Walt Disney World has added a second showing of the Enchantment fireworks to the Magic Kingdom schedule for part of July 2022. This post covers that, other showtime changes for this summer and fall, and the potential crowd implications of the change.
Currently, Disney Enchantment is presently nightly at 9:20 pm above Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. This is a 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.
Typically, the showtime progressively moves forward in the fall. The time will usually first move to 9 pm, then 8:45 pm and so forth in 15 minute (or so) increments as the sunset time allows. Last year, the fireworks time was as early as 8 pm at one point during the holiday season.
Starting on July 14, 2022, Disney Enchantment will get 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 (as covered above, it can’t really be moved forward).
This Disney Enchantment double header continues through July 24, 2022 at those same showtimes of 9:20 pm and 11 pm. After that date and until August 7, 2022, Disney Enchantment is once again 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 or Happily Ever After.
It did not occur during the farewell runs of either popular nighttime spectacular, nor was it common when Magic Kingdom opened earlier or closed later during busier summer seasons. 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.
This is undoubtedly happening 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.
Spreading guests out across two fireworks shows will alleviate that to some degree. There won’t be as many guests “competing” for spots on Main Street, making each showtime easier to see while also better staggering departure times from the park. Intuitively, this should improve the crowd situation. At least, in theory.
As theorized earlier this week in Summer Season Crowd Spike at Walt Disney World, we suspect that the company increased Disney Park Pass availability across the board for July 2022. This would be the most logical way to explain why, despite it being the peak of summer season, there are still a ton of green dates on the reservation calendar.
This is noteworthy because two weeks before the start of May and June, there was a lot of yellow and some grey on the calendar. While there are other theoretical explanations for this difference, the most straightforward and logical is a capacity increase.
The second Disney Enchantment showtime could be a reflection of that as well, and a realization by management that they cannot increase the number of guests at Magic Kingdom without adding a second Disney Enchantment showtime. Something’s gotta give.
Although I haven’t discussed it here, viewing Disney Enchantment has been no easy task lately. Trying to watch from Main Street or the Central Plaza requires showing up far in advance, and being packed in like sardines. Tensions have been high, with reports of fights or verbal altercations on a regular basis. I long ago came to the realization that using a tripod to photograph Disney Enchantment from Main Street would be impossible.
This was the case even back in May, when crowds were lower at Magic Kingdom. There were several occasions when the best spot I could score even 30 minutes before the show was the bridge to Tomorrowland. Our go-to area of New Fantasyland is likewise seeing growing gatherings of guests.
It’s increasingly common for Magic Kingdom to open the Main Street bypass corridors, and have fireworks viewing along the perimeter of those. This is almost entirely a recent phenomenon on normal nights (e.g. not New Year’s Eve), and it’s starting to happen with regularity.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Disney Enchantment. From the beginning, I’ve been hoping that it would be poorly received by guests, with a lower satisfaction score that would result in the return of Happily Ever After.
However, I also don’t conflate what I want to happen with what I actually see happening. Disney Enchantment is undeniably popular. Or at least, fireworks above Cinderella Castle are more popular than ever. (It wouldn’t surprise me if guest satisfaction for the fireworks is down considerably–but even that could be partially explained by the crowds people are enduring to see the show.)
In fairness, there are some explanations for the “popularity” of Disney Enchantment that have nothing to do with the substance of the show. For one thing, it’s Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and this new fireworks show is featured heavily in the marketing of that celebration.
For another, Fantasmic still is not back and Park Hopping is largely unfettered. This means that Magic Kingdom and EPCOT are picking up the slack, with an influx of guests from Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom arriving to see Disney Enchantment and Harmonious. World Showcase Lagoon is likewise packed, but it can absorb crowds far better than Main Street.
Finally, there’s the matter of Magic Kingdom’s limited summertime park hours. As we’ve discussed repeatedly in calendar updates, it’s not normal for Walt Disney World’s most popular park to open at 9 am and close at 11 pm. This is, at minimum, 2 fewer operating hours than during recent pre-closure summers. For some peak season summer dates, Magic Kingdom was open from 8 am until 1 am.
This may not seem like a big deal, but fewer hours means more heavier crowds as arrivals and departures aren’t as naturally staggered. Most guests who showed up at 8 am wouldn’t last until midnight before, running out of gas before the end of the evening. Likewise, opening at 9 am instead of 8 am probably means a modestly higher percentage of guests making it until fireworks time.
As for the why of these reduced hours, my best guess is staffing. Walt Disney World’s bus woes are much improved since this time last year, but there’s still a bus driver shortage (and likely will be for years–this issue predates March 2020). Different opening and closing times for the various parks could be necessary to alleviate some of that strain.
It could also be a matter of Cast Member shifts. With the current labor constraints, maybe Magic Kingdom can open at 8 am or stay open until 11 pm, but not both. This is purely speculative, but I think it’s the most sensible explanation. The parks being open for longer hours would help accommodate more guests and reservations wouldn’t be fully booked so often. (As a general matter, staffing is the simplest explanation for much of what’s missing. Disney isn’t purposefully leaving money on the table–that’s their favorite thing!)
In terms of viewing recommendations, the second showing of Disney Enchantment will unquestionably be less crowded. When it comes to nighttime spectaculars with two performances, this is always the case. It’s true with literally all of them, no matter where you go around the globe. The reason is simple: many families with small children–Disney’s bread and butter–cannot do the later showtime.
If you’ve never seen Disney Enchantment and want to watch from Main Street, you should absolutely wait for the 11 pm showtime. That much is a no-brainer.
However, if you’ve already seen Disney Enchantment or don’t really care about the projections (no one could blame you), we’d instead recommend watching the first showing from Fantasyland (see above). This is a great location from an immersion perspective, as the pyro will explode in front of and behind you.
It might sound counterintuitive, but seeing the 9:20 pm showing and enduring elevated crowds might make sense. The reason for this is that crowds everywhere else in Magic Kingdom will drop in the last hour of the evening, so you’re better off doing rides then, rather than waiting for the second performance of Disney Enchantment.
Personally, I’d love it if one of these shows were Happily Ever After. How cool would it be if you could choose between Disney Enchantment and Happily Ever After–something for everyone, right? In theory, that’s a great idea.
I doubt Walt Disney World would ever do that, though. For one thing, it sets a precedent and creates expectations that Happily Ever After will be shown, leading to inevitable complaints from guests arriving after Magic Kingdom returns to one nightly fireworks show.
For another thing, one major purpose of this move is reducing crowds and making the fireworks viewing experience more pleasant (or less unpleasant). If there were two different fireworks shows, a lot of people would watch both, leading to larger crowds at each of them and undermining that goal. While I remain hopeful that Happily Ever After will return in reimagined form come Spring 2023, I doubt Disney would run both shows simultaneously.
Ultimately, that’s our advice and best guesses as to why an unprecedented second showtime for Disney Enchantment is being added. It also offers some potential alternative explanations for why this underwhelming (in my opinion) fireworks show has been so popular. (Here’s hoping those are right and Happily Ever After makes its triumphant return!) This is good news on its face, but probably not quite as great as it sounds given the likelihood of Walt Disney World moving to higher capacity levels. In the end, this second showing might largely offset higher attendance.
Nevertheless, a second showing of the fireworks should still help resolve some of the congestion issues around the front of Magic Kingdom before, during, and after Disney Enchantment–but it’s mostly a band aid solution. 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 occurring by this summer’s peak season dates, so we’ll have to take a fireworks double header at Magic Kingdom as an interim solution. Here’s hoping that it helps!
What do you think of Magic Kingdom adding a second showing of the Disney Enchantment fireworks in mid-July 2022? Expect that this will help with crowds, or only offset added capacity? Do you think Magic Kingdom should be open earlier and/or later? What has been your experience with crowds during the fireworks? 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!