Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

by on September 16, 2011 53 Comments

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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.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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!

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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).

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations

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!

Posted on September 16, 2011

53 Responses to “Best Magic Kingdom Fireworks Viewing Locations”

  • Thanks – this is great info. My husband has just started learning about photographing fireworks (and I am learning there’s a lot of planning that goes into those photos!) A tripod seems to be key to getting these amazing fireworks shots. I can see one in the photo on Main Street, so I am guessing they are “allowed” there. Can you set one up at the TTC too? Is there anywhere that a tripod is a problem (outside of the obvious people running into/tripping over it?)

    • Tripods are not prohibited in any of the Walt Disney World Resort parks or in Disneyland (as long as they can fit in a standard sized backpack). Just make sure you use common sense and don’t set them up in high-traffic areas, if you do, you might have issues.

  • We did the “Pirates and Pals” fireworks cruise on one of our trips. The fireworks are much more spectacular from there!! I highly recommend it.

  • Great blog, we too love the spot north of Casey’s and the Ice Cream Parlour but I had never realised that was the high point of Main Street! I’m wondering where at the TTC you got that fantastic view in the last picture from? I can’t visualise the TTC because it’s been a couple of years since we were there but we will be back next year and plan on watching the special fireworks from somewhere and that looks like a great spot! I’m guessing it is somewhere near the ferry dock?

  • Your photos are outstanding. I was wondering if you know of a good place to watch the MK Wishes fireworks if someone is sitting in a mobility scooter without having to look at the posterior of other guests which is usually the eye level.
    It can often can be smelly at this level and impossible to move out of the way because of the crowd.
    I will have to check out the places between Mainstreet and Crystal Palace, but I thought that there were high bushes located there.

    • I would recommend that you scout it out in advance. There are a lot of trees and bushes over there, but there are probably some good spots, too. The Tomorrowland Terrace is definitely scooter friendly, but then you have to pay for the dessert party (if it’s being held).

  • We watched Wishes from two different places this past trip. The first time was from the beach at the Polynesian relaxing in lawn chairs with our toes in the cool sand. Later in the week, we watched the Memories show and Wishes with a perfect view from the crowded hub with the ice cream parlor behind us on our right. We still can’t decide which one was better – two different feels to the show.

    • It’s definitely a totally different show outside of the park versus inside. During busy seasons, I’d take outside of the park over inside the park most of the time. If you liked the Poly beach, you really ought to try the TTC!

  • I’m going to try to get a res for the dessert party on our next trip. I figure combining pyrotechnics and sugar can only be a good thing!

  • This is not the best place…and obviously we didn’t get great pictures when taking them. But the coolest place that we ever saw the fireworks from was riding up and then over and down the big hill/drop on Splash Mountain while a large burst was going off.

    Very cool.

  • We really screwed up by sitting right at the base of the castle this past weekend. Great view of the photos and stuff happening on the castle, but terrible view of the fireworks.

  • We’re taking our 3 DD’s (3,7 & 9 yrs) in early December for 1st time, so I’m trying to map out best places for us to view shows. Where would you suggest we go to view the MK parade, show in front of the castle & fireworks with smaller children? Thank you so much for this information, very helpful!

  • Love the blogs. Have printed the fireworks e-book and am using it as my “Bible” for our next trip. Question: With a shutter speed of :60 or even :90 seconds, how is it the people in the forground of your pictures are not blurred?

    • In long exposures, people only blur if they’re moving. The people viewing the fireworks are (mostly) standing in the same spot for minutes at a time.

      • Right… but they aren’t frozen. I see small amounts of blurring, but with a shutter speed of :60, I guess I would expect it to be way worse. I wondered if maybe you took a few crowd shots from the same location pre-fireworks, and mixed mutliple images.

        • Nope, all of my fireworks photos are single exposures. Are you referring to the photos in this post? None of them are 60 or 90 seconds. Most of these are much shorter, I think, probably around 15 seconds on average.

          • Yes, I’m primarily referring to the photos here. In the e-book, you talk alot about long exposures, and the need to use a remote shutter release to keep the camera steady. So I thought these images were shot using that technique. I just sort of assumed a long exposure rate would be necessary most of the time. I really appreciate the insight, and your experience helps us new guys alot.

  • I stayed one day after an Orlando business trip a few years ago to go to MK. To beat the crowds I headed back on the ferry right before the fireworks started. It was a great view. But Main Street just north of the ice cream parlor is my favorite spot.

  • Gorgeous photos!

  • You can add at least one more to you list of blog post readers 😉 Thanks for the insight, I would have never thought that outside of the MK would provide the best viewing!
    BTW it was your post about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party( ) that convinced me and my family that this is a must do event for us this year 🙂

  • Thanks for this article. We have never stayed up to watch fireworks (we are early to bed, early to rise types) but I really want to in December. This will help me out immensely! And such AMAZING pics, by the way! Love them.

  • Thanks for revealing your favorite spots. The camera shots really help tell the story. I also wanted to thank you for not saying “I won’t reveal my personal secret favorite spot, but here are some other good ones.” It’s not that I think people shouldn’t ever keep their secret spots secret, it’s just that I think they shouldn’t mention it at all. It’s much classier to either share it like you did, or just keep mum about it. I also think that your odds are better that there are 365 days in a year, instead of the number of people who read your articles. 🙂

  • My mom and I always cop a squat at the archway entrance to tomorrowland. Even if it’s a moderately busy night, you can still find a seat about 20 minutes before show time; just don’t sit right behind the arch, and beware the trees. The bonus to this spot is it’s near a speaker and Tinkerbell flies almost directly over you!

  • Awesome article! Thanks for such great information and the picture examples are priceless.

  • Viewing from the TTC would be great for our family because I get squirrely in large crowds and my son is not a fan of the booms. Is it possible to see the MSEP, the Magic, the Memories, and You, and still catch Wishes from the TTC?

    • I think you’d really be pushing it, but it’s *possible* depending on crowds. The night I took the TTC photo in this post, we watched MSEP from the end of Main Street (close to the Train Station) and booked it out as soon as the parade was over. The monorail line was long (we actually had to wait for a second monorail!) but we still made it to the TTC in time. Then, immediately after Wishes!, we booked it to Epcot for Illuminations, also making it in time for that. It was pretty awesome to see both in the same night, but we had to move fast to make it happen.

      • He heh , do you mean pushing it figuratively or literally? 😉 Sometimes I feel like I have to push through the crowd exiting main street after Wishes 😛 lol

  • During our last visit, we decided to avoid the crowds altogether, and watched from behind the castle, by Dumbo. Behind the castle? That’s right. And you know what? We were right UNDER some of the near castle blasts, in the centre of it. We would then have to turn back and forth to see the big blasts from farther back, but they looked great with Dumbo in the foreground. Then turn around again for more near castle blasts. We were surrounded by fireworks!! Yes, we miss the castle show, but everyone around us had a great time.

  • Thanks A Lot for the great article. I have never watched the fireworks from the TTC. I’ll add that to my list for my next trip. This past June I stayed at Bay Lake Tower. Watching the fireworks from the lounge on top of BLT gave a whole new meaning to the word perspective. I had NO IDEA the fireworks were actually launched from such a great distance behind the castle. It’s almost hard to believe they are the same fireworks that appear to be right behind the castle when viewed from inside the park.

    • Yeah, hard to believe, right? We enjoy watching the fireworks from California Grill–it’s a neat perspective–but as far as “good” views go, I think it doesn’t compare to MSUSA.

  • Tom,

    Thanks for this great article.
    Two questions:

    1) Did I miss something in your article (possible)…how did you manage to get all these photos of what appears to be the same point in time in the fireworks show?

    2) I am not too familiar with the TTC area…where exactly is it at the TTC you would be to watch the fireworks?


  • 1) These photos were taken between 2008 and 2011, and yes, they’re all of the same point in time of the fireworks show.

    2) To the right of the Ferry entrance.

  • Are the Holiday Wishes fireworks only during the Party, or do they also run during the weeks on either side of Christmas? I’ve seen another site claim that Disney does the same fireworks from the 20th through the 30th as they do at the Christmas Party. I’ve called Disney, and they say that isn’t the case. Which is it?

  • I like the TTC idea. Might try that next time. Nice post Tom!

  • Great shots, thanks for sharing and the tips – keep it up! Quick question: Do you have an abnormally tall tripod, or do you use some kind of platform / box to shoot from? You don’t seem to have too many ‘heads’ or other ‘interference’ in your shots. Even with a normal tripod height of 5 1/2 feet or so, I always seem to get people in the way from those locations 🙁

    Thanks, Josh

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  • Though I’ve been on this site before,I’ve not been aware of this topic until after we returned from our visit yesterday 🙁 . Some of this information would have provided some alternatives.
    I agree that if possible, the dessert party at Tomorrowland Terrace is a nice option. Closer to Main Street, you can get a view (albeit a bit distant) of the castle

  • Though I’ve been on this site before,I’ve not been aware of this topic until after we returned from our visit yesterday 🙁 . Some of this information would have provided some alternatives.
    I agree that if possible, the dessert party at Tomorrowland Terrace is a nice option. Closer to Main Street, you can get a view (albeit a bit distant) of the castle stage show and pyrotecnics. The M,M,&Y show is pretty good…not quite close enough to make out individual images, but definitely close enough for colourful graphic scenes. Close to the rail, you can see pretty much all of the high overhead bursts.

    Definite advantages are the fact that you can sit and rest before and during the show (along with beverages and all the dessert you desire!), the fact that Tinkerbell flies directly at you and blow you a kiss at the terrace before disappearing over the roof of the building, and there is a Photopass spot right next to the dessert station, so you can get images with the castle at different colours, and maybe with some bursts in the background from the MMY show. Don’t know if shots are available during the fireworks show.

    An off-track option we exercised was staying at Club Level at Contemporary Resort. One night we watched the fireworks from bed in our room. We’ve seen the show several times at MK, so seeing it from the comfort of our room was a bit of treat.

    Thanks for all your efforts.

  • In addition to the TTC, another great view is on the ferry boat back to the TTC during the show. It is quite romantic to be on a ferry in the middle of the water while watching the show. They even pipe the music. You have to time it right (I think they might shut down ferry service after the show begins), but you have an unobstructed view from the top story of the ferry. There was almost no one on it, even though lines were VERY long for the monorail during summer season.

  • We are going to Disney in Sept. and we are part of triple A so we have the option to see the fireworks from the triple A viewing spot. Would you say that it’s better to see them for there or slightly north of Casey’s and the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor by about 20 feet? This is a special trip for our kids and us. We have had a hard year and I want to make it as fun as possible. Thanks

  • Awesome shots Tom – thanks for the great post. I was on the fence about taking my lightest tripod on our next trip to Disney (figured with the crowds it wasn’t worth the bother) but now I’m sold Going to try and see the show (and just watch ) from MK then take the tripod to the TTC another night. Can’t wait !!!!

  • Thanks for the tips! We watched the show tonight from the spot you described near main street ice cream and it was perfect!!

  • Hey there thanks for the great tips. Me and some friends are at Orlando for a stop on our round trip through Florida. We really would like to see the fireworks but would spend the time during the day rather for touristic stuff. Can I reach the TTC without an admission ticket for the Park and there are speakers that play the same songs that are played inside the park? Thanks in advance

  • Amazing shots! You have a great wit as well. Refreshing read. Planning our trip for October… and I need to figure out night shots. I have a 4 year old who isn’t real fond of the BOOM (maybe he will be by then) but I’m thinking the TTC will DEFINITELY be the way to go for us! Do you have a Disney photo bible of shots we all need to take!? 🙂