Walt Disney World has moved to date-based pricing for fireworks dessert parties at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, as well as for tours in those parks, Animal Kingdom & beyond. This post shares the price ranges & increases; plus our commentary about why this is happening and a brief rant about the WDW FOMO machine.
This comes amidst other price increases to start the Walt Disney Company’s new fiscal year. At Walt Disney World, this also includes Annual Passes, Memory Maker, parking, water parks tickets, miniature golf, and more. Over in California, Disneyland increased park ticket prices…and pretty much everything else, too.
For starters, it should be of absolutely no surprise to anyone that Walt Disney World has debuted date-based pricing for fireworks dessert parties and tours. If anything, it should come as a surprise that it took so long for the change. Like pretty much every hotel everywhere, Walt Disney World resorts have long had rate charts that charge more for weekends, holidays, and other peak weeks–while charging less for the off-season. (Discounts likewise tend to offer higher percentage savings for less popular dates, making the gap even larger.)
More recently, Walt Disney World launched date-based pricing for park tickets a few years ago. That effectively allowed them to increase prices for more popular dates, while still advertising a significantly lower starting price for the off-season. Not to rehash the contents of other previous posts, but this is why there’s such a chasm between the off-season cost of Animal Kingdom–which hasn’t gone up since 2018–and Christmas or New Year’s week dates at Magic Kingdom.
When it comes to add-ons, the same thing happened last year with the Genie+ service, as the paid FastPass option debuted date-based pricing…and then per-park pricing this year. Several years ago (pre-closure), there was also peak season pricing for character dining experiences; I don’t know when that started or stopped, but it hasn’t been a thing since reopening. (I’m guessing they got some bait & switch complaints about menus/reservations not reflecting the seasonal surcharge?)
Suffice to say, it’s par for the course that Walt Disney World would want to capitalize on the most popular dates of the year–when families are already paying premium prices for resorts, park tickets, and Lightning Lanes–and trying to squeeze a bit more. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the new variable pricing for tours at Walt Disney World…
Keys to the Kingdom Tour: $110 to $149 (previously $114)
Behind the Seeds at EPCOT Tour: $39 to $45 (previously $35)
EPCOT Seas Adventures – DiveQuest: $229 to $249. (previously $219)
EPCOT Seas Adventures – Dolphins in Depth: $209 (previously $199)
Caring for Giants: $39 (previously $35)
Savor the Savanna: $161 to $199 (previously $148 to $174)
Up Close with Rhinos: $49 (previously $45)
Wild Africa Trek: $219 to $229 (previously $199)
Fort Wilderness Campground
Wilderness Back Trail Adventure: $90 to $99 (previously $90)
Turning to fireworks dessert parties and dining packages, the first change comes at EPCOT as it prepares for its new nighttime spectacular. The Spice Road Table package now costs $81 (previously $79), while the Rose & Crown Dining Room package is now priced at $92 (previously $89). The multi-course meal packages include unlimited beverages and table-side viewing of the World Showcase nighttime spectacular.
In our post about the New Luminous: The Symphony of Us Dining Package, we did the math on these dining packages and concluded that, pre-increase, you’d be essentially paying $44 for the reserved seating and unlimited alcohol. Now you can bump that number up to $46-$47.
Technically, these new prices apply to EPCOT Forever fireworks viewing, which runs until December 4, 2023. But you’d be crazy to pay any premium for reserved viewing of that. I would not recommend paying more than $5 for seats to watch that, so you really need to plan on going hard with the booze to justify the EPCOT Forever dining packages.
Finally, Walt Disney World has also introduced date-based pricing for its Magic Kingdom fireworks dessert parties. One silver lining is that this variable pricing scheme only applies to adult dessert pricing, as children’s pricing remains a fixed rate. (But given that kids cannot consume alcohol, they’re massively overpriced either way.)
In any case, you’ll now see different prices on the Walt Disney World booking flow based on which day on the calendar you pick to attend the dessert parties at Magic Kingdom. Here’s a rundown of the changes and ranges:
Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties: Pre-Party – Adults: $99 to $109 (previously $99) & children $59
Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties: Seats & Sweets – Adults: $119 to $129 (previously $114) & children increased from $69 to $75
Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties: Post-Party – Adults: $99 to $109 (previously $99) & children $59
For those who are curious, December 11 has peak-season pricing ($109) whereas November 11 has the lower pricing ($99).
Pricing only shows up for dates with availability, so I couldn’t assess the entire calendar. With that said, I didn’t find any dates that had prices other than $99 or $109. My guess is that those are the only two price points for now. As with other date-based prices at Walt Disney World, I’d expect both the range and price points to expand over time. People will pay a lot more for a fireworks dessert party on December 28 than they would on September 13.
Turning to commentary, I’ve made it clear on a number of occasions that I’m not a fan of most of the “Enchanting Extras Collection” at Walt Disney World. Tours are actually an exception to this, as I think a lot of them offer good value. They’re also targeted at different demographics than the dessert parties.
I could be wrong about who’s booking them, but I view these tours as experiences for repeat visitors who have “done” Walt Disney World and want a deeper experience about a niche topic of interest to them. They’re a way of learning and enriching, and are truly a special splurge. For me, it’s tough to make any sweeping statements about whether the tours are “worth it” at X or Y price point because the reasons for doing them are all over the place, among other things.
I have no such difficulties with the fireworks dessert parties or dining packages. In my view, which is obviously subjective, none of them are worth it. That was true at the prior price and it was also true at the 2018 prices. So of course it’s true at the 2023 prices.
As has been mentioned here many times, we still remember back when Tomorrowland Terrace offered free first-come seating. When the Fireworks Dessert Party debuted as a test offering roughly a decade ago, 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. Now, the idea of unlimited desserts for $25 at Walt Disney World seems so quaint!
These fireworks packages are all very expensive, especially for families with small children, adults who don’t drink, etc. Our thinking is/was 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.)
Given all of that, there’s absolutely no way for me to do the math and conclude that the fireworks dessert parties can ever be worth it. You’d have to consume a seriously unhealthy amount of sugar and alcohol (so like 3 desserts and just as many drinks) to even get in that ballpark. And at that point, why not just buy good desserts from somewhere else in Walt Disney World?
Nevertheless, I also must acknowledge that this is seemingly an unpopular opinion on my part. Walt Disney World’s dessert parties are incredibly popular with regular guests. There’s something about the mix of exclusivity, a private event space, all you can eat sweets and alcohol, and a stress-free viewing location for the Happily Ever After fireworks or other nighttime spectaculars that’s a winning formula.
With that mindset, the Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties are probably something I’d file alongside Club Level at Walt Disney World. As with that, there’s really no way to contend this is “worth it” from an objective perspective. You can try to rationalize it or trick yourself into believing it is, but why bother? Just say you want to splurge or TREAT YO SELF and move on. A lot at Walt Disney World isn’t objectively worth the money–the whole place is a nonessential vacation experience, just enjoy the extravagances that appeal to you.
A key difference between tours and dessert parties is also that, in my opinion, these are aimed largely at first-timers who are worried about fireworks crowds or having a truly magical vacation. This could just be my perspective, but it seems like there’s an element of opportunism to them that doesn’t exist with the tours.
Walt Disney World knows that the crowds and chaos of the nighttime spectaculars create a market for this, and the prices can be detached from the value offered as a result. These fireworks packages offer peace of mind, and are not necessarily judged on their own merits.
To that point, I’ll reiterate my standard spiel that no enhancements or up-charges are necessary to have a great trip to Walt Disney World. When it comes to online trip planning and social media, there’s a pervasive sense of FOMO that drives many people to spend on unnecessary experiences. Consider it a form of keeping up with the online Joneses (or Kardashians, these days).
This is exacerbated by certain popular experiences booking up quickly, but that’s less a reflection of quality and demand than it is limited supply and the FOMO machine. Magic Kingdom Fireworks Dessert Parties and EPCOT Fireworks Dining Packages are great examples of this.
These two experiences have nightly capacities that number in the hundreds, whereas there are tens of thousands of people watching the nighttime spectaculars each night. You don’t need a math whiz to explain why these things booking up quickly is more a numbers game than it is a reflection of whether these things are “worth it.”
It’s easy to fall into the FOMO trap, but you should try to avoid falling prey to it. You could easily drop an extra $5,000 or more on extras and upcharges to “guarantee” a great trip to Walt Disney World…and end up having an inferior experience to someone who didn’t buy any of those things. Spending more creates more pressure, meaning more tension, and leading to a great chance of meltdowns. We see this all of the time.
Regardless of how much you spend or plan, you’re going to miss out on something. That’s the bad news. The good news is that some of the best magical moments at Walt Disney World occur by chance, and no amount of spending or planning can “force” those to happen. In short, spend strategically on splurges to treat yourself here and there, but don’t chase perfection. It’s a fool’s errand, and you can have an amazing trip without spending anything extra.
Ultimately, Walt Disney World is a big place with a ton to offer. Even on a “highly successful” trip, you’re barely scratching the surface of the great things to do. Absolutely no single thing at WDW is make or break in the grand scheme of a trip. The pressure to plan a perfect trip is optional, because there’s no such thing (and paradoxically, every imperfect trip can be perfect in its own way if you let it).
You can have an incredible trip dining booking all of your ADRs same-day and eating exclusively at hidden gem restaurants. You can do attractions on a whim without spreadsheets or even our semi-structured itineraries. You don’t need to ride TRON Lightcycle Run or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind to have a memorable trip. Likewise, you don’t need some fancy fireworks viewing to enjoy the experience. Honestly, I’d rather watch Happily Ever After in New Fantasyland for “free” than pay hundreds of dollars for a dessert party. But that’s just me, and others feel the splurge is worthwhile for them. They are not wrong, but neither am I.
Will you be booking any of the EPCOT or Magic Kingdom fireworks packages with the new date-based pricing scheme? What about the behind-the-scenes tours in the parks? Thoughts on the WDW Fomo Machine or which of these things are worth it? 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!