Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Spots

Map of the best Magic Kingdom Fireworks View (plus sample photos from those locations in the blog post)

Watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks can be the highlight of a trip to Walt Disney World, but due to crowds and other factors, finding the best spot to watch Wishes!, or other seasonal fireworks shows, can be difficult. I’ve watched and photographed the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom probably around 100 times, and have gotten a good idea of the best and worst spots from which to view the various shows. (Note: if you’re looking for the best spots for viewing Epcot’s fireworks, read our Best IllumiNations Viewing Spots post.)

The map above works sort of like a stoplight (with orange added). Consider yellow on the map the “stoplight” version of go, with green on the map being the cream of the crop for views (okay, that part isn’t really like a stoplight). Orange on the map is a step down from yellow, but still isn’t bad. Red is bad–you should avoid these spots. There are numerous other “quiet” spots around the Magic Kingdom where you can see parts of the fireworks, but it’s incredibly important to know that all of the Magic Kingdom fireworks shows were designed to be viewed straight-on from Main Street, USA.

Watching from elsewhere in the park may help you avoid the crowds or enable you to have a fun experience while watching (riding Big Thunder Mountain or Splash Mountain during Wishes! is awesome), but you absolutely will miss parts of the show. Due to that, I haven’t included any other spots in the rest of the park on this map. If avoiding crowds is really important to you, consider one of these other locations around the park, as Main Street, USA is crowded before, during, and after the fireworks.

As for the numbered locations on the map, since I’ve photographed Wishes! so many times, I’m sharing photos from the exact same scene in Wishes! shoot from each numbered spot. I call this scene “The Fan,” and to me it’s the most iconic part of Wishes. It occurs at the crescendo of the score approximately 3 minutes and 45 seconds (give or take depending upon when you start the timer) into the show…so get those cameras ready! The map plus the various views of this scene should give you visual thinkers a great idea of what to expect from different fireworks viewing places in the Magic Kingdom.

However, it must be noted that this map is a rough idea of the best spots. Fireworks map-making is not an exact science, and obviously consulting the map to the degree that you blindly stand directly behind a tree because the map lists that spot as a yellow (a la Michael Scott driving his car into the lake because his GPS “told him to”) would be foolish. Avoid stray trees and other obstructions, as this map doesn’t account for those except in heavily obstructed areas.

Okay, let’s get started with the specific spots!

1. Front and Center – One of the first times I photographed Wishes!, I opted to go for a spot close to Cinderella Castle. I’ve made this mistake only once. There’s a reason the Hub quickly goes from yellow to red, and that’s because once you pass Partners, perspective distortion (the spatial relationship of you, Cinderella Castle, and the fireworks shot off behind the Castle) prevents you from seeing much of the show. To get a visual idea of how perspective distortion works for these fireworks, notice the height of the bursts above Cinderella Castle as we move farther away from the Castle. In this shot, they’re directly behind it, but they move progressively higher as we move back. If you stand this close, you will miss a good percentage of the show. As a personal rule, I now never go beyond the Partners statue, but there are still some okay spots right behind it.

2. Partners – I am a big fan of this location, but it’s primarily to add a foreground subject into my photos, not because this is actually a great spot. It offers a good view, but guests often stake this location out hours in advance (usually to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Magic (Cinderella Castle projection show), and Wishes! all without moving), and it’s just not a great pure viewing location given how long you might have to stake this location out.

3. Crystal Palace Fence – It may be difficult to tell because it’s such a small spot (go too close to Crystal Palace and you’re too far off-center for a good view; move closer to Casey’s and your view will be obstructed by trees), but this is yellow on the map. It came very close to being green, but since it’s a bit off-center and there’s sometimes PhotoPass keeping you from staking out this spot, it fell into yellow. So those are the cons. The pros are that it’s about the perfect viewing distance from the show, since it’s at a fence you don’t have to worry about people getting in front of you, and it is easy to grab not too far in advance of the fireworks. It’s even a good view for fireworks shows with perimeter bursts! I’m almost reluctant to divulge this location because there’s not much room here and it’s my go-to last minute spot for photographing Wishes. I’ll make a deal with you–if you see me come up to this area after you’ve snagged this spot, try to make a bit of room for my tripod. It won’t bite! 😉

Note: for the duration of 2015, construction walls in the Hub may make block this area in #3, making it a terrible view for fireworks. 

4. “The Hump” – This spot isn’t very large, and since it’s a straight-on view, it’s incredibly popular. However, I’d hazard a guess that most guests who stand here have no idea why it’s the absolute best spot inside the Magic Kingdom for viewing Wishes. This location is great not just because it is the perfect distance from Cinderella Castle, but also because Main Street, USA slopes downward between here and Cinderella Castle, making this a bit of a “high point.” You can see this in the photo, as the heads in front of me are clearly lower than me (and I’m not tall at all). Cast Members often prevent guests from lingering in this area before Wishes (they’re usually directing traffic), so it can be pretty easy to snag this location 15 minutes before Wishes, depending upon when you visit. This is also a pretty good location for the Cinderella Castle projection show.

5. Wishes Dessert Party (Tomorrowland Terrace) – Since Disney annexed this area for the Wishes Dessert Parties a few years ago, I’ve heard multiple people refer to this as the best place to view Wishes! This is absolutely not true. I think people might just assume it’s a great spot because it’s now private, and it stands to reason that Disney would have chosen the best spot for their private viewing area. (In reality, there weren’t any other feasible alternatives…not like you can rope off the middle of Main Street for a dessert party.) Most of the views from the Dessert Party area obstruct the lower part of Cinderella Castle, and all of them are pretty far off-center. To make matters worse, the roof on the Terrace can obstruct your view if you aren’t able to grab a “front row” table by the water. This area borders on being a yellow location if you sit as close to the Main Street side (rather than the Tomorrowland side) of the Terrace as possible.

6. End of Main Street – This location offers all of the same advantages as “The Hump,” except there is no hump here to give you an elevated view. All it takes is one shoulder-kid in front of you and you’ve got an obstructed view. If you’re tall or you don’t end up with anyone tall in front of you, this location is still superb. Although there are still good views all the way down Main Street, this is typically as far back as I’ll go unless I go all the way to the Train Station. Views further back on Main Street are more or less the same as this for Wishes, but I find that the buildings creeping into your field of view as you move back from here make the fireworks less immersive, and if you’re watching one of the hard ticket events’ fireworks (HalloWishes at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Holiday Wishes at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) these buildings can actually block out the 180-degree perimeter fireworks bursts that occur during those shows. Perimeter bursts are also a part of the Fourth of July and New Year’s shows, so avoid being in the part of Main Street with buildings then, too. If you do end up in this area, here is the view you can expect during a regular show. Not too bad, right?

7. Main Street, USA Train Station – This location is yellow, but like the Partners location, it’s a mixed bag. On the plus side, you can grab a seat here and have a spot to view the Main Street Electrical Parade, Castle projection show, and Wishes. On the negative side, there is normally a flagpole obstructing your view of the fireworks (the photo above was taken on one of the few days each year it’s removed for various reasons), people stake out these seats hours in advance, and the ambiance isn’t the best (the Train Station lights remain on and the soundtrack isn’t as loud here as elsewhere). Personally, I only go up here when the flagpole is out, and even then, it’s only for photos. However, if you want to relax and soak up the ambiance of Main Street for a couple hours, staking out a spot here can be a good way to do it…and it keeps you away from crowds.

8. Ticket & Transportation Center Dock – This location is denoted by the green arrow on the bottom of the map. It’s green for a reason, and that’s because this is one of the two best spots for viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks shows. Comparing the photo from this location to the first location should be a good indication of perspective distortion in action. Those bursts in the first photo that are behind Cinderella Castle are the same bursts that in this photo appear to be way above the Castle! The pros for watching the fireworks from here are that you don’t need park admission, it’s rarely crowded, the music is played, and the view is straight-on and spectacular. On nights when we don’t have tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we sometimes watch the fireworks from this location. The scope and scale are amazing–perhaps superior to being anywhere in the Magic Kingdom! The beach of Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower, and various restaurants around the monorail resorts are all other popular “free” fireworks viewing locations, but none hold a candle to this spot (unless there are perimeter bursts, then Top of the World takes the cake–see the photo below).

Walt Disney World's Fantasy in the Sky fireworks as seen from Bay Lake Tower. Read our BLT review:

So there you have my “review” of some fireworks viewing spots around the Magic Kingdom (and outside it!), along with some photos to back me up. While it should be clear that there are some spots that are better than others, you really can’t screw up too badly if you can see the face of Cinderella Castle!

If you have fireworks photos from other locations in the Magic Kingdom (ones of “The Fan” are best for comparison’s sake, but anything will work), please feel free to share links to them in the comments. The more information people have when trying determine where to watch Wishes!, the better!

For Walt Disney World trip planning tips and comprehensive advice, make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide and related articles.

Your Thoughts…

Where is your favorite spot to watch Wishes? Do you like to go for a traditional Main Street location, or do you opt to avoid the crowds and watch from elsewhere? Any attractions that you think are enhanced during the fireworks? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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160 Responses to “Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Spots”

  1. Jason says:

    Great post! I’ve squeezed into the Crystal Palace fence area a number of times and have to agree with you 100%.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Here’s hoping that we’ll still be able to grab that spot after this post…

      • Staci says:

        When do the fireworks start at MK and Epcot?

      • Pam Crowley says:

        Looking forward to a review of the new fast pass viewing options. We plan to be there in November and wonder about the value of one over the other..understand there are two spots?

      • Phil says:

        I was directed into a pretty decent spot on New Year’s Eve 2013/2014 by a CM. I read your post in November of 2013 and couldn’t get any of your recommended spots. Being born, raised and lived all of my 63 years of life in New Orleans, crowds that night were reminiscent of Mardi Gras day on Bourbon Street. A CM said that we could get a good view near the front gate which would be best when leaving the park as everyone up and down Main Street would immediately choke the gates right after the fireworks. That sounded like a GREAT idea and I suddenly remembered the TTC dock. Well, the crowds were so thick that the fireworks were about to begin just as we were reaching the end of main street and the CMs had opened “behind the scenes” exits near the front gate to alleviate the expected rush of crowds at the front gates. The lights stayed on and the view was okay at best but, bearing in mind that we were at the front gate, there was an identical fireworks show behind us, exactly the same as the one at the Castle. What was that all about? How could that be? Now, I know what most will think. “Yep, he’s from New Orleans alright!” but I know what I saw and saw what I said. What was that?

    • Michael from Chicago says:

      If staying offsite, isn’t parking ($15) required at the TTC for the dock location OR a reservation at a Poly restaurant required to park at the Poly (for the beach location? Our first 1/2 day in Orlando isn’t a park day for us and I’d love to start our trip off right! Thanks.

  2. Ray says:

    Great post Tom! It is great to know that I’ve been watching Wishes from the the PRIMO spot for all these years. I guess instinctively….I must have known it somehow. Though sometimes I’m not lucky enough to actually make it on the “hump” but I’m usually close. Woooo Hooo!

  3. minkoir says:

    I’ve read lots about the best spots for firework views, but your comparison photos really put it all into perspective :) I’d like to know though, what’s the atmosphere like viewing at the TTC dock? I do like an ambient “ooh” and “ahh” to add to the overall viewing experience :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Atmosphere isn’t quite the same. This is especially true when a ferry-load of guests is dropped off and is walking right through that area, doing their own thing. I think the “pros” more than make up for this, though.

      • Elise says:

        Hi Tom,

        Thanks for writing such a great post.

        I’m taking my two-year-old nephew for his first visit in a few months, and my main priority is that he gets to see Tinker Bell and that the music is looped in.

        We would like to go ahead and book the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks party since she flies directly above the location. Normally I’d want a better view, but I know his mother won’t feel comfortable standing on Main Street with a two-year-old in such a large crowd at night. I had booked the Pirates and Pals Voyage, but I believe the skeleton statues will be too frightening for him.

        Does TTC seem like the best bet for our specific case, or should we opt for The Transportation & Ticket Center, Beach of the Polynesian, or a private pontoon?

        Thank you for your help!

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Hmm…I’m not sure what you’re asking. In the question, you have the Ticket & Transportation Center listed twice. Should one of those be Tomorrowland Terrace? Assuming it should, I think the Dessert Party is a good option for you. The view is by no means bad there, and it’s a very fun experience with the desserts.

  4. Lisa says:

    Every watch the fireworks from behind the castle? I know it would offer a unique perspective, but I wonder if the view is too obstructed.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The problem with watching from behind Cinderella Castle is that fireworks will go off in front of and behind you. The main launch site is behind the park, with out some fireworks being shot from Cinderella Castle and in that general area. Some people like that spot because it’s “immersive,” though.

      • James R. says:

        Count me in the group that really likes the experience behind the castle — we discovered it as we were in line for ETWB one evening. It’s not for first-timers, but once we’ve seen it “as intended” on a trip, catching the show from behind the castle is pretty cool. It feels like fireworks are going off all around you.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Jeez, seems like I’m in the minority on not liking this spot. Maybe I should give it another try now that New Fantasyland is open…

  5. Ric says:

    Totally agree about the TTC dock being a great spot. I happened to arrive at the TTC dock when Wishes began one night and rode the ferry while the show was going. You don’t get the sound on the ferries, but the views are fantastic.

  6. Thanks for yet another great tip Tom! I have experienced location 4 and I’d like to add another tip.

    Keep in mind that when setting up the tripod in the “hump” area (#4) you may be asked to move up by CM’s trying to do crowd control. If possible, ask the CM’s where the roped off cross walks will be placed which will be transecting Main street and set up/just view the Fireworks from that location, positioning yourself up against that rope. I’m specifically referring to the rear rope which is closer to the train station then the castle.

    Being up against that rear rope will give you a space gap between the next row of people viewing the fireworks and it helps to minimize the “Shoulder Soldiers” who place children on their shoulders and block your view of the fire works.

    No one will be allowed to linger in the cross walk area during the show, so you should have a pretty good view and if you have a tall enough tripod then you can get your camera up high enough to clear the heads of the people on the other side of the cross walk in front of you.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I just wait until they’re done with crowd control, and then swoop into the spots they vacate. I actually try to avoid the spot where the rope will be, because I’ve noticed Cast Members sometimes push on it (kids do the same) and I’m worried that it’ll bounce back and hit the tripod. Ever had that happen?

      • Nope, my barking and foaming at the mouth combined with my surly dirty looks are enough to discourage even the most fidgety offender from making that mistake twice. Having taught in elementary schools as a substitute I have that “May I have your ATTENTION PLEASE!!” voice dialed in.
        Mwa ha ha……

      • Tracey Martin says:

        Ms. Eddis-Koch,

        As parent paying hard-earned money to grant my child a ONCE-in-a-lifetime/childhood experience, I am disgusted by that horrid response below. As an ex-little person (substitute, for a reason) teacher I’d hope you’d have a little more heart and understanding. Glad you were never full-time with that attitude.

        Bring your precious camera and your retired self to a non-crowded-time-of-the-year show for those hard-to-get-shots. It’s obvious you have been well more than a few times, well more than most of the children and families you snarl and foam at will ever hope to go.

        Meanwhile, I am going to make sure my height-disadvantaged first-timer see her first Disney-awe-inspiring show. I’ve seen it. I can scowl back, I don’t have to see the whole show.

        My children are well behaved yet Disney puts even those best-behaved out of their element, and after a long hard day of walking more then their short legs do in a week, they can become a little less controlled, yet not dastardly little demons I feel you refrained from calling them below.

        How disgusting. I can’t begin to tell you how sideways this lowly comment has made me feel. I hope you are there when I am. I might trip.

      • Tom Bricker says:

        Joanie was (quite clearly) being sarcastic. Lighten up.

        As for putting your kids on your shoulders to make sure they can see the show…well, that blocks the view of first-timer adults, first-timer children, and a whole host of others. Hold kids at your eye level if you want (and they will be able to see just fine if you do), but putting them on your shoulders is selfish–there’s no two ways about it.

      • Melissa says:

        I’m a mother of 4 kids under the age of 6, and I thought Joanie’s comment was hilarious. Some people are so easily offended -Seems like a miserable way to live life. Anyway, …thanks for the great viewing tips. We’re headed down for the July 4th weekend, but ironically I didn’t want to be IN Magic Kingdom on a ’10’ crowd day, waiting in 2-hr-long lines and packed in like sardines, so we’re spending the 4th in HS. I do, however, want to see the ‘Celebrate America’ fireworks display so we’re debating whether to watch them from the TTC or the Polynesian Resort beach. I love the idea of sitting on a sandy beach watching the show, but now I’m wondering if it’s worth sacrificing the better view at the TTC.

  7. Keith C (TheFugitiveGuy) says:

    Wow, this is an impressive analysis. This is without a doubt the definitive answer to where to watch MK fireworks.

    (Now… any plans for a similar analysis for Epcot?) 😉

    • Tom Bricker says:

      This article has already proven pretty popular…requests for follow-ups at both Disneyland and Epcot. I don’t have enough photos to do the “same scene” comparisons at either of those parks, but I can try to do a location comparison and map like this.

  8. Cari says:

    Thanks for this article! I’m not in the “camping out for hours on the ground” crowd at Disneyland so I don’t see us doing for our upcoming WDW trip either (first timers!). How will I know where “The Hump” is? Is it clearly visible as being the point where Main Street starts to descend?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      You won’t know at night–it’ll be too crowded. It’s about 20-30 feet north of Casey’s and Gibson Girl. Easiest way to know where for sure is to scout it out during the day. It’ll be much easier to spot.

  9. Scott says:

    Wow – this is a pretty cool post! Did you already happen to have all of the photos that you used, or did you scout each site out specifically for this post???

  10. Bernadette says:

    Great article – thanks! We are going on our 2nd trip to WDW in September. Last time we watched the fireworks from California Grill – this time we’re trying to decide between the Poly beach and TTC (seven year old isn’t quite ready for the late night mega-crowds in the park itself). I was convinced that the Poly beach was the way to go because of the atmosphere, but now I’m not so sure!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The beach definitely has better atmosphere, but TTC has a better view. It really depends on how much you value that atmosphere at the Poly.

  11. Brian says:

    Great tips (and as always the photos too)! I have never tried watching the fireworks while on Splash Mountain or Big Thunder or, for that matter, anywhere else besides the hub/Main Street. Sounds like a fun perspective seeing them from a ride! Any tips/suggestions for that? Obviously there is a several minute long window to play around with, but is it more based on chance/luck being able to see them while ON the ride? Or are lines generally still long at that point? I’d be worried about standing in line and missing out on the opportunity to see the show altogether. Ya know?

    I am taking a trip in September and would love to try it out.

    • Mary says:

      The last few times I have gone to WDW I have been on Splash Mountain or Big Thunder while the fireworks are going on. Twice during the summer and once during Thanksgiving week, I found that the lines were not bad at all. I did not have more than a half an hour wait and the two times in the summer were walk on for Splash Mountain. I would recommend looking at the wait time and trying to gauge when the fireworks will start. I don’t get in line until I start hearing the beginning of the show usually and hear some fireworks on the line. It all depends on crowds though and if you really want to see most of the fireworks, then I would not recommend riding a ride because you do not get to see more than a few fireworks on Splash and a few minutes on Big Thunder.

  12. ann says:

    Is the music at the TTC?

    The Halloween Party will be going on 3 nights of our stay, would love this alternative so we can still view the fireworks, but not sure it would be the same without music.

    Love this post! Thanks so much for putting it together!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Last time we were at the TTC location, music was played there. That was 2010. Not sure if it’s still played, but I suspect it is.

    • Stephanie T says:

      I recommend going to the fourth floor at The Contemporary. I have watched the fireworks show twice from there and they do play the music they play at MK. The fireworks show is awesome and you can miss the crowds its great!

  13. Rob says:

    The only time I have ever seen MK fireworks (MNSSHP 2011) we snagged a spot dead center on “the hump”. There was only one other person in the middle of the road with a video camera on a tripod. He looked at me and said “you know this is the best place!?” I told him I had heard that on a forum (I think as a tip from you Tom). It was a terrific spot and I can’t wait to catch them from there again in 2014!!!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’ve been sharing “The Hump” tip for a while, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was me. Glad you liked the view!

  14. Dave says:

    I agree with your ratings here. Great article. I also really like the beach at the Poly. Grab a drink, a lounge chair and relax. If you are early enough you get to catch the water pageant too.

    Watching from Big Thunder Mtn can be awesome if you time it right. From over there the fireworks from behind the castle seem like the are right on top of you even if you are just outside the ride. I definitely wouldn’t tell people to choose that as a spot if they don’t see Wishes regularly but if have decided to be in that area anyways it is worth stopping and looking

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The Poly is definitely a more relaxing spot, and is a great spot (I’m not suggesting otherwise), I just don’t think it’s overall as good as the TTC.

  15. Nicole says:

    Can you watch from Poly even if not staying there?

    • Stephanie T says:

      Yup, you can watch fireworks from just about anywhere. Recommend always getting park hopper passes, they are excellent for getting you just about anywhere on Disney property you might want to go!

  16. Dave Adams says:

    My family and I did the Wishes Fireworks party this May and I echo your comments about the view. Even though I nabbed some good fireworks photos from the party, I’ll never use them for anything due to the poor composition. I couldn’t have been happier with the fireworks party, but ironically it’s a bad spot for photos.

  17. Niki says:

    I love all the tips. We have actually splurged the last few times we have gone to WDW and bought tickets for the Pirates and Pals Fireworks cruise. You get a front row seat for the water pageant but then also a great view of the fireworks with the soundtrack pumped right into the boat. It is pricey but worth it. You get great picture opportunities with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee before the cruise, along with lots of great snacks, and picture opportunities with Peter Pan after the cruise. The best part is NO crowds. There are only so many spaces on the boats so it is worth the extra expense. My kids love our host, Patchy the pirate. He makes the whole cruise very fun.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      We’ve heard some good things about this cruise. Thank you for adding your review of it! Much appreciated!

  18. Victoria says:

    I’m just wondering what settings you use on your camera for taking these photos. I’m also assuming you’ve used a tripod for all of these photographs…? Thanks for the info!

  19. Donna Angelo says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your tips- I can’t wait to put them to use!

  20. Scot Eaves says:

    So, just to be clear, the TTC location is on the ferry boat dock and not on the monorail platform or somewhere else in the TTC area?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Don’t actually go onto the dock. The spot is to the right of the dock before you would head onto it (right by the exit from the dock).

  21. Niko Wells says:

    Thats from Poly Beach. Over near the grassy knoll. I like how the castle is down in the lower left corner. That and TTC Ferryboat dock are my favorite places to shoot. Will be there tomorrow for the Celebrate America fireworks!

  22. Stephanie T says:

    Watching the fireworks on any occasion from Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is great, however, another excellent spot outside is the fourth floor at The Contemporary. The fireworks show is awesome and you can miss the crowds in getting out of the park (especially good if you have little ones). Of course, videoing is great to.

  23. Stephanie T says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention that if you go during Halloween dates, you can go to The Contemporary fourth floor and watch the fireworks, you can also hear the music as if you were in MK. If have seen videos on U Tube of the fireworks on Main Street, if fireworks are the only thing you want to see, you can skip paying extra for the ticket. You can enjoy a fantastic fireworks show with the music and skipping the huge crowds afterwards.

  24. DOM says:

    Ever try boat dock at Grand Floridian? We were just there last week. Great place to watch them, no music though…

  25. Jacky says:

    Guess where I saw the special July 4th fireworks from the Magic Kingdom tonight? From my hotel on International Drive!

    • Jennifer says:

      Was wondering how far away from the park you can see the 4th of July fireworks….we fly in on the 4th so not planning to hit parks that day but hoped to see some fireworks. We are staying closer to Sea World so guessing we will be able to see that show versus the MK one.

      • Jacky says:

        I saw the SeaWorld fireworks last year from my hotel. I stayed at the Doubletree Hilton at Sea World. People where parking in the median around Sea World to catch the fireworks. I’ve been stuck in Magic Kingdom when I was little after July 4th fireworks. It was awful. We waited 2 hours in line to catch a Disney bus back to our resort. Not mention to pushing and people yelling. It was horrible. I wouldn’t recommend going the parks to see fireworks on the 4th!

  26. Daniel says:

    Great article Tom…though I’m sure the Crystal Palace spot will be extremely crowded now!!! I plan on hitting Disney’s Celebrate America! – A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky on Friday July 5th since I work both tonight and the 4th. They are actually running this show July 1st through the 7th. Last time I shot at MK I couldn’t find a nice spot in the hub area so I had to go off-center, on the pathways between the hub and the Dessert party terrace…

  27. Kent says:

    We are going to stay at CR this Dec. and may take some pictures of the fireworks from there. In your opinion would I need anything larger than my nikon 2.8 70-200mm lens. Looking forward to taking a lot of firework photos with nd filter. Do you recommend 6 or 9 stop?

  28. David R. says:

    My wife and I are planning our first trip to Disney World and the question came up: “what about fireworks viewing?!”

    I turned to my favorite site about WDW and what do you know? A post about fireworks. Your site has been absolutely essential to our planning and this post has made us so excited. Thanks a million!

  29. Bobby says:

    We just read your best photo spots for fireworks post as we went down for the 4th. We were unsure how you got such amazing photos from the Transportation Center when we saw the distance, but once I set up my lens (and I didn’t even need a very big zoom), we got some amazing shots! And, you can see the entire show. So many bursts off to the sides you never notice standing so close to the castle. Our new favorite spot! But, you have to get there a bit early as the secret seems to be out and it got pretty crowded. Still much more comfortable than the main street crowd!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Glad you liked that spot. It does get crowded there for the special shows (July 4 and NYE), but the rest of the time, it’s not too bad.

  30. Mary says:

    Have any DVC members watched the fireworks from Bay Lake Tower’s Top of the World Lounge? I would rather watch them right in the park however after dinner at the Contemporary one night we might not be able to make it back to MK in time.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The last photo in the article is from the Top of the World Lounge during the New Year’s Ever fireworks. It’s a good, uncrowded spot to watch the fireworks, but shows without perimeter bursts (so any normal night) are no as impressive from up there.

  31. Spencer says:

    Great comparison! One of my biggest things with photographing Wishes is I found I took better photos the more into the trip we were and the more familiar I was with what was coming up. I shot some fireworks in Kansas City on Memorial Day and I found myself really frustrated that I couldn’t predict the show. :-) So I guess my tip would be – Don’t stop taking pictures at later showings because you’ve “already done it”.

    On a location note – We loved the Poly Beach atmosphere for Wishes. It is so relaxed, and I mean, self serve dole whip, what is better than that? :-) I wouldn’t substitute it for viewing in the park if you just get to see it once, but on a longer trip where we caught at least 1 (often 2) nighttime spectaculars a night for 7 nights, the beach was a nice change of pace. Here is a shot I took of “The Fan” from the Poly Beach (we went out past the pool and turned right, about halfway down the beach) –!i=2449729240&k=JNvGJpS

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for sharing the photo! You’re right about the atmosphere on the Polynesian Beach; my only qualm is that it’s a bit off-center, which is why I prefer the nearby TTC. Great shot–thanks for sharing it!

  32. Mike Wendt says:

    We discovered a pretty cool spot for fireworks viewing on our last trip, by accident. We were riding Thunder Mountain as the show started. Riding Big Thunder Railroad under the fireworks is pretty cool itself, but when we got off we stood in the clearing between Thunder & Splash Mountain. There was only a handful of park guests and 4-5 cast members. Looking up made us feel as if we were surrounded by the fireworks. They didn’t seem off in the distance, but right over head and all around us. Very cool if you can’t get a castle view.

  33. Meredith says:

    How are the crowds in mid January? I’m planning on hitting the park with just myself and DH before a Disney cruise and was debating between the MK and Epcot but since we’ve see the light show at Epcot a few times I think that MK is the place for us!

  34. Mary says:

    Just want to figure out where the TTC dock is. Looking at the map of the Magic Kingdom, is it where the little boat is – like right on the dock? Do they shoo people away from there? Also we will be eating at the Grand Floridian @ 8:15 and taking the boat or monorail back to MK. Boat is probably better right? Any help is appreciated! First time seeing Wishes, first time my daughter is going to MK. Really looking foward to it! Thanks!!

  35. Andy says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for all the great posts on here!

    Just to be clear, the fireworks soundtrack is played on the TTC dock and the Poly beach – right? Is that just the normal Wishes music, or the Halloween/Christmas shows as well?

    • Andy says:

      …and to reply to myself with a quick follow-up, I see from Google that there are 2 separate beach areas at the Poly, on either side of Sunset Pointe. Between the 2 beach areas, do both of them offer piped-in music, or only (what appears to be) the “main” beach on the west side? What about the view/music from the Pointe itself? Are all 3 areas comparably accessbile and welcoming to non-Poly guests?

      I’ve never set foot in the Poly besides passing through on the monorail, so I’m trying to get my bearings ahead of time.


  36. Stephanie says:

    Tom, you have made my day with this post! I am a Disneyland Vereran who never watches the fireworks from the park ever since I have been an adult! My husband is not a park commando like I am, so we watch it from our hotel. I have finally convinced him to take us to WDW for the first time, Christmas time of 2014! I am a Disney Podcast fanatic and every one says, “You have to see the fireworks!”. Now at least I can know where we can view and not necessarily camp out for days! (Probably the TTC dock!).

  37. Stefanie says:

    On 9/29 when I was planning on watching them from the Poly beach, I saw that the Electrical Water Pageant starts at the same time. A CM told me via chat that the music will be for the pageant since the fireworks are in the park. Does anyone have any other outside viewing areas to watch them with the music?

  38. mel says:

    In the castle is pretty cool. Not the only way I would want to see it but if you are going to be at Magic Kingdom more than one night make reservations at Cinderellas Table and ask to be placed close to the window. Really pretty neat. make your reservations before the fireworks start because you need time to get your picture taken and be seated.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Never thought of doing dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table during the fireworks. I’m sure that’d be a cool experience. Thanks for the tip!

  39. Christina says:

    Great post. I have been a fan of the fireworks from behind the castle and even have some sweet teenage memories of fireworks from BTR. Those wouldn’t be my first pick but just gives someone who has been going to the parks for years a new aspect.

  40. Krisi says:

    Love this post – just what I wanted to read to learn more about where to watch. Now will have to figure out timing of things to make sure we can see everything we want each night.

    We are planning our trip for Sept/Oct 2014

  41. Laurie says:

    Hey Tom! Thanks for all the great advice! We normally stand in the #3 space….in front of Crystal Palace/Caseys area. We are going to the MVMCP in two weeks and I have been pondering where we will stand for the fireworks. If you stand in the #4 space….the hump….will you get a good view of the perimeter fireworks or would you be better off in the #3 space? We will be viewing from the TTC the night before. Very excited to see what kind of captures I can get this trip! Oh….and what lens do you prefer to use when you are at the TTC?

  42. Tina says:

    How do you take such exquisite photos of the castle and fireworks? What functions do you use on a DSLR? Your pictures are truly beautiful! Thank you!

  43. Dan says:

    Great post. The spot outside crystal palace is a hidden gem. Got some awesome shots there is September. Already planning the next trip :-)

  44. leandro sollaci says:

    Hi Tom, I am from Brazil and I intend to go to disney on 12/30/2014 to see the new year eve. I saw your blog and I´d like to know if the best view to watch firework is the Tomorrowland Terrace or in front of the castle ? Could you give me this clue ? I think to watch it in front of the castle I need to spend more than 4 hours waiting there that´s why I am concerned about it. Tks.

  45. Ron says:

    Great pictures Tom !! Another spot we like is the dock at Wilderness Campground. You can’t see the Castle, but you get nice reflections off Bay Lake, and the music is piped in.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the tip–I’ve never considered shooting from there, but might give it a shot the next time we stay at Fort Wilderness!

  46. Amber MacNeil says:

    Thanks for the map and photos! It really helps to understand it better.
    I have seen Wishes many times from different viewing points.
    Honestly one of my favorites was on the bridge to Tomorrowland. The view was partially obstructed, but I liked that 20 minutes before the show I was able to grab a seat on a cement “bench”.
    This coming up trip I have the dessert party booked. Yaayyy!!
    I think I will also try behind the castle on my last night there. Like you said in a reply, it seems like I might enjoy the “immersive” experience. :-)
    Hope you have a great New Year’s!!

  47. sdh says:

    Does polynesian allow visitors not staying in any Disney resort on New years eve for viewing from the beach?

  48. ajmingram says:

    We just returned from WDW – took a trip during the week of New Year’s. We ended up staking out a spot at the cafe tables just below the Terrace eating area. Definite pros – great view of the castle for Celebrate the Magic, good view of Wishes if you aren’t looking to take wide shots of the fireworks and not very crowded. There was a photographer set up next to us snapping shots of the fireworks and he seemed happy with it. Another plus, you can sit in a chair without the worry of people obstructing your view.

    Cons – depending on where you sat in that area you may not get a good view of Tinker Bell and the umbrellas on the tables are annoying.

    Overall it was a fantastic spot and we will probably sit there again the next time we go.

  49. Jessica says:

    Tom, do u intend to make a guide to watch illuminations or fantasmic!?

  50. Robin says:

    Does the DVC construction at the poly interfere with fireworks viewing?

    • Jo says:

      I’d be interested in anyone’s response to this too as we are planning this spot for our viewing this year. We’ll be there March 2014

  51. Chris says:

    Hi Tom, the Wishes Fastpass Plus is appealing to us because we’re going during a busy time, don’t want to use valuable time to claim a viewing spot and because we’re less likely to watch the show through Captain Dingbat’s iPad screen. BUT, how’s the view from there? I believe it’s in the Rose Garden area? Would this be an orange or yellow on your map? Probably not green, I suppose, right? I’m worried it will be too close and a bit skewed. Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’m not a fan of that spot. It’s fine, but it’s not a location that would be in high demand on a normal night.

  52. Jon Gossett says:

    Hey Tom, I thought this would be a nice place to ask what your opinions are of the now confirmed Hub redesign and what it is going to do for photographing fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. One thing I noticed from the plans is that one of my, and apparently yours favorite spots (the fence in front of Crystal Palace) is going to be dramatically changed if not completely eliminated. Also I suspect that the “Hump” is going to be eliminated as well when they expand the bridge.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah. :( While I’m looking forward to what the new Hub will bring, this article will need to be changed dramatically once the project is done.

  53. Annie says:

    My husband and I are annual pass holders and we’ve seen Wishes many times, but we love it every time! Thank you for choosing the same moment for each picture because these pictures have finally convinced my husband to watch wishes from different spots! We always watch from the same spot, the smoking section steps leading down to the Plaza landing. That is a good location to watch Wishes, but I’d like to try somewhere new.

    We will be there this weekend and we’d like to try 8. Ticket & Transportation Center Dock. Can you see the fireworks from anywhere at the T&TC? For example, will we have just as good a view standing at the bottom of the monorails, standing in front of the boat docks or standing by the lines for the trams? Where were you standing to take the picture? Also, is the Wishes music still played at T&TC?

    My husband is hesitant to watch them anywhere but inside Magic Kingdom, but I assured him you know what you’re talking about 😉

  54. Rachel says:

    One of my favourite places is in New Fantasyland, near enchanted tales with. Belle where you can see both castles, I got some great photos of the fireworks above Be Our Guest!

  55. Mark H says:

    Great post! I am a Disney Vet and you listed one area I have never tried before! Thank you!

  56. Terri says:

    I’m not sure if this has been asked/addressed prior, but what are your thoughts on watching Wishes from Pirates & Pals?

  57. Kimberly says:

    Great article! I usually watch the fireworks from the Train Station because I love the view looking down Main Street, but you are right. That flag pole does get in the way. On my last trip, I discovered the spot by Crystal Palace. It makes for some great photos! I will have to try some of the other spots your mentioned, especially the TTC dock, on my next trip.

  58. Matt Kruse says:

    We just got back from Disney, and I’m glad I found this post before we went, but I would like to add a few comments:

    1) Because of construction, there are big walls in front of the Crystal Palace / Casey’s along the fence line (June 2014). It’s not a good place to watch the show right now, and in fact they brushed us along when we tried to stand there.

    2) Our first night, we barely made it to the park in time for the show, so we had a random spot on main street. I was surprised to find that it was great! In fact, we caught the show from several places over the week, and all were good. There really are very few “bad” spots, I learned.

    3) “The hump” was sooooooo crowded. Not worth it, IMO.

    4) We had a fast pass for the lighted parade at 9pm, right up in front of the castle inside the center circle. It was great for the parade, GREAT for the castle projection show, but as you said, not good for fireworks. But we did enjoy being so close for one night, because the fireworks that arc over the castle are super bright, and it was just fun to be close to the action (and not have to get there early for a spot). Most fireworks behind the castle were not visible. Glad we didn’t go here the first night, but I was happy to have a spot there at least once for the projection show.

    5) The saddest two things for me: (1) Everyone in front was sitting down for the show, except for a small group of people near the middle who stood and blocked the view for kids. Jerks. A fight nearly broke out as people yelled at them to sit down. (2) I looked around, and I could see hundreds of phones and ipads out, recording the show. WHY?! Just go to youtube and watch a recording from someone who probably had a better spot and camera than you! So many people watching screens, instead of looking at the smiles on their kids’ faces or taking in the ambience of the show. Bummer.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the feedback. We were there a couple of weeks ago and saw those construction walls all around the Hub. Guess I need to update that section of the guide.

      The #5 on your list, unfortunately, is a regular thing–both in terms of people not having any regard for others in terms of view, and in everyone recording the show on their phones and iPads. A lot of people have never heard of YouTube, I guess! 😉

      Thanks for the feedback!

  59. Paul says:

    Is the ebook still available? All the links are dead ends.

  60. Kathy Smith says:

    What focal length lens would you recommend using for taking pictures of wishes from the transportation center dock?

  61. Erin Pocock says:

    Hey there Tom, thanks for the info! Just one quick question, from the TTC can you also view the water pageant, or no? TIA!

  62. Michael says:

    During my family Christmas trip to Disney World last year, we watched the fireworks from the beaches of the Polynesian. We had a great time relaxing in lounge chairs and they even pipe the music in. Would do that again.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yep, it’s a great spot. Unfortunately, due to construction, that view isn’t really possible right now.

  63. Heather says:

    Hi…going the week of New Years, staying at the Contemporary….is it true we can watch them from a terrace area at that resort?

  64. Martha says:

    Hi there, i was wondering if anyone knows if they play the Celebrate the Magic music inside California Grill as well as Wishes? I’m bringing my best friend on her first trip this october, and we’re very excited for Cali Grill for the food and the view :) i know we won’t be able to make out the projections very well, but i’m mostly interested in the music :)

  65. Tim says:

    Hi Tom, Really love your blog! We’re headed to WDW in February, and I really want to get some great fireworks shots. Just wondering, what sort of lens do you recommend when shooting from the TTC? We have a Canon 18-135, and a prime 50mm. Would either of those be sufficient, or should we look into something else?

  66. Tom says:

    Tom, what is your go-to lens for MK fireworks? Is the Sigma 35mm Art Lens the best option for a full-frame prime lens for fireworks? If so, from what locations would you recommend using that lens? Thanks so much and thanks for your amazing website. It’s by far the most informative and enjoyable one on the Disney parks.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      There’s nothing wrong with the Sigma 35mm Art for fireworks, but I’d much sooner recommend a zoom lens, especially if you’ve never shot the show, or are unfamiliar with it. If you do use that lens, plan to stand somewhere just north of Casey’s.

  67. David Andree says:

    I have not been to Disney World in 30 years, but now that they rent electric carts, My wife, sister, and I plan to go the second week in January (light crowds, I hope). We would be park hopping to the Magic Kingdom after Animal Kingdom mostly for some nigh time ambiance. Do you have a recommendation for where the electric scooters can see the fireworks? I do not mind using a fastpass for the position, if that would help. Hopefully we can parkhop and get 3 ECV’s at that time of year, but if not, then there will be one or two wheelchairs for sure. Photos of fireworks are not a concern for us, just the experience.

    Your blog posts have been an amazing help at understanding my options and planning the trip. Great job.

    Your blo

  68. Mike says:

    I can’t find an article about the best spot to watch Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

    I’ve read in other sites that the best spot might be the place between two gift shops as you enter world showcase. Where exactly is that? Whats your opinion? Do you know any other spot as the best one to watch this show?


  69. Shakeeta says:

    I am totally taking your advice. You have never steered me wrong. I make sure I check with you have to say before I make any moves to even plan my trip to Disney World. Thanks you’re the best

  70. John says:

    When the new hub is complete will this open up more green or yellow areas?


  71. nattie says:

    I loved your advice! I have a question about #8. Are you referring to the ticket and Transportation Center or the monorail transportation center at Magic Kingdom?

  72. Julie says:

    where exactly at the tcc do you recommend standing? by the boat dock or monorail area? we are staying at poly and thought we would do it there and then head over the mk for the emh. but if the music is piped in at tcc and we are that much closer to getting into the park, it sounds like a win win. and after our 1st experience watching wishes in the park NOT sure if we want to do it again. adults stepping all over my kids, people pushing, adults putting their kids on their shoulders while i held mind to eye level (killing my shoulders). your pics are awesome. and so is your advice. thanks

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  91. Brian says:

    Tom, have you been able to make a trip out there to shoot Wishes during/after all the hub construction? From all of the photos and videos I have seen, it appears the lamp posts and those “stage lighting” posts obstruct a “clear shot” of the castle (strictly for photography, not general viewing in which it doesn’t look too bad), especially from the new FP+ areas.

    Going for the 24 hour event but from what I can tell, setting up right in front of one of the (two) small fountains just in front of the FP+ areas seems to eliminate the lamp posts but I might be getting a little too close to castle. Is it possible to get a decent shot from the hub anymore, without so much deadspace in the shots?

    Thoughts? Opinion? Tips?

  92. Stacy says:

    Thanks for the best post out there on this topic! I’d looked everywhere, and this is exactly the information I needed. I’m going to make a go for the hump, but I’ve heard from friends that it’s easy to try for the hump but get pushed or instructed to move back or forward into less desirable spots. So I was hoping you could share a few more details on where to wait to swoop onto the hump and when to do the swooping. Do cast members actually take the ropes down (or put them up?) at swooping time, or do I just watch for them to leave the area?

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  94. Darren Lachance says:

    HI, I read a post from several years ago about parking at Downtown Disney and taking a bus to Polynesian beach for fireworks. Is this still an option, as I understand parking at Downtown Disney is free. Tight budget. Want to get as much out of it as I can

  95. Aubrey T says:

    Hello Tom,

    thank you so much for this analysis! So – I have a question ( I was unable to read through all of the responses) I see that you say the Terrace dessert location isn’t “Best” but it is adequate, correct? I have pretty severe anxiety (I know – why am I torturing myself with Disney?! haha) but I am bringing my 7 year old nephew to Disney for the first time, and I feel like having a designated spot would be ideal, vs fighting crowds. Does the Terrace dessert party have decent enough views, and also what is the recommendation for getting a front row table? I know it says to show up an hour before your reservation time, but I wasn’t sure if showing up earlier than that is adventageous? Lastly, we would want to try and sit as close to main street as possible, correct?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yes, it is adequate. Basically, you want to show up as late as possible to still get a front row table. I don’t know if that’s an hour, 30 minutes, etc. I’d think an hour would be sufficient, but that’s really just a guess on my part.

  96. Ken says:

    Love this article, exactly what I was looking for to help with an upcoming trip. Never have taken firework photos before but have taken night photos of buildings so I have some idea of what to do.

    I have a couple of questions. I plan on shooting from the TTC.

    Lens recommendation: I will be bringing both a 18-135 and 100-400 lens. I also have a 1.4x extender for the 100-400. Which lens would be best?

    ISO settings: Best to set around 800?

    Shutter speed: I’m guessing from the photo in spot 8 you have the shutter set to a few seconds at least. The streaking ferry lights tell me that much :) But what do you find to be the best shutter speed to use?

    Thanks in advance for you answers.

  97. Bailey says:

    What’s best for shorter people? I’m only 5’2 and I’ve always found if I stand somewhere that’s not in front of the castle directly, there’s always someone taller than me blocking my view and I can’t see or get any pictures at all?

    I know a several years ago my dad and I were able to get a good spot (probably near Main Street I don’t remember where) and he was able to get some great pictures that looked like no one was in front of us, but he’s taller than me so yeah.

  98. NonnaT says:

    The answers may be the same, but, which is the best NON MK viewing spot for New Years Eve. The answer may actually make our decision as to which resort to stay in… Thank you!

  99. magnificent issues altogether, you simply gained a brand new reader. What would you suggest about your submit that you made a few days ago? Any certain?

  100. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  101. Lisa says:

    I noticed that the Chef Mickey has a view of the castle. Is it possible to be there and watch the fireworks? I mean, I don’t know how late they are open…what are your thoughts on that? By the way, I love the pictures from the various view points! Thanks, Lisa E

  102. Donna says:

    I read this blog on the bus between my hotel and Magic Kingdom. My son & I were able to get to the absolute front of the hump (after crowd began clearing following the parade) and I can not even begin to describe the absolute perfection of that spot for us. He could see so perfectly & it will be a memory I’ll never forget. Thank you for sharing this secret. It made our trip even more magical than I could have dreamed!!

  103. ShannanB says:

    Thank you so much for all of the useful info in your blog.

    I’ve never been to Disney before and I’m taking my 8 year old daughter for her birthday at the end of September. I’ve read a lot of the comments and didn’t notice if anyone mentioned if there are fireworks every night or if they are just on the special event nights? Also, what time do they start?

    I will be reading every word for the next month so I can seem like I know what I’m doing :)

    Cheers, S

  104. Pam Crowley says:

    Any thoughts on the 2 new fastpass viewing areas?


  1. 101 Delicious Disney World Dining Tips - Disney Tourist Blog - […] The Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party offers an off-center view of the fireworks. We are not fans of this …

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