Happily Ever After, Disney’s latest fireworks spectacular is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The show takes Wishes to the next level by adding castle projections and lasers to a show filled with modern yet classic musical numbers all expertly synchronized to incredible pyrotechnics. Because this show is entirely different from Wishes or Fantasy in the Sky, it should come as no surprise that it requires a different sort of strategy to get the most out of your vantage points. If you haven’t seen the show, or you just want to make sure you get the best possible spot the next time you do, follow our tips below.
If Happily Ever After is completely new to you, I cannot stress enough the importance of avoiding spoilers. As difficult as it is for me to believe, the show has actually received so-so reviews from Disney’s internet fanbase. So much of this is because guests who haven’t seen it in person yet are basing their opinions solely off videos they’ve seen online. Videos, no matter where they are filmed from, cannot capture the whole experience. There is simply too much going on to fit into one shot, or at least to fit into one shot in such a way that you can see all of the projections and pyro clearly. The music doesn’t have nearly the impact it has in person when you hear it muffled from your iPhone speakers for the first time, and all-in-all letting yourself see spoilers just really will not do the show justice.
I know, I know, you’re already aware that you should arrive early to any fireworks show in Walt Disney World. But Happily Ever After is a really a whole different beast. To be perfectly honest, with the exception of the final showing of Wishes, I can’t remember the last time I arrived early to get a spot to watch Wishes. I can’t even remember the last time I saw Wishes from the front of Cinderella Castle. With Wishes, I never felt the need to wait for a spot, I would almost always arrive last-minute and watch the fireworks from behind the castle in Fantasyland. The lights on the front of the castle weren’t enough to sway me to brave the crowd. Happily Ever After is completely different. The fireworks are incredible, but by standing in the back of the castle or too far away from the castle, you’re really going to miss out on some of the other effects the show has to offer. Especially if it’s your first time seeing it, be sure to arrive early, brave the crowd and get your spot in front of Cinderella Castle.
Bring a drink
This tip may seem silly, but for me anyway it’s completely necessary. If I know I’m going to be waiting somewhere for a long time in Walt Disney World I always make sure I have a drink. Dehydration is real and if you plan on standing somewhere for an hour or more it doesn’t hurt to have some water with you. This doesn’t necessarily mean bring a case of water bottles to the park, for Happily Ever After I would suggest getting a (free) cup of water from Casey’s Corner, or getting your nightly caffeine fix from Starbucks. If you do bring a drink, just be sure to hold on to your empty cups or bottles and get them into a trash can when the show is over.
Put down your phone and camera
When it’s showtime, put down your phone and camera, especially if it’s your first time seeing Happily Ever After. Allow yourself to be present in the moment. The show is truly amazing, and like watching videos online, I think you would seriously be missing out if you viewed it from behind a screen.
Stick around after the fireworks
Whether or not Once Upon a Time happens to be taking place after the fireworks or the end of the show signals the park’s closing time, I can never recommend leaving directly after the fireworks. Main Street will be at a standstill, and when you do leave the park you’ll be met with some extremely lengthy lines for the buses, monorail, and boats. Instead, take this time to wait around for a bit and let the crowds clear out, and maybe walk through the Emporium to pick up some of the latest Happily Ever After merchandise. (If you love the show I would definitely buy the hat and shirt while they’re available. If past fireworks shows tell us anything it’s that the merchandise really comes and goes so it may not be around forever).
See the show more than once if you can
If your trip is long enough, or if you are able to visit Walt Disney World more frequently than the average guest, make a point to see the show multiple times. It may be a pain getting there early to get your spot, but it probably took until about my third time watching Happily Ever After for me to really felt like I saw all of it. The first and second times there were still little things I missed, and knowing how much detail went into the show made me want to see it more. Similarly I would not suggest seeing it from outside of the park (unless you happen to just be hanging out at the beach at the Polynesian or eating dinner at ‘Ohana). So many of the effects are lost when you don’t have a clear and close view of the castle, and this makes the experience completely different.
Have you seen Happily Ever After yet? If so did you check a video online first or wait until your next trip to the parks? We’d love to hear you think of the show or what your strategy for getting the most out of this experience is in the comments!