Our Favorite Locations for Viewing Disney Parades and Fireworks

by Casey Morris on March 23, 2016

COVER PIC

MAGIC KINGDOM

Magic Kingdom is home to the 3 different parades, a castle projection show and fireworks every day. Your PPDD travel planner will provide you with an itinerary that lists all the times, but here, you can find the general times. (as they can change according to season)

Parades

Festival of Fantasy – Generally once a day at 3 pm, except during peak seasons can sometimes be seen at 12pm and 3 pm. Click here to see our video of Festival of Fantasy.

Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party – Generally is several times daily. It is not listed as a full parade, as is much shorter. It starts at “A” on the map below, goes up Main Street USA and circles the “hub” in front of the castle and returns back to “A”.

Main Street Electrical Parade – Generally is once every night, usually an hour prior to Wishes or sometimes has even been an hour after Wishes. Click here to see our video of Main Street Electrical.

Mickey’s Boo To You Parade – Can only be viewed during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (separate ticketed event), generally an hour before and an hour after the fireworks. TIP: This is our FAVORITE PARADE!! View it here.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade – Can be viewed during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (separate ticketed event) as well as daily the few days prior to Christmas (taking the place of Festival of Fantasy Parade).

Here is a map that shows the parade route. See the key below it!

msep and fof parade locations

All parades except the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party follow this same route. See this key below for explanations:

A – Where Main Street Electrical Parade begins.

B – Where Festival of Fantasy Parade, Mickey’s Boo To You Parade and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade all start from.

1 – You can find a spot on the curb close to the exit, or even up the stairs headed towards the Main Street Train Station, to get a clear view of any of the parades. The benefit to this location is you have easy access to the exit, which can be helpful if you are headed out of the park immediately after a parade. After Main Street Electrical Parade or Wishes, there can be quite a bit of congestion with everyone leaving the park at the same time.

2 – This is a great location to watch any of the parades from, especially if watching Main Street Electrical followed by Wishes, as you can easily see both from the same location without having to move in between.

3 – Finding a spot on this curb is one of our favorite locations for Main Street Electrical. Not only do you have a great view of the parade, but if you stay there during Wishes, Tinkerbell will “fly” directly over you!

4 – This is our go to spot if we got tied up and didn’t get one of our “good spots” in time. This location tends to not be quite as crowded.

5 – Along Frontierland, there are plenty of areas for what I call “porch sittin'”. My family likes to watch the day time parade Festival of Fantasy from here, since we can usually find a good shady spot from the hot sun.

Fireworks

The nightly fireworks show is called Wishes. About 15 minutes before it’s scheduled start time, the castle projection show called Celebrate the Magic will begin. The two of these are a MUST SEE!

Celebrate the Magic transforms the entire appearance of the castle, and is absolutely amazing!

Although you can see the fireworks from anywhere in the park, as well as many places outside of the park, here is a map showing you our recommendations.

wishes viewing

The yellow highlighted areas show you that pretty much anywhere directly in front of the castle, and down along Main Street USA, you would be able to see both the show and fireworks well. #1 is the same location I mentioned above, about Tinkerbell flying directly over you here, and #2 is if you would like to be close to the park exit to avoid the crowds. I do recommend being “in the crowd” for the first time you watch it!

In addition to watching from inside the park, there are many places at surrounding resorts that allow for great views of Wishes! Here are the locations that have great, FREE viewing locations: The 4th floor outdoor balcony of The Contemporary Resort – TIP: They even pipe in the same music here! The beaches of The Polynesian Village Resort and The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. If you prefer a more intimate viewing, you could either book a Theme Park View Room category at one of the Magic Kingdom area resorts to watch from your room, or you can book a late dinner reservation for either California Grill or Narcoossee’s. Here is a video of Wishes filmed from California Grill.

Epcot

Epcot has a nightly fireworks show called Illuminations. It generally starts at the same time as the posted park closing time. So as soon as it is over, everyone will be headed out of the park. The great thing about this show, is that the fireworks are shot off from the middle of World Showcase Lagoon. This allows for MANY great viewing areas all around World Showcase! Here is the map:

epcot illuminations viewing

The first thing you want to think about prior to deciding on a location is the direction the wind is blowing that day. Illuminations is not only regular fireworks that are shot up in the sky, but also lots of “low to the water” fireworks as well. Due to this, if you are in direction of the wind, you might get a cloud of smoke coming towards you which can block your view quite a bit.

The next thing I always keep in mind is if I want to get out of the park quickly after the show. Since the entire park will be closing, there could be long lines waiting to get on transportation back to the resorts. If you prefer to beat the crowds to the transportation, you may want to keep that in mind when choosing a location. TIP: If you are staying at Beach Club, Yacht Club or Boardwalk, this will not matter since they are walking distance from Epcot!

The last thing to think about is if an island of trees will be blocking part of your view. As you can see in the photo above, the earth globe (where the main focus of the show is) will be taken to the center of World Showcase Lagoon. There are several little islands with trees that could possibly obstruct your view, depending upon where you are.

MAP KEY:

1 – This is the area where Future World and World Showcase join. This is probably the best view of  Illuminations. IF you choose to fastpass the show, this is where you will be. We personally think that unless you are spending several days in Epcot, or maybe are an annual pass holder, that using one of your 3 fastpasses for Illuminations is not a good use of those passes for several reasons. We will not get into all the reasons now, but one is that there are several other good locations!

2 – There is quite a bit of space for clear views between Mexico and Norway. This is a pretty popular location since it is also close to the park exist, so you will need to get here early. You could also opt for a dining reservation at La Hacienda in Mexico just prior to the show. There are large windows that give great views of the show from inside! Alternatively, the quick service restaurant La Cantina de San Angel has an outdoor patio next to the lagoon for good viewing as well. You must order something from the menu to get one of those seats though!

3 – The Italy Pavilion offers what is called the Italy Isola. It is a raised area just over the water, offering beautiful views. The problem with the Italy Isola is that it is often times used for private parties. There unfortunately isn’t a way of knowing about these private parties in advance, so you will just have to scope it out at least an hour prior to the start of the show.

4 – Japan offers quite a different view. You can go up to the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store, or the upper level terrace at Tokyo Dining. With this raised view, you can see Illuminations from a completely different perspective!

5 – There is a bridge between France and the United Kingdom that also offers great views. In fact, for those that pay for the private boat to watch the show from, will park very close to this bridge! You will notice that an island of trees will partially block a very small section of the fireworks, but not the Earth Globe. In the United Kingdom Pavilion, there is an area just next to the Yorkshire County Fish Shop that is great, as well as the option to have a dining reservation at Rose & Crown Pub and Dining Room prior to the show. You would need to arrive early and request a seat next to the water for a great view.

6 – There are several places in the Canada Pavilion next to the water that offer unobstructed views of Illuminations as well.

Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic!

Hollywood Studios has a nighttime show called Fantasmic! in a large outdoor theater. Most nights it has one showing, around the time the park closes. Some nights during slower seasons there might not be a showing at all, while during peak seasons there will often times be two showings a night. While most of the seating offers great views, we want to show you how to get the best seats without having a long wait for them. While my family loves this show, I do think you should take caution with younger kids. My kids have always been okay with the show, but there are several villains, and what could be scary parts for small kids throughout parts of the show. If you have a younger child and have never seen the show, I highly recommend watching the video we recorded to judge if you think your child would do okay.

fantasmic

MAP KEY:

A – Standby Seating: These 4 sections are for the guests that do not have the Fantasmic Dining Package or Fastpass+ seating.

B – Fantasmic Dining Package Seating: These 2 centrally located sections offer the best views. So, how do you score these seats? Have your PPDD travel planner book what is called a Fantasmic Dining Package. This is a dining reservation for either lunch or dinner that provides you with reserved seating in one of these two sections. If there are 2 showings that night, this package always saves your spot for the first showing ONLY. Restaurants offering this package are The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose and Hollywood & Vine. The dining plan covers all of these, but Brown Derby is a signature restaurant which requires 2 table service credits for redemption. (The link above where you can watch the video was recorded from this section, so you can see how the view is great!)

C – Fastpass+ Seating: These 4 sections are reserved for those guests that have a Fastpass for the show. We do not recommend using a Fastpass for this, b/c it is listed in the first “tier” of Fastpasses, which will mean that you will not be able to Fastpass several of the most popular attractions there.

D – Overflow Seating: This section is mostly used during peak seasons when crowds are high.

E – Stage

As you can see, the dining package seating offers the best views. Even though the sections are saved for the dining package and Fastpass+, you want to make sure that you don’t sit too close. Those that sit on the first few rows are likely to get wet, just FYI. We enjoy sitting about 15 or so rows from the bottom.

Fireworks

Hollywood Studios has recently implemented nightly fireworks in addition to Fantasmic!. They have had different themes, starting with Frozen, and now currently Star Wars. The fireworks are framed behind the Great Movie Ride, due to this, there are some attraction and dining closures about an hour and a half prior to the fireworks. These closures include The Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Mania, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, ABC Commissary and Commissary Lane.

HS fireworks

MAP KEY:

A – Fireworks Dessert Party: This requires advanced reservations to be made due to limited seating, as well as additional cost per person. The seats are phenomenal! Here is a photo of the tables being set up for the Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party.

IMG_3340

B – This street will be filled with guests, and is some of the best viewing area besides the dessert party viewing.

C – If you can not find a good spot in the street, make your way over in front of 50’s Prime Time Cafe and Hollywood & Vine, behind Echo Lake. If you can catch a spot between the trees so they are not in your viewing, this is a pretty great spot as well that is not as crowded.

We have also heard that viewing outside of the park entrance is good too, although I have not verified that myself. These fireworks are so grand, that we could even hear them going off all the way in Magic Kingdom one night!

We hope these maps with our favorite locations help you choose a great location to enjoy them as much as we do!

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