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Not all Walt Disney World fireworks viewing locations were created equal. The best place within the Magic Kingdom to view Wishes! is on Main Street, USA. Some people might tell you otherwise, claiming that other areas of the park offer unique perspectives that you can’t get elsewhere. They might claim that “best” is a subjective term, in an attempt to validate a downright bad opinion as to the best fireworks viewing location (yes, there is a such thing as a bad opinion–just look at those who opined back in the day at the world was flat). Other viewing places in the Magic Kingdom besides Main Street can be tolerable if you’re concerned with avoiding crowds, but if your main concern is the best view of the show, the best fireworks viewing locations inside the Magic Kingdom are on or around Main Street, USA. The fireworks were designed with this viewing location in mind, after all! Trust me, I really like Disney fireworks.
Now that we’ve narrowed the best locations down to an entire land, where, more specifically are the best places to view the fireworks? To share the best locations, we’ll start at the end of Main Street closest to the Castle and continue towards the exit of the park, showing the exact same fireworks burst (I call it “the fan”) through photos, with an explanation of the location and the crowds you’ll (typically) have to bear if you want to view the fireworks from that location.
This first photo is the view of the fireworks if you stand about halfway between the Partners statue and Cinderella Castle. If you get to Main Street shortly before the show, you may notice this area isn’t quite as crowded as other areas of Main Street. This is for good reason. This close to the Castle, you will miss about half of the show, as all but the highest bursts will be obscured by the Castle. As a general rule, you should never go beyond the Partners statue if you want a great view of the whole fireworks show.
Why, you might ask? Science. Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about science, and maybe the answer isn’t technically “science” (although I do like to blame most of my misfortunes on the dark-art of “science”). The more specific explanation involves perspective distortion. Rather than offering a nuts and bolts dissertation on perspective distortion, here’s a real world example: if you stare at the sun (always a great idea) with one eye open and put your index finger close to your face, you can completely block the sun, despite it actually being much larger than your finger. As you move your finger further from your face, the sun becomes larger relative to your finger. If you could somehow transport your finger, but not your body, to about 100 feet from the sun, the sun would suddenly dwarf your finger (nevermind that it would first incinerate your finger). The same thing occurs when viewing the fireworks, as most of the bursts are actually shot off a good distance behind Cinderella Castle. Thus, the closer you get to Cinderella Castle, the larger it becomes in relation to the fireworks. You’ll see this principle in practice as we continue to move away from the Castle.
Our next vantage point is just to the right of the Partners statue. This location offers a pretty good view, especially if you like a more Castle-centric look at the fireworks shows. As far as crowds go, this area (and the hub in general) is typically one of the worst locations. This is because you often will find people camped out here for both Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes!
This next location is my absolute favorite location inside of the Magic Kingdom to view the fireworks. I am almost a little reluctant to reveal the secret to you all, but I figure there are only about 11 of you who actually read my posts. So I think the secret is still fairly safe. The best location for viewing fireworks in the Magic Kingdom is slightly north of Casey’s and the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor by about 20 feet. You may not be able to tell as easily at night when crowds are higher, but scout this spot out during the day, and you’ll notice that it’s the high point of Main Street. In the photo above, you’ll see that I have a slightly higher vantage than the people in front of me. This is because of the incline, not because I’m tall (I’m not). Often, this is an area where crowds are not allowed to congregate until around 15 minutes before the show (the Magic, the Memories, and You does change this a bit) so you usually don’t have to arrive early here. Finally, this is a great viewing location for the special events fireworks (HalloWishes, Holiday Wishes, and Summer Nightastic Fireworks) because these shows have what are called perimeter bursts that encircle the Castle. If you continue heading down Main Street towards the Train Station, these bursts are often blocked by the buildings on Main Street.
Continuing down Main Street a tad further right in line with Casey’s and the Ice Cream Parlor, you’ll notice my view is no longer above the crowds, but the red and white burst that shoots off behind the fan is moving higher above the Castle. This ends up being one of the more crowded areas, but again, Cast Members often keep traffic moving here, so you really don’t need to worry too much about showing up early to get a spot here. Just be weary of tall people with small kids standing in front of you and don’t be surprised if that kid ends up on their shoulders, totally blocking your view!
The viewing locations get progressively worse as you move towards the Train Station, until you get right near the flag pole. From there, you can again see most of the perimeter bursts during special event fireworks shows, and the crowds also aren’t quite as bad. For a really unique view of the show, head to the second level of the Train Station. Viewing locations are very limited up here and people camp out hours in advance of the Main Street Electrical Parade, as it also offers a great view of the parade. If you plan on taking photos of the fireworks, be warned, as the flagpole will be right in the center of your shots (except for a few days per year during the Christmas parade filming, when the flag pole is removed).
If you don’t want to deal with the crowds in the dead-center of Main Street, there are a couple off-center locations flanking each side of the Castle. The best one of these is over between Casey’s and Crystal Palace along the hand rail. This is a good location because no one can stand in front of you, and because you will not only see the fireworks, but also their reflection in the water. Similarly, the spots closest to the Castle in the Tomorrowland Terrace offer nice off-center views with reflections, but due to the Wishes Dessert Party, this may not always be available as a viewing location. Be careful in both of these locations: on the Casey’s side there are a fair amount of trees that can ruin your view, and at the Terrace, if you don’t get a front row view, you won’t be able to see a lot of the show. The more off-center you move, the “worse” of a view of the fireworks you’ll have thanks to the bursts that shoot off so far behind the Castle.
You may notice mentions of “inside” the Magic Kingdom littered throughout this post as if to add an asterisk to certain viewing locations. This is because the best viewing locations aren’t in the Magic Kingdom at all, they’re at the Ticket & Transportation Center (for you BetaMouse listeners, consider this the “free awesome fireworks viewing location hack”). Applying the principle of perspective distortion to the extreme, if you go all the way to the TTC, those bursts behind the Castle will appear huge in relation to the Castle.
Yes, the above photo is the exact same burst as the first photo. Scroll up to it. Now scroll back down to this photo. Now scroll back–okay, you get the idea. Quite the stark contrast, right? Not only can you get an awesome view of the fireworks for free, but the music is played, and the crowds are incredibly light. We typically watch the special events fireworks from here one night of our trip (sure beats paying $60 per person for a party ticket!) in addition to attending the party. The beach of the Polynesian Resort also offers a good view of the fireworks, but it’s not nearly as good as the TTC.
There you have it, our first Fireworks Touring Plan!
From where do you prefer watching Wishes! and the other Magic Kingdom fireworks? Share your favorite locations and other thoughts in the comments!