by: guide4wdw – Collin

5 Incredible Spots to View Disney Fireworks Without a Park Ticket 

There’s no denying that a Disney Vacation is expensive in this day and age, but what if I told you some of the very best fireworks viewing locations are outside of the theme parks entirely? Believe it or not, as many of you die-hard Disney fans know, each location on our list does not require an additional purchase or theme park admission, and it may even save you some money along the way (which we’ll explain later). 
It probably comes as very little surprise to many of you that I see fireworks as an instrumental and excellent part of any Disney vacation. It doesn’t necessarily matter which show you see or what location you pick on this list, but no matter what, you should find some way to view fireworks during your Disney vacation. 

Disney World really sets the bar for fireworks spectaculars, and in all honesty after seeing a Disney show, it will ruin you for all other fireworks shows. Sure, the massive fourth of July display in New York may come very close, but nothing captures the heart and delivers a story quite as spectacularly as Walt Disney World. The heart of the story and surroundings set the stage for a night to remember. That certainly sounds like a stretch, but some of my greatest memories with family are of the four of us standing on Main Street or a nearby resort staring up at the sky. It’s a simple joy, but in that moment the worries of life somehow seem to drift away. The music plays, the fireworks explode, and the people around you are happy. In that moment, you can stop for a brief moment and look around you and all you see are smiling faces and amazed looks as guests of all ages peer up at the sky in eager anticipation of the next aspect of the spectacular in the sky. It’s a feeling you can’t explain but one that you’ll never forget. 

Moving back to today’s topic, some of the very best and more unique viewing locations for fireworks are outside of the theme park gates. Here are a few of my personal favorites. 

The Contemporary’s Staircase

If you’re looking for the most “iconic” view, this is it! The outdoor staircase of the Contemporary gives you a “birds-eye” view of the fireworks a short distance away and adds an entirely new perspective to the viewing experience. While you’re seeing the same show and can very faintly make out the projections from this spot, the distance between the two launch sites for Happily Ever After is made shockingly prevalent due to the angle. As a result, it often looks as if you’re watching fireworks over space mountain rather that Cinderella’s castle. 
To get to this spot, make your way to the Contemporary and then proceed up to the 4th floor Grand Canyon Concourse and head all the way to the Magic Kingdom side of the building. At that point you’ll find an exit to the typical fireworks viewing balcony. The view from this spot is good, but if you make your way up a few flights of stairs on the right hand side of the structure you’ll have an even better view that isn’t obstructed by the Monorail. The music is piped in, the crowds build, and it’s the perfect way to view the show in an entirely new way and a way that is completely free utilize! (Unless you’re like us and pick up a snack at the Contempo before heading up to your spot. I highly recommend doing that!) 

The Polynesian Beaches 

The Polynesian has become known as a classic spot to watch fireworks among Disney fans. However, after the Bungalows were built a few short years ago, the view was partially obstructed on the waterfront beaches. Today, the viewing window is a touch more condensed but nonetheless one of the very best views and overall experiences you’ll find for watching Happily Ever After. 

As the fireworks burst in the air in the distance, the music is piped in, and the reflections off of the water are truly a spectacular edition to the overall sensory experience. Not only do you see the castle in the distance, but you hear the echo of the fireworks traveling across the water and reverberating all around you, you hear the rushing water of the pool near by, and you hear the voices and laughter of families all around. The experience creates one of those moments where there genuinely is no place you’d rather be. In the moment, everything drifts away and you get to experience the simple joy of being there in the moment. 

The Yacht Club and Boardwalk 

As we move away from Happily Ever After locations for a brief moment we take a short journey over to the Yacht and Beach Club and Boardwalk Resort area. Believe it or not, you can actually catch short glimpses of not only Illuminations from the Crescent Lake area, but also fleeting glimpses of the shows over at Hollywood Studios.

It is worth mentioning that this isn’t necessarily the ideal view of the fireworks but it is one of the most incredible experiential moments you’ll ever witness on Disney property. That statement seems so contradictory, but at the same time is the only way to describe the feeling you get as you overlook the Boardwalk lights with a snack in hand and the fireworks exploding high overhead. This spot isn’t necessarily the perfect view of ether show (and there are better options for that), but it is a spot that will transform the way you think about nights at Walt Disney World and especially nights without a park ticket.

As I’ve mentioned before, my idea of an ideal night at Disney is an early dinner at Cape May Cafe, a seat by the water to catch a sunset over the Boardwalk, and then a late night ice cream enjoying a view of the fireworks in the distance. It’s the simplest few hours of entertainment but perhaps the most relaxing night you could ever imagine at Walt Disney World.          

Fireworks Cruises 

On rare occasions, it’s nice to trade in a park ticket for a once in a lifetime experience in an entirely different way. Booking a fireworks cruise to watch Illuminations from a pontoon or Happily Ever After from the Seven Seas Lagoon will change the way you view fireworks. At this point in the article, reflections off the water may be a null and void point to make, but this one is a bit different. As you sit there in a boat, even if it’s a free shuttle back and forth to the resorts that you time at just the right moment, the view changes your perspective of fireworks. 

One of my all time favorite moments was a boat ride we timed just right (by pure luck) on one of the small open sided resort shuttle watercraft. As we left the Magic Kingdom dock, our boat driver intentionally took an incredibly long time to leave the no wake zone, and just as we left the dock the early bursts of Wishes went up in the distance. For what felt like minutes, we watched as the show took on an entirely new feel as we heard the music in the distance, and the bursts seemed to line up perfectly with the Main Street Station. It was and is a surreal moment I’ll never forget. As we traversed the water, the driver paused to let one of the ferries pass and we sat there for minutes on end staring at a view that has remained unchanged for years. It’s an amazing experience and truthfully one of my all time favorites on this list. 

Sure, you can book a paid fireworks cruise but somehow that moment of sheer luck developed one of the greatest views I’ve ever experienced of the show.              

The Grande One Yacht 

Along the same lines as the fireworks cruises, the Grand One Yacht is on every Disney fan’s bucket list. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years on end but may or may not ever be able to make it a reality. For roughly $400 dollars an hour (starting price) you and 16-17 friends can rent an incredible yacht with a hirable butler to traverse the Seven Seas Lagoon and view the fireworks in the most Grande (pun intended) way imaginable. All jokes aside, this would be an experience to remember forever and for a special occasion this would be my go to pick. If you skip a park day, or have a large group you’re traveling with, this could actually be made manageable financially, but nonetheless it would be the most incredible fireworks viewing experience outside of the parks.     

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