For the uninitiated, the Magic Kingdom rocks one of the best pyrotechnic/digital-projection displays you’ll ever see. It’s called Happily Ever After, or HEA to us Disney nerds. It runs nightly (unless it’s a party night – Halloween/Christmas then in lieu of HEA you’ll get a themed pyro only display.) Anyways every single night there’s fireworks and that means every single night throngs of park goers flood Main Street USA to see the display above (and on) Cinderella Castle. The busier the park the harder it is to get a straight on view of the castle. While that doesn’t matter on special party night as much since there’s not a projection show, it damn sure matters on any given night when Cindy’s digs are lit-up better than anything in Clark Griswold’s wettest dream.
So, in order to get yourself in the best viewing position for the show, you’ll need to get to your spot an hour early, in some cases plan on 1.5-2 hours. Now, if you don’t care about the projections you’ve probably either already seen the show or you’re an idiot and in either case you can stop reading as there’s still plenty of pyro to be seen, even from outside of Magic Kingdom. If you’re not comfortable with camping out for a spot or missing out on the castle projections there is another option but it’s gonna cost you.
By now, you already know what we’re going to talk about because you read the headline, it’s the Fireworks Dessert Party. At a cost of $69 per adult and $49 for a kid (under 10), it’s not the cheapest thing to spend over $200 on for a family of four, but is it worth it? Well if you’re anything like me the thought of corralling the energy of my 5 year-old for an hour or so sounds like a lot of not-fun and dammit I didn’t come all this way for not-fun. On the other hand we’re on a budget and that money could be a pretty damn good meal on property. So what exactly do you get for your cash? Well basically you get a prime spot to watch the show right inside the reserved Plaza Garden area. That’s it. Wait what, I thought it’s a dessert party? Technically yes, but you aren’t paying for the dessert, as you can see below from my plate the pickens be slim.
Now, don’t get me there’s all types of dessert and cheese and ice cream and sparkling juice and the whatnot but it damn sure isn’t worth the money. The food and bev is just there as a bonus, you’re paying for the view. Speaking of which there is a more expensive option that has in my option a shittier view and it’s the Tomorrowland Terrace option. You do get a seat with this option but your view is off center and that’s the whole reason you’re shelling out money is for the center view. There’s one exception on the food and it’s the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. You can load up on as many of these as you want so you can make some of your money back quite quickly considering they cost $3.75 each in the park.
Some background on the how this all works. 90 minutes before showtime all guest, Terrace view (seated) and Garden view (no seat) will check-in at Tomorrowland Terrace and begin to indulge on the aforementioned slim pickins. Garden guest, once they’ve had their fill then ask to be escorted to the viewing area a short walk away. There is a third option for Garden view and that’s the AFTER version whilst you watch the show in the Plaza Garden then you go eat. Either way In my option go Garden or don’t go. Having a chair to sit is is fine and all but even in the Plaza Garden area the vast majority of folks were sitting (granted it was on the ground but it wasn’t uncomfortable on the grassy area so bring a blanket and make it work).
Once the show start you have a dead-on view of the castle and projections. You can choose to or stand (sit your dumbass down unless you go to the back) to view Happily Ever After once the show ends I recommend staying for the Once Upon A Time castle projections show which starts 10ish minutes later.
As you can see from my basic smartphone capture above, the view is great and in real life it’s totally immersive. So, is this shit actually worth the money? I have to say this is one of those upcharges that is truly worth it, with the caveat that it’s not something you’d likely do more than once. Don’t get me wrong this is the best night time display of pyrotechnics and digital sorcery I’ve ever witnessed but I can miss the castle projections now that I’ve seen them up close and personal (you really do need to see them front and center at least once – in-fucking-credible). However, lost in the hubbub over the projection show is the fact that the actual fireworks themselves are some of the most ballingest shit you’ll ever witness (more shit blows up than its predecessor, Wishes and that was a pyro-only show) the new projections are a bonus, a big fucking bonus, but a bonus nonetheless. We enjoyed the HEA show from the rooftop at California Grill, Top of the World Lounge, Ohana, The balcony from our room at the Polynesian, and from the Tiki Terrace at Trader Sam’s. They are all great places to watch shit blow up and while you don’t get the cool projection show you also don’t have to fight the masses for a viewing spot or pay $69 for Cheeseburger Spring Rolls to get a view. So yeah, the Dessert Party is worth it, but I won’t be back.
A sidenote: there are similar offerings for the shows at Hollywood Studios and Epcot. While I’ve been to neither I will say the huge plus is they include beverages of the adult variety and the cost is similar to that of the boozeless dessert party at Magic Kingdom. Having sat in the FastPass viewing area for Illuminations at Epcot (basically the same view you’d get from their dessert party) and knowing you get booze and a ride on Frozen Ever After with no wait included with the upcharge it’s certainly something worth considering as well.