This Magic Kingdom fireworks viewing guide features a map of the best & worst locations to watch Happily Ever After, sample photos from each spot, and other tips for watching Walt Disney World’s most popular nighttime spectacular! (Updated April 5, 2023.)
Let’s start with an update. Following the conclusion of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, Happily Ever After has made its triumphant return to Magic Kingdom! This is the first time the beloved fireworks have been shown in 18 months, but even before that, many Walt Disney World fans missed Happily Ever After during its limited 3-month run prior to that.
Expect extremely high crowds for fireworks for the foreseeable future. Happily Ever After is immensely popular with both tourists and locals, and many fans have not seen the Happily Ever After fireworks in over 3 years. As a result, there will be colossal crowds and congestion around Cinderella Castle and on Main Street before and after fireworks for pretty much the remainder of 2023…
Even prior to Happily Ever After’s return, Magic Kingdom has experienced elevated crowds for the fireworks. In large part, that was a byproduct of fewer nighttime spectaculars across Walt Disney World as a whole, resulting in many guests Park Hopping to Magic Kingdom (and to a lesser extent, EPCOT) to end their evenings.
As a result, Magic Kingdom has created overflow viewing areas for the fireworks, some of which are objectively awful locations. People have been camping out hours in advance for the best locations, and the only last minute options are on the Tomorrowland bridge and other sub-optimal spots like the Main Street bypass corridor.
With Happily Ever After now back, this is even worse as the “normal” demand for Magic Kingdom fireworks is colliding with the fan demand for Happily Ever After. Trying to watch from Main Street or the Central Plaza requires showing up far in advance, and being packed in like sardines. Tensions can be high at times, but so too can the collective excitement and energy of the crowd–it really depends on the people around you. We’ve had both good and bad experiences.
One consistent negative is after the fireworks are over. There’s a sea of people heading towards the exit, and it’s easy to get separated from your family, be overwhelmed if you’re trying to navigate a stroller or ECV, etc. The congestion can be really bad, and you’re basically inching along, shoulder-to-shoulder, with other guests. We covered this last year in Avoiding Magic Kingdom’s Evening Exodus. It’s even worse now that Happily Ever After is back.
In light of all this, we have some temporary advice if you’re visiting during the peak season at any time in the first few months after Happily Ever After returns (see our 2023 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendarif you’re unsure whether you’re visiting during a busy time) and have an aversion to crowds or congestion.
If you want to watch Happily Ever After from Main Street, we’d recommend doing so from the Town Square end (front of the park, farther away from Cinderella Castle). When the fireworks end, either exit the park immediately to beat the crowd, duck into the Town Square Theater to Meet Mickey Mouse, or wait out the crowd off the main walkways before swimming upstream and heading to Tomorrowland or Fantasyland to do attractions with lower wait times.
Alternatively, start in Tomorrowland or Fantasyland and watch Happily Ever After from there. As you can see in our recommended locations below, we love the middle of Fantasyland between the castle walls as a low-stress, congestion-free way of seeing Happily Ever After and being immersed in the show, with pyro exploding in front of and behind you.
Now there’s another brand new location to add to that list as an immersive fireworks location: the plaza around TRON Lightcycle Run. This is not as good as the middle of Fantasyland, but it’s new and unique, with TRON’s lightcycles whizz by overhead and the dancing lights of the Upload Conduit canopy. As an added bonus to both of these locations, it’s easy to jump in line for Space Mountain or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train immediately as the fireworks end to experience either with lower-than-normal wait times.
Turning to the fireworks viewing map, not much changes for the return of Happily Ever After. Although Walt Disney World touted the Main Street projections, they don’t really change the equation. These are a nice addition, but should not change where you watch Happily Ever After. You’ll still want to watch from the green locations if at all possible.
While green locations will offer the objective best view, that’s a theoretical best view. If you’re shorter or have kids, it’ll be more difficult for them to see. Even if you’re Conan O’Brien or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, it might be uncomfortably congested in the green areas, especially as people try to start moving after the fireworks end and it’s essentially gridlock.
With that said, Magic Kingdom fireworks can be the highlight of a trip to Walt Disney World, but finding good spots can be difficult. I’ve watched and photographed the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom over 100 times, and have gotten a good idea of the best and worst spots from which to view the fireworks.
The map below works sort of like a stoplight (with orange added). Consider yellow on the map the “stoplight” version of go, with green on the map being the cream of the crop for views (okay, that part isn’t really like a stoplight). Orange on the map is a step down from yellow, but still isn’t bad.
Red is bad–you should avoid these spots. There are numerous other “quiet” spots around the Magic Kingdom where you can see parts of the fireworks, but it’s incredibly important to know that all of the Magic Kingdom fireworks shows were designed to be viewed straight-on from Main Street, USA.
Watching from elsewhere in the park may help you avoid the crowds or enable you to have a fun experience while watching (riding Big Thunder Mountain or the TTA PeopleMover during the fireworks is awesome), but you absolutely will miss parts of the show.
Happily Ever After features projections on Cinderella Castle and Main Street, and you’ll miss some of the show by not being able to see the projections. It’s still beautiful to watch and can be viewed from anywhere, but we’d recommend viewing it for the first time in front of Cinderella Castle, where the projections can be seen the best.
Due to that, we haven’t included other spots in the rest of the park on this map–with one exception. If avoiding crowds is really important to you, consider one of these other locations around the park, as Main Street, USA is crowded before, during, and after the fireworks.
Note that this map is a rough idea of the best spots. Fireworks map-making is not an exact science (I literally drew this with a brush in Photoshop!) and obviously consulting the map to the degree that you blindly stand directly behind a tree because the map lists that spot as a yellow would be foolish. Don’t pull a “Michael Scott” and drive your proverbial “fireworks car” into a lake because you’re following this post verbatim, as if it were GPS. 😉
Avoid stray trees and other obstructions, as this map doesn’t account for those except in heavily obstructed areas. If you cannot see the front of Cinderella Castle from where you’re standing without any obstructions–even if it’s a green zone–move to a spot where it is visible.
Okay, let’s look at some specific spots…
1. Front and Center – This is a surprisingly pleasant area that usually fills up over an hour in advance, with little traffic being able to get in or out after that. Beyond needing to stake out this fireworks spot incredibly early, it does come with a downside, which is that you’re so close to Cinderella Castle that it blocks some of the pyro.
To get a visual idea of how perspective distortion works for these fireworks, notice the height of the bursts above Cinderella Castle as we move farther away from the Castle. In this shot, they’re directly behind it, but they move progressively higher as we move back. If you sit this close, you will miss a good percentage of the pyro.
2. Partners Statue – I am a big fan of this location, as you’re far enough back to see the pyro perfectly, but not too far away for the projections and other effects.
It offers a great view, but guests often stake this location out hours in advance. Additionally, the gridlock before and immediately after the fireworks can make entering and leaving this area downright uncomfortable on busy nights.
3. Hub Grass – Availability of the Plaza Gardens–or Hub Grass as it’s known among Millennials–is hit or miss. One side is always reserved for Happily Ever After dessert parties, but the other is sometimes available. (In the future, it might be an option with Genie+ or Lightning Lanes, but that’s to be determined.) The Plaza Gardens offer a good view, but don’t expect to be able to watch from here.
With that said, the walkway immediately in front of the Plaza Gardens–and behind the fountains pictured above–is another great, publicly available viewpoint. Stake out a spot behind the railing and you won’t have anyone block your view, either!
4. “The Hump” – Located between the two FastPass+ viewing locations (and a bit to the south), this spot isn’t very large. Since it’s a straight-on view, it’s incredibly popular. This location is great not just because it is the perfect distance from Cinderella Castle, but also because Main Street, USA slopes downward between here and Cinderella Castle, making this a bit of a “high point.”
You can see this in the photo, as the heads in front of me are clearly lower than me (and I’m not tall at all). Cast Members often prevent guests from lingering in this area before Happily Ever After (they’re usually directing traffic), so it can be pretty easy to snag this location ~30 minutes before the fireworks, depending upon when you visit.
5. Happily Ever After Dessert Party (Tomorrowland Terrace) – Since Disney annexed this area for the Fireworks Dessert Parties a few years ago, I’ve heard multiple people refer to this as the best place to view the fireworks. This is absolutely not true. I think people might just assume it’s a great spot because it’s now private, and it stands to reason that Disney would have chosen the best spot for their private viewing area.
In reality, there weren’t any other feasible alternatives…not like you can rope off the middle of Main Street for a dessert party. Most of the views from the Dessert Party area obstruct the lower part of Cinderella Castle, and all of them are pretty far off-center. To make matters worse, the roof on the Terrace can obstruct your view if you aren’t able to grab a “front row” table by the water. This area borders on being a yellow location if you sit as close to the Main Street side (rather than the Tomorrowland side) of the Terrace as possible.
6. End of Main Street – This location offers all of the same advantages as “The Hump,” except there is no hump here to give you an elevated view. All it takes is one shoulder-kid in front of you and you’ve got an obstructed view. If you’re tall or you don’t end up with anyone tall in front of you, this location is still superb.
The upside to this view is that you can get some of the Main Street projections in your view without losing any of the pyro, and still seeing the projections on Cinderella Castle quite clearly. If you’re watching one of the hard ticket events’ fireworks (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) these buildings can actually block out the 180-degree perimeter fireworks bursts that occur during those shows, so you don’t want to go this far back. Perimeter bursts are also a part of the Fourth of July and New Year’s shows, so avoid being in the part of Main Street with buildings then, too.
7. Middle of Main Street – Projections lining the facades of buildings make the middle of Main Street USA more attractive, but there’s are relatively basic in terms of their visuals and are more about colors and patterns. Additionally, standing farther back on Main Street means the buildings themselves block out some of the fireworks.
On the plus side, the area of Main Street between the clock (above left) and Emporium doesn’t fill up nearly as fast as views closer to Cinderella Castle, and moving back a bit can allow some of the side bursts to come into view. Definitely not a bad spot!
8. Main Street, USA Train Station – This location is yellow, but like the Partners location, it’s a mixed bag. On the plus side, you can grab a seat here and have a spot to view Happily Ever After. If you score a good spot here, you won’t have anyone popping up at the last minute and blocking your view.
On the negative side, there is normally a flagpole obstructing your view of the fireworks and it can be difficult to see the projections. Also, people stake out these seats hours in advance, and the ambiance isn’t the best (the Train Station lights remain on and the soundtrack isn’t as loud here as elsewhere). On top of that, the Train Station is often unavailable these days as it’s reserved for VIP viewing or simply closed at random.
Personally, I only go up here when the flagpole is out, and even then, it’s only for photos. However, if you want to relax and soak up the ambiance of Main Street for a couple hours, staking out a spot here can be a good way to do it…and it keeps you away from crowds.
9. Ticket & Transportation Center Dock – This location is denoted by the green arrow on the bottom of the map. It’s green for a reason, and that’s because this is one of the two best spots for viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks shows. Comparing the photo from this location to the first location should be a good indication of perspective distortion in action. Those bursts in the first photo that are behind Cinderella Castle are the same bursts that in this photo appear to be way above the Castle!
The pros for watching the fireworks from here are that you don’t need park admission and the view is straight-on and spectacular. The cons are that the lighting isn’t dimmed and there are often insects. On nights when we don’t have tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we occasionally watch the fireworks from this location.
10. Fantasyland Castle Walls – Cinderella Castle the centerpiece of Happily Ever After, and the fireworks lose their emotional impact without the Castle. However, there’s one location in the park, but outside of Main Street where you don’t lose that emotional impact. Directly behind Cinderella Castle!
It’s a totally different perspective of the show, and much less crowded back there. This is our favorite “secret spot” (to the extent that Magic Kingdom’s most popular land can be a secret) because it feels like you’re in the midst of the fireworks, with bursts both in front of and behind you. You’ll also enjoy pyro over Beast’s Castle above Be Our Guest Restaurant, which is cool. I still prefer viewing from the front of Cinderella Castle as you do lose a bit back here, but once you’ve seen it once from the front, going back between the New Fantasyland walls is a great place to watch for a second-viewing.
11. Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – There are several attractions from which you can see the Magic Kingdom fireworks. The most memorable ones are probably Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. However, timing is difficult due to wait times and glimpses of pyro will be brief.
The easiest, best, and most prolonged view will be aboard the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, which includes several outdoor segments with direct views of Cinderella Castle. This is another one for your second or third viewing of Happily Ever After. In terms of “secret spots,” it’s very under the radar–there will likely be no line for the PeopleMover during the fireworks and you can potentially re-ride without getting off the attraction!
12. Resort Views – Once you get outside Magic Kingdom, the scope and scale of the pyro is amazing. Sure, you miss the projections and it’s not as immersive, but that’s made up for in other ways.
The beach of Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Top of the World Lounge at Bay Lake Tower, and various restaurants around the monorail resorts are all other popular “free” fireworks viewing locations. See Best Restaurants for Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewsfor additional recommendations.
So there you have my “review” of some fireworks viewing spots around the Magic Kingdom (and outside it!), along with some photos to back me up. While it should be clear that there are some spots that are better than others, you really can’t screw up too badly if you can see the face of Cinderella Castle.
Where is your favorite spot to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks? 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? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? 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!