[gallery link="file" order="DESC" columns="4" orderby="rand"]
Those of you who know me, or follow this blog, you know that I love fireworks! At home, I have been known to drive around looking for fireworks, and then stop on the side of the road to watch the show. I plan all of my Disney dining reservations based on the pyrotechnics display I want to see that night…and camp out an hour before the show on Main Street with my ice cream cone in hand waiting like a little kid, giddy with excitement. So this summer during our vacation at Walt Disney World®, I decided to conduct a little experiment to see where the best spot would be to watch Wishes®! Here were the contenders: Main Street U.S.A. by the flagpole, the beach at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the viewing deck at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and near the marina the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. I am sure that there are tons of other viewing areas, but unfortunately there were not enough vacation nights to see them all. Thankfully there is always next time!! Here are the results of my not-so-scientific-but-oh-so-fun experiment!
Main Street U.S.A.
It is no secret that I love pretty much everything about Main Street – from the architecture, to the popcorn smell, to the shops, the food, the parades, and of course the fireworks. This to me is the quintessential firework viewing spot…but there is a downside – the crowds. You have to fight for your spot, and then possibly even have to fight to hold onto your spot. Parents lift their kids up onto their shoulders and block your view. People lean over to get a picture and block you view. People show up at the last minute and stand right in front of you and block your view. You get the idea -there are a lot of people! You will also have to deal with all of those same people after the show – on your way back to your hotel. However, crowds’ aside, watching the colors explode directly over the castle has got to be the best view that there is. Plus you get to see any castle pre-shows there happen to be, and you don’t miss out on the evening parades. It is a classic viewing spot, and, with the exception of everyone else enjoying the show with you, you really can’t go wrong if you are on Main Street U.S.A.
Beach at the Polynesian
The beach at the Polynesian Resort is incredibly relaxing, relatively empty (except on holidays), gives the kids something to do while waiting, the Wishes® music is piped in, and there are even spots to grab an adult beverage to enjoy with the show. Downsides – mosquitoes, sandy shoes and clothes, the distance and angle of the fireworks show, and transportation. As the Polynesian Resort is located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom, and furthest away from the park, the fireworks do not seem as huge as they do from Main Street. And, they are not situated directly over the castle – they seem to be going off slightly to the left of it. That being said, the view of the fireworks being reflected on the water is breathtaking. Transportation can also be an issue, depending where you are staying. If you parked at the Transportation and Ticket Center, then all you need to do is walk over and grab a tram and you are ahead of the crowds – so that is a good thing! If, however, you are staying on property and need to grab a bus back to your hotel, you will need to take either the boat or the monorail back to the Magic Kingdom, and grab transportation there. You will probably get stuck in the mass exodus, and have to wait for a while to get to your room.
Viewing deck at the Contemporary
There are actually two viewing decks at the Contemporary Resort, but one of them is located off of the California Grill, and you need to have a reservation to get onto the elevator to see the show from there. The deck I am talking about is off of the main floor. The entrance is located behind the gift shops the opposite side of the floor from Chef Mickey’s. From there you can go up the stairs if you want to get a higher view (J went up there to get the pictures), or sit at one of the benches and wait for the show to start. Upsides to watching the show here – they pipe in the Wishes® music, it isn’t crowded, you are almost over the castle so it offers a very unique view (the fireworks are to the right of the castle this time), and they offer seating. Downsides – the monorails do not stop just because there are fireworks going on so they can be distracting, the hotel is very close to the parking lot and if any car alarms are set off by the fireworks (as they were that night) it can be very distracting, again the fireworks are not directly over the castle, and transportation can be an issue. The Contemporary is within walking distance of the bus depot at the Magic Kingdom; however, if you need to get to the Ticket and Transportation Center you will have to ride the Monorail with the rest of the exiting crowd.
Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
There are plenty of viewing spots at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, but we chose to stake out ours near the marina at the end of the wing closest to the Magic Kingdom. It was just us, and one other family watching the show, which made it pretty special – like the show was just for us. That being said, there was no music playing (maybe there is on the boat launch?) so the show didn’t seem as emotional as it is with the music. The angle of the fireworks seemed off as well – very far to the left of the castle. Again, not a big deal to most, but to me, I like to see the fireworks directly over the castle. The same transportation issues exist as well, which are compounded if you take the monorail, as you will be competing with everyone leaving the Magic Kingdom that were at the first stop.
Anywhere you see Wishes® is fantastic, but if it were up to me, I would either pick Main Street if I were already in the park (unless it was a holiday, then even for me the crowds are too much!) or the beach at the Polynesian. There is just something so relaxing about it and just the thought of watching the fireworks while sitting on the beach that makes me happy. So now its time for you to weigh in – where is your favorite spot to watch Wishes®?