Each of the four theme parks has an evening show for guests to watch, all the shows are included in the entry ticket price.
Most people will plan their days schedule around the evening shows, (they are certainly not to be missed), ensuring they stake out a “good spot” up to two hours before it starts. To me that is ludicrous. There is not a chance in hell I am wasting precious vacation time to sit and wait for the show to start. Usually Sam and I like to find a spot 20 minutes or so before the start time and hang back. We don’t need to head upfront and be super close. We have also purchased tickets to dessert parties that allow a select number of guests prime viewing locations along with desserts for the duration of the show.
Magic Kingdom’s Happily Ever After – The most popular and my favourite, this show uses fireworks, lasers and projection mapping on Cinderella’s Castle. It is roughly two years old. The show is around 26 minutes long and by far the most superior show I have ever seen in any park I have visited. We like to stand at the end of Main Street in the hub area for the best view, don’t get to close to the castle else you want see everything. We have also enjoyed a Tomorrowland Dessert Party with Garden view, this was also a great location and the tickets were $69 plus tax on top of park entry, certainly worth it just for the view. The Terrace priority view is $84 plus tax, this to me is a bad choice as it give you an almost side view of the castle and distorts the projections. It is rumoured each show uses $30,000 worth of fire works each night. It is also worth noting that during Mickey’s Not So scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that this show is Happily Ever After does not happen. Instead you will have HalloWishes (like Halloween) and HolidayWishes.
Hollywood Studios – Fantastmic – Considering the amount of times I have visited Walt Disney World I only saw this for the first time a couple of years ago (I know, shame on me, bad Disney fan). I don’t know why I waited so long. Set in a huge amphitheatre surrounded by a lagoon, you are bought in to Sorcerer Mickey’s dreams and imagination. Fireworks and projections upon spraying water (over 1 million gallons to be precise). We have never done the dessert party here but the only costs $39 plus tax as it is not unlimited desserts, just a little box of treats that you take with you to your seat, the ticket price does include priority viewing. We will sit anywhere. There are no bad spots. The theatre opens 90 minutes before the start of the show and people line up around 2 hours before. You can also get a fast pass which allows a designated area of seats. The show lasts around 27 minutes.
Animal Kingdom – Rivers of Light – Rivers of Light is underrated by guests, it needs to be taken for it what it is, and not what it isn’t. It is not a huge firework extravaganza like Happily Ever After (no fireworks are set off in Animal Kingdom to protect the animals), it is a beautiful show of floating lanterns, fire, water fountains, mist screens with projections (similar to Fantasmic) and lasers. Animals are projected on to the surrounding trees and Tree of life to make this a fully immersive experience. The Discovery River Lagoon is stunning and a great setting for this show. The theatre can only hold 5000 people but has a fast pass line with priority viewing. There is also the option for a dessert party, Sam and I have also done this in September 2018, it was incredible the dessert were lovely (please check out my separate review on the Rivers of Light Dessert Party), and we also got a private viewing area. The show is around 22 minutes in length.
EPCOT – Illuminations – Soon to be updated, Illuminations is going Fall 2019 and will be replaced with a filler show until 2020 when a brand new unknown show arrives. Illuminations Reflection of Earth has been around for 20 years, it will be a slightly different variation of the show during the holidays, New Year and 4th July, however it is certainly due an overhaul. I have seen this show a couple of times and hated it on all occasions. People stake spots out 3 hours ahead of time, madness. My advice is that if you wanted a great spot that badly, make an ADR for on of the restaurants that surround the lagoon around half an hour before Illuminations is due to start and ask for a window seat. Do not be one of this people around the lagoon 3 hours before with your bags and coats laid out saving spaces for your family members. DO. NOT. DO. IT. The show is mainly fireworks, water fountains, fire and lasers to create what is apparently ‘a visual production’. Gosh I am certainly giving this one a hard time aren’t I, but comparing it with the other 3 parks shows, it does not come close in comparison to any of the other previously mentioned shows, it just seemed a mess every time I watched it. The show lasts approx 24 minutes, (24 minutes to long in my book).
What is your favourite evening show in Walt Disney World? Are you a place holder? Do you just rock up and watch a show from anywhere? Do you prefer Dessert Parties to get prime viewing? Are you glad to see the back of Illuminations like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.