Tag Archives: Disneyland Fireworks

“Magical” Fireworks

Nobody does fireworks like Disney. Nobody. In fact, every time I watch a fireworks show somewhere else I’m left wanting, thinking “can’t you coordinate the music and the fireworks? You can shoot off more than one at the same time before the finale. That’s IT???” for some little civic fireworks show that probably cost a huge amount of money. Disney has raised fireworks to an art form, not only with music and timing, but with ground effects and lighting as well. Not to mention the classic Disney soundtracks.

This summer’s fireworks show (it changes, btw) is called “Magical.” How convenient for my search for Disneyland Magic, hunh? Still looking for that–think fireworks may be part of it? I do. Anyway, there are many places to view the fireworks. In the past it didn’t really matter where you were in the park. Then on Disneyland’s 50th birthday in 2005, Disney pumped up fireworks to a whole new level. They closed parts of Fantasyland, brought in a lot of lower ground effects centered on the castle, and projected images onto the castle and Matterhorn. For that show, a spot in the hub (circle at the end of Main Street) was the ideal place to watch.

Magical had some castle involvement, basically lights and castle low fireworks, but honestly I think any area in the park where you can get a clear view and hear the music is a good spot. Watching from the Fantasyland side is great, and if you can time yourself to get on a Storybook Canal boat at just the right time, it’s amazing. But that’s tough, since you could end up watching from the line. Still, we usually end up on good old Main Street.

20 minutes before--not too crowded, plus zoom lens!

Fireworks viewing can be brutal (it especially was for the 50th birthday show). If you’re a short person like me, it can be very advantageous to stake out a spot 20 minutes beforehand, more if it’s crowded or if you seem to be in a premium location. Many people sit down at first.

Like us

Theo, where are the fireworks going to be?

You’ll notice that there are ropes running across Main Street in a few locations. They do rope off some walkways so that in lulls in the show they can shuffle people in various directions. It’s quite organized so pay attention–one route takes you to ALL lands in the rest of the park, the other takes you to ONLY the exit.

This line went to all the lands

Anyway, I’ve found as a short person, it’s helpful to be right up against one of those ropes. The gap of people not in front of you really helps.

Theo and his sandwich demonstrate Shelby's preferred location

They dim the lights and the castle starts to light up in different colors.


They used to have Tinkerbell start every show, but now they sometimes shoot some fireworks off pre-Tink, like in Magical.


Funny story: when Kevin was a wee lad, he and his mom would stay to watch the fireworks while his dad and dad’s friends went off to “Help Tinkerbell start the fireworks.” Yeah, they’d just go on Space Mountain. Heh.

Anyway, Tink does come flying out! Yay!

She comes in from the right and goes behind the castle, so I didn't get a picture of her until she was on this side.

This part sort of freaked me out a little bit, and not because of my crappy photography.

No, Tinkerbell! Don't get shot!

Fortunately, Tink survives, just like she manages to do at every show. Then they do the fireworks, like pretty colored things.

Pretty colors!

This is an example of a castle effect that doesn’t make as big of an impact if you can’t actually see the castle from either side.

These are the fireworks we can't see from our backyard

Other stuff happens, and apparently they do the up and down color things a couple of times.

Trying to take pictures and enjoy the show at the same time is very difficult.

They light up the castle in different colors. This one looks a little…hellish.

Cool high fireworks

Despite the look of abject disinterest, Theo actually really liked the show and would burst into applause every now and then.

Strangely enough, other people weren't clapping at the same things he was clapping at

And then the big surprise! Oh, I should probably take a moment to talk about the soundtrack. It was super-cool and centered on the magical moments in Disney movies, like when Pinocchio gets turned into a real boy and Cinderella turns into all kinds of awesome so she can go to the ball (in glass shoes–talk about being careful not to step on any toes, heh heh). Anyway, there’s of course this moment:

It's Dumbo!! (in case you couldn't tell from my stellar photography)

Dumbo whirled around the castle. I’ve never seen anything flying other than Tinkerbell so it was a nice surprise.

Whirling and twirling way up in the blue...

...elephants fly and so can you!

As of yesterday it seems like Dumbo is Theo’s new favorite ride. Which kind of bites a little because the wait is always really long.

Dumbo’s flying ears reminds me of the day we got our second beagle, Digory. Our first beagle, Scout (RIP *sniff*), was very wary but for one time and ONLY this one time, she actually chased him (from then on out, he always tried to chase her).

Dumbo-eared Digory!

Anyway, at that point I decided to put the camera down and enjoy the show. That’s one thing about this blog I’ve found is that when you’re documenting something, you really don’t get to enjoy it very much. I always wonder about people who just videotape everything in the park on their vacation. Yeah, the memories are great, but watching everything through a tiny screen instead of in real life just seems so much like you’re missing a big part of that Disneyland Magic.

Anyway, Disneyland shoots off some fabulous specials fireworks like heart-shaped ones and even ones that explode in happy faces in multiple colors. At the end of the show, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty end up in this fireworks equivalent of a dance-off with one turning the castle and fireworks blue and the other pink. UPDATE–Reader Correction: Apparently I did not spend enough time 1) listening to the soundtrack and 2) re-watching my Disney movies, because a reader corrected that the fight is between the fairies from Sleeping Beauty who are fighting over the colors like in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie since 19something, so there ya go. Hm, what does it say about me that I immediately thought it was like a deathmatch between Cinderella and Aurora? 

They do manage to work out their differences in the end.


And I watched the finale with my own two eyes :).

But this is my favorite fireworks picture ever. Actually my favorite Mickey picture too! Kevin snapped the following shot on Disneyland’s 50th birthday, May 6, 2005.

And THAT, my friends, is Disneyland Magic.

Believe in Holiday Magic Fireworks 2010

So last year my attempt to see the holiday fireworks was a complete bust. For starters, we missed much of the holiday season at Disneyland due to a trip to Europe followed by blackout days, and then the one day we all went–which if I remember correctly was like the last day our passes were good–the fireworks were cancelled due to weather. Kevin did go over on a different day with Theo, but sadly, Theo was pretty much terrified and apparently cried the whole time. We were hoping a year later to have some better success.

Luckily, we did.

So Disneyland shoots off the fireworks from the backlot, which used to be convenient because you got pretty much an equal view of the show from most of the park (it didn’t really matter where you were standing) and they didn’t have to close any of the park down to do it.

Now they go off on the backlot but there are some closer, shorter special effects near and to the left of the castle and they have to close down Fantasyland to do it. They also turned it into a really elaborate show focused on the castle with some awesome castle effects and coordinated lighting and whatnot. Which is really cool…if you happen to be in front of the castle. If you’re not, you kinda miss some parts. So for the record, the very best place to view the fireworks is at the end of Main Street on the plaza slightly to the right of the castle near the entrance to Tomorrowland. And obviously, not behind any tall people, unless you happen to be quite tall yourself.

If you happen to be standing elsewhere, you can still see the show but it won’t look as coordinated or cool, and there will be down times where there’s something happening in front of the castle but you’re over in Adventureland going “What’s going on? Is it over? Why is the music still playing?”

If you can’t get to that particular location (not Adventureland–the other one) then anywhere with a clear view of the castle is a good second bet. The night we went, we stood about halfway down Main Street. We actually were right against the rope of one of those crosswalk areas they create with ropes, which was nice to not have people directly in front of us–especially if you’re short like me.

Pretty good view of the castle here, before the show

The crowd behind us

So in the middle of the above photo, I have no idea what that woman who is significantly taller than everyone else is standing on, but I’m pretty sure it’s not safe. Also, the woman in foreground looks positively panic-stricken. I don’t know why that is either.

Once the show started it was truly fabulous. Really, nobody does fireworks like Disney. I mean seriously, every other fireworks display pales in comparison, like you’re watching some small, municipal 4th of July fireworks show and thinking, “Really, people? Take a page from Disney and spend a gazillion on a DECENT display next year, okay?”

Example of castle-focused effects. Also the only decent picture of the actual fireworks I got

Taking pictures of the fireworks is difficult. Particularly if you have zero photography skills like me. I have a big fancy DSLR camera–I just can’t really use it very well. I also wanted to take a picture of Kevin and Theo, who were standing behind me, but didn’t want to be that jerk who turns around and takes a flash picture and blinds everyone, so I tried waiting until the sky was all lit up. I got several pictures much like this one:


Theo seemed to like the fireworks this year. He didn’t really smile, but he did emit a series of increasingly ecstatic “wow…Wow…WOW!!!”s over the course of the show. He also spent the entire show with his hand out. I don’t know if he was trying to touch the lights or catch the lights or shield himself from the lights, but it was pretty cute.

Following the fireworks, they play “White Christmas” and it snows. And by snows I mean they have these bubble machines that spit out small chunks of bubbles that look like snow, and it’s super-cool. The coolest part is the looks on all of the kids’ faces when it starts to fall.

Yes, I can take a reasonably decent picture of my husband and son. Too bad he's got his hand in his mouth.

There was snow in that picture–you can see it on Kevin’s shoulder. No, I did not specifically request that he wear black fleece in order for me to get a picture showing the snow. It just worked out that way.

And here’s a better picture of the snow and the crowd behind us (minus the freakishly tall woman and the panic-stricken woman).

Doesn't the tree look great? Also, snow!

The fireworks really are a must-see. Actually as for as the holiday goes at Disneyland, there are three things you really, really shouldn’t miss, and the fireworks are one of them.

Yes, I will tell you what the other two are: It’s A Small World Holiday (It’s A Small Holiday World? It’s A Holiday, Small World?) and the Holiday Haunted Mansion. I will post about It’s A Holiday, Small World (that’s not the actual name, but I think it’s funny), but unfortunately I didn’t do the Haunted Mansion this year. The holiday version goes up at Halloween, so I will see you next Fall on that one!

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