Along with a price increase (naturally), Walt Disney World has added beer & wine to all three Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Parties. Alcohol in Magic Kingdom is always a controversial subject, and we’ll tackle some of the criticism of these changes along with our “review” of the Tomorrowland Terrace upcharge offerings.
As of February 2020, guests who are 21 years of age or older can consume alcoholic beverages (a selection of beer and wine) in addition to the desserts offered at each event. This applies to all 3 of the Magic Kingdom Dessert Parties: the Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace, the After-Fireworks Dessert Party, and the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing.
With the added booze comes a higher price. The Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace has increased by $15 to $99 for adults, there’s a $10 increase to $79 for the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing, and a $20 increase to $89 for the After-Fireworks Dessert Party. (Prices have also increased by $7-10 for kids.) Those are the basic changes–now let’s cover the upside, downside, winners and losers…
The biggest winner here is anyone who loves dessert parties and alcohol, but does not have kids. The largest price increase here is roughly the cost of two alcoholic drinks, so if you drink that much or more, you’re at least breaking even. For drinkers, it’s pretty easy to come out ahead with this change. If you have kids, you’ll have to drink more to come out ahead, but it is possible. (We believe in you!)
The losers here are those who don’t drink at all and light drinkers with kids. Basically, anyone who will pay more in the higher prices than they’ll consume in alcohol. (Another loser is anyone who is against alcohol in Magic Kingdom–but that ship seems to have sailed; it’s likely that there will continue to be a gradual erosion of the alcohol limits.)
Inevitably, the first question Walt Disney World regulars will have is whether there’s a less-expensive option for those who don’t drink. No, there is not. If you’re hopeful that such an option will be introduced in the future, don’t hold your breath. It’s highly unlikely.
First, because there are already dessert parties in Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom that offer alcohol. None offer bifurcation for drinkers and non-drinkers. It’s one price for all adults, with everyone able to eat and drink whatever they want.
Second, we went through this same thing back when the Disney Dining Plan added alcohol, with similar requests and complaints. In both cases, prices also simultaneously increased for kids. It should go without saying that there is no “non-alcoholic alternative” for them–no one under 21 years of age can take advantage of the added alcohol, to begin with.
The reality is that this is a fireworks dessert party price increase with a perk added to mask that–or make it appear that the upgrade is “better” than the price increase. It creates winners and losers, which is by design. So long as the winners are more boisterous or excited about the change, it plays as good news.
However, in order for Walt Disney World to come out ahead here (the house alwayswins), the cost of the alcohol consumed must be at least partially offset by those who do not drink–or do not heavily imbibe. The calculus is that kids and non-drinkers will subsidize those who order several alcoholic drinks.
In fairness, this is far from unprecedented. The exact same idea applies for vegetarians on the Disney Dining Plan or light eaters at buffets. I’m not suggesting this is fair or the approach Walt Disney World should be taking (especially at Magic Kingdom). Just that it is what it is.
I’ve touched upon this briefly in other posts, but I’m not a fan of the Happily Ever After dessert parties at Magic Kingdom, or any of these events at Walt Disney World, for that matter. Part of this is undoubtedly preconceived bias.
Way back in the day (over a decade ago), Tomorrowland Terrace is where we went to watch Wishes when Magic Kingdom was crowded or we wanted a spot away from the crowds. It was a hidden gem: not a great view of the fireworks, but at least we could sit down and enjoy a more leisurely experience.
When the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party debuted as a test offering, we opted not to do it. Given that we didn’t love the view from the Noodle Station seating area, the $25 price tag seemed steep for desserts. After all, we could stuff ourselves on desserts we actually wanted for around $20 total, for both of us. Now, the idea of unlimited desserts for $25 at Walt Disney World seems so quaint!
Our thinking is that the mirror image view of what Tomorrowland Terrace offers is free and often uncrowded. (See our Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locationsfor our recommendations, plus a color-coded map of where to watch–and where to avoid.)
This is not meant to be an “old man yells at cloud” story about how back in my day, prices were much cheaper for a better experience. I’m very cognizant of the fact that the original Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party debuted during the Great Recession. It was a time when attendance was lower and deals abounded. Things have changed significantly since then, both at Walt Disney World and the world at large.
Rather, that’s the backdrop for explaining my reticence about dessert parties, in general. If it was a pass for us at the $25 price, it should be easy to understand why we’ve continued to pass as the price has increased on an annual basis. While the spread has improved over the years, Tomorrowland Terrace still offers the same view.
With that said, we have experienced numerous dessert parties over the years in all four parks. Friends have invited us to their private events and dessert parties been included in various D23 events we’ve attended. We’ve refrained from reviewing those because the spreads are always customized (usually upgraded with iconic/extinct Walt Disney World desserts added…because these are events for Disney dorks like us), so they’re not representative of the regular guest experience. Plus, we’ve never paid (directly) for those dessert parties.
Despite that, I can’t say I’ve ever felt one of the dessert parties I’ve experienced was “worth it” when comparing my experience to the general public cost. They’ve been a ton of fun, no doubt, but a lot of that is being with friends and other fans–also not exactly representative of the normal dessert party experience.
With that said, I’m well aware of the fact that my opinion here is the minority one. While this blog’s aim is to offer objective planning advice, it’s difficult for me to set aside my own bias here. It’s one scenario where you definitely shouldn’t rely on my judgment over your own. I’m sure some of you will agree with my assessment of dessert parties. I’d hazard a guess that many more will disagree. That’s totally fine–everyone has their “unpopular opinion” and I can see mine on these for what it is.
This is borne out by the constant price increases and proliferation of these parties over the years. As prices have gone up, so too has demand. There are now three dessert parties for Happily Ever After, plus parties in Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. By all practical measures, the ones in DHS and Animal Kingdom are totally unnecessary–and yet, they’re popular anyway.
Ultimately, other guests seem to love Walt Disney World’s dessert parties. There’s something about the mix of exclusivity, a private event space, all you can eat sweets, and a stress-free viewing location for nighttime spectaculars that’s a winning formula. Add alcohol to the mix, and Magic Kingdom’s fireworks parties will likely become more popular than ever.
If this combo appeals to you, disregard my opinion and book one of these Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties. (Especially if your budget is unlimited and there’s no opportunity cost.) If you’re considering the parties only because of FOMO, give it some more thought and determine what, specifically, appeals to you about the dessert parties and why they would (or wouldn’t) be worth the money to you.
What do you think of the change to add alcohol to the Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert parties? Is it worth the increased cost to you, or would you have preferred no booze and a lower price? Are you a fan of Walt Disney World’s nighttime spectacular dessert parties? If so, which is your favorite? Do you agree or disagree with my ‘review’ of WDW’s dessert parties? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!