This post covers the best fireworks viewing locations for Happily Ever After, the new Magic Kingdom fireworks show, complete with a map of the best and worst spots, and other tips. Note that the green locations are also excellent viewing locations for Once Upon a Time, the projection show occurring shortly after Happily Ever After.
Happily Ever After can be the highlight of a trip to Walt Disney World, but due to heavy crowds wanting to see this brand new show and other factors, 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.
We originally posted this a few years ago prior to the completion of New Fantasyland and the new Central Plaza (“Hub”) and FastPass+ fireworks viewing locations. The post remains one of our most popular ones to date, with many readers reporting that they used it with great success, and many sharing it via social media. So, now that the New Hub project has finished and Happily Ever After has debuted, we thought we would update this post with an entirely new map showing the best and our favorite spots as of June 1, 2017…
The map above 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 Splash Mountain during the fireworks is awesome), but you absolutely will miss parts of the show.
The big addition to Happily Ever After is projections on Cinderella Castle, which Wishes (its predecessor) did not have. Wishes was a more “pure” fireworks show, and since fireworks are in the sky, you could watch from pretty much anywhere in the park and still have a good experience.
While Happily Ever After has just as much pyro as Wishes, you definitely miss a lot 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 the old version of this post and map contained numbers, with photos of the the exact same scene in Wishes! shoot from each numbered spot. I have not yet had that many opportunities to photograph Happily Ever After, so for now I’m leaving the numbers off the map.
I’m still including the photos and descriptions of where they were taken for the sake of illustration. The map plus the various views of this scene should give you visual thinkers a great idea of what to expect from different fireworks viewing places in the Magic Kingdom.
However, it must be noted 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 – One of the first times I photographed the fireworks, I opted to go for a spot close to Cinderella Castle. I’ve made this mistake only once. There’s a reason the Hub quickly goes from yellow to red, and that’s because once you pass Partners, perspective distortion (the spatial relationship of you, Cinderella Castle, and the fireworks shot off behind the Castle) prevents you from seeing much of the show.
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 stand this close, you will miss a good percentage of the show. As a personal rule, I now never go beyond the Partners statue, but there are still some okay spots right behind it.
2. Partners – I am a big fan of this location, but it’s primarily to add a foreground subject into my photos, not because this is actually a great spot. It offers a good view, but guests often stake this location out hours in advance, and it’s just not a great pure viewing location given how long you might have to stake this location out.
3. FastPass+ Viewing Areas – The FastPass+ viewing areas are really solid, and less crowded spots than you’ll otherwise find on Main Street. I really like these spots, but there is a downsides. Obviously, you have to use a FastPass+ to secure them, which means you can’t use the FastPass+ on another attraction.
More importantly, you can’t get additional FastPass+ at in-park kiosks after using your initial allotment since the fireworks are at the end of the night. That’s huge. (Note that the photo here doesn’t depict the fan–I don’t have a good photo of it from these spots yet, but still, same idea.)
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 15 minutes before the fireworks, depending upon when you visit. This is also a pretty good location for the Cinderella Castle projection show.
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. Although there are still good views all the way down Main Street, this is typically as far back as I’ll go unless I go all the way to the Train Station.
Views farther back on Main Street are more or less the same as this for the fireworks, but I find that the buildings creeping into your field of view as you move back from here make the fireworks less immersive. If you’re watching one of the hard ticket events’ fireworks (HalloWishes at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Holiday Wishes at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party) these buildings can actually block out the 180-degree perimeter fireworks bursts that occur during those shows.
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. If you do end up in this area, here is the view you can expect during a regular show. Not too bad, right?
7. 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 and Once Upon a Time.
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).
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.
8. 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, it’s rarely crowded, the music is played, and the view is straight-on and spectacular. On nights when we don’t have tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we sometimes watch the fireworks from this location.
The scope and scale are amazing–perhaps superior to being anywhere in the Magic Kingdom! 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, but none hold a candle to this spot (unless there are perimeter bursts, then Top of the World takes the cake–see the photo below).
9. New Fantasyland Walls – For a long time, I was a staunch opponent of watching the fireworks from anywhere in the Magic Kingdom besides Main Street (and that general vicinity). I consider Cinderella Castle the centerpiece of the show, 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 way (way!) less crowded back there. It’s also a neat spot because it feels like you’re in the midst of the fireworks, with bursts both in front of and behind you (essentially over Beast’s Castle above Be Our Guest Restaurant). 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.
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. If you are trying to find the best fireworks spots for other parks, check out our Best IllumiNations Viewing Spots (for Epcot) and Best Disney’s Hollywood Studios Fireworks Viewing Spots posts.
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Where is your favorite spot to watch Happily Ever After? 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!