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The best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World

HomeThe best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World
The best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World

You will probably want to see at least 1 or 2 of the nighttime entertainment options during your Disney World trip, but there are some locations to view these shows that are better than others.

The best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World are not hard to snag, but they do take a little planning. Check out these tips below to help you find the perfect spot to catch all the action.

Let’s take a look…

Does every park at Disney World have fireworks?

Not every park at Disney World has fireworks. And, in fact, at some of the parks, your nighttime entertainment is quite limited.

The only 2 parks with full firework shows are Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

Hollywood Studios has shows that incorporate a few firework elements, but because of the animals, Animal Kingdom has no fireworks.

Do fireworks happen every night at Disney World?

Yes! Some fireworks and nighttime shows do happen every night at Disney World.

Keep in mind, however, that some shows happen during specially ticketed events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, both of which cost extra.

Which Disney World Park has the best nighttime show?

Only have time to see 1 show? We recommend catching the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, with Harmonious at Epcot being a close 2nd.

Magic Kingdom Firework Shows

The iconic image of fireworks exploding over Cinderella Castle is one of the most recognizable pics around.

Disney Enchantment

We love it so much that even after all our trips, we *still* cry when we watch the shows.

Important things to know about Magic Kingdom firework shows

  • The firework shows at Magic Kingdom often involve projections. Some shows have projections on Main Street, but the primary (and best) projections will take place on Cinderella Castle.
  • Firework shows happen nightly EXCEPT on nights when the park closes early (like for Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or for select events like Cast Member appreciation nights).
  • There really aren’t any spots to eat and watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. However, there is a dessert party with seating that is available – The Treats and Seats Disney Enchantment Dessert Party. Important Note: The view from this party isn’t as good as the other available dessert parties where you stand.
  • Depending on the time of year, you could see any one of the following shows:
    • Disney Enchantment – Shown every night except for the nights one of the specialty shows listed below are scheduled. The start time for this show typically ranges from around 8:00 pm (in the winter) to 10:00 pm (in the summer).
    • Fantasy in the Sky (New Years Eve– Typically shown twice nightly at 6:30 and 11:50 pm on December 30th and December 31st.
    • Celebrate America! (Fourth of July) – Typically starts at 9:15 pm on both July 3rd & 4th.
    • Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party ONLY) – Typically takes place at 10:15 pm on party nights. Note: Special ticket required.
    • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks (Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) – Typically shown at 10:00 pm on party nights (special ticket required). After the last party of the season, this is typically the primary nighttime show until December 29th.

How early should I get a spot for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom?

The best of the best fireworks viewing spots can go early. And during busy times of the year (like the holidays), there can be some serious competition for the prime locations.

Most people want to know how early you should snag a spot, and that depends on 3 things:

  1. How good of a spot you want. (Best? Good? Anything will do?)
  2. The size of your group. (It is a lot easier to get a spot with a group of 2 than with a group of 12.)
  3. How busy the park is. (Holidays are trickier than non-busy times of the year.)

If you are visiting the Walt Disney World Resort outside the busy holiday season (or the 4th of July), 30-45 minutes early can get you a “pretty good” fireworks viewing spot for a family of 4.

It probably won’t get you the best of the best, but it will still get you a good view for the show.

But, if you want one of the best spots or if you have a large group or are traveling during a busy time of the year, you will need to start looking for a spot closer to an hour (or more) before the show starts.

The Best Spots to Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks

When we are hunting for a spot to watch the fireworks shows, these are our go-to spots:

  • Best view of both projections and fireworks: Hub area, near the reserved sections for the Dessert Party viewing.
  • Best premium view (costs extra): The reserved Hub grass area provided for people who pay for the Disney Enchantment Pre Parties and Disney Enchantment Post Parties.
  • Best view of projections only: If you don’t care about seeing the fireworks, but you’re really interested in seeing the projections, aim to be between the Walt Partners statue and the castle, right in the center.
  • Best for a quick exit: If you are looking to exit the park before the crowds, watch from the front of the park near the flagpole. You won’t be able to see the projections clearly, but you’ll avoid the swarm of people leaving as soon as the show is over.
  • Best view away from Main Street: If you don’t want to fight the crowds on Main Street, you can catch the fireworks from other areas in the park. Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are both great options, and that view will give you a totally different perspective on the show. Just keep in mind that you wont see the projections.
  • Best view outside Magic Kingdom: Even though many of the shows at Magic Kingdom are now projection heavy, you can still catch the fireworks portions from several places outside the park. This is a great option for anyone who loves the look of the fireworks, but would prefer to avoid the crowds and sounds.
Best Magic Kingdom fireworks views

Look out for these! (Things that will ruin your fireworks view at Magic Kingdom)

Trees

We love trees, but when it comes to viewing the nighttime shows at Magic Kingdom park, a tree that is in the wrong spot can ruin the entire effect.

Your goal is to see Cinderella Castle as clearly as possible. If trees are blocking out most of the castle (or in the case of shows that are primarily fireworks, the sky), that isn’t going to be a great view.

Buildings and other structures

The same thing can be said about the buildings and turrets that surround the castle. If the castle is blocked from your view, keep looking for a spot.

Castle turrets
Distance & Angle

The front of the park (near the Main Street Train Station) can give you great views of the fireworks, but if you are watching a projection-heavy show (like Disney Enchantment) you won’t see the details on Cinderella Castle. That may not matter to you, but if you want the full effect, that far away isn’t going to work.

And, if you’re too close to Cinderella Castle, you’ll have a great view of the projections, but you’ll not be able to see a lot of the fireworks.

Castle fireworks projections

As for the best angle, looking at the castle straight on is ideal because that puts the fireworks in the proper position behind the castle. You may still get a good view from the sides, but the fireworks may look off-center instead of appearing directly behind Cinderella Castle.

Other Magic Kingdom nighttime entertainment

Beacons of Magic – Cinderella Castle

As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, at night about every 15 minutes or so, Cinderella Castle undergoes a transformation using magical projections.

Beacons of Magic cinderella castle

Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant is a water parade that takes place nightly on the waters just outside Magic Kingdom. It is one of those “classic” Disney World things, and it is guaranteed to spark a ton of nostalgia!

The Kiss Goodnight

If you are in the park after it closes, make sure you can see Cinderella Castle for the Kiss Goodnight.

It’s about a 2-minute show that starts about 30 minutes after the park officially closes. It oftentimes will play more than once and includes a brief narration piece, twinkling lights, and the music “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

Epcot Fireworks Shows

Epcot has 1 nighttime fireworks show called Harmonious.

It debuted in 2021 for the 50th Anniversary and replaced the previous show called Illuminations.

Harmonious

Unlike Magic Kingdom where the action has a definite front side, *most* components for Harmonious can be viewed from nearly 360 degrees, with a small caveat:

The large mist projection ring and some laser projections are best seen from the front of the World Showcase (at World Showcase Plaza) or across the World Showcase Lagoon around the American Adventure Pavilion.

But, even if you miss out on one of the prime locations, there are plenty of other spots all around the lagoon that will give you a great view of the show.

Important things to know about Epcot firework shows

  • During Harmonious, there’s action all around the World Showcase, including on the buildings. Keep your eye out for the lasers and lights during the show.
  • Even if you don’t have a good view of the large ring, as long as you can see the other barges, you’ll be able to see the images displayed on there.
  • Being up against the railing is ideal, but you can still get a get a good view a few rows back.
  • Fireworks happen nightly at Epcot.
  • Pavilions that are traditionally always busy (like Mexico) will have their spots go first.
  • Harmonious is shown year-round, but for the Fourth of July and the Holidays it gets a specially themed ending or “tag”.

Best places to watch Harmonious

  • Best view of both projections and fireworks: World Showcase Plaza (at the entrance to the World Showcase between Disney Traders and Port of Entry) has the best views of both fireworks and mist projections (but it will also be the most crowded). The American Adventure also has decent views (but you’re further away from the ring).
  • Best premium view (costs extra): The Harmonious Dinner Package at Rose & Crown.
  • Best for a quick exit: If you need to exit out the front of the park, and you want to get out as quickly as possible, watch from the back of the crowd at World Showcase Plaza. Mexico and Canada would also get you to the front faster. If you need to exit out the International Gateway, watch from the bridge between France and the UK.
  • Best views outside of World Showcase Plaza and American Adventure: Italy and Canada
  • Best place to snag a spot late: Between France and Morocco
  • Best place to watch while sitting: Tables outside the Rose & Crown pub (not the tables that are part of the restaurant)
  • Best view outside Epcot: Topolinos
best harmonious views map — Epcot

How early should I get a spot for the fireworks at Epcot

Trying to decide how early you should be looking for a spot for Harmonious? Just like with Magic Kingdom fireworks, you’ll need to consider these 3 things:

  1. How good of a spot you want. (Best? Good? Anything will do?)
  2. The size of your group. (It is a lot easier to get a spot with a group of 2 than with a group of 12.)
  3. How busy the park is. (Holidays are trickier than non-busy times of the year.)

If you are visiting the Walt Disney World Resort outside the busy holiday season (or the 4th of July), 30 minutes early can get you a “pretty good” Harmonious fireworks viewing spot for a family of 4.

But, if you want that coveted World Showcase Plaza spot, you should plan on grabbing a spot at least 60 minutes early or more if you want front row.

But, the good thing about Harmonious is that if you aren’t too concerned about snagging a front-row spot against the railing, it truly isn’t that difficult to find a place right as the show begins where you can see things “good enough”.

Look out for these! (Things that will ruin your fireworks view at Epcot)

Just like at Magic Kingdom, the goal is to find a spot where there is nothing between you and where the action is taking place, which, for Epcot, is the center of the World Showcase Lagoon. As long as you can see both the sky above the barges and the barges themselves clearly, you’ll have a good view.

Trees

We love the trees in the World Showcase during the heat of the day, but at night, they can block your view.

harmonious island

Make sure that if you are standing near or under a tree that you’ll be able to see into the sky above where the barges sit on the water. Some of the trees hang out over the water and cut of the view of the sky.

Islands

You may not notice them during the day, but there are several islands out in the middle of the World Showcase Lagoon and during the show, if there is an island between you and the barges, you’ll have your view blocked.

Buildings

There are several countries where buildings jut out into the water, and if you are on the wrong side of them, you’ll have part (or all) of your view of the projections and fire works cut off.

Other Epcot nighttime entertainment

Beacons of Magic – Spaceship Earth

As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Spaceship Earth was decked out with hundreds of “Points of Light”. And, about every 15 minutes or so at night, Spaceship Earth undergoes a transformation as “Lights shine from within Spaceship Earth’s reflective panels as stardust emerges to symbolize beacons of possibility and optimism.

Spaceship Earth Beacons of magic

Seasonal shows – Spaceship Earth

In addition to the Beacons of Magic, Spaceship Earth often has a special light and music show for whatever festival is currently taking place. If one of these are playing during your visit, we highly recommend you check it out as it is just an overall lovely (and peaceful) experience.

Beauty and the Beast spaceship earth

In the past, we’ve seen:

  • Beauty and the Beast (Be Our Guest) – Food and Wine Festival
  • Pocahontas (Colors of the Wind) – Flower and Garden Festival
  • Muppets (Rainbow Connection) – Festival of the Arts
  • Holiday themed – Festival of the Holidays

Concerts

All 4 festivals also have nightly concerts and shows taking place. The show times will vary depending on the season, but all the concerts take place at the American Gardens Theatre in the American Adventure Pavilion.

Broadway Concert Series epcot

The concerts are also free, but, depending on the act or the time of year, seats can be competitive. There are dining packages available that can guarantee you a seat:

Hollywood Studios Nighttime Entertainment

Fantasmic! (Returning in 2022)

Important note: Fantasmic is scheduled to return in the 2nd half of 2022. We will update with the exact date as soon as it becomes available.

Hollywood Studios has a nighttime show called Fantasmic, which takes place in its own theater.

In the past, Disney reserved a large chunk of the seating in the theater for FastPass+. Fantasmic hasn’t reopened since FastPass+ was retired and Genie+ was added, but we expect there to continue to be a significant number of seats set aside for Genie+.

When it does reopen, and you’re looking for a good seat, we recommend that you sit toward the middle or back of each sections for the best views (and to avoid getting wet).

Fantasmic seating

Wonderful World of Animation

This 12-minute nighttime spectacular is a projection show displayed on the Chinese Theatre.

It celebrates more than 90 years of Disney and Pixar animation, including Sleeping BeautyThe Incredibles, and Coco.

Wonderful world of animation

While there aren’t any fireworks, you can expect plenty of projections, lights, and music.

This isn’t one of the more popular nighttime shows at Disney World, but it’s cute. You can check the My Disney Experience app for showtimes.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular (not currently scheduled)

Before the parks closed, Hollywood Studios had a Star Wars themed fireworks show scheduled nightly.

And while Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular hasn’t run since early 2020, the nighttime spectacular was popular — and for good reason.

Star Wars Galactic Spectacular

Between the nighttime spectacular’s tribute to Star Wars, the music, the projections, and the fireworks, what’s not to love?

We aren’t sure if A Galactic Spectacular will ever return, but if or when there is an announcement, we will be sure to let you know.

If it DOES return, the best view can be found near the Chinese Theater because the show involves projections and pyrotechnic effects in addition to the fireworks. So to get the full effect, you will need to be in front of the projection towers.

Since it’s not a large area, your best bet is to find a spot about 45 minutes beforehand. Once you pick a viewing location, members of your party can come and go to use the restroom, get snacks, etc.

Other Hollywood Studios Nighttime Entertainment

Beacons of Magic – Tower of Terror

As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, at night about every 15 minutes or so, a transformation happens as “the iconic Hollywood Tower Hotel glitters with EARidescence, evoking the glimmer and shimmer of the golden age of imagination and adventure.”

Tower of Terrof Beacon of Magic

Sunset Seasons Greetings

From about mid-November through early January, the Tower of Terror is anything but scary.

With the same projection technology you can find being used on Cinderella Castle and the Tree of Life, during the holidays, the Tower of Terror gets transformed into fun holiday vignettes.

Sunset Seasons Greetings

Trust us: these are cute little shows with the Tower of Terror being changed into things like a Muppets’ gingerbread masterpiece, a Toy Story toy hotel, a snowy corner of Arendelle, and a Dickensian village from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! (not currently scheduled)

Another popular show that does not look to be returning post-pandemic is Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! This holiday-themed projection and fireworks show was shown nightly on the Chinese Theater during the holiday season.

Animal Kingdom Nighttime Shows

Because of the animals, Animal Kingdom does not have any fireworks but they do use the Tree of Life for a couple of different projection shows.

Tree of Life Awakenings

Shown nightly year-round, the Tree of Life Awakenings is a projection show on the Tree of Life.

Tree of Life Awakenings

Look for it to happen about every 10 minutes or so. And, during the holiday season, you’ll be able to catch holiday vignettes.

For the best view, head to Discovery Island and try to get as close to the Tree of Life as possible. But, because of the frequency and the fact that people are often just pausing for a bit before moving on, it is really easy to get a good view.

Other Animal Kingdom Nighttime Entertainment

Beacons of Magic – Tree of Life

As part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration, at night about every 15 minutes or so, a transformation happens on the Tree of Life as “a warm and glorious light emanates from the Tree of Life, as enchanted fireflies gather to call forth the magic of nature.”

Tree of life beacon of magic

Rivers of Light (no longer running)

Animal Kingdom used to have a nighttime show called Rivers of Light, but after the parks closed in 2020 it was confirmed by Disney to not be returning.

Final thoughts on finding the best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World

  • The larger your group (and the more room you’ll need) the earlier you’ll want to find a spot. It’s much easier for 2 people to find a spot than it is for a family of 10, so plan accordingly.
  • After the fireworks or nighttime show ends, sometimes it’s easier to make your way to the side (or to a park bench if one is available!) and let the crowds disperse a bit before trying to head out. The crush of people can be overwhelming to some people, and navigating with a stroller when tired guests are walking shoulder to shoulder isn’t much fun.
  • If there are multiple shows scheduled for the same night (which is sometimes the case for shows like Fantasmic), the second show is almost always less crowded.
  • Fantasmic and Harmonious both have dining package options that cost just a few dollars more than you’d normally pay for a meal, but give you reserved seating for the show.
  • Magic Kingdom has several dessert party options which can help you snag a prime viewing location without having to stake one out in advance. If you are considering trying one of the dessert parties, check out this info to see which would be best fit for your family.

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Any other thoughts or comments on finding the best nighttime show and fireworks viewing spots at Disney World? Be sure to leave them in the comments.

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Shannon Albert

Megan

Tuesday 20th of November 2018

What time do they start blocking off the flow of traffic around Cinderella’s Castle for the fireworks?

GB

Friday 27th of July 2018

Where is the best spot to watch Happily ever after with toddlers?

Sue

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

Can you see Star Wars at 8pm, then get to Epcot to watch Illuminations at 9pm?

Shannon Albert

Wednesday 24th of January 2018

It's about a 15 minute walk from HS to Epcot, so if you walk briskly, you shouldn't have any trouble.

Mary

Thursday 11th of January 2018

I have a question that I see was previously asked, but I don't see a response. Can Fantastic and Star Wars fireworks be seen on the same night? I would consider purchasing a desert package for Star Wars if we can get to the 'spot' after Fantastic.

Shannon Albert

Thursday 11th of January 2018

Most of the times, no. If they are scheduled close together, you basically have to choose which you'd like to see.

Chet

Monday 23rd of October 2017

Can you see fantasmic and Star Wars fireworks on same night

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