might be viewing other nighttime entertainment.
Getting the iconic castle view
The best view with the most effects and Disney magic is right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Secondary spots to seek out are the streets of Central Plaza from the Refreshment Corner toward the castle. Choose a spot without a tree blocking your view of the castle or the sky above and around it. The further back you are from the castle, the harder it is to see the projection. We like to be right up front or anywhere on the street in the circle surrounding the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey. We prefer to be back in the street behind the statue or in the street on the Tomorrowland side of the circle. We try to avoid spots that are not behind or under a tree.
Because the larger firework bursts tend to be on the left-hand side of the castle, you can see them better from the center or right. That sets you up for the iconic view of fireworks behind the castle, with Tinker Bell flying and projections on the castle. This places you in a prime spot for the ring of flare ups that can make it momentarily as bright as day. "Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination?" (See about 7:37 on Tad's YouTube video of the show. That's our favorite part of Remember… Dreams Come True.) You can see all the lower local bursts and fire. Be sure to have a clear view of the Matterhorn, since there are projections on that as well.
If you have only one shot to see the fireworks, and it NEEDS to be in front of the castle, then plan to invest some time. We're talking two to three hours. People put out blankets and stake out a spot in front of the castle a few hours before the show. If there is a nighttime parade, get in place on the curb a few hours before the parade. Once the parade wraps up, hop off the curb and into the street for fireworks viewing.
If you want to see just fireworks, then we find it's much easier to approach the area just before the parade ends from the Adventureland side of the park. Jump in place as soon as the last float of the parade passes. The exact time to leap in will vary, but head to that area 15 to 20 minutes before show time. Grab some nearby Dole Whips and claim your spot. The crowd backs up approaching from the Tomorrowland side, so it is not recommended to come from that direction. Be sure to choose a place that is not a designated walkway or reserved section. Ask a cast member if you are not certain. This location gets very crowded. You can usually remain seated if you are directly in front of the castle, but you must stand anywhere else. Consider placing the tadpoles on shoulders or hold them up so they can see. Just be considerate of blocking those little ones behind you. It's not perfect, but sometimes the best places to view Disneyland fireworks are those where you can find room to see them.
Watching near "it's a small world"
Another great place to watch fireworks is near "it's a small world." This location is actually closer to the fireworks, because they 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. BONUS - You'll have some elbow room. This area tends to be way less crowded. You can hop in place close to the show. If you watch a nighttime parade, you can stay in the area after the parade ends.
Another location to consider is inside Fantasyland. While parts of Toontown and Fantasyland close before the show, you can see some of the larger bursts well from the area near Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Fantasyland. If you stay in place after the show, you can be one of the first in line for Peter Pan's Flight when they reopen it. They do not play the music in this area because it is not an official viewing location.
Viewing from Rivers of America
Rivers of America may be one of our newest favorite in-park locations for viewing fireworks. If you are watching the 9:00 p.m. Fantasmic! , just stay in place after the show ends and watch the fireworks from there. You have about three minutes between the end of Fantasmic! and the beginning of the fireworks. 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 and between two water screens.
TIP: New Orleans Square offers a less-obstructed fireworks view than closer to Frontierland. After fireworks, many people who watch the first Fantasmic! show exit. This massive movement allows folks who want to get a good jump on a standby spot for the 10:30 p.m. Fantasmic! time to hop into place. (Here are the best places to watch Fantasmic!)
Kicking back at the Tomorrowland Skyline Lounge
We can't talk about the best places to view Disneyland fireworks without mentioning the swankiest spot in the park to see them. There is a reserved option for watching the fireworks in the park at the Tomorrowland Expo Center. You may know this as the area above Star Wars Launch Bay. This new seating area lets you watch the fireworks high above the crowds. There's no need to make that necessary snack run either. Visitors receive a boxed treat that contains fruit, crackers, cheese, sweets and a choice of unlimited non-alcoholic beverages—canned soda, bottled water, hot chocolate, tea and coffee. This experience costs $45 per person ages 3 and up; under 2 are free.
The lounge may be an unusual spot for viewing fireworks, but it has its perks. You have access to the lounge from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and may stay there or come and go as you like with your wristband and lanyard. Early arrivals get their choice of seats. You'll get to visit with Mickey or Minnie and can kick back and play retro games on the funky lounge furniture that is both futuristic and retro at the same time. Retroistic? Futero? Anyway, it's pure Disney magic. You can charge your devices while you get your groove on or borrow a blanket if you get chilled. Reservations can be made through Disney Dining. Keep in mind that there are no refunds if the fireworks get canceled. The view of fireworks is not perfect or guaranteed, but the experience is unique and may be the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion.
What if the fireworks are canceled?
An advantage to watching fireworks inside the park 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. It used to be a big letdown, especially if you had staked out the perfect spot. But there's good news. If Remember ... Dreams Come True fireworks are canceled, the rest of the show still goes on. The music, narration and projection still play, along with the exit music. It is a much nicer alternative to nothing and gives you a chance to see at least part of the amazing show up close. There are no flames, fireworks, flying Tinker Bell or sparklers, but it is a good opportunity to see the detailed projection on the castle, façade of "it's a small world" or a water screen at Rivers of America with lighter crowds than during a full fireworks display.
Best Places to View Disneyland Fireworks - Outside the Park
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. With some planning, these locations may work out fine. Some of the locations play the music and narration by Julie Andrews that goes along with the show. #bonus. Here is where you'll find the best places to view Disneyland fireworks outside the park.
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. HEAVEN! We have watched them from the Marriott Courtyard on Harbor Boulevard near the park entrance. 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 of 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 any room key to get in. 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). 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 as well, here's a blog post with lots of tips on finding free (or almost free) things to do at Disneyland.
Watching from the Mickey and Friends Parking structure
We have been known 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. We find it funny, but people with sensory issues may not feel the same way. Note: They are building a large structure for the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area, so that may block future views of the in-park show.
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. 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. Also just outside the security checkpoint on 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, but you fear missing out on the narration and music, 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 plusses and minuses. Plusses 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. Being able to watch Disneyland fireworks complete with piped-in sound is a huge plus. You can also catch a distant view of the top of World of Color. The Fifth offers differently themed entertainment each night. We enjoyed dancing to the live band that played on a Thursday. Leap danced like it was our honeymoon all over again. Maybe it was the drinks ;)
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. 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 a castle view or were watching outside the park. Can you justify dropping around $100 on food and drink at a location because you wanted to watch the fireworks from it 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! The Fifth did stop the band and were ready to cue the fireworks music, but the fireworks never came. We took the news in stride, (because—drinks) and we use the experience as a warning to our readers. We recommend The Fifth, as long as your expectations of the fireworks are 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. Note, we did not stop on the freeway. The 5 is bad enough. We have heard of street locations and even gas stations, 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 the weather up high, and if the winds are too strong or blowing 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. 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 the park, we recommend using free locations that have easy access.
If you are in the park when the show gets canceled, make the best of it. Watch the projection up close—chances are if you have already seen the show before you will realize all the projection details you might have missed while you were too busy gazing at fireworks. You might catch the next parade (if there is one) or Fantasmic!, which never disappoints. 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 (like getting ice cream or rushing to hit the Fantasyland rides like Peter Pan with shorter lines once they reopen) if the show does not go on. Better luck next time!
What are you favorite places to view the Disneyland fireworks? Do you have any secret favorite spots that you're willing to share? Let us know in the comments below?