There’s no better nightcap to a great meal at Walt Disney World than by watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Watching Happily Ever After from your table or outside a Signature Restaurant is like bonus dessert. In this post, we’ll share the best dining options for Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing, with tips for what you can expect from the experience. (Updated October 30, 2019.)
One thing to note with regard to every single one of these viewing locations is that you’re not going to see the projection portion of Happily Ever After. Because of this, our strong advice is watching Happily Ever After once from Main Street USA (see our Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Spots post for a color-coded map of the best and worst locations) before viewing the fireworks from these more unique vantages.
There has been a lot of criticism of Happily Ever After that it cannot be viewed anywhere except Main Street due to these projections. This is patently false. Happily Ever After has just as much pyro as Wishes had; the projections are in addition to the pyro. Without the projections, the viewing experience of Happily Ever After is pretty much identical to what it was for Wishes.
This is actually a post we’ve been wanting to do for a while, as we’ve done fireworks meals at all of these restaurants. “Unfortunately,” during most of those meals we focused on the actual eating and viewing, and I didn’t make an effort to capture photos at a couple of them.
The perfectionist in me has wanted to return to get them for a few years now, but I’ve resolved myself that that’s just not going to happen. In some cases (looking at you, ‘Ohana) that would require a bit of a sacrifice from our optimal dining experience. We love you readers…but not quite that much! 🙂
Note that we mention Happily Ever After throughout this post, as that’s Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks spectacular. However, these tips also apply equally to seasonal shows. Actually, the tips are even better for those two shows. It’s a way to watch those hard-ticket fireworks for free, and your view of the perimeter bursts during those shows will be even better from outside the park than from within.
These tips namely apply to the new-for-2019 Disney’s Not So Spooky Spectacular during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, events that run from mid-August pretty much non-stop through late December for at least one night per week (and up to 3-4 nights per week at their peak). Same goes for the July 4th and New Year’s Eve fireworks.
A couple of other notes that should preemptively answer some questions. First, you’ll want to arrive at least 30 minutes before your ADR and request a window fireworks view at each of these restaurants (if you want to be able to watch from your table). Second, your request is not guaranteed to be fulfilled, but the restaurants will typically do their best.
Finally, the soundtracks for the various fireworks shows are all piped into the restaurants, so you’ll be able to here the music. You will note, however, be able to see the projections on Cinderella Castle from any of these restaurants. That is, unless you pack binoculars…but that might be sort of awkward at a fine dining restaurant. (We’re not judging!)
With that said, here are the restaurants at Walt Disney World that offer views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks…
California Grill or Top of the World Lounge – These two rooftop dining spots at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower (respectively), are our favorite restaurants for watching fireworks at Walt Disney World. In fact, we enjoy both so much that we’ve left Magic Kingdom on busy nights to grab a light-bite at the California Grill Lounge (which is walk-up only on a first-come, first-served basis and is more casual than the main dining rooms at Cali Grill) or Top of the World for a more low-key fireworks viewing.
The downside to both is that the views are pretty far off-center. This is our big criticism of the Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace (which is a pretty similar angle, just closer), but the difference between the two is that with the party, you’re primarily paying for a fireworks view. At California Grill or Top of the World, fireworks is more like icing on the cake. I also appreciate that the vantage here is elevated (both restaurants are on the top floor, some 15 stories up), providing an aerial view of Magic Kingdom that stretches from Tomorrowland to Frontierland.
The good news with both locations is that there are outdoor viewing terraces for guests without window tables. If you dine at California Grill earlier in the evening, you can also return with your receipt for access to this viewing area. Note that Top of the World Lounge is only for Disney Vacation Club members or guests, so California Grill might be your option here by default if you don’t have access to both. If you do have access to both, we prefer Top of the World Lounge. It’s perpetually uncrowded and you don’t need to order any food if you don’t want. (Although the Seven Layer Cake at Top of the World is a must-try dessert!)
‘Ohana – In theory, ‘Ohana is the objectively-best restaurant at Walt Disney World for Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing. It’s pretty close to a dead-on view, meaning the show is nearly centered. The large bursts from the fireworks outside Magic Kingdom do appear a bit to the left of Cinderella Castle, but only slightly.
The reality–at least what we’ve experienced–is not quite as good. Since this is the most family-friendly restaurant on this list, demand for window tables here is the highest. This means requests for window seats are less likely to be fulfilled, meaning you have to arrive earlier if you want a guaranteed window table. It also means that if you do luck out and get a window table, don’t be surprised if you acquire new “family” members once the fireworks start.
We’ve had a couple of experiences like this at ‘Ohana, and it has sort of soured us on the idea. Instead, what we think is themuch better option is viewing Happily Ever After from Sunset Point, which is the elevated hump that overlooks the bungalows (view pictured above). You’ll probably find other recommendations for the Poly beach–skip that for the tranquil, uncrowded experience of Sunset Point. Make an ADR for ‘Ohana after the fireworks, and do dinner then. You’ll have a shorter wait for a table and there will be a mass exodus from ‘Ohana right as you’re arriving.
Narcoossee’s – Located along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Narcoossee’s is akin to the reverse view of California Grill, except from ground level and not quite as often center. While the lack of an elevated view is something of a downside, the slightly more centered view almost makes up for it.
What totally makes up for the lower view is having a perfect view of Electrical Water Pageant. While you can request a window table for a view of the fireworks from your seat, note that there is a waterfront verandah outside the restaurant that will fill with restaurant patrons once Happily Ever After starts. This won’t block your view, but it is a distraction, and you’re probably just better off going out there yourself, too.
These are the big three, but there are a few other options we’ll cover quickly…
Chef Mickey’s or Contempo Cafe – Neither of these restaurants in the Grand Canyon Concourse at Disney’s Contemporary Resort offer good views. However, there is an outdoor terrace directly outside the restaurants that offers a good view. It’s basically identical to the view from California Grill, except without the bird’s eye component.
You can also walk up the exterior stair wells for an even better, elevated view. As odd as it might sound, this stairwell is one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World to wait for the fireworks, watching the sunset transition to night–just look at those passing monorails!
Other Outside-Park Restaurants – If you want to do eat while watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks but want to do something grab and go, Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian and Gasparilla Island Grill at Grand Floridian are both good options if you take your food outside.
In-Park Restaurants – There are zero Magic Kingdom restaurants that offer good fireworks views from your table. The outdoor seating at Casey’s Corner and near Plaza Restaurant can be serviceable if you really want to sit down, but the projections will be obscured, and the area will be absolutely chaotic.
Directly outside of Crystal Palace is one of my favorite “secret” fireworks locations, but this is primarily for photography, as it’s one of the few spots where reflections are possible. The downside to this location is that it’s also stroller parking. Again, this is not from your table at Crystal Palace. It’s more a before/after meal option.
Cinderella’s Royal Table offers a good view of around half of the fireworks, and is unique in that the half of the fireworks you can’t see aren’t visible because they’re coming from (essentially) right above you. This results in the restaurant’s dining room being bathed in different colors during the show. It’s a pretty cool experience, but not how I’d want to see Happily Ever After for the first or even second time.
That’s really about it. You can probably catch glimpses of Happily Ever After and other Magic Kingdom fireworks shows from various restaurants around Walt Disney World, but none are worth seeking out. If none of these restaurants work out, your best bet is going to be the Ticket & Transportation Center dock. It’s free, rarely crowded, doesn’t require any sort of reservations, and the view is straight-on and spectacular. In fact, that is my favorite view outside Magic Kingdom, period.
Do you have a favorite restaurant for viewing fireworks at Walt Disney World? Any of these restaurants that you do not like for watching Happily Ever After? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!