The birth of the FastPass+ system has alleviated some of the stress of a Disney Parks vacation. Guests always know that they will have fairly quick access to at least three of their favorite rides or attractions daily. However, for those of us who agonize over each planning decision, FastPass+ is just one more aspect of planning to consider. And so begins the strategizing! FastPass+ allows Guests to pre-schedule three attractions or rides; however, once you have used all three FastPasses for the day, you also have the opportunity to visit a FastPass+ kiosk in the park to try and procure additional FastPasses. In theory, savvy Guests could experience many attractions throughout a full day in the Magic Kingdom Theme Park by utilizing FastPasses (check out this informative post by Christen Francis for more information about maximizing your FastPass+ selections at the Magic Kingdom).
Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, Disney’s spectacular nighttime fireworks show, was conceived in 2003 and follows each evening’s presentation of Celebrate the Magic at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Celebrate the Magic has been bringing art to life through animation on the façade of the regal Cinderella Castle since 2015. Everyone’s favorite Disney characters and films are represented through the creative projection of colors and images, all perfectly choreographed to music. Whenever I help a friend plan their Disney Parks vacation, I am asked this question: Should I use my FastPass+ to see Celebrate the Magic and Wishes? Let’s explore the pros and cons so you can make a decision that is best for you and your fellow Mouseketeers.
- Location: A recent renovation of the Hub area in the Magic Kingdom has resulted in the creation of new and expanded viewing areas for FastPass+ Guests. The Main Street Plaza Gardens include two new reserved areas, with one adjacent to Casey’s Corner on the west side of Main Street and the other in front of the Plaza Restaurant to the east of Main Street (closest to Tomorrowland). These prime viewing areas are exclusively for Guests using FastPass+ and offer pretty clear views of Celebrate the Magic, (there are a few lamp posts that could possibly obstruct your view, so choose your spot wisely) and a perfect perspective from which to enjoy Wishes.
- Time: Many Guests begin lining up along Main Street two hours prior to the nighttime entertainment, hoping to secure a good vantage point. But not FastPass+ Guests! They are guaranteed a reserved spot, and can spend all of that extra time taking another spin through the galaxy on Space Mountain or hanging with the hitchhiking ghosts over at The Haunted Mansion!
- Celebrate the Magic: While you can catch a decent glimpse of the Wishes Fireworks show from many areas in the Magic Kingdom, the only place to “Celebrate the Magic” is in front of Cinderella Castle. Images are projected onto the front of the castle and are really breathtaking. But you have to be in front of the castle to see this memorable show.
- Crowds: While the FastPass+ areas certainly do fill up, I found the crowds to be kinder and more polite than those jockeying for a spot curbside on Main Street. This may be due to the fact that just about every spot in the reserved area offers a clear view, so no one feels nervous that someone might block the view they sat for two hours to reserve.
- No extra FastPass+ selections: Certainly the biggest drawback to booking Wishes as one of your three daily FastPasses is that you have to use all three in order to secure a fourth, fifth and so on. Because Wishes is shown late at night, typically an hour or two prior to park closing, Guests are unable to reserve more than three FastPass+ selections in a day. Some Guests feel that this is not the best way to maximize their day in the Magic Kingdom and choose instead to use their three FastPasses earlier in the day. This way they can visit a FastPass+ kiosk multiple times during the day and alleviate some wait times for rides/attractions.
- Young Children: Sometimes young kids can get scared or upset by the noise of fireworks. I have a niece who is 12 who simply detests the booming sound and would NEVER consider watching Wishes except maybe from the beach at one of the monorail resort hotels. When you are planning, consider if there is any chance your child might dislike the show. It would be a shame to reserve Wishes FastPasses and have to leave with a scared and unhappy child.
Despite countless visits to the Magic Kingdom, I had only seen Wishes from remote areas of the park (my kids prefer the short lines for rides during that time) or from my resort hotel beach. Last October I traveled with my sister, adults only, and was lucky enough to secure a FastPass+ for Wishes. When we entered the Plaza Garden East, several other Guests were seated, casually chatting in anticipation of the show. We joined them, happy to be off our tired feet. That was short-lived, however; Cast Members announced that everyone must stand in order to fit more Guests into the space. This was not a big deal, and the view was probably better while standing. In a word, our experience was … MAGICAL. The Celebrate the Magic show awed me with its creativity and images perfectly set to music. Watching Wishes from in front of Cinderella Castle made it seem more spectacular, like I was a part of the show rather than just a spectator.
DIStracted Tip: Choose a viewing spot near the exit in the Plaza Gardens. After the show ends, there are several hundred people trying to exit through a very small area. If you are ready to head home for the night or to go hit some rides, you’ll want to exit the area quickly.
In the end, I am thrilled that I was able to witness these two shows from a reserved area using FastPass+. We didn’t have to line up early or fight for a spot, and witnessed a breathtaking extravaganza! That being said, on my next visit with my kids we will likely reserve our three FastPass+ selections earlier in the day and take advantage of the FastPass+ kiosks to secure additional selections, as rides are their main priority. Either way, the planner in your group has some major decisions to make … but you can’t go wrong either way if you get to spend your day at the Magic Kingdom!
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