Here in Orlando, we have “The Most Magical Place on Earth” in our backyard. Spending Thanksgiving at Walt Disney World is magical. It's also very busy. Yet you don't need to enter the theme parks to enjoy a memorable Thanksgiving. You can still make magical memories while enjoying Thanksgiving fireworks at Disney, outside of the theme parks.
We've created this list of places where you can view the Thanksgiving fireworks without having to enter the parks, categorized by each theme park/fireworks show. Keep in mind, access to some of these locations may be restricted based on occupancy, and Disney's policies are subject to change without notice.
Where to View Disney Thanksgiving Fireworks Outside the Parks
Magic Kingdom area – Disney Enchantment
Thanksgiving Fireworks 8:15pm
Where to view: Disney resort hotel restaurants, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort
Magic Kingdom’s fireworks are the most popular in Walt Disney World. The most visited theme park in the world hosts a nightly fireworks show called “Disney Enchantment”. This fireworks show includes new technology that makes for a visually stunning experience. While many of the effects are best seen inside the park, you can still enjoy a lovely evening in the Magic Kingdom resorts area, at multiple viewing spots.
Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks usually begin at 9pm, but the schedule shows the Thanksgiving fireworks are at 8:15 pm.
Please note that parking at Disney’s resort hotels is officially for guests with hotel and dining reservations only. Most nights you are able to use the hotel parking lot after showing photo identification and explaining that you’re heading to the lounge or restaurant for food and drink. But, it is best to have a confirmed dining reservation that you're able to show to Disney Security alongside your photo identification.
There’s something enchanting about this place, where you can escape to the Polynesian isles of the South Pacific, nestled on the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon facing the Magic Kingdom. Sip exotic cocktails and share a few appetizers at either Tambu Lounge or Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Then, grab a drink to go and head toward the beach or boat launch area for fireworks viewing.
The grandest of Disney’s hotels, you’ll be awash in casual sophistication the moment you set foot in this resort. The lobby is sure to make your eyes grow wide. Head to Enchanted Rose Lounge on the second floor, home to some of the classiest cocktails on Disney property. Or grab dinner at Narcoossee’s overlooking the Seven Seas Lagoon; select tables have a view of the fireworks. Reservations are recommended. The best Thanksgiving fireworks viewing at this resort is at the boat launch, at the rear of the resort.
EPCOT area – Harmonious
Thanksgiving Fireworks begin at 9pm
Where to view: Disney's Boardwalk Resort
The new Harmonious show has debuted as part of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary. This show is packed with bright color and vibrant songs. Best of all it utilizes multiple languages. Disney songs hop from language to language as the show brings people together from all parts of the world.
This show is longer than its predecessor and there are fewer lulls as well. I've watched the former fireworks show countless times, for years, from outside the park as I used to work in the Boardwalk Resort area. Harmonious is better than IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth when watching it from outside the park because it is longer and doesn't have long lulls without fireworks.
It starts off a little slow, but once it gets going, it is a lot of fun. There are two moments toward the end at which you may think the show is over, but stick around until about 9:21 p.m. to see the full show including the real finale.
Along the Boardwalk, enjoy a wide variety of dining locations, lounges, sweet shops, and even a few midway games. During non-peak times, you should be able to park at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort without a dining reservation, but availability isn't guaranteed. Make a dining reservation if you want to play it safe. Big River Grille and Brewing Works is usually easy to get into and is nice for a casual, relaxing meal.
For the best view of the Thanksgiving fireworks, head toward Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall. Or you can walk towards the former ESPN Club, continuing on almost to Disney’s Beach Club Resort. There is a bridge that connects the Boardwalk and Beach Club hotels. On this bridge, you’ll catch a pretty good view of the show, but it does get crowded sometimes.
Another option is the bridge between the BoardWalk Hotel and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. Depending on show times, you may be able to view each park's fireworks all around the same time from this one spot. Plus, the Swan and Dolphin is a visually unique backdrop.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios area – two shows
Wonderful World of Animation
Thanksgiving show at 8:30 p.m.
Thanksgiving show at 9:00 p.m.
Where to view: Disney's Boardwalk, Beach Club, and Yacht Club Resorts, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
Hooray for Hollywood! This park is home to two nighttime spectaculars. For many Disney fans, Fantasmic is the ultimate nighttime spectacular at Disney World. Fireworks are not constant during this show, in fact, they take on a supporting role compared to the theatrics and performances.
If you're trying to watch Fantasmic on Thanksgiving day you're going to need to plan ahead. Get food early and then be prepared to wait in line an hour and a half before showtime. The Fantasmic! Dining Package is a great idea for Thanksgiving – but it is booked fast!
If you view Fantasmic outside of the parks be prepared for lots of lulls. Thankfully there is a second, smaller nighttime show that usually performs at the same time as Fantasmic.
Combining fireworks with projection technology and other effects, this show is enveloping when viewed inside the parks but still brings excitement to those viewing from outside the park. There aren't as many fireworks in the Wonderful World of Animation as compared to the other parks, but still enough for a fun viewing experience.
Visit Disney’s Beach Club and head for Beaches and Cream’s to-go window to indulge in ice cream, sundaes, and shakes that you can take to the resort’s beach and catch glimpses of Wonderful World of Animation and Fantasmic fireworks.
At the Swan and Dolphin Resort, there are over ten different dining options ranging from casual to the essence of sophistication (check out our food crawl itinerary). You can catch glimpses of the fireworks from the Dolphin side of the complex or along the bridge that connects to Disney’s Boardwalk.
If you’re in the mood for a stroll and a closer view, walk along the path the extends toward Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in between Disney’s Boardwalk and the Swan hotel. This walkway will take you up to the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Stand back along the water and face the entrance of the park. Here you can see the fireworks up close and hear the music and sounds of this spectacular show.
ROOFTOP RESORT DINING
If you’re feeling in the mood to indulge a little, consider dining at Capa, the rooftop steakhouse located at the Four Seasons Resort on Walt Disney World property. Here you’ll catch views of Thanksgiving fireworks not only at the Magic Kingdom but at other area theme parks as well. Or you can grab a cocktail at the Capa Lounge and enjoy the view.
Disney Restaurants with Thanksgiving Fireworks Views (reservations required)
- California Grill at Disney's Contemporary
- Narcoossee's at Disney's Grand Floridian
- Toledo at Disney's Coronado Springs
- Topolino's Terrace at Disney's Riviera Resort
- Capa at Four Seasons Walt Disney World
- illume at JW Marriott Bonnet Creek
- Stir Lounge at Swan Reserve (not rooftop, but has decent EPCOT views)
Get a bird’s eye view by boarding the Disney Aerophile balloon at Disney Springs. Soar above Disney Springs with views of nearby Epcot, plus Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the distance. Fireworks can be viewed while aboard the Disney Aerophile Balloon, however, there is no way to guarantee your boarding will occur during the fireworks time.
We recommend checking with one of the operators near the balloon’s loading dock to see if they can assist you with this; if the attraction is not too busy they may enable you to wait to the side until it is time to board around fireworks show time.
Feature image credit: Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort
Disclosure: Some of the resorts mentioned in this post are some of our valued advertising partners.