Happily Ever After, the brand new fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, debuted Friday night to a packed Main Street USA and cheering crowds. The show combined the best of what Disney has to offer. Stunning projections, beautiful animation, and spectacular fireworks combined to create the best nighttime spectacular I’ve ever seen. Here are my thoughts on the show.
I want to start with how it made me feel. So much about our love of Disney comes from the memories that you make and reminiscing about how you felt while enjoying your favorite attraction, food item, or show while at the parks. Wishes played a big part in my memories of Disney up to this point as it was the only nightly fireworks show I was able to see in person. This show made me come alive at every turn. Every seamless transition of score and animation took me back to almost forgotten movies that debuted in the 90’s. Seeing nods to Quasimodo, Tarzan, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan was incredibly refreshing to witness. In this way, I was extremely happy when I realized that Happily Ever After would not only live up to Wishes, but in many ways surpass it. Watching the show evokes the emotions that you’ve come to expect and love at Walt Disney World.
If you’d like to watch the show, here’s our video.
The soundtrack is phenomenal and will without a doubt, become a classic. It will stick with you for years and years to come. Specially recorded versions of Disney classics and modern hits alike found their way into the show. A version of “Love Is An Open Door” stuck out to me the most, as it was a softer take on the duet than we’ve heard before in Walt Disney World. While we did make our way through a lot of stories, over 25 stories in total, the music always flowed flawlessly between them.
The hand-drawn animation and projections are beautiful and fit Cinderella Castle more than any other projection show before it. The way Disney plays with the scenes to extend them past the Castle is magical. You’ll watch a shooting star turn into a real star on the Castle, and the smoke billow out of the Magic Lamp from Aladdin.
The lighting effects that flank the Castle adds so much in terms of scale to the show, drawing your eyes past just the projections and fireworks. The over 50 spotlights add to the feeling of grandeur as they dance through the scenes.
The fireworks were absolutely stunning. The shells, colors, and designs are the best I’ve ever seen at Walt Disney World. This is truly a modern fireworks show that will have your jaw on the ground and leave you in awe. When I heard that there was going to be projections on the Castle, I was initially worried that more projection would lead to a reduction of fireworks. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a very notable increase over Wishes. Custom designs such as the Heart of Te Fiti from Moana, toy boxes during the Toy Story scene, a bullseye from Brave, and smiley faces during a Genie-centric portion were among the designs.
“The battles, the stories, the losses and all the glories”
Not only are these the lyrics that evoked the most emotion from me just before the closing act, they also sum up the show perfectly. The heart of the show is the stories themselves. You’ll find yourself following along with your favorite Disney characters as you make your way through adventure, adversity, and triumphs. After the Villains take over the show (and Castle), we’re put in the place of Simba as Mufasa’s spirit leads us to our Happily Ever After to the score of “Go The Distance”. Not only does it evoke the emotions that so many of us felt during the Lion King, it’s a particularly heartwarming portion of the show that leads into the dramatic conclusion to our journey.
At the conclusion, we’re treated to a chorus version of “Happily Ever After” that is pure Disney magic. The flood of finale fireworks light up the sky in front of us as the 75-piece orchestra puts together a number that is new and classic at the same time.
Tinker Bell takes to the sky as we’re reminded that with a little faith, trust, and pixie dust, we too can find our very own Happily Ever After.