Best Disneyland Fireworks Views

Blog post with a map of the best Disneyland fireworks viewing spots, and photos from those locations!

Watching the Disneyland fireworks can be the highlight of a trip, but crowds and other viewing obstructions can make finding the best spot to watch the fireworks (Remember… Dreams Come True, Magical!, Halloween Screams, or Believe… in Holiday Magic) difficult. Since the Fourth of July “Salute to America” Limited Time Magic fireworks parties start today in Disneyland, now seems like a good time to share some of these locations, as well as some alternate places to go if you want to avoid the heavy crowds on Main Street.

If you read my prior “Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Views” post, you know that I cautioned to use discretion before blindly following the map, and not to do anything stupid like standing behind a tree even if it falls into a “Good” zone on the map. This is doubly true with the Disneyland fireworks. Disneyland has a lot more trees on Main Street than the Magic Kingdom, and while I’ve tried to account for some areas that I know have many trees blocking the views, I don’t have a perfect “tree-memory.” If you pick a spot that is yellow or green on the map and a tree blocks your view of Sleeping Beauty Castle or the sky above it (and to a lesser extent, the Matterhorn), that’s not actually a good spot. The trees don’t retract into the ground when the fireworks start.

Along these same lines, while I have seen the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom more times than I can count (probably well over 100), I’ve been going to Walt Disney World my entire life, and the fireworks there run nightly with few exceptions. I haven’t visited Disneyland as many times, and even when I have visited, the fireworks aren’t always shown (either due to only being scheduled on the weekends or being cancelled at the last minute due to wind). Disneyland also mixes up its shows more frequently, with the “normal” show, Remember… Dreams Come True playing for about 33% of the year. Magical! is shown in the summer; Halloween Screams runs during Halloween Time at Disneyland; and Believe… In Holiday Magic is shown during Disneyland’s Christmas season. All of these run much more than their Walt Disney World seasonal counterparts. Still, I’ve seen these shows numerous times, just not from every conceivable spot in the park. Luckily, I’ve seen them from enough locations and have enough knowledge about fireworks to fill in the gaps and offer my takes on the best locations overall.

The map plus the various sample photos from these locations should give you visual thinkers a great idea of what to expect from different fireworks viewing places in Disneyland on Main Street. Just like the Magic Kingdom fireworks, all of the Disneyland fireworks shows were designed to be viewed straight-on from Main Street, USA. Moreso than the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland’s shows were designed to be viewed from The Hub, specifically. However, Disneyland also has a number of good alternative views, which can be great to avoid the throngs of locals who show up after work and camp out at the best spots for hours prior to the fireworks (something too time-consuming for tourists with limited vacation hours). After I go over the specific Main Street, USA views, I’ll touch upon some of these quiet spots and offer my thoughts on them.

Here are some looks at what you can expect from each numbered location on the map… (more…)

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. Given the popularity of my Best Cinderella Castle Photo Spots post, and since the Fourth of July “Salute to America” Limited Time Magic fireworks parties, now seems like a good time to share these locations.

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! (more…)

How To Photograph Fireworks eBook!

Do you wish you could photograph fireworks better? Do you have difficulty photographing fireworks? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you should check out the new eBook I co-authored, detailing how to photograph fireworks. The eBook, called Fireworks Photography, is a collaborative effort between me and those crazy hooligans, Cory and Adam, who run the excellent Disney Photography Blog.

After many months of grueling work on what can be called both a labor of love and a painstaking task (seriously, who would have ever guessed that writing a book would be so much work?!), we are proud to finally release the finished version. (more…)

Here Comes the Christmas 2012 Grand Finale!

If the Christmas season were a fireworks show, we’d be nearing the grand finale. The presents are wrapped, the food is prepared, and one of our smaller family gatherings just concluded, leaving the house empty and quiet for the rest of the night. Of course, tomorrow morning the “grand finale” will occur, in the form of Christmas morning. I no longer have the sense of anticipation for Christmas morning that I did as a child–Sarah and I don’t do much in the way of gifts for one another and we don’t yet have kids to vicariously experience the joy of Christmas gifting–but it’s still a great day for spending time with family and enjoying festivities.

It might be a tortured analogy, but I think firework shows have some parallels. Just before the grand finale is the “late Christmas eve” portion of the show, where everything quiets down to build anticipation and make the grand finale all the more poignant. The grand finale is like a series of glorious, explosive presents. Fireworks themselves are festivities. As for the family part of the analogy…well, uhh…like I said, it’s a tortured analogy.

In real life, I love this quiet time. It’s a great time to just sit around, eat a couple a few dozen cookies, and watch Christmas movies with the family. In the world of fireworks…well, who likes a “tranquil” fireworks show? Only communists. To that end, here’s a photo from the grand finale of Holiday Wishes, when the perimeter bursts, incredibly bright streaming fireworks, and Cinderella Castle Dreamlights all erase the tranquility from the night sky over Walt Disney World.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Please click the photo above to view it large.

Technical details: shot with a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

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Illuminations: Peace on Earth Photo

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with the Peace on Earth tag is one of my favorite aspects of Christmas at Walt Disney World. One of my other favorite aspects is the Osborne Lights. Unfortunately, we only had one night last weekend to try to see both. Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed at 8 pm and Epcot closed at 9:30 pm. Perfect, I thought. Unfortunately, we hung around Disney’s Hollywood Studios for “just one more song” and “just one more photo” until 9 pm (I didn’t realize they kept the music running after the park closed…I thought it was just the lights.

Anyone know when this changed?), at which time I literally had to RUN from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get to Epcot in time for the fireworks. I made it just in time, and didn’t even bother trying to find a better spot along the World Showcase Lagoon to view the show. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see much or, more importantly, hear much from here, but it actually wasn’t too bad of a view and I could hear the show perfectly. Walt Cronkite’s narration always gives me chills. (more…)