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 Happily Ever After 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 Happily Ever After.
Happily Ever After is the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display. It usually takes place at 9:00PM, but it can be earlier or later depending on time of year and the MK’s schedule of special events. The Happily Ever After soundtrack is piped into the restaurants, so hearing the accompaniment to the fireworks will not be a problem.
Best Restaurants From Which to View Happily Ever After Fireworks
‘Ohana, one of the two table-service restaurants at the Polynesian Village Resort, has arguably the best view of Happily Ever After from any restaurant. With a wall of windows facing the castle, directly across Seven Seas Lagoon from the Polynesian, the view of Happily Ever After is head-on — just as you’d see it on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom (only farther away).
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 Happily Ever After. 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 Village Beach is another great spot to view Happily Ever After.
‘Ohana is a casual dining establishment; standard park-wear is acceptable here.
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 Happily Ever After fireworks show.
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 Happily Ever After.
Narcoossee’s is a bit fancier than ‘Ohana; you might want to dress up a bit.
California Grill, on the Contemporary Resort’s 15th floor, is often thought of as the quintessential Happily Ever After viewing spot. The restaurant offers its outdoor viewing deck in addition to the views from the wall of windows in the restaurant.
That said, California Grill isn’t my favorite location for Happily Ever After 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 Happily Ever After 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 Happily Ever After, 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 Happily Ever After Fireworks display are: Liberty Tree Tavern, Tony’s Town Square, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Tortuga Tavern, and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Cafe.
Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!