Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!
There's no better finish to a day at Walt Disney World than watching a nighttime spectacular. Sometimes, however, you might not want to use up a park ticket (or deal with the hustle and bustle inside the park) just to watch Wishes at the Magic Kingdom or Illuminations at Epcot.
The good news is you don't have to be in the park to enjoy these wonderful nighttime shows. With a little bit of planning (here I go again talking about planning), you can enjoy Wishes or Illuminations for as little as nothing.
That's right, nothing! I know nothing's really free at Walt Disney World, but this may be as free as things can get.
And there are some exclusive opportunities to enjoy these shows that do come at a cost, but offer very unique experiences that you will cherish for a long time.
So let's take a look at some of these alternatives, starting with the "free" options.
Wishes/Magic Kingdom Parties (Halloween/Christmas)
Wishes at the Magic Kingdom may be one of the best fireworks shows you'll see at Walt Disney World (and beyond). If you happen to be down during one of the party nights (Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party), the fireworks shows are even more amazing. However, you don't have to be inside the park to see them.
I've enjoyed watching both Wishes and the Christmas Party fireworks from the docks at the Grand Floridian Resort. There was no cost whatsoever and Disney event pipes in the music outside of Narcoosee's. You also can get great views from the beaches at the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian Resort. In fact, the Poly offers a dead-on view of Wishes at a similar angle as you would see if you were on Main Street. Continuing around the Seven Seas Lagoon, the parking lot at the Contemporary Resort offers some stunning views, and if you can get to the observatory at the top of the tower, you can watch Wishes from one of the best vantage points of all. Here, too, Disney pipes in the music.
DVC members staying at the new Bay Lake Tower can watch Wishes from the new Top of the World club. Unfortunately, this is available only to DVC members staying at Bay Lake Tower.
You don't have to be a resort guest to enjoy many of these views, either. Just make your way to any of the Magic Kingdom area resorts and you'll get a wonderful view of Wishes. After the show, be sure to stay and take in the Electrical Water Pageant - a fixture at Walt Disney World since the park opened in 1971.
Now for some viewing options that do require some costs. One of the best and serene ways to watch Wishes is to be out on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Disney has several different options for renting boats and offers special cruises, including the granddaddy of them all, the Grand 1. If you're interesting in booking the Grand 1, which can cost up to $500 a night, call 407-WDW-PLAY.
The secret to watching Illuminations: Reflections of Earth for no cost is location, location, location. Disney's Boardwalk offers some wonderful views towards the World Showcase Lagoon. The downside with watching Illuminations outside Epcot is that you can't see any of the low-level effect (the globe, the water displays, the fire barge, etc.). This being said, you can still see (and hear) quite a good show. I have stayed at the Dolphin and watched Illuminations from the Boardwalk. Similarly, I have stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort and watched Illuminations from the Port Royal docks. In both cases, I could pick out the music (it wasn't piped in, but you could hear it in the distance).
Now if you'd like a more exclusive experience, you can book an Illuminations cruise or even Breathless II. These are boats that leave from the Yacht Club and park in the World Showcase lagoon during Illuminations. Like the Grand 1, these can get expensive. For rates and available times, call 407-WDW-PLAY.
If you really want to experience these nightitme spectaculars to their fullest extent, it's best to be in the park. However, if you're looking for a more relaxing, intimate or romantic option, than consider finding a quiet stretch of beach or a cruise. Have fun!