Finding a solid viewing spot for Illuminations isn’t as daunting a task as some of the other Walt Disney World nighttime spectacles. HINT: See that big ass lake find a spot as close to the railing as possible and you’ll pretty much be fine anywhere. There are however some prime viewing locations which we’ve highlighted for you above and detailed for you below.
#5 Japan – Mitsukoshi Department Store, 2nd floor
You can get a decent view from ground level, but from up here your not hindered as much by the torii of Itsukushima Shrine. And from this vantage point you can nab some cool fireworks shots with the shrine as part of your foreground .
#4 Italy – Gondola Docking Area
This is a solid spot because you tend to be able to grab it closer to showtime. For whatever reason it’s semi-forgotten until maybe 15 minutes out and even if you show up later the view here doesn’t suck from the bridge or the steps that head down to the platform.
#3 The Bridge: France – United Kingdom
I love this view and so does everyone else. Plan on camping out a bit to get a prime spot here
My favorite here is along the fenceline (shown below) as you walk towards Norway. But the reason I rate Mexico so highly in general is there are multiple good spots. If you can score a table at La Cantina de San Angel near the water you’ll be very happy (this is a quick service restaurant so people may be inclined to linger here around showtime). Likewise, you can book a reservation at La Hacienda de San Angel, which is actually not terribly difficult to obtain you can ask to be seated near the windows (expect to wait a bit for this privilege) and you’ll be treated to a fireworks dinner show in the air conditioning. The sound from Illuminations gets pumped in so this is a major bonus.
#1 Fast Pass / Dessert Party
This is the best view simply because this is the viewing area the show is designed around. What you see below is the FastPass+ area but the Dessert Party spot is adjacent to this. Now, DO NOT use a FastPass for this if it’s going to take up one of the rides you’d like to enjoy (basically Frozen, Soarin, or Test Track). This FP+ can be had on the same day at times. So after you’ve used your initial allotment go for it if you can get it, but the other viewing areas are good enough to where using a FastPass for illuminations becomes unnecessary. That said, in a recent visit we scored a window table at La Hacienda then during an in-meal trip to the restroom I decided to check FastPass availability and scored Illuminations, this was 30 minutes pre-show. We scarfed down our entrees and walked over for FastPass Viewing – it was worth it. As for the Dessert Party, I’ve never done it, but I can objectively say there’s some real value in it considering you get unlimited desserts and drinks (including alcohol). You also get to ride Frozen Ever After without a line. So essentially you are buying two Fast Passes and 90 minutes worth of food and beverage for $80. There are many worse values at WDW, this is definitely worth considering