Posts Tagged ‘fireworks’

Review: The Magic Kingdom’s fantastic new Happily Ever After show

by on May 13, 2017

About ten minutes into the Magic Kingdom’s new Happily Ever After nighttime fireworks show, my friend Steve turned and said “I almost don’t need to see the fireworks.Happily Ever After - Pink Castle” And that’s true because the visual effects being projecting on to and around Cinderella Castle for Happily are so incredibly vibrant and rich, with so much detail, that you can’t take your eyes off them. When combined with the new fireworks, lasers, and area lighting, the whole show is so good that I’d recommend a special trip to the Magic Kingdom just to see it.

New Projection Technology Makes a Huge Difference

Happily is one giant leap ahead of previous projection shows because of how the film clips are displayed on the castle. In previous projection shows, the film clips were played directly on to the castle, essentially using it as a giant movie screen. In Happily, however, it looks like Disney edited the film scenes so they fit into architecturally correct parts of the castle.

Along with that, Disney seems to have added firefly-like laser light effects to the trees around the Magic Kingdom central hub, plus landscape lighting surrounding the castle that’s color-matched to the  show scenes. It’s far more ambitious that anything Disney’s done at the park, and it all seems to work, both technically and artistically.

Happily Ever After - Scroll DetailThere’s a scene in Happily, for example, from Hunchback of Notre Dame, where a circular stained glass window is projected on the front center of the castle, while a perfectly scaled image of Quasimodo climbs one of the towers to the right. The stained glass window projection is so clear, so realistic that I had to stare at it for a few second to remember that there isn’t a real stained-glass window there.

Besides Hunchback, characters from every major new Disney film make an appearance in the show. The scene from Moana seemed to get a lot of cheers from the audience, as did the one from Brave, and, of course, Frozen. Speaking of Frozen, Disney deserves credit for not using Let it Go in the Happily soundtrack. It’s not needed here – the visual elements do all the work – and including that overplayed song would have just meant that the show writers had a checklist to go through. I don’t think the Happily soundtrack is quite as memorable as Wishes, a classic, but Happily is good enough.

Because there’s so much detail, I think it’ll be possible to watch Happily several times without seeing everything. I’m looking forward to going back.

Read the rest of this entry »

Attractions to Ride During Magic Kingdom Fireworks

by on September 27, 2016

Disney World’s Wishes Nighttime Spectacular at Magic Kingdom is a show that I can watch over and over again. I’ve had a perfect view at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. just behind the Hub. I’ve had great views from other various spots along Main Street, U.S.A. and from the upper balcony of the Walt Disney Railroad Main Street U.S.A. Station. I’ve watched it from Fantasyland near Prince Charming Regal Carrousel and at assorted spots on the path leading to Beast’s Castle with the fireworks exploding in all directions.

I’ve watched the fireworks bursting above me near Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid and have seen them from the Tomorrowland bridge. I’ve also watched from parts of the park that afford only glimpses of the action but where the fireworks still give me that feeling of magic.

© Sarah Graffam

Wishes near Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid


To be sure, there are many spots with a view of Wishes in Magic Kingdom. But there is another memorable way to watch the show from inside the park that doesn’t involve finding one great spot. Rather, how about experiencing Wishes from a different perspective by riding an attraction with a view.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Force Awakens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with More Star Wars Fun

by on December 23, 2015

In case you’ve been living inside the belly of an asteroid-bound space slug, The Force Awakens has ignited moviegoers and burnt down box office records ever since the long-awaited Star Wars sequel hit screens nationwide on December 17. Right now, there’s no better place in Orlando to celebrate The Force Awakens than Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has spread new Star Wars stuff to every corner of the park. In this follow-up to my first look at the recently added DHS Star Wars offerings, we’ll check out additional attractions, edibles, and entertainment engineered to take you to that galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars Launch Bay and Chase Disney Visa Private Meet and Greet

Let’s start with a walk around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I originally broadcast on the Touring Plans Periscope channel.


Now, let’s check out the recently opened Star Wars Launch Bay walk-through exhibit.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Disney's Hollywood Studios

Read the rest of this entry »

Trivia Tuesday: Walt Disney World Fireworks Shows

by on December 8, 2015

Photo - Tom BrickerToday’s Trivia Tuesday is all about the Fireworks Shows at Walt Disney World.

This video includes touring tips as well, so click below to find out more!

What Trivia Tuesday videos would you like to see next? Let me know in the comments!

Review – Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

by on November 23, 2015

Illuminations (1)Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the long-running nighttime spectacular at Epcot, is beloved by many. But is it really that good? Let’s break it down.

Backstory: The first incarnation of an Epcot nighttime show premiered in the fall of 1982 and was called Carnival de Lumiere (no relation to the candelabra from the not yet conceived Beauty and the Beast film.) This small scale fountain show was replaced a year later by A New World Fantasy and that show was replaced yet another year later by Laserphonic Fantasy. Both of these shows used fireworks, lasers, lights, and projection screens on barges all set to classical music. The first version of the show actually titled IllumiNations began in 1988 and continued with some variations until 1999 when it was replaced by the current show Reflections of Earth. This version of the show was originally conceived as a signature attraction of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration but has been showed continuously ever since with the only variation being a special ending for the Christmas holiday season.

Touring Strategy: The show takes place at the center of World Showcase lagoon so it can be seen in full from anywhere around the lagoon, with the fireworks visible from many parts of Future World as well. The really good spots for IllumiNations do go early, however, especially in busier times of year. Without a reservation at a restaurant on the lagoon, your best walk-up locations to see IllumiNations are the raised area in front of the Italy pavilion and the area in front of the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. If these areas are being used for special events, consider the bridge between France and the United Kingdom and the area between Mexico and Norway. Just keep in mind that these locations can fill up by 45-minutes before showtime. If you don’t mind being partially blocked by a tree, a fence, or a guy taking selfies in front of you, then you can grab a location at pretty much any point before the show begins. (FastPass+ is not recommended but if you choose to use it, you will be positioned between the gift shops at the front of World Showcase and should arrive at least 20 minutes before showtime.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Forever Fireworks Review

by on July 16, 2015

Disneyland Forever

Learn the best way to experience the Disneyland Forever fireworks in our new 60th Anniversary entertainment review. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Nearly two months after after Anaheim kicked off its Diamond Celebration, Disneyland‘s 60th birthday has officially arrived. By now, several members of the Touring Plans team — including Seth Kubersky and Guy Selga — have had a chance to experience the new anniversary nighttime entertainments from multiple angles, so in honor of Disneyland’s big day we’re sharing a sneak preview of the new reviews that we’re including in the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016. If you missed our previously published Paint the Night coverage, check it out now. Then read on for our in-depth review of of the all-new Disneyland Forever fireworks:

Disneyland Forever

Authors’ Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Disneyland Forever Description and Comments

As part of its Diamond anniversary celebration, Disneyland retired the popular Remember…Dreams Come True fireworks spectacular (originally created for the park’s 50th birthday) in favor of the all-new Disneyland Forever show. Created by extravaganza expert Steve Davison, who designed Wishes and World of Color, his latest production runs the full gamut of special effects: a rousing score, castle lighting, lasers, and an impressive flight from the fairy Tinker Bell – not to mention spectacular fireworks effects. After an introduction evoking the orange tree groves that originally covered Anaheim, the show sails through memorable musical vignettes from beloved Disney movies.


Read the rest of this entry »

The Disney Dazzle: Wishes Fireworks Cruise

by on October 7, 2014

Photo - Keith Dahlgren

Mom and Dad sharing a special moment

Today, I’m going to share my experience attending the Wishes Fireworks Cruise. I first went on this cruise in 2011 and again in September 2014. This most recent time, it was a birthday surprise for my dad. If you know me personally, you will understand just how hard it is for me to keep a secret. The cruise can be booked as early as 180 days in advance, but mine was booked about 90 days beforehand. That’s 90 whole days I had to keep my lips zipped…I barely made it! After a fun day at the parks and a delicious dinner at The Brown Derby (Yes, he was spoiled rotten!), we arrived at the Contemporary. We led my confused dad through the lobby and outside to the marina. He had no clue what this birthday surprise could be!

Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Fireworks Displays at Disney Parks

by on July 23, 2014

FireworksSummer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!

I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace – two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.

Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic?

Read the rest of this entry »

When the Magic is Too Much – Preparing Kids for Disney

by on July 22, 2014

Planning a family Disney vacation is full of anticipation and excitement. You save money and plan meticulously for months to have that perfect, magical experience. However, it’s often underestimated how quickly things can go from exciting to scary for the youngest Disney guests. Navigating four theme parks with a little one can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t anticipate what may trigger a reaction. Here we look at ways of preparing kids for Disney vacations.

I’ve seen kiddos get freaked out by 3 main things:

  1. Mickey and characters (they’re bigger than you think!),
  2. Fireworks (sure they’re pretty, but man are they loud!), and
  3. Attractions

There are a few things that you can do in advance to prepare your youngster for the magical world of excitement that awaits!

Buzz and Woody are big, even for adults!

Buzz and Woody are big, even for adults!

Meeting Disney Friends:

Kids see Mickey, Minnie, and all of their favorite characters in movies and on TV, but it really doesn’t prepare them for how large they are in real life. One way to help prepare young kids to these large friends is to expose them to some local “life size” characters like at Chuck E. Cheese or mascots at any local sporting event. This is a great test run to see how a youngster can handle these larger than life characters. It’s also a way to help them sort through any anxiety they might have, so when they meet Mickey it won’t be so overwhelming. If they already love Chuck E. Cheese, then you can cross this concern off your list!

Read the rest of this entry »

Wishes: Is It Worth Your FastPass+?

by on June 10, 2014

IMG_4438Last week I visited Epcot to find out if IllumiNations is worth your FastPass+. This week I thought I’d share some information about the Wishes FastPass+ viewing. Obviously, this is one of the hottest FastPass+ options in all four parks, often not even showing available 30 days in advance. The viewing location is in the Rose Garden and gives guests enough room to comfortably spread out and sit in the grass. If you’re lucky enough to score this viewing spot, then you’ll be able to also watch Celebrate The Magic from here. Without a doubt this option will get you the best view while waiting the least amount of time for the show.

However, if you check out the photo to the left you can see the view from the Rose Garden is slightly obstructed and off to one side. I’m not saying this is a bad view at all, but I don’t know that it’s worth tying up your 3rd FastPass+ all day long. What if I told you there was a less popular FastPass+ that would give you an even better view?

Read the rest of this entry »