Home » To See Every Firework at Walt Disney World, You Need to Stand Right Here

To See Every Firework at Walt Disney World, You Need to Stand Right Here

Image © Disney

Many of the joys during a visit to Walt Disney World occur after the sun goes down. With the lights down low, Disney’s amazing staff of professional entertainers celebrates their time to shine by putting on legendary performances every night. While Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom won’t debut for another year, the other three Disney parks in Orlando all feature evening spectacles you will want to attend at least once each trip.

Figuring out exactly where to position yourself in order to have the best view is the trick. Whether you want to enjoy Fantasmic, Wishes, or Illuminations, Theme Park Tourist wants to guarantee that you know all the ideal locations, including a few that will even help you avoid the crowd. Read on to discover the best places to watch all of Disney’s nighttime shows.


Image © Disney

Out of the three famous Disney shows, Fantasmic is the easiest to conceptualize if you’re trying to decide your plan of attack. Figuring out the seating is simple. It’s basically an outdoor stadium the likes of which you’d see at a minor college or major high school football game. This small amphitheater holds approximately 11,000. It features some lackluster benches that don’t include individual seats, and the lack of back support is problematic for some.

Keeping that in mind, getting the best positioning to enjoy Fantasmic is straightforward. It’s first come, first serve with a couple of notable exceptions. If you intend to show up to get a seat, you’ll want to arrive an hour ahead of the listed show. Note that you’ll have to wait in line to access the Fantasmic area if you choose this option. The other two suggestions allow you to skip the line.

Like a football stadium, the goal is to sit as close to the middle as possible and as close to the front as possible. This will provide you with the best view of not only the entertainment occurring on the center stage but also the boats that pass by as well as the light show that occurs in the water.

While there is no real trick to getting there early, one suggestion is to target the later performance on nights when the cast performs two shows. The competition is less fierce, and you are on an even keel with the competition. This is because the Fantasmic package about to be discussed is only an option for the first Fantasmic event of the night. So, reserved seating isn’t taking away many of the best seats during the encore performance.

If you want to guarantee great seats, however, the Fantasmic dinner package is an option you should consider. Like many Disney upsell options, Fantasmic provides you with guaranteed seating in exchange for your eating at one of three high-priced Hollywood Studios table service restaurants. The options are Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood Brown Derby, and Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano.

At the cost of somewhere between $35 and $57 per adult, you receive a voucher that guarantees bench positioning in the middle section. Even if you are willing to pay for the meal to get great seats, remember that it’s still first come, first serve. There are no reserved seats for Fantasmic. So, you’ll still want to show up at least a half hour early, even if you have a voucher.

If you want guaranteed seats but aren’t willing to pay anything extra for them, the final option is a FastPass+ selection, which also has the benefit of not requiring guests to wait in line. The best strategy to acquire guaranteed seating at Fantasmic is to choose three FastPass+ attractions for early in the day, preferably finishing them by noon. After you’ve used all three of those, you can acquire a fourth selection for Fantasmic.

Note that this strategy breaks down during the busiest times on the schedules, particularly holidays. That’s because Fantasmic FastPass+ selections can sell out. They usually don’t, though. The explanation is that Fantasmic has a Tier 1 designation, which means that people who choose it are willingly passing on their best chance to ride Toy Story Midway Mania without waiting at least an hour. Not many people are willing to do that, so a lot of Hollywood Studios tacticians employ this strategy.

If aiming for a fourth FastPass seems too risky for you since you want guaranteed Fantasmic seating, do the inverse. Choose your FastPass for Fantasmic and then arrive at rope drop for Toy Story Midway Mania. You’ll probably still have to wait, but if you are at the park when it opens, you shouldn’t stand in line for more than a half hour.


Image © Disney

For Epcot’s award-winning show, the options are relatively similar, albeit with one interesting addition. If you want to guarantee seating for the show, you’ll want to utilize a FastPass+ selection. That’s tough, because it is also a Group A selection, meaning that you cede a FastPass for Test Track or Soarin’ if you go this route. That’s…not optimal. Epcot doesn’t have many rides, so their finest attractions have a tendency toward extremely long lines. Those two in particular frequently have waits in excess of an hour. If you don’t choose this path, there is only one other way to get guaranteed seating, though.

In another instance of Disney offering upsells to people willing to pay more to get more, there is an Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party option available. It’s not cheap, and it’s not great for people on diets. If you want the best possible view for Illuminations, however, this $49 per person package is your best bet. Plus, you’ll enjoy decadent international desserts and delicious wines during the show. It’s all included in the package.

Booking a restaurant with a great view of Illuminations is trickier than Fantasmic, albeit less expensive. The reason why is because you can’t technically guarantee that your meal will last until the show. You also can’t be certain that you’ll receive a table with a view of the event. There’s nothing more frustrating that hearing the sounds of Illuminations without seeing anything.

If you want to try this tactic, the best restaurants are conveniently also some of the finest options in the World Showcase. La Hacienda de San Angel at Mexico, Tokyo Dining at Japan, and Rose & Crown at Great Britain. All three provide breathtaking views of the water, and so the choice comes down to your dining preference while you’re in town. The second floor of Monsieur Paul at France is also viable, but you’ll need to sit by the (narrow) windows to have a decent view.

I strongly suggest that you make an Advance Dinner Reservation for whichever location you select. You’ll want to target 7:30 – 7:45 if possible. Note that these restaurants do tend to book early since a lot of longtime Disney guests know these tricks. So, if you must take an earlier time, ask for the specific seating with the view and tell the hostess that you’ll wait if needed. The reverse is true if your reservation is for later. Show up as early as possible and ask to be seated. Then, hope for the best. Either way, you’ll want to time your meal to match the start time of Illuminations. You may have to order an appetizer and dessert in order to stretch your seating time the appropriate length. The good news is that the waiters all know the deal, so please remember to tip them well in exchange for hogging a table for longer than normal.

If none of the above works and you simply want to find a nice spot in the park, head to the World Showcase around a half hour prior to Illuminations. That’s a tough decision, because a lot of the other rides tend to have their shortest lines of the entire day around this time. The benefit is that if you arrive in that area early enough, you won’t have any tall people hoisting children on their shoulders standing right in front of you. Pick a spot where there aren’t any trees, because limbs can block your view of the fireworks.

The best spot by far is between the two gift shops (the ones pimping Duffy like there’s no tomorrow) at the front of the World Showcase. It tends to get crowded early, so if that one doesn’t work, head over to Mexico. Gauge the number of people nearby and keep walking until you find an area somewhere between there and Norway that is sparsely crowded. You should have a fantastic view of the fireworks, although you’ll be a bit distant from the globe.

The downside of this area is that if you aren’t exiting Epcot via the back gate, you’ll be one of the last people waiting in line at the monorails, which could add a full hour to your departure time. Be wary of that when you strategize. Ceding a better view toward the back of the World Showcase in exchange for a viable exit strategy is a clever way to deal with Illuminations.


Image © Disney

As you would expect with the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom, there are a multitude of options for Wishes. The choices depend upon the type of view you want to have. The key concern here is that getting close to Cinderella Castle doesn’t have the perfect view you’d expect. Due to the implementation of forced perspective, you’ll quickly discover that many of the fireworks are not visible to people standing close to Cinderella Castle.

Ordinarily, I would recommend Crystal Palace as a ground location inside the park. The area surrounding Casey’s Corner and it provides a wonderful view of everything. Unfortunately, Magic Kingdom is currently undergoing renovations in this area, so many highlights of the event are blocked from sight.

Instead, you should either head to the very front or very back of the park. The area surrounding Beast’s Castle offers a shockingly good view of the fireworks, which is a tribute to the foresight of Disney Imagineers. You can enjoy Wishes without having to jostle with strangers for optimal positioning. The con here, a significant one, is that once the show ends, you’re last in line to exit. My suggestion is that you stay and enjoy a few rides if at all possible. The lines should be short, and you’ll still wind up exiting the park at around the same time since transportation lines are crazy-long after Wishes. If you’d rather go an entirely different way, plan to get seats near the Train Station at the front of the park. While seating is limited here, the view is fairly good. Plus, the moment Wishes ends, you’ll be only steps away the exit, which saves you a tremendous amount of time. You also avoid the throng of tired, cranky people grudgingly departing the Happiest Place on Earth.

FastPass+ is also an option at Magic Kingdom, and it has one key advantage over the other parks. There’s no tier system, so you don’t have to choose Wishes over any specific ride. That’s also the downside, though. By adding a Wishes FastPass, you’re guaranteeing that you’ll have to wait in line for every other attraction but two. The reason is that you can only additional FastPass+ selections after you’ve used all of them, something that won’t be possible until after Wishes ends. So, I’ve always ceded the Wishes FastPass, but a lot of people swear by this method. If you’re going to do it, the same suggestion above applies. Try to get three other FastPass+ selections before noon. Then, add Wishes once you’ve finished all of them.

There are other options that also merit consideration if you want to enjoy the show from different points of view. The Top of the World Lounge is an option for Disney Vacation Club members. Simply head to Bay Lake Tower and show your membership card on the bottom floor. You’ll ride an exclusive elevator up to the top floor, where the only things there are an elegant indoor bar and accompanying overlook. As long as you arrive 15 minutes early, you should have a “front row” view from approximately 150 feet above the show. If you’re not a DVC member, the same option is available for guests dining at California Grill. This restaurant at the top of Contemporary Resort has an Observation Deck. Even if you eat long before Wishes, simply hold on to your receipt. You’ll have the ability to return when it’s time for the event.

The other two options are both more upscale, at least in theory. The beach area at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort offers a stunning view of the fireworks. Plus, it’s a more intimate setting to enjoy the show with a loved one. Technically, you don’t have to be a guest to enjoy this view, but most people either choose to eat at a restaurant onsite, enjoy the festivities at Spirit of Aloha, or at least purchase an adult beverage in exchange for enjoying the beach view.

The final upsell is the Wishes Dessert Party, which recently doubled in price to $49 per adult. This view from the Tomorrowland Terrace is somehow secluded yet perfect for a viewing of Cinderella Castle as well as the fireworks. Presumably, that’s why Disney roped off the area and started charging guests to watch from there. On the plus side, if the cost doesn’t dissuade you, the desserts are by all accounts awesome, even by Disney’s lofty standards. Also, there’s a sparkling cider toast during the event. If money is no object, this is probably the best option for Wishes.