The best fireworks and nighttime show viewing spots at Disney World
(Article last updated: March 15, 2017)
You will probably want to see at least 1 or 2 of the nighttime entertainment options at Disney World, but there are some spots to view these shows that are better than others.
I've got maps of viewing areas to help you decide where you'll want to watch during your trip.
Let's take a look...
Main Street Electrical Parade
The Main Street Electrical Parade made its last trip through the Magic Kingdom on October 9th, 2016. No word yet what its replacement will be.
Most parades at Magic Kingdom begin at the back of the park and move toward the front, but the Main Street Electrical Parade begins at the front and heads toward the back. Spots along the route in Frontierland are usually good, but people who want to leave Magic Kingdom after the parade should watch from the front of the park so that they can leave right after the parade passes. There used to be a FastPass+ for viewing the parade in a designated area, but Disney removed that option in spring 2016.
Wishes fireworks are probably the best nighttime show at Disney World, in my opinion, and just before they begin, there's a castle projection show called Celebrate the Magic that's definitely worth seeing.
People wanting a good view of both should find a spot near Casey's Corner. Those who want to leave right after fireworks (which is especially useful so you can get ahead of the crowds lining up to hop on the bus, monorail, or ferry) should find a spot at the front of the park for a quick exit as soon as fireworks end.
You can also view Wishes from outside the parks by sitting on the beach areas of The Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Ticket and Transportation Center, and The Contemporary where the music is piped in.
As with Main Street Electrical Parade, there is a FastPass+ available to view Wishes, but I don't recommend it for the same reasons that I listed above. As of Spring 2016 there is no longer a FastPass+ area for Wishes.
Epcot has one nighttime show, Illuminations, which takes place on the lagoon in the World Showcase area. The nice thing is that there are lots of spots available (which is why I don't recommend the FastPass+ or dessert party here), but there are a few peninsula areas that are particularly nice spots to watch from if they aren't closed off for private events.
There's a lot of smoke in the air during and after Illuminations and I know that the wind direction determines which way it goes, but it's always blown toward the UK/France side when I've seen it (and I've seen Illuminations dozens of times). People wanting to avoid that should consider spots on the Norway/Italy side of the lagoon.
Hollywood Studios has a nighttime show called Fantasmic which takes place in its own theater. People who book the Fantasmic Dinner Package will be seated in the middle sections, with FastPass+ and standby on either side of that.
I recommend sitting toward the middle or back for the best views (and to avoid getting wet).
See this post for more Fantasmic tips.
Hollywood Studios also has fireworks scheduled regularly now, and the best view of that is from near the Chinese Theater (which is where the Great Movie Ride is located). The current show involves projections and pyrotechnical effects in addition to the fireworks so in order to get the full effect you will need to to be in front of the projection towers labeled on the map below.
Animal Kingdom has a nighttime show called Rivers of Light. Seating is very limited, but you can see the different sections in the graphic below. Read my best advice for seeing Rivers of Light.
Any other thoughts or comments? Be sure to leave them in the comments.