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Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing: Part I

One of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening is with dinner at a great restaurant followed by a beautiful Disney fireworks display. The best way to spend an enjoyable evening is to have the great dinner DURING the fireworks display!

There are several Disney restaurants from which you can see either Magic Kingdom’s Wishes or Epcot’s Illuminations. Here in Part I of our “Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing” series, we’ll look at restaurants from which you can see Wishes.

Wishes is the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display. It usually takes place at 9:00PM, but can be earlier or later depending on time of year and the MK’s schedule of special events. The Wishes soundtrack is piped into the restaurants, so hearing the accompaniment to the fireworks will not be a problem.

BEST RESTAURANTS FROM WHICH TO VIEW WISHES

‘Ohana
‘Ohana, one of the two table-service restaurants at the Polynesian Resort, has arguably the best view of Wishes from any restaurant. With a wall of windows facing the castle, directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian, the view of Wishes is head-on — just as you’d see it on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom (only farther away).

'Ohana Sign

See that blue spot in the middle? That's the Castle from our 'Ohana table.

See that blue spot in the middle? That's the Castle from our 'Ohana table.

The second picture isn’t the best — the castle looks a million miles away — but trust me that it’s a great show from ‘Ohana. Definitely worth booking. And speaking of booking, you’ll want to book a reservation about 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled time for Wishes. When you arrive at the podium, request a “Fireworks view” table. They cannot guarantee it, but they’ll do their best. If you happen to be seated in one of the few tables from which you can’t see the fireworks, you’re free to move during the show to stand in an area of the restaurant offering a better view.

Also, note that if you don’t get a reservation for around fireworks viewing time, the Polynesian Beach is another great spot to view Wishes.

‘Ohana is a casual dining establishment; standard park-wear is acceptable here.

Narcoossee’s
Narcoossee’s, in the Grand Floridian Resort, sits over to the left-hand side of the Magic Kingdom. Several window tables offer a great view of the Wishes fireworks show.

View of Castle From Narcoossee's

View of Castle From Narcoossee's

Narcoossee’s also has an outdoor viewing area along the railing outside of the restaurant. This will offer a great view if you’ve not yet been seated at your table. Again, book a reservation about 30-45 minutes prior to the scheduled start time for Wishes.

Narcoossee’s is a bit fancier than ‘Ohana; you might want to dress up a bit.

California Grill
California Grill, on the Contemporary Resort’s 15th floor, is often thought of as the quintessential Wishes viewing spot. The restaurant offers its outdoor viewing deck in addition to the views from the wall of windows in the restaurant.

California Grill Sign

View of Castle from our California Grill Table

View of Castle from our California Grill Table

That said, California Grill isn’t my favorite location for Wishes viewing, as the vantage point is strongly to the right of the castle. As a result, many of the fireworks launched from a mile or so behind the castle are skewed and don’t appear as they would when watching the show from directly in front. However, California Grill definitely has my vote for best food of the three!

Note that if you can’t book a reservation around fireworks time (these fill up fast) but get a reservation at some other time that evening, you are welcome to return to the 15th floor observation deck to view the fireworks at their scheduled time. Also, James comments below that the bar at California Grill has non-reservation seating, so you might get lucky with a seat at the bar if you hit the Contemporary at the right time. (This seating is first-come, first-served.)

California Grill is another Disney signature dining location, so it’s pricey…and dressy.

OTHER OPTIONS FOR RESTAURANT WISHES VIEWING

While these three are clearly the front-runners in dining reservations, you can also see glimpses of Wishes from Magic Kingdom’s Plaza Restaurant, Crystal Palace, Casey’s Corner, and Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station.

Interesting “views” of Wishes can be had from Cinderella’s Royal Table in Cinderella Castle and Pinnochio’s Village Haus in Fantasyland. While the fireworks are exploding above your head (not necessarily in your view, of course), you can see the flares being released from the tops of Magic Kingdom buildings around you. You won’t be able to truly experience Wishes, but it’s a unique view for anyone who has an interest in pyrotechnics, engineering, or fireworks in general.

Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom from which you can see very little — if any — of the Wishes Fireworks display are: Liberty Tree Tavern, Tony’s Town Square, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, El Pirata y El Perico, Pecos Bill’s Cafe.

Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!

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22 Comments

  1. Allison says:

    I heard that California Grill pipes in the music and such from Wishes so you can hear it in the restaurant . Do you know if this is true?

  2. admin says:

    Allison — Yep, they do! They pipe the music into most of the restaurants that have a clear view of Wishes, so you’re all set! Do you have a reservation there?

    PS: I’ve also heard that they pipe the music onto the beach at the Polynesian, but I don’t have confirmation… .

  3. Allison says:

    I do have a reservation there! In October though , do you know do they do the same for the Halloween fireworks display? I’m super excited to dine there , Hubby and I haven’t been there yet.

  4. Gray says:

    For a restaurant that has such a great view of Wishes, I don’t see much written about Narcoosee’s online. How’s the food?

  5. James says:

    I believe you can go up to the California Grill to sit at the bar, which would not require reservations. But that isn’t confirmed….

  6. admin says:

    James, thanks for your comment. I think you are exactly right! I completely forgot about first come first served at the bar!

  7. admin says:

    Gray, Narcoossee’s food is quite good, actually! There are a lot of message board debates pitting Citricos and Narcoossee’s against one another; both are top notch restaurants. Narcoossee’s is a bit more casual, but my meals there have been delicious.

  8. admin says:

    Allison–Yes! They do the same for “HalloWishes!” In fact, I love seeing HalloWishes from one of the restaurants, because it gives you an even better view of the “360 degree fireworks” that go off in a circle around the Magic Kingdom! Fascinating spectacle.

  9. Zach says:

    Great article! You always hear about CG for Wishes, good to see someone take the time to show that there are other options. Keep up the great work!

  10. admin says:

    Thanks, Zach! Same to you over on wdwblog.com!

  11. Tasty Chomps says:

    i must try ohana and narcoosees some time! what time and days do these fireworks go off?

  12. admin says:

    Tasty Chomps: Fireworks are usually scheduled for 9:00pm — they happen every night at the Magic Kingdom. This is subject to change, in case they have special events or another disruption. You can usually find park hours and fireworks/parades hours posted 3 months in advance over at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/calendar/

  13. Watch Me Eat says:

    @Gray I ate at Narcoosee’s once and really didn’t like it. We had reservations, where they told us we would be getting a window seat so we could watch the fireworks. We got there, and they then said they were backed up and we had to wait another hour. When we were seated, the table wasn’t a window seat and was back by the bathroom. Then the food came and I wasn’t very happy with it. Nothing tasted very good. I forget what I had exactly (some sort of fish?), but it was really tough and chewy. Portions were tiny, and the presentation didn’t make up for the bad food and high prices. Narcoosee’s is one of the few restaurants that I’ve eaten in at Disney that I definitely wouldn’t return to.

    The do play the music on the Polynesian beaches. I went there to watch the New Years Fantasy in the Sky a few years ago– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckg7hUPbonc

    Although I personally like the view from the roof of the Contemporary best. There is no better way to watch fireworks than to be above them! (If not eating at California Grill, you can still take the stairs up to the rooftop viewing area).

  14. Big Bad Wolf says:

    While we are on the subject of where to go and where not to go to see the fireworks, I tried in 2005 to see the fireworks from Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse… you can’t see much at all… the leaves and branches block a lot of it…

  15. Jackie Battle says:

    I was watching my two grandsons while my daughter & husband had a nite out. We were swimming in the pool at the Polynesian Resort. Didn’t even think about the fireworks but when they started we stopped swimming & playing. It was one of the best views I’d seen of the fireworks. I’ve been coming to Disney since 1957. Then to Disney World since 1973. Having the two grandchildren age 2 & 7 with me is a memory I’ll hold forever in my heart.

  16. Carrie says:

    We LOVED the view of Wishes from inside Cinderella’s castle. We got to sit at the primo center window seat on our honeymoon, and it felt like we were inside the fireworks when they went off. There were plenty of low fireworks to see, too, and we got some great photos.

    On the other hand, during our one experience at Ohana, we didn’t even know you could see fireworks because we were seated so far from the windows and the eaves hanging over them obscure so much of the view unless you’re right up close.

  17. Dave says:

    Does anyone know when the California Grille renovations will be complete. I want to make reservations there for November 9th

  18. Joy says:

    I have eaten at O’hana during the fireworks. They do have the music piped in and the interior lights are dimmed dramatically making for an amazing viewing opportunity. Our family actually ended up there at that time totally by happenstance; we had not planned it for fireworks viewing. Somehow we got seated by the window and our waiter was kind enough to tell us to eat slow so we would still have our table when the show started. It was my favorite WDW fireworks viewing ever! No crazy mob of people, no standing in one place for hours to hold the perfect viewing spot – just eat dinner, visit with family and wait patiently!

  19. Mary says:

    Ate at the California Grille a few weeks ago and saw the fireworks from the deck. The observation deck view is not all that great. Neither is the food at the restaurant. To me, this is a “do it once, and that’s it” dining event. I don’t understand what the big deal is. (The food is way overpriced, and the experience was so-so. No magic.)

  20. Paul says:

    No mention of Top of the World lounge at bay lake Tower?

  21. Jennifer O'Callaghan says:

    Best way to see wishes while eating? Private dining on the Grande One!!! We hired it a couple of years ago for two hours. We didn’t order dinner because there were 14 of us, we had cake and champagne instead, sailed around for a little while and then parked up to watch wishes with the music on the boat of course!! One of my fave Disney experiences ever. Definitely worth every penny it cost xx

  22. Rebecca says:

    I will be in WDW next week Oct 15-17. It does not show there will be a fireworks show. Is his correct?! I hope not!

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