Disney World Fireworks Double-Doubleheader!
For a limited time, you can now watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks twice per night! Walt Disney World has added a second showing of the Enchantment nighttime spectacular in an attempt to alleviate crowds and congestion on Main Street, throughout Magic Kingdom, and during the transportation exodus after the fireworks.
After a couple long days of eating around World Showcase for the start of the 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival (for the sake of research), I headed over to Magic Kingdom to watch fireworks doubleheaders on consecutive evenings (for the sake of research). Not exactly as challenging as computational biology or biomedical engineering, but those scientists also don’t have to buy and eat everything on the menu at the Italy booth. All research is grueling in its own way.
Anyway, Disney Enchantment is currently being presented nightly at 9:20 pm above Cinderella Castle. This is nothing new–it’s the normal showtime for fireworks in the summer at Walt Disney World–sunset isn’t until around 8:30 pm and the last night is around 9 pm. Additionally, Magic Kingdom is closing at 11 pm nightly. Again, nothing new. While we’ve stated repeatedly that this park needs longer hours to absorb crowds, we assume the 9 am to 11 pm is due to staffing shortages and Cast Member shifts.
The new wrinkle is that Disney Enchantment now has a second showtime each night, with a nightly performance of the fireworks at 11 pm. This is in addition to the 9:20 pm showtime, which remains on the schedule and doesn’t move (because it can’t really be moved forward–ask as meteorologist or astronomer as to why. I’ve already covered my area of “expertise” and science is certainly not it).
This Disney Enchantment double header continues through at least July 24, 2022 at those same showtimes of 9:20 pm and 11 pm. After that date and until August 7, 2022, it’s likely that Disney Enchantment will again only be presented once nightly, at 9:20 pm. Starting August 8, that lone showtime moves forward to 9 pm.
To my recollection, this is the first time that Magic Kingdom is doing two normal fireworks shows in a single operational day. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s happened before, but I don’t recall it with either Wishes, Happily Ever After, or the Summer Nightastic fireworks. (SpectroMagic and Main Street Electrical Parade did run twice nightly, but those are obviously not fireworks.)
It did not occur during the farewell run of either popular nighttime spectacular, nor was it common when Magic Kingdom opened earlier or closed later during busier summer seasons. To my knowledge, it has not happened in the last decade-plus. About the only precedent for occurred on Disney Very Merriest After Hours party nights last year when Enchantment and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show–but that’s not really comparable during that the latter was exclusive to that hard ticket event.
The reason Walt Disney World made this move is undoubtedly because of crowds and congestion. Not just on Main Street during Disney Enchantment, but also outside Magic Kingdom on the monorail system and buses that service the mass exodus of guests leaving the park immediately after the fireworks.
With no Fantasmic still not back and Animal Kingdom having nothing to offer at night, Magic Kingdom and EPCOT have seen an influx of guests each evening for their nighttime spectaculars. This has resulted in some bonkers crowds, especially on and around Main Street–World Showcase is much better at absorbing guests. In short, Magic Kingdom has been a madhouse before and after the fireworks.
Consequently, people have been camping out hours in advance and there are viewing areas taped off on the Tomorrowland bridge and other random, sub-optimal locations with the Main Street bypass corridor.
Trying to watch from Main Street or the Central Plaza requires showing up far in advance, and being packed in like sardines. Tensions are high, and it’s impossible to use a tripod to photograph the fireworks. (That’s the real reason for this “research” and post–I wanted some fresh fireworks photos and figured this was my best chance.)
But we’ve already covered most of this background elsewhere. For this post, I wanted to share my experiences with the fireworks double-doubleheader at Magic Kingdom. Hopefully it’ll be helpful for those of you planning trips in the coming weeks or curious about how this works logistically or crowd levels for each fireworks showtime.
Let’s start with the first Disney Enchantment each night…
It’s still busy, but not even close to a madhouse.
Instead, crowds for the 9:20 pm showing feel about like they did back in October of last year, or shortly after Happily Ever After returned. In other words, more or less normal. If you go for a spot in the back half of Main Street (as I did for the first showing of Disney Enchantment both nights), you might even have some unfilled available space around you.
In making the rounds both nights ~30 minutes before the 9:20 pm showtime of Disney Enchantment, I was surprised by just how many prime spots were available. At this same time for most of the last several months, you’d be well advised to use the bypass corridor due to the crowds on Main Street.
During the fireworks doubleheader nights this weekend, Main Street was downright pleasant in the lead up to the fireworks. It felt like one of those random nights pre-closure when guests randomly lined up on the sidewalks for the nonexistent night parade.
For both of the 9:20 pm showings of Disney Enchantment, I grabbed spots towards Town Square half of Main Street.
While I generally like this location as it’s good for seeing the projections on the building facades, this was more for practical purposes–I wanted to be able to photograph the fireworks without issue and also wanted to exit the park quickly to check out the transportation situation (now that actually is grueling research). Both nights, I grabbed my spot roughly 10-15 minutes before the fireworks started with no issues whatsoever.
The post-fireworks exodus and transportation corrals are still chaotic, but also not as nightmarish as what we’ve experienced the last few months. This has been bad for a while, but the crowd control Cast Members have gotten really good at pointing guests in the right direction and the corrals are more clearly-defined. It’s still chaotic, but now it’s organized chaos.
Transportation is something I’ve been checking out during various visits to Magic Kingdom in the last month, and we’ll have a standalone post on that soon. For now, let’s head back into the park, where it’s again relatively quiet on Main Street.
Here’s a look back at Main Street about 20 minutes before the 11 pm showtime of Disney Enchantment.
It’s in no way crowded, and some of the guests you do see are simply stopping to snap photos. This filled in quite a bit more in the 10 minutes before the fireworks started, but it was still pleasant.
It’s the same story directly in front of Cinderella Castle in the Hub.
While the dead-center filled up about 30 minutes before Enchantment one night, there was an entire open “row” the other night for some reason. In addition to this, many guests remained seated for the fireworks (it all depended on what people in the front did–that starts a cascading effect).
I debated between the middle and off-center walkway view, and opted for the latter. I had the front row, which I was able to score ~15 minutes in advance. Other guests in my vicinity arrived even later–right up until showtime.
I was seated for the show. Not because I wanted to be, but because there were kids around me in strollers and I didn’t want to block their view. Either way, pretty cool to have an up-close view of fireworks while sitting down in front of Cinderella Castle. That’s a pretty rare occurrence these days!
The other night of the Magic Kingdom fireworks double-doubleheader, I had a spot directly in front of Partners. Again, grabbed this about 15 minutes before the fireworks started.
While I like the symmetry of being centered, I would’ve preferred a spot two steps to the right. It bugs me that the “50” medallion isn’t visible, and I’d like to see more of Cinderella Castle. (Chasing symmetry with fireworks is a fool’s errand, anyway, due to wind.) Not that you care about any of this, but figured I’d share since my photography-centric posts are rare these days.
Suffice to say, the second showing of Disney Enchantment was definitely less crowded during both nights of this doubleheader. Aside from weather-induced anomalies and hard ticket events, I can’t recall the last time I saw this small of a fireworks crowd at Magic Kingdom during normal operations as during these two 11 pm showtimes. It’d probably take going all the way back to the days of Wishes.
The 11 pm performance of Disney Enchantment will likely have similarly low crowds going forward, so long as the peak season crowds don’t return to Magic Kingdom. Regardless of attendance levels, the second showtime will be less busy–that’s always the case when it comes to nighttime spectaculars with two performances. The reason is simple: many families with small children cannot do the later showtime.
My strong recommendation would be to take advantage of the lower crowds for the 11 pm showtime and watch somewhere up close–ideally between Partners and Cinderella Castle.
While this is not the best view from an objective perspective, it’s an opportunity you might never have again without camping out for hours and being packed in like sardines. There’s also something to be said for these up-close spots, as they’re highly immersive and you can literally feel the the pyro exploding overhead.
If you’re really in the mood for some aerial explosions, replicate what I did in this post for a Magic Kingdom fireworks Double-Doubleheader, Animal Style! (Since this is Disney Enchantment, Protein Style is more apt—for the dozen of you who get the reference. If this were Happily Ever After, it’d be Animal Style.)
If you don’t really care about an up-close view, seeing the 9:20 pm showing from farther down Main Street (near the clock is a good location for minimal congestion) is a good option.
This actually might be ideal for those wanting to do attractions. As soon as Disney Enchantment ends, follow the crowd exiting, but make a sharp left at the end of Main Street and head upstream through the bypass corridor (much easier than fighting the crowd on Main Street). Then you can enjoy short lines for attractions during the last hour-plus of the evening, rather than waiting for the second performance of Disney Enchantment.
Ultimately, that’s my experience and advice for taking advantage of the unprecedented second showtime for Disney Enchantment while it lasts. If you’re able to make a trip to Magic Kingdom and stay out until 11 pm, you’ll be rewarded nicely with significantly lower crowds for the late performance–easily less than half the number of guests at the 9:20 pm showtime.
Even if you can’t stay out that late or would rather prioritize rides in the final hour of the evening, you still benefit from lower crowds as the fireworks doubleheader pulls more guests towards the front of the park. Even though the nighttime spectacular doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessor, some guests will even watch Disney Enchantment twice–fireworks over Cinderella Castle have undeniable appeal, and that would be true even if set to the “Meow Mix” song on loop!
While a second showing of the fireworks is a good thing that helps resolve some of the congestion issues around the front of Magic Kingdom before, during, and after Disney Enchantment–it’s still mostly a band aid solution. All this really does is get the first showtime into the realm of what was once “normal” fireworks crowds at Magic Kingdom (at least for the first showtime).
As we’ve previously discussed, what’s really needed is the return of Fantasmic and longer hours at Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of either of those things any time soon, so we’ll have to take a fireworks doubleheader at Magic Kingdom as an interim solution. Here’s hoping that it helps–and that this experiment is deemed a success and repeated from October through November on non-party nights to help with those crowds.
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What do you think of Walt Disney World adding a second showing of the Disney Enchantment fireworks? Have you watched the 11 pm fireworks at Magic Kingdom yet? What was your experience with crowds before, during, and after Enchantment? Planning on seeing the late–or both–showings during an upcoming visit to Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!
We were at the Polynesian for the past week and enjoyed getting to watch the first show from the hub and heading back to the resort to watch the second from our balcony. I only wish they’d play the music in Poly rooms like they do in the contemporary/BLT
I see that MK has extended hours until 1am while we are there in August. If we are staying at the Swan, how do you show that since the Swan doesn’t link to your magic bands? I know one other time we had to show our keycard. Is that still how it works?
Go to the front desk at the Swan and they should give you paper vouchers–that’s what they did for us earlier this summer.
Failing that, room key will likely work.
I always appreciate getting photography-related content. Wonderful photos!
As always, your photographs are beautiful and your observations/analysis are helpful! But I would also like to tell you how kind it was of you to remain seated for the viewing sake of those behind you. I once had children in strollers and I now have an elderly father who uses a wheelchair in the parks. I would never expect someone to remain seated simply to preserve our view, but I can say that if someone were to do this out of their own consideration for others, I would absolutely be grateful to them.
Thanks for the review! I’m curious, do you think the extended hours for deluxe resort guests on Wednesday nights at MK will have a noticeable effect on this crowd trend on those nights?
Your fireworks work is superb. I remember looking through my old color edition of the Unofficial edition of WDW and when I saw the photos of hey had of fireworks I immediately checked out the photo credits because I knew those had to be yours.
We’ll be trying your suggestion on two different nights of watching fireworks from inside Cindy’s Castle. You know without all the other princess’ the lower price which includes tax and tip is a pretty good deal meal wise.
“ for the dozen of you who get the reference.”
We just got back from 10 days in SoCal on Friday. Double double animal style was definitely a highlight.
For those of you who don’t get the reference, the words will just go in-n-out