Now, depending upon your point of view, that's either a wonderful addition to the end of the day in the Magic Kingdom... or the worst idea in the history of theme park logistics. Forget the old conventional wisdom that parks cleared late in the day as children tired and parents worse. With Happily Ever After awaiting, families now have even more incentive to power through and stay in the park past sundown.
After seeing the show in person for the first time tonight, my first thought was to suggest we start calling it "Walt Disney World Forever." This really does play like the next iteration of Disney's wildly popular and dearly missed Disneyland Forever fireworks show from the Anaheim park's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration. Like that show, projection mapping effects steal the focus from the pyro in the sky, providing your eyes a seemingly countless number of places to focus during the performance. It's impossible to take all in at one viewing.
Now, Happily Ever After doesn't project onto the walls of Main Street as well as on the castle, as Disneyland Forever did. But with the immense Cinderella Castle serving as the canvas for this performance, I think Disney still had more surface area to work with here than they did on the entire Sleeping Beauty Castle plus Main Street in Anaheim. (Wow, I've been in the Orlando parks less than a day and I've already turned and started talking smack about the California parks. So much for loyalty....)
But with the focus on the castle, that makes securing a place where you can see the castle imperative to get the most from the show, instead if distributing viewers throughout the park, as Disneyland Forever did. And there we encounter the logistical problem with Happily Ever After. Over the years, Disney's chopped down on the trees, torn out the benches and curbs, then finally filled in the old Swan Boat canal to create more viewing space on the park's hub, facing the castle. But with Disney taking advantage by programming more and more onto the castle, the park's central transit area remains as clogged as ever, even in relatively lightly attended periods such as this week.
And with so much to see in the show, it's not something you can see once then easily choose to avoid in the future. To capture all the detail, you'll want to watch the show again and again... meaning more and more repeat visitors jostling for space on the hub with the first timers. First world problems, theme park edition, for Disney, I know.
So plan to arrive early and stake out a place on the far half of the hub, wherever you think you'll have a relatively clear view. Then wait your time and enjoy the show.
Happily Ever After plays nightly at the Magic Kingdom.
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