The sun sets over the horizon and the moon rises over Cinderella Castle. Your feet are begging you to stop walking, you’ve used up all your FastPasses, and you’ve gorged on a Mickey Pretzel, Ice Cream Bar, and Rice Krispy Treat all at the same time. There’s one thing left to do to bring a magical end to your Disney day.
Finishing a day at the parks with one of Disney World’s many nighttime spectaculars is probably a quintessential part of your vacation, and over the years Disney has produced a ton these shows that we’ve come to love. Which are the best of the best though? Don’t look at us; you’re picking them this time.
Here are the best Disney World nighttime spectaculars as voted by AllEars readers like you!
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
Some people might say there’s a little too much Star Wars in our Disney now with Galaxy’s Edge dominating a large part of your day at Hollywood Studios and a new hotel/cruise ship-like experience on the way that should be a role player’s delight. To those people we say “Bright Suns” and hope they find their way back to the light side of the Force.
For fans of the franchise, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular allows them to relive the moments from the films that they love while also making new memories with the next generation, like reader Nancy tells us she was able to do with her son. It may only compel you to pop in the Blu-Rays after watching, but this nighttime show still has some charm (and it has spectacular in the name so it kind of has to appear on this list).
Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After had a really tough job coming on the heels of Wishes (we’ll get there), but it has garnered its own band of devoted fans. The show focuses on some of our favorite Disney characters trying to find their…well, happily ever after.
Along with the usual fireworks, this nighttime spectacular utilizes projection mapping all across Cinderella Castle to render impressive vignettes and scenes from classic Disney movies. Then, of course, there’s that infectious title track sung by Jordan Fisher and Angie K (it will never leave).
Now we’re getting into contested territory. Fantasmic is probably the most “traditionally Disney” nighttime spectacular on this list (definitely the longest-running), and by that we mean it’s got Mickey Mouse, a good vs. evil story, and fireworks.
Boiling Fantasmic down to its base elements does not do the show justice. Although it is in need of an update of the caliber that it’s older sibling at Disneyland received, this show still features an impressive choreography of characters, floats, water projections, a snake, and a dragon, not to mention the usual pyrotechnics and amazing music we expect from a nighttime spectacular.
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
We have been without IllumiNations for just over a year now and the wound in our hearts is still sore. Based on your votes, you guys seem to be with us in mourning this beloved show and there’s a reason for that.
What can we say; IllumiNations was a classic in every sense of the word. The imagery and themes of the show perfectly tied into Epcot’s message, and the bursts of color in the sky were synced beautifully with an orchestral score that elicited feelings of optimism and hope for the future.
Yep, we finally got here: the best nighttime spectacular according to you all is Wishes. While Wishes may not have had the fancy projection mapping and laser effects of modern nighttime spectaculars, the show’s beauty was in its simplicity.
The story is hosted by the one and only conscience, Jiminy Cricket, as he reminds us that wishes do indeed come true. The reason many of us probably remember this show so fondly is because of the emotional score that combines many classic Disney anthems like “When You Wish Upon a Star” and a children’s choir to create the title track, “Wishes”.