Our guide to the best & worst Disneyland fireworks viewing locations offers a ‘where to watch’ Wondrous Journeys map and photos so you can see how it looks from each spot. We also share lesser-known views of the nighttime spectaculars, so you can avoid heavy crowds on Main Street. (Updated February 2, 2023.)
For starters, Disneyland has a new fireworks show for 2023! Wondrous Journeys is Disneyland’s new nighttime spectacular for the 100 Years of Wonder celebration. The new Wondrous Journeys fireworks are in honor of Disney’s 100th Anniversary, and in particular, the Walt Disney Animation Studios. (Consult our Guide to Disney’s 100th Anniversary Celebration at Disneyland & DCA for everything you need to know about that.)
Wondrous Journeys features nods to every film released by the iconic studio over the past century. This means music, characters, and iconic moments from movies including Encanto, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Hercules, The Princess and the Frog, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Frozen, Treasure Planet, Big Hero 6, Moana, and many more.
There are a few big things you need to know about Wondrous Journeys. The first is that it’s going to draw heavy crowds for the foreseeable future. Wondrous Journeys has been met with rave reviews from fans, and Disneyland diehards are going to turn out in full force to see the nighttime spectacular throughout 2023. Accordingly, expect Main Street to be jam-packed for Wondrous Journeys.
Second, Wondrous Journeys has two versions: “with projections” and “with fireworks.” Both versions have projections, so really it’s with or without pyro. As a good rule of thumb, Wondrous Journeys is presented with fireworks Friday through Sunday nights, and on weekday evenings that are busier (e.g. Presidents’ Day, Spring Break, Easter, etc). Check out the Disneyland Entertainment Schedule or the Disneyland app for dates and showtimes.
Finally, Wondrous Journeys is subject to cancellation without notice due to weather or other circumstances. Really, this means that the fireworks in Wondrous Journeys are subject to cancellation. Santa Ana winds at higher elevations are notorious for causing cancellations, even when things feel fine on the ground. This has been an issue for years, with locals cursing the Santa Ana winds. If there’s a light breeze or someone even coughs in the wrong direction, the dreaded pyro balloon comes out to see whether it’s safe to run the show with fireworks.
As a result of this, Disneyland started creating B-modes for the fireworks shows several years ago. As a result, all of the fireworks shows–new and old–have had projections show alternatives created for windy and weeknights. This is actually a good move, as it gives people who camped out for hours something to see, even if the fireworks themselves have to be cancelled. It also gives Disneyland something to show on weeknights that previously did not have any nighttime spectacular. Another plus is that Wondrous Journeys with Projections is still a really good show, and far less crowded!
One final note is that Disneyland has several fireworks shows that are presented on a rotating basis. Aside from Wondrous Journeys, other ‘regular’ nighttime spectaculars include Mickey’s Mix Magic, Disneyland Forever, and Remember… Dreams Come True. Our expectation is that Wondrous Journeys will be presented uninterrupted until at least mid-September 2023.
After that, it’s possible that Halloween Screams runs during Halloween Time at Disneyland and Believe… In Holiday Magic is shown during Disneyland’s Christmas season. We’ve seen all of these fireworks shows countless times from every conceivable spot in the park. Regardless of which fireworks show is running, the best viewing spots are the same.
With that in mind, here’s the map of best Disneyland fireworks views:
Crowds and viewing obstructions can make finding the best spot to watch the Disneyland fireworks difficult. As with my Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Views post, you should 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.
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.
The map plus my 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. All of the Disneyland fireworks shows were designed to be viewed straight-on from Main Street, USA.
Personally, I am strongly biased towards these. But I’m also a photographer who prioritizes capturing photos of Wondrous Journeys and the other Disneyland fireworks from the “perfect” perspectives. For me, that means anchored by Sleeping Beauty Castle. If I were just watching Wondrous Journeys for fun (and didn’t have my camera with me for whatever reason), I’d be much more inclined to view from one of the “other spots” (see below). It’s simply not worth enduring the crowds for some of these spots.
To that point, 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. If you’re a tourist with limited vacation hours, you have to do your own cost-benefit breakdown to figure out whether the long wait for the best views is worth it to you–I’d say it probably is not. 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 views of Wondrous Journeys with Fireworks that you can expect from each numbered location on the map…
1. Front and Center – Unlike Walt Disney World where the front and center spot is a location to avoid, at Disneyland, it’s a spot to stake out. The reason is Sleeping Beauty Castle. It’s not tall. This means that the fireworks bursts that fire behind Disneyland in Toontown aren’t nearly as blocked from your view in this location like the back of the park bursts are in the Magic Kingdom.
This is the best location for viewing the fantastic projections during Wondrous Journeys, plus [spoiler alert] having an up close view of the Blue Fairy and Baymax when they fly over Sleeping Beauty Castle. These characters make appearances even when there is not pyro during Wondrous Journeys, so grabbing this spot is recommended even on projections-only nights. In fact, that would be our advice–watching Wondrous Journeys from here on a projections-only night, and then again for the fireworks from somewhere else. Otherwise, you’ll need to stake out this spot hours in advance.
To that point, note that this area fills up very, very early–hours before the fireworks start. If you really want this spot, get here at least two hours early. It’s pretty awesome to see the fireworks in this spot with literally no one in front of you, but perhaps not worth camping out for multiple hours…especially given the risk that the winds will cause the fireworks to be cancelled.
2. Partners – Part of the reason I don’t have as many photos from around the various spots in Disneyland is because I absolutely love this location. It’s a popular spot, but in comparison to the other great views in Disneyland, it’s slower to fill up as compared to other top views. Partners doesn’t block your view of projections on Sleeping Beauty Castle, and doesn’t have trees directly in front of or behind it, making this view a prime spot in my opinion.
With that said, a few notes on The Hub in general that probably aren’t evident due to the small size of The Hub in the map above. First, unlike the Magic Kingdom’s Hub, Disneyland’s is still filled with trees. This means that a lot of locations inside The Hub and behind it offer poor views. The area where I setup, directly behind Partners, offers a great view without obstructions.
Directly on the other side of Partners would be a great view as well, but this area is often roped off for VIP viewing, so your mileage may vary. Much like the front and center area, The Hub is generally better from the Tomorrowland side, as moving closer to the Frontierland side makes the area with heavy bursts more difficult to see. By this we mean slightly off-center, not all the way by the Tomorrowland entrance.
3. North of Refreshment Corner – This spot isn’t all that impressive. It’s okay if you can’t get a spot in The Hub, but it will still be really crowded around here, and you won’t have the full immersion of The Hub nor will you have a complete view of the projections. You also will have to turn around to see the projections on Main Street.
To that end, I guess it is somewhat immersive (stuff in front of and behind you). It’s not a bad spot by any means, and Sleeping Beauty Castle is still prominent enough here that it should be considered an iconic location for viewing and photographing the fireworks. Plus, you won’t have to arrive here 2 hours before the show to grab a spot. (Don’t plan on being able to grab a spot here at the last minute, either).
Further to the left and right of this spot, you’ll notice that I’ve marked the outdoor seating areas of Jolly Holiday Bakery and Plaza Inn as being good or okay spots. Most of these views will be bad due to obstructions (from table-top umbrellas to trees), but there are a handful of locations within these areas that should be real gems. Tables with some elevation on the north side of the Plaza Inn, especially. Scope out the sight lines during the day, grab some delicious fried chicken, and stake out a table.
4. Main Street – I firmly believe that the Castle is a big part of any Disney fireworks show (well, at least shows in the Castle parks!), and by this point, it’s difficult to see what’s going on with Sleeping Beauty Castle. The farther down Main Street you get towards the Train Station, the more difficult it is to see the Castle projections.
The Main Street Train Station is another potentially good spot on Main Street as it provides views of both the Main Street projections and the Sleeping Beauty Castle projections. Part of the seating is reserved, but there are also usually open benches for the general public.
Everything is more distant from here so you’re really removed from the action, but you have an unobstructed view of Sleeping Beauty Castle in the distance and are close to the park exit (although this is a con if you plan on swimming upset back into the park to do more attractions after the fireworks).
5. Carthay Circle Restaurant Terrace – If you want to view the fireworks outside of Disneyland, chances are you want to do it from a free location, and those will be discussed in the “Other Spots” section below. However, another in-park straight-on view worth mentioning is actually in Disney California Adventure, at the Carthay Circle Restaurant terrace.
This is like Disneyland Resort’s version of the TTC location at Walt Disney World, except this spot isn’t free. It’s actually more expensive than any other spot, as it requires dinner at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. On the plus side, it isn’t crowded, it’s straight-on, and the fireworks appear much larger. On the downside, there’s no view of Sleeping Beauty Castle and no music. Because of these downsides, I do not highly recommend this spot.
In fact, I don’t even recommend requesting a table out here. The ambiance inside is much nicer overall, and you can always go out to the terrace during your dessert course to enjoy the fireworks then. However, if you have the time, you should just try to make it back to Disneyland before the fireworks start. Unless you don’t have Park Hopper tickets or really hate crowds.
We always try to watch the fireworks straight-on at Disneyland. However, Main Street can be chaotic around fireworks time, and snagging a good spot can be flat out impossible if you don’t camp out. And as noted above, the fireworks are often cancelled due to the Santa Ana winds at higher elevations, so you could end up wasting time for no good reason. Because of that, some of the alternative views for the Disneyland fireworks bear mentioning here.
The best place to view Disneyland fireworks outside of Main Street is from the Rivers of America, particularly before or after Fantasmic! This spot has gotten better and better over the last several years thanks to the addition of projections on the mist screens. Disneyland has taken that to the next level with Wondrous Journeys, which had Rivers of America projections designed from the ground up. In fact, some of the scenes here aren’t visible on the Sleeping Beauty Castle or Main Street projections.
The other upside is the convenience of watching Wondrous Journeys from your Fantasmic seat, meaning you don’t have to ‘work’ for a viewing spot twice. You won’t have enough time to run back to Main Street, and you’ll just get frustrated and end up packed like a sardine in no-man’s land as you try. We know from experience! See our Viewing Guide for Fantasmic at Disneyland for info on that nighttime spectacular.
The next best non-Main Street location is the “it’s a small world” mall in Fantasyland. Much like Sleeping Beauty Castle, the “it’s a small world” facade is enhanced during the fireworks with projections. The pluses to this location are that, lower crowds, and close proximity to the Toontown launch site.
The biggest downside is that you only have a good view for some bursts, and not for the bursts near Sleeping Beauty Castle. This is probably the best spot to go if you want to enjoy the show element of the fireworks (not just the bursts), but really don’t want to deal with the crowds.
The best attraction experience for the fireworks is the Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland. The downside is that this can be difficult to time. The boats here continue to load until the fireworks start, but once they start, they stop loading. If you time it right, you can enjoy the fireworks from this immersive location (bursts in front of and behind you) and have your own “Disneyland Fireworks Cruise,” but if your timing is poor, you’ll be stuck in a line that offers poor visibility during the show. Monitor wait times and make sure you line up at the perfect time to ensure the cruise.
As for a spot outside the park that is “free,” there’s not really a whole lot in the way of good views. The Esplanade between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure gets very popular at fireworks time, and it’s about the best–and closest–view you’ll find.
Otherwise, you can see the Disneyland fireworks from just about anywhere in Anaheim (including the I-5 freeway!). Nearby hotels have rooftop bars that offer interesting views, and another unique location is the top of the Mickey & Friends parking structure, but to get up there you need to go park there.
You can see the fireworks from ground level all down Harbor Boulevard, but these views are nothing special (unless you find a hotel room on a high floor). If you’re looking for a “free” fireworks view from Disneyland on your arrival night, the Esplanade between the two parks is a great option. You won’t be the only one with that idea–this area gets busy around fireworks time!
So there you have my “review” of Wondrous Journeys fireworks viewing spots around Disneyland, along with some sample photos. If this is all too much to remember, just remember The Hub is great so long as trees don’t block your views of Sleeping Beauty Castle or the sky above it.
Generally speaking, the farther back from Sleeping Beauty Castle, the worse the experience–but Main Street projections do help offset that. Finally, both the Rivers of America and ‘it’s a small world’ are good spots to avoid the crowds, but you won’t get the full experience. In short, there are a lot of great options–it all depend upon how important a particular view is, degree to which you’re willing to tolerate crowds, and whether you want postcard-perfect photos of Sleeping Beauty Castle with the fireworks behind it.
Where is your favorite spot to watch each of the Disneyland fireworks shows? Do you like to go for a traditional Main Street location, or do you opt to avoid the crowds and watch from elsewhere? Any attractions that you think are enhanced during the fireworks? Share your thoughts in the comments!