Disney World Evening Fireworks & Spectaculars

Each of the four major Walt Disney World parks has an evening fireworks show or “spectacular” (to use the Disney term, which is probably the best way to describe them!). They can include fireworks, projections, music and other special effects and usually last 15-30 minutes. There is no separate charge to watch these spectaculars – they’re included with park admission. Since the better viewing spots, whether seated or standing, are first-come, first-serve, people often stake out a spot early and stay there until it’s time for the show to start. But this can mean a lot of sitting around, which may not be how you want to spend your time at Walt Disney World.

If you don’t want to have someone stake out a spot, there are basically three key ways to score a decent seat with minimal hassle. You can use one of your three FastPass+ slots, for the three shows that offer FastPass+ (Epcot Forever, Rivers of Light and Fantasmic!). You can purchase a dining package or dessert party that includes access to a reserved view area, if that’s available. Or, you can book a VIP tour – typically they won’t guarantee they can get you reserved seating for a particular show, but in our experience the VIP tour guides have a lot of resources at their disposal and can almost always get their guests a good spot to view shows. The VIP tour option is realistically outside the price range for most groups, but you can read more about it on our Tours & Activities page.

Below we cover FastPass+, the dining and dessert packages and give our recommendations for the best value.

(Disney considers Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light: We Are One “entertainment,” rather than a spectacular, most likely because there are no fireworks or special effects that would disturb the animals. But we cover it here because it is a similar experience to the rest of the spectaculars.)

Evening Fireworks & Spectaculars Viewing Options

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Epcot Forever at Epcot

Epcot Forever takes place on the World Showcase Lagoon, so, in theory there is good viewing anywhere along the lagoon throughout Epcot’s World Showcase. In practice, folks will start staking out a spot as much as an hour before the show, and the best “open” locations will fill up quickly. So you might want to consider some of the reserved viewing options. The show takes place just before closing and runs once an evening.

Please note: The final performance of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth was September 30, 2019. It has been replaced by Epcot Forever, a new, limited-time spectacle of fireworks, music, lighting, lasers and choreographed, special effects kites. Epcot Forever is set to run into 2020, and then will be replaced with the park’s next nighttime spectacular, HarmonioUS.

Epcot Forever Reserved Viewing Options

Access to a reserved seating area for Epcot Forever can be booked for FREE via FastPass+.

The Frozen Ever After Dessert Party includes a dessert buffet and admission to a reserved seating area for Epcot Forever in World Showcase Plaza East and, after the show, a ride on Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion. Now through November 30, 2019, the cost is $79 per adult (age 10 and up) and $47 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included. Starting December 1, 2019, the cost will be $99 per adult (age 10 and up) and $59 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included.

The Epcot Forever Dining Package includes dinner in the Rose & Crown Dining Room in the United Kingdom Pavilion and admission to a reserved seating area for Epcot Forever on the patio at Rose & Crown. The cost is $89 per adult (age 10 and up) and $39 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included.

Private fireworks cruises on a pontoon boat that seats up to 10 people (in addition to the captain) leave from Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort. The cruise includes assorted snacks and soft drinks, but you can arrange other food and beverage options through Disney for an additional charge. You get a cruise over to Hollywood Studios and then back to Epcot to watch the show. While you’ll be tied up near some other boats doing the same cruise, it still feels like you are separated from the crowd. The cost starts at $371.69, tax included. Park admission is not required.

Our Viewing Recommendations for Epcot Forever

If you want to stake out a good open viewing spot, the bridge between France and UK is probably the best spot, as it’s higher above the water. People will start staking it out very early, though. The Japan pavilion has a nice wide-open view of the water, although the large red torii gate may block a bit of your view of a few things. There’s a small terrace with an OK view on the second floor of Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan pavilion, but it fills up very early. The whole Norway-Mexico area is full of good spots with clear views. Beyond that, any spot around the lagoon with a clear view of the center of the lake is going to work fine.

The cheapest reservation option is to book a FREE FastPass+ for Epcot Forever. But if you don’t want to use a FastPass on this show there are some other options.

It is possible to make an Advance Dining Reservation that puts you in one of the World Showcase restaurants that has a view of the lagoon: La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico); Rose & Crown Pub (United Kingdom) and Spice Road Table (Morocco). Keep in mind that you won’t be the only person trying to do this, so reservations for the best time slots will go fast! Also, even if you get a reservation for the right time, the restaurants will absolutely not guarantee a table next to the lake, and they won’t let you wait for a view table to open. When the fireworks start, our experience is that nearly everyone in the restaurant stands up and tries to find a place where they can see, and these restaurants don’t have enough space for everyone to get a good view. All told, this strategy is mixed; it’s possible you’ll get a decent view, but it’s possible you’ll end up no better off than if you were out on the walkway.

Disney offers both a Dining package and Dessert Party package that gives you a reserved spot to watch the show. If we had to choose between the Dining Package and the Dessert Party, we would pick the Dining Package because you get a full meal for a price that’s pretty similar to what a meal costs in those restaurants, so you’re getting the reserved viewing spot almost FREE. With the Dessert party, the value of the food is not as high, so mostly you’re paying for the spot.

If you have a small group (up to 10 people) and would like something a bit more special, consider booking a private fireworks cruise. It doesn’t include a meal, but you may find that the benefits of having a pontoon boat all to yourselves with an excellent view of the show, plus some pre-show cruising around the waterways between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, are worth the expense. Additionally, since you won’t actually be entering the park, you won’t use up an admission day on your park ticket!

Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic! is a bit unique, in that it takes place in an amphitheater behind the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror that is isolated from the rest of Hollywood Studios. So you won’t be able to see any of the show unless you are in the amphitheater. On the plus side, all of the seats in the amphitheater give you a good view, so it’s not super important to be in any one particular section. The show is performed most nights; at peak times it may run twice in one evening. If so, the second show will be less crowded.

Fantasmic! Reserved Viewing Options

Access to a reserved seating area for Fantasmic! can be booked for FREE via FastPass+.

The Fantasmic! Dessert & VIP Viewing Experience includes a snack box and drink that you pick up at the Fantasmic! amphitheater as you head to the show and access to a VIP seating area for Fantasmic!. The cost is $39 per adult (age 10 and up) and $19 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The Fantasmic! Dining Package is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose or Dining with Minnie and Friends at Hollywood & Vine and includes admission to a reserved seating area for Fantasmic!. Please note: not all meals are available at all locations. The cost for lunch or dinner at Mama Melrose is $45.80 per adult (age 10 and up) and $19.17 per child (age 3-9), tax included. The cost for lunch or dinner at The Hollywood Brown Derby is $67.10 per adult (age 10 and up) and $23.43 per child (age 3-9), tax included. The Hollywood & Vine Fantasmic! Dining Package is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast at Disney Junior’s Play and Dine costs $48.99 per adult (age 10 and up) and $29.82 per child (age 3-9). This is a Disney Character meal with Disney Junior characters. Lunch and dinner at Minnie’s Seasonal Dine costs $63.90 per adult (age 10 and up) and $38.34 per child (age 3-9), tax included. This is a Disney Character meal with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy.

Our Viewing Recommendations for Fantasmic! 

With no reservation, your best bet is to go to the last show of the night. If there’s only one show, getting in line 1.5-2 hours before the show is not a bad idea. If there’s a second show, you only need to get in line 30-60 minutes in advance. And if they put on a third show (usually only at holidays) you can probably show up 20 minutes in advance and still get a seat. Keep in mind that while it’s a big theater, all the seats are perfectly fine. The show is very large scale, and while your experience changes depending on where you sit, it’s really very good from everywhere. Don’t feel like you need to get a front row seat.

The cheapest reserved option is to book a FREE FastPass+ for Fantasmic!. You’ll still want to show up at least 20 minutes early, as about 15 minutes before the show starts they open up the FastPass+ seating to general admission.

Of the paid options, the Dessert & VIP Viewing experience, is the least expensive option, and while the food part is just a snack box, you do get VIP seating. However, for not too much more money, you can book a sit-down lunch or dinner package at Mama Melrose. If you were planning to do a character meal during your trip, take a look at the dining package options at Hollywood & Vine – you get a character meal and the reserved seating for about the same cost as some character meals. And the Hollywood Brown Derby dinner package doesn’t really cost much more than you’d spend on just dinner there (though that’s pretty spendy; it’s a Signature restaurant).

Happily Ever After Fireworks at Magic Kingdom

Happily Ever After combines fireworks with projections onto Cinderella Castle, so it is best viewed from as close to the center of the Hub as possible (the area just in front of Cinderella’s Castle with the statue of Walt and Mickey) or on Main Street U.S.A. The further you are off to the side, the more likely there will be trees blocking your view of the projections.

Happily Ever After Reserved Viewing Options

The Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing includes a dessert buffet and admission to a reserved viewing area for the fireworks. Now through January 31, 2020, the cost is $69 per adult (age 10 and up) and $41 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost will be $79 per adult (age 10 and up) and $47 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace includes a dessert buffet and reserved seating for the fireworks. Now through January 31, 2020, the cost is $84 per adult (age 10 and up) and $50 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost will be $99 per adult (age 10 and up) and $59 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The After Fireworks Dessert Party includes admission to a reserved viewing area for the fireworks and, after the fireworks, a dessert buffet. Now through the January 31, 2020, the cost is $69 per adult (age 10 and up) and $41 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Starting February 1, 2020, the cost will be $89 per adult (age 10 and up) and $53 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The Signature Celebration Package at Cinderella’s Royal Table includes a character dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table and access to priority reserved viewing of the fireworks in the West Plaza Garden. After the fireworks, you join the After Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace. The dinner portion of the evening includes a personal welcome from Cinderella and Prince Charming when you arrive at Cinderella Castle. While you dine, Cinderella’s Princess friends will come to your table to greet you and take photos. As part of your dinner, you’ll receive a box of Cinderella-inspired confections and a keepsake menu. The cost is $211.94 per adult (age 10 and up) and $179.99 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise includes a dessert buffet onboard a Disney ferryboat on the Seven Seas Lagoon with a view of the fireworks (i.e. outside Magic Kingdom). There is some seating available. The soundtrack of the show is piped through the boat’s sound system. During the cruise there is also an ultraviolet scavenger hunt for kids. Please note: check-in and boarding take place at the Transportation and Ticket Center. The cost is $99 per adult (age 10 and up), $69 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included. Park admission is not required.

Private fireworks cruises on a pontoon boat that seats up to 8 people (in addition to the captain) leave from the marinas at Disney’s Contemporary, Fort Wilderness, Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge resorts. The cruise includes assorted snacks and soft drinks, but you can arrange other food and beverage options through Disney for an additional charge. You get a cruise the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake before getting in position to watch the fireworks. The cost starts at $318.44, tax included. Park admission is not required.

The Celebration at the Top – Sip Savor, Sparkle includes appetizers served in the private Sonoma and Napa Rooms at the California Grill (i.e. outside Magic Kingdom), a view of the fireworks from a private observation deck at the top of the Contemporary Resort and dessert after the fireworks. The private rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and connect to a private observation deck — with views of Bay Lake and the Magic Kingdom. Guests are asked to adhere to the dress code of California Grill. (Other observation decks are available for guests who are dining at California Grill.) Now through November 30, 2019, the cost is $117.15 per person, tax and valet parking included. Starting on December 1, 2019, the cost will be $126.74 per person, tax and valet parking included. Park admission is not required.

The Highway in the Sky Dine Around includes a progressive dinner (using the monorail!) and a view of the fireworks from a private patio at the Contemporary Resort (i.e. outside Magic Kingdom). The evening begins with check in at The Wave…of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort for a welcome cocktail. Then head to Disney’s Polynesian Resort for South Pacific-inspired drinks and appetizers. The next stop is the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for wine and cheese and then dinner at Citricos. The final stop is the Contemporary Resort for dessert, cordials and coffee on a private patio during the fireworks. Attendees are given priority boarding on the monorail during this event and asked to adhere to the minimum dress code requirements. The cost is $181.05 per person for ages 12 and up only, tax, gratuity and valet parking included. Park admission is not required.

Our Viewing Recommendations for Happily Ever After

This is a very popular show and because of the layout and landscaping of the Hub, the good viewing spots get taken quickly. Additionally, Cast Members have to keep some parts of the pathways clear for people walking from one part of the park to another. So, if you want to be sure to have a good view, without have to constantly defend your viewing spot, purchasing access to reserved viewing can make for a more relaxing and enjoyable experience.

There are a lot of reserved viewing options for this show. Most are dessert parties, and as we mentioned above, in terms of value, the desserts themselves are really not worth the fairly large prices of these dessert parties, so you’re paying mostly for a reserved spot to watch the show. All three dessert parties have you eat your desserts at Tomorrowland Terrace, but only one, the Fireworks Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace, keeps you there for the fireworks. With the others, cast members will lead you to a roped-off area not far away, near the center of the Hub.

If you pick the dessert party that stays at Tomorrowland Terrace, you can stay seated for the fireworks, but keep in mind that once the show starts, others at this party may stand up and crowd up against the rock wall to get a better view. This may force you to stand to get a good view. If you have trouble standing for long periods of time, being able to sit right up until the start of the show is valuable. At the other parties, you head to the reserved viewing area about 15-20 minutes before the show starts, which just means more standing. Also, Tomorrowland Terrace is off to one side (on the edge of Tomorrowland), so you are viewing the show at an angle and fairly far back.

The show is really at its best when viewed from the center of the Hub, so we think the best paid reservation options are the Fireworks Party with Plaza Garden Viewing or the After Fireworks Party.

Some of the reserved viewing options are outside Magic Kingdom. While you definitely get a good view of the fireworks from outside the park, and are probably in a more relaxing atmosphere, you aren’t going to see the projections onto the castle, or at least not clearly, and those are pretty spectacular. For most of the outside-park options, the focus is on a unique, upscale dining experience. If you are considering one of those options, keep in mind that you will mainly experience the fireworks and music from the show. One potential advantage: since you don’t need to enter the park, you don’t have to use an admission day on your park ticket!

Once Upon A Time Castle Show at Magic Kingdom

Once Upon a Time takes place just before park closing and is primarily projections onto Cinderella Castle, so it is best viewed from as close to the center of the Hub as possible (the area just in front of Cinderella’s Castle with the statue of Walt and Mickey) or on Main Street U.S.A. The further you are off to the side, the more likely there will be trees blocking your view of the projections. There are no reserved viewing options. Since the show takes place at closing time, enough people have usually left the park that you can get a good view without much effort. It’s a great show and well worth seeing, if you can manage to keep yourself awake and on your feet!

Rivers of Light: We Are One at Animal Kingdom

Rivers of Light: We Are One takes place on the lagoon with illuminated floats, fountains and projections on the surrounding trees. The seating is across from Expedition Everest and Finding Nemo – The Musical. All the seats have a good view of the show, so it’s not super important to be in any one particular section. You can view the show from other spots along the water, but the show is oriented towards the stands, so your view of the projections on the trees probably won’t be so great. The show is performed on select nights; at peak times it may run twice in one evening.

Rivers of Light: We Are One Reserved Viewing Options

Access to a reserved seating area for Rivers of Light: We are One can be booked for FREE via FastPass+.

The Animal Kingdom Tasting Sampler Value Card costs $50 and includes one $50 card that can be used at over 40 outdoor food and beverage locations throughout Animal Kingdom (and does not expire); a bonus $10 card that can be used at select Animal Kingdom quick-service restaurants after 4:00 pm from December 22, 2019 through January 4, 2020 and 2 reserved seats for the second showing of Rivers of Light: We are One (which must be redeemed between December 22, 2019 and January 4, 2020). Available as online purchase only. Book by 1/4/20.

The Tusker House Dining Package is available for the breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet on the day of the show and includes admission to a premium seating area for Rivers of Light: We are One. The cost of breakfast starts at $48.99 per adult (age 10 and up) and $29.82 per child (age 3-9), tax included. The cost of lunch and dinner starts at $63.90 per adult (age 10 and up) and $38.37 per child (ages 3-9), tax included.

The Tiffins Dining Package is available for table service lunch or dinner and includes admission to a premium seating area for Rivers of Light: We are One. The cost starts at $72.42 per adult (age 10 and up) and $27.69 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

The Rivers of Light Dessert Party includes a dessert buffet and admission to a reserved seating area for Rivers of Light: We Are One. Now through January 31, 2020 the cost is $79 per adult (age 10 and up) and $47 per child (age 3-9), tax included. Starting February 1, 2020 the cost is $89 per adult (age 10 and up) and $53 per child (age 3-9), tax included.

Our Viewing Recommendations for Rivers of Light: We Are One

The cheapest option is to book a FREE FastPass+ for Rivers of Light: We Are One. You’ll still want to show up a bit early as about 15 minutes before the show starts they open up the FastPass+ seating to general admission. But if you don’t want to use a FastPass on this show, there are some other options.

For those traveling to Walt Disney World for Christmas 2019, a good option is the Animal Kingdom Tasking Sampler card. Each $50 food card includes 2 reserved seats for the second showing of Rivers of Light: We are One (which must be redeemed between December 22, 2019 and January 4, 2020). Please note: you must purchase this card in advance online.

If we had to choose between the Dining Packages and the Dessert Party, we would pick one of the Dining Packages. For less money you get a full meal, not just dessert. To really maximize your dollars, schedule the latest breakfast possible with the Tusker House Dining Package. Since the crowds are lightest first thing in the morning, this strategy has the added advantage of allowing you to enjoy the attractions without long lines — instead of spending prime time eating breakfast! You’ll probably want to eat something light to keep you going in the morning (for instance, all of the parks have pastry shops offering bagels, sweet rolls, milk and juice; or you can eat a light breakfast in your room). Then book the latest possible reservation for “breakfast” — but consider it lunch!

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is projected onto the Chinese Theater and some of the nearby buildings. Because it has such a wide screen, so to speak, there are plenty of good viewing spots. Just be aware that the further off to the side you are, the more likely there may be trees blocking some of your view.

Please note: during the holiday season (early November through early January), Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! will be shown instead.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Reserved Viewing Options

The Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party includes a dessert buffet and admission to a reserved viewing area for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and Wonderful World of Animation and a Star Wars-themed souvenir. Now through November 7, 2019 and on December 31, 2019 the cost is $79 per adult (age 10 and up) and $45 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included. Starting January 6, 2020, the cost will be $89 per adult (age 10 and up) and $53 per child (age 3-9), tax and gratuity included.

Our Viewing Recommendations Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

Since there is only one reserved viewing option for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, your options are either stake out a spot or pay for the dessert party. In the past, you didn’t have to show up too early to find a decent spot, but with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the park is attracting more people and so you may need to show up earlier.

Tree of Life Awakenings at Animal Kingdom

The Tree of Life Awakenings is a lovely, but low-key, series of projection shows on the Tree of Life that begins once it’s dark and runs continuously about every 10 minutes. Because the show runs continuously and is visible from lots of places, there is no need to stake out a spot and there are no special viewing packages. It’s worth seeing and is a nice way to end your evening at Animal Kingdom. A good spot to watch is the area between Island Mercantile and Discovery Trading Company. You have a great view of the tree, there’s plenty of space to stand whenever you happen to get there, and once you have seen the whole rotation of shows (or as many as you want), you simply turn around and head over the bridge to the park exit.

Are Dining And Dessert Packages Worth The Cost?

The dessert parties and dining packages can be pricey, and some are not much more than a dessert buffet with some seating. So, it can feel like a lot of money for what you get in terms of the party/food experience. On the other hand, time is always a factor in any vacation, especially a Disney trip. There is generally WAY more to do than you have time for. And only a few of these shows can be booked via FastPass+.

Paying for access to a reserved viewing area means that you don’t have to spend time standing around holding onto your viewing spot. If you were already planning to have a sit down dinner that night, booking a dinner that includes access to a reserved viewing area isn’t a bad way to go. You would have paid for a sit down dinner anyway, and this way, you also get a good view of the show with a minimal amount of standing around and waiting. And speaking very broadly, a dinner package is not typically much more expensive than just buying a sit-down meal at that restaurant, making the show reservation effectively FREE. The catch is that the dinner packages usually require you to eat dinner at an off time (usually before 5:00 pm), as they use the packages to fill up the restaurant during slow periods.

The dessert parties are more of a mixed bag. The desserts themselves are perfectly fine – typically little bite-sized morsels, including mini tarts, cakes and so forth. In terms of value for money, the desserts themselves are really not worth the fairly large prices of these dessert parties, so you’re paying mostly for a reserved spot to watch the show. To get your money’s worth, you would almost need to make most of a meal out of the desserts. There’s more than enough food available to fill anyone up, but there’s not much in the way of protein or hot food. They almost always have one or two savory items for those who aren’t big on dessert, but it might just be some cheese or chips.