The Wishes Nighttime Spectacular is a firework show that goes off nightly (weather permitting) at Magic Kingdom. It's a wonderful tapestry of choreographed pyrotechnics and music orchestrated by Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy (both of 1940's Pinocchio fame). There's a reason folks claims their spots in front of Cinderella's Castle an hour or two before showtime. But, what if you don't want to battle the crowds on Main Street? Where's the next best place? Here's some candidates...
Think Outside the Hub
There's a neat projection show on Cinderella's Castle before blastoff. Unless you're in front of the castle (either in the hub or on Main Street), you're going to miss it, and you'd definitely want to see it at least once. With that said, there's some great places to catch Wishes in the many lands around the hub. Mom and I caught an impromptu showing in Liberty Square, complete with music and ear-drum-shattering "booms" and "bangs". We were running to an attraction, but it's tough to say "no" to a firework show. We huddled close to a dimmed lamppost for a somewhat cockeyed viewing angle, but the fireworks looked so dynamic and animated! Think 4K quality. If anyone ever does a VR experience of Wishes, I'd want them to do it from this sort of vantage point. Speaking of full immersion, I've heard that the fireworks are shot from somewhere behind Fantasyland, and that the views from Fantasyland are like no other. If you could find a place to lay down and gaze up at the night sky, this might be the ticket! I've also witnessed Wishes from a race car at the Tomorrowland Speedway. As expected, nothing to write home about.
Around the Seven Seas Lagoon
Three deluxe resorts surround the Seven Seas Lagoon. If the Magic Kingdom is 12 o'clock on a clock, the Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Floridian are 4, 6, and 9, respectively, with the Contemporary being the closest. Disney pipes the Wishes music to most of the vantage points at these resorts, so you're not missing out in the least. In fact, watching Wishes from a resort has to be one of the most subdued, relaxing experiences during a Disney vacation. Mom and I caught Wishes atop the Contemporary at the California Grill. The servers are very good about pacing your meal to accommodate Wishes. We finished our main course and then jetted for the viewing area. After the show, we arrived back at our table where fresh coffee and desserts waited. And we got that reservation the day earlier! Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous at Disney. For a significantly cheaper dining experience, give Gasparilla Island Grill at the Floridian a taste. If you get there early enough (I'd say twenty minutes before blastoff), you can snag a table outside with great views of the castle. And the view is so unique! I liken it to viewing a play behind the curtain, off to the side. You can really get an appreciation for how Disney pulls it all off. As for food, the Grand Gaspy Burger cannot be beat. Maybe I was in a overly good mood, but this burger festooned with pulled pork was one of the best I've ever eaten.
In the Seven Seas Lagoon
Don't think about jumping in with your inflatable doughnut and a six-pack in tow. You can charter a boat. How did mom and I do it? We enlisted in what might be the craziest, silliest adventure we've ever been on. They call it Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage. You have to book this months in advance. After checking in at the Contemporary (conference area in the main building, but it changes night to night), we were invited to partake in a scavenger hunt. It's a time-waster, and although it sounds like fun now, the Contemporary's leather couches were just more appealing at the time. We were then ushered into a conference room swarming with kids ravenous for Mickey Premium Bars and gold chocolate coins. Smee and Hook were also there posing for photos. After an hour watching ten year-old's loot pounds of candy from the treasure chest (which the attending cast member was quick to replenish), we finally got our photo and were assigned a boarding crew. We walked to our pirate ship, I mean water taxi, wherein the pirate in charge welcomed every family by name and entertained us with family-friendly jokes, trivia, and songs. We were first treated to an up-close and personal view of the Electrical Water Pageant (a highlight no doubt), and were then positioned for Wishes somewhere between Magic Kingdom and the Floridian. The view was kind of a let down! The boat floats, so you're in continuous, albeit slow, motion. Add this to the fact that the water taxi has a roof on it, and you can begin to appreciate that the viewing experience is not too seaworthy. Mom and I are hoping that Disney offers this adventure with an adults-only option. I'm not criticizing the kids, but it would be so fun having a pirate tell more graphic tales while at sea. Our pirate did a great job satisfying both the young and old, but it would've been cool to have seen him open up his repertoire for the adults.
It's Not All About "Where"
Sometimes who is more important than where. Although there are some killer Wishes viewing areas in and near Magic Kingdom, I'm sure the best is wherever you and your loved ones happen to be. And isn't this true? Living three-thousand miles away from my parents and brother, I'm often reminded that "the place to be" isn't necessarily a top resort or swanky locale, but with family and friends. In the same vein, the perfect view of Wishes might not necessarily be a view, but an experience creating memories with folks you cherish.