Walt Disney World is well known for its evening shows, or as Disney likes to call them Nighttime Spectaculars. Whilst Wishes at the Magic Kingdom is the most famous show the Central Florida destination has to offer many regular visitors to Walt Disney World highlight the fact that there’s more shows on offer at the various theme parks during the night than the what’s on at Magic Kingdom.

Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Wishes is Walt Disney World’s most famous Nighttime Spectacular. Since its first showing in 2003 Wishes has quickly become a favourite among visitors to Walt Disney World. Offering a dazzling collection of fireworks, lights and lasers working perfectly in sync with a rousing audio track Wishes is the perfect way to end a day at the Magic Kingdom. Children of all ages enjoy Wishes, whilst the fireworks are loud the prominence of various Disney characters in the show, including the Blue Fairy and Jiminy Cricket, keeps children captivated throughout the duration of the show.

Finding a good spot to view Wishes can be difficult. Before the majority of Wishes shows Magic Kingdom also has a nighttime parade called SpectroMagic, featuring various Disney characters on floats lit with a huge collection lights. If Wishes is shown directly after SpectroMagic it’s best to stake out a place at least 30 minutes before the parade is due to begin, if not earlier on days with high crowds such as New Years Eve. Anywhere along Main Street U.S.A offers good views of the show, although many people recommend watching from The Magic Kingdom Railroad Station at the Entrance to the park.

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is Epcot’s offering for Nighttime shows. The shows is held in World Showcase Lagoon. Illuminations celebrates the history of the Earth, from it’s creation all the way up to modern world it’s included in Illuminations. The show is loud and contains a considerable number of special effects, including a collection of lasers which pan across the lagoon. The centrepiece of the show is a globe which depicts various images throughout. The show is suitable for all ages, although younger children may enjoy Wishes more due to its emphasis on characters.

As Illuminations is based in World Showcase Lagoon good views can be found in several positions. Some sections around the lagoon are roped off for private events meaning a good place found earlier in the day may not be available for the show. Dining at the Rose and Crown in the United Kingdom during the show is recommended by many as this offers unobstructed views in a relaxed environment, advance reservations are required. It’s advised to get to World Showcase Lagoon 30 minutes before the show starts, longer on busy days. New Years Eve see’s two showings of Illuminations, consider being at these shows in excess of 90 minutes before show time.


Fantasmic is held in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Unlike the other Nighttime Spectaculars at Walt Disney World this show is only held on select nights, varying depending upon the season. The show is based around the imagination of Mickey Mouse in his Sorcerer Mickey role from Fantasia. The show features various Disney characters, both good and evil, and is based around fireworks, live acting, lasers and water projections. The show contains a much stronger story than the other two nighttime shows, but the inclusion of villains can scare some children.

Unlike other shows around Walt Disney World Fantasmic does not have any variations for holidays or special events. However, during the Holiday season Disney’s Hollywood Studios plays host to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, a huge collection of Christmas lights that bring the Streets of America to life at night in the build up to Christmas and New Years.

Because Fantasmic only shows on select nights during most of the year when shows are scheduled demand is high. Despite the fact Fantasmic is held in a 10,000 seat amphitheatre it fills quickly, especially for the first showing of the evening. Those planning on seeing the first show should always arrive at the amphitheatre 90 minutes before the show is scheduled to start. The second showing is considerably less crowded but it is still advisable to get to the amphitheatre 45 minutes in advance. A Fantasmic dinner package is also available, which includes a meal and seats for the show in a specially reserved area.

All the shows at Walt Disney World are world-class and are worth seeing at least once. What’s the best? Well, that all depends on personal preference.