Epcot IllumiNations: Is It Worth Your FastPass+?

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IMG_0965There’s something wildly appealing about special viewing for fireworks. Whenever we travel to Disneyland we always book packages that include exclusive spots to see the evening finales. But even as a local I was excited to see what FastPass+ viewing for IllumiNations would offer. Most of all I wanted to know if it was really worth burning one of your valuable tier one FastPass+ choices. So this week I set out to find out if IllumiNations is really worth your FastPass+.

I arrived on a Wednesday night around 7:15pm to very low crowds. Looking at the photo on the left, you can tell the park was pretty empty. My FastPass+ window for arrival was set between 8:35pm – 8:55pm. I had some time to kill, so I hopped a ride on Spaceship Earth with no wait before taking a leisurely walk back to the World Showcase.

Along the way I formulated a plan to try something completely new to me. You’ll have to forgive me if I take a little detour from the subject at hand, but have you tried a cronut? I hadn’t, and now I’m sad I waited so long! They’re available at Refreshment Port on your way to Canada when entering the World Showcase. Half donut, half croissant – but all delicious! You really have to try one the next time you’re here. You’ll be glad you did!

After finishing my snack I decided to find this FastPass+ viewing area. I lucked out because I was already in Canada. The entrance is on the right hand side of the Port of Entry gift shop you see when first entering that side of World Showcase. That’s where my luck ended, because at just a little after 8:00pm the line already stretched pretty far!

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In addition to the line pictured above there were people camped out on benches and planters all around, obviously waiting for the area to open up. I have to admit, I was shocked to see this group lined up 30 minutes before they were allowed in and almost a full hour before the fireworks! After roaming around a while, I confirmed there was a ton of space still available right on the water all around the World Showcase Lagoon. By 8:25pm the line had more than doubled (photo below), even though water front viewing was available all over the place!

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Finally, it was time to head into the viewing area. It’s a nice space, and they don’t seem to book enough people into it to make it feel overly cramped. Below is a video so you can see what it’s like. This is the area adjacent to the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party.

So what’s the verdict? Unless you desperately want this particular view, I don’t see any benefit to booking a FastPass+ for IllumiNations. There are lots of great places to watch IllumiNations all over the park, and you can certainly get a front row view if you’re willing to wait for an hour like some people did for FastPass+ viewing.

I hope this helps you when making your FastPass+ choices!  Have you tried this viewing area for IllumiNations? What did you think? Do you want to eat a cronut? (Sung to the tune of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”) Please let us know in the comments below and as always thanks for reading and commenting!

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Posted on June 2, 2014

19 Responses to “Epcot IllumiNations: Is It Worth Your FastPass+?”

  • Actually, it was great for my parents who are elderly. First, it’s not necessarily their cup of tea, so if we’re going to see it, having the FP+ takes away the hassle, especially since we had an ADR at Le Cellier at 7 and got out at 8:30. It’s just a quick walk. My mother also required a wheelchair. While there are wheelchair spaces outside the viewing area, we had the double bonus of FP+ AND designated wheelchair space inside the area. The FP+ was a definite for my group.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 2, 2014, at 12:15 pm EST

      Hi John – that is a really great point. It also might be the some for people with small children? I appreciate you offering a different perspective! Glad you enjoyed the view. :)

  • OMB! (Oh My Bear!) I waited way too long to try out the cronuts too!

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 2, 2014, at 12:16 pm EST

      I’m totally using OMB now. ;) PS- think Shellie May will ever come to visit us here in the states?

      • HI Daisy, – They keep promising that ShellieMay is coming. We heard from Monty Maldovan, Duffy’s first artist, that she would be coming in 2014 or 2015.

        Paws crossed!

        • by Daisy Lauren on June 3, 2014, at 7:18 pm EST

          Hi Duffy – I think I can help. I’m planning my first trip to Tokyo in September of this year. I would bet she shows up at WDW in October!!! ;)

          Paws crossed anyway!

          • A cast member told us today that ShellieMay will be here soon… We’ve been told this before, however, I wanna believe it!

            Tokyo!!! OH Bear! Have a super fun time for me too! *jealous ears*

  • With the change to FP+ allowing extra FPs after 3, using a FP+ for viewing Illuminations seems to be a bad idea for many, if not most.*

    –I’ve been in that viewing area before (a few years back when booking a Candlelight Processional dining package also gave access to special Illuminations viewing). It’s good but not great.

    –There are many other great areas around the lagoon to view Illuminations, many of which can be accessed with little/no wait.

    –Perhaps most importantly, tying up that 3rd FP+ until the end means you can’t get the 4th one (or subsequent ones), which is a big deal since Epcot has the odious tiering of FP+.

    *–with the exception being fairly unique circumstances such as John’s situation, above.

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 2, 2014, at 12:19 pm EST

      Hi Brian – yep, yep, and yep! I’m sure it makes sense for some people (and for good reason) but for the majority it isn’t the best use. Thanks for your great points!

  • I am usually able to find good spots for illuminations most nights I go. Even during crowded summer months. But, I made the decision to burn one Fpp for the July 4th fireworks. Hopefully my decision will pay off. I remember the crowds two years ago and it was shoulder to shoulder out there. :)

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 3, 2014, at 7:18 pm EST

      Hi Jim – I would bet that is a VERY good use of FP+. I hope you’ll be here on July 3rd to check out the show at MK!

  • by Jonathan Parkin on June 2, 2014, at 1:38 pm EST

    I went to Walt Disney World in May, and found myself a decent view opposite the Germany Pavilion 45 mins before showtime against the railing. I didn’t FP it at all

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 3, 2014, at 7:20 pm EST

      Hi Jonathan – thanks for sharing your experience. I agree with you that this is the easier way and it doesn’t tie up your FP.

  • I’m confused why you would line up so far in advance for a fp+ viewing area. For me the point would be to show up at the last minute and still have a good view. If you were the last person to enter the fp+ viewing area would you still have a decent view?

    • by Daisy Lauren on June 3, 2014, at 7:21 pm EST

      Hi Anne – if you were last person in you’d get about the view you’d get anywhere else around the lagoon with no wait at all. Unless you’re there on a super busy time I think it is a waste using your FP+ this way.

  • My husband and I did this last September when we were still able to use the old FP system also, so we weren’t losing anything by doing it, and I was still disappointed. We got there around 8:30, so we did not get there early (which should be the point), and by the time we arrived, there were already people staking out the first several rows behind the fence, giving us only a partial view. I guess the spot is better than say, France, because you can beat some of the crowd out, but you don’t need to waste the valuable Tier 1 FP+ to watch Illuminations closer to the exit. Thumbs down from me.

    And, can’t wait to try the cronut!

    • Fastpass+…. creating lines and wait times where none previously existed.

      • by Daisy Lauren on June 3, 2014, at 7:22 pm EST

        Yep – this was what I thought too. Leslie – I’m glad you didn’t lose anything to experience FP+ viewing for IllumiNations. I was hoping this article would help others from being disappointed. :)