Where Have All the Disney World Fireworks Gone?

Earlier this year, Walt Disney World announced that they would be debuting NEW fireworks spectaculars at both Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party AND Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. 

New Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Fireworks ©Disney

We learned details regarding the new “Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular” a few months later. The show will involve projections of Mickey and pals entering a haunted house, where they run into some of our favorite Disney Villains.

Sounds awesome, right? RIGHT. But it made me think… where have all the fireworks gone?

Don’t get me wrong — the new nighttime show during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party DOES have fireworks in addition to the projections.



But the former Halloween fireworks. “Hallowishes” was just that — fireworks. AMAZING fireworks with a delightfully wicked soundtrack.

Happily Ever After


Similarly, Happily Ever After, Magic Kingdom’s newest non-holiday nighttime spectacular, is also a combination of projections and fireworks. It’s absolutely  stunning and has a fabulous soundtrack, but  is has considerably fewer actual fireworks than its predecessor Wishes.


The former Christmas fireworks show “Holiday Wishes” was also projection-free. We don’t have many show details on the new Christmas show, “Minnie’s Wonderful Christmas Time Fireworks,” but if I were a bettin’ lady, I would guess it also features projections.


Holiday Wishes

Even the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks at Hollywood Studios feature images from every film in the franchise on the Chinese Theater.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

So where are all the firework fireworks?! If the new Christmas nighttime spectacular includes projections, there will be NO “fireworks only” fireworks shows at Walt Disney World (excluding Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve).

My guess is two-fold.

1. Fireworks are expensive.

Allegedly, the Walt Disney Company buys the second-most pyrotechnics in the country, behind the U.S. Military. Professionals have estimated that “Wishes” cost about $41,000-$55,000 a night. That’s upwards of $20 million dollars a year.

With so many big, expensive projects — Shanghai Disneyland, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Epcot’s Transformation — it’s not surprising that Disney needs to think of ways to conserve some dollars.

By adding projections to the fireworks spectaculars, it lessens how many fireworks they actually have to shoot off, because you’re distracted by the projections. The fireworks aren’t really the focus anymore, rather an accent to the story being told.

Happily Ever After

2. The Technology has Improved

Initially, Disney World started these type of projections as projection-only shows prior to Wishes. The first of these projections shows debuted in 2011, called The Magic, the Memories, and You.” In addition to the character projections, guests’ PhotoPass pictures from that day were included in the show.

The show was state-of-the-art, though there were some issues. The guests’ photos were very hard to decipher because they were too small and not clear enough. Also, several of the characters were life-size — as in too small to see clearly. Think a tiny Jack Sparrow sword-fighting on the balcony. It was awesome, but lots of people missed it.

As the shows changed, the projections evolved and have gotten better and better. It makes sense that Disney would want to incorporate this incredible (and likely expensive to develop) technology into multiple shows and experiences.

So it seems for now, the trend for nighttime spectaculars is to include fireworks AND projections. Guess we have to wait until Christmas to see if it continues!

Do you like the projections during the fireworks? Let us know in the comments!


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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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31 Replies to “Where Have All the Disney World Fireworks Gone?”

  1. I will never stop missing the nights just watching Cinderella’s castle change beautiful colors. It was one of my favorite things at Disney World.

  2. While I enjoyed the projections on the castle during our last trip in 2012, you could really only see it from in front. We spent 2 days at MK & had caught the fireworks earlier in the week from a great spot on the wooden bridge near Pecos Bills. It was nice & dark & empty but we could only see the very top of the castle spires so the projections were completely lost. We knew we’d be back to MK on our last park day & decided to stake out one of the umbrella tables near the bakery with nothing in front of us so we could see them really well. While we enjoyed them, that tied up a good 4 hours of our park time! Plus we had to constantly be on guard as people kept trying to steal our chairs (how rude!). We we agreed we would NOT do that again, as we’d rather spend that time on rides. It was the only way to get a seated spot for the show however.

  3. I loved Wishes and wish they wouldn’t have replaced it. Projections are great but it makes it harder to watch the fireworks from anywhere but Main Street so the crowds are worse. Also, if you are short, fireworks are easy to see because they are in the sky but tall people block the view of the projections on the castle. I vote no for projections.

  4. If we raise enough funds we are hoping to go to Disney World in a few years time and really want to see the fireworks as last time the girls were young and very tired by the end of the day. But as I am epileptic I am concerned that I won’t be able to enjoy the full effect with all the flashing images and strobe lighting etc. There’s no point in going to see something I’ll have to close my eyes during.

  5. Projections are fine in the
    animal kingdom to protect the animals, and maybe for some show elements. But fireworks have been part of the magic. The opening g credits all the TV show and synonymous with the Magic Kingdom they should stay there. Less projections. If you live close by lucky you!

  6. So, you’re complaining about a show you haven’t seen yet, and how adding more elements is bad… For the show you haven’t seen yet? This site has the worst articles and the people writing them are just trying to be sensationalists.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Actually the premise of the post is that Disney seems to be moving away from nighttime shows that are pure fireworks, to shows that have more projections and just some fireworks. We’re wondering what coming new nighttime shows will be — will they be more projections? Or will they revert to the all-fireworks shows of yesterday? Our writer, and many other readers here, seem to prefer more fireworks.

  7. The new show that replaced Wishes is unwatchable. It’s a bunch of images/projections and chopped up songs and has no magic at all. Bring back Wishes and our beloved fireworks. The paper straws are awful too by the way.

  8. Another part of the problem is fireworks are very bad for the environment, so reducing their use is in line with the alleged goal of being kinder to the environment.

    Honestly, I have seen most Disney Worlds last fireworks shows and really never saw why people liked them and still don’t with Happily Ever After. The two exceptions are Illuminations and Star Wars has been great, but other than that show, none of been near as spectacular as those done by Disneyland.

    1. Sad part is most of Disney’s fireworks are shot using ALF (Air Launch Fireworks). They are fired using compressed air in the mortars instead of black powder charges. This cuts down on the amount of smoke pollution by more than half.

  9. The projections are priceless and tell great stories. The magic in those projections are truly something onlyDisney could create.

  10. Im totally into the projection mapping! I LOVED IT at Disneyland in 2011 and it keeps getting better.

    For SURE they are saving money, but these new shows are really cool.

  11. No I do not believe the projections are an assets. My husband and I visited WDW when we were home March’19. We were very disappointed in the fireworks displays. It seems the magic has left Disney World for several reasons.

  12. The projections are a fun novelty but as I’ve gotten older I find I enjoy the fireworks from various locations in the park or the resort beaches much better than being crowded in front of the castle. I told my husband a couple of years ago that they would probably eventually just project the fireworks in the sky.

  13. In 2016 I was so amazed by the Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood studios that I drug my husband back to see it on another night. The music and fireworks matched up just so well.

    Compared to that, the newer laser and projection show that we saw in 2018 was underwhelming. I mean like cool, you can put a movie scene on the Chinese theater, but I’ve seen those scenes thousands of times and there wasn’t much else.

    Also as someone brought up, projections suffer if you are not right in front, where fireworks can be seen from almost any angle. I used to watch Wishes from behind the castle, and you had fireworks on all sides which was really neat. You can’t really do that with the new show.

  14. Having projections during fireworks shows means having to park close to the castle in order to get the full effect of the show.

  15. I’m in the “keep the fireworks” category. The projections are awesome, but are visible to only a limited audience, as opposed to fireworks that can be seen from so many vantage points. We generally aren’t in the parks that late and miss out on the nighttime shows.

  16. Seeing the MK Fireworks from Wilderness Lodge we’re a big point made when we were upgraded to an upper floor at WL couple years ago. And they were pretty good. But as they’re reduced, that’s not much to point out. And I know an upper floor isn’t a big upgrade, but was nice.

  17. Fireworks also pose less obvious problems. They are dangerous, not environmentally friendly, and difficult and expensive to change.

  18. It’s because fireworks are terrible for the environment. Extensive air pollution, toxins, metal particles, chemicals that linger in the air and environment for a very long time. Now multiple that by every night and multiple parks / shows. Reducing them makes absolute sense.

  19. I do NOT care for the projections on the castle, if you aren’t right in front you can’t see them and the story is lost the further back you are. I’ll take the “in the sky” show any day. Have never been impressed with the projection shows.

  20. Not a fan of the projections, too hard to see at Magic Kingdom with people and children on shoulders in your path. It was pretty one time or maybe two, what little I could see and understand, but not something I want to see again and again.

  21. I miss the fireworks. We noticed at Epcot and HS, too, that they were “silently stealing” our fireworks. The projections are ok once… but really kind of boring after that. Fireworks never get old.

  22. I was a bit underwhelmed watching HEA from the Poly on my trip two weeks ago. I never missed Wishes but after a couple nights of HEA I opted to relax in my room before getting ready for bed and an early start vs standing around for 20 watching the show. My theory besides cost is safety. HEA blankets parts of Fantasyland, particulary by Gastons Tavern in ash, it got all over me, and a big guy in a pyrotechnics shirt watched every burst because one burning ember can set the whole place on fire or burn a guest. They hose down parts of the park to prevent fire but still the risk is there, they did set 7DMT on fire two days after it opened during Wishes.

  23. I have a third theory about the “fewer fireworks” phenomenon:

    Perhaps it’s Disney’s way of creating more incentive to visit the park versus watching the fireworks for free from a nearby resort beach.

    1. Not only that, but if you want to have a good view of the projections, and not wait for an hour, then you’ll buy the dessert party as an upgrade.

    2. Exactly – even several non Disney resorts nearby have “fireworks view” rooms. Disney wants to cut down on the freebies and force people to buy park tickets to see the whole show.