We’re not sure what we miss the most from the pre-closure days of Disney World, but fireworks are definitely up there on our list.
Disney World reopened in early July of 2020 with a lot of changes to help keep guests and Cast Members safe. One of the most high-profile changes was the suspension of nightly fireworks and nighttime spectaculars — and they remain suspended even now. How long will it be until we can see the sky above Disney World light up with fireworks again? Here’s what we know.
The reasoning behind the drastic decision to suspend fireworks was to keep guests and Cast Members safe during the reopening phases of Disney World. And since fireworks tend to draw a SUPER large crowd (if you’ve ever been stuck in the mass exodus after Happily Ever After you KNOW what we mean!), it’s hard to maintain social distancing, which is extremely important in current times.
Getting rid of fireworks means it’s easier to keep guests distanced and safe. Disney isn’t the only place in Florida to cancel fireworks. For instance, the Orlando mayor opted to cancel the city’s 4th of July fireworks display in 2020 in the interest of protecting folks from the global health crisis.
Still, it’s been months since the reopening, and the situation with COVID-19 and vaccines has changed quite a bit. So, what clues do we have about the return of fireworks? Let’s take a look.
First off, back in the summer of 2020 we saw some construction on the fireworks barges going on in EPCOT in Disney World. Over the past few months, the barges for EPCOT’s new fireworks show, Harmonious, have gradually been added to the EPCOT lagoon. Now, all of the Harmonious barges are in the lagoon for everyone to see.
While that might be a great sign for the future of fireworks shows, many guests are LESS than pleased with how these barges look during the day!
Last year, we also saw a permit that was filed for work on the Fireworks Bunker in Magic Kingdom. Needless to say, it looks like work is definitely being done on the fireworks to get them ready — we’re just not sure WHEN they will be ready!
One of the biggest steps forward in fireworks returning to Disney World is the fireworks TESTING that’s happened over the past few months. Back in September of last year, fireworks were tested in EPCOT. Guests staying at nearby resorts were warned of fireworks testing…and the resulting noise! Fireworks were tested in EPCOT again earlier this year.
According to WDWMagic, EPCOT Forever, the fireworks show that was being shown in EPCOT at the time of the park closures, has been testing recently as well. WDWMagic reports that guests staying at the EPCOT area resorts could hear the soundtrack to EPCOT Forever being played in World Showcase, but no fireworks were seen.
Fireworks testing has also taken place over at Magic Kingdom a few times over the past few months.
While all of these are just fireworks tests, they still show that Disney is still actively thinking about their fireworks shows, even if they can’t come back just yet.
The Return of (Some) Pyrotechnics in the Magic Kingdom
Our team was SUPER surprised when we caught a glimpse of some (we’re talking real small here) flares and fireworks during a visit to Magic Kingdom back in the late fall of 2020! Cinderella Castle’s new holiday look included festive rotating projections in 2020, and various fireworks briefly illuminated the sky between each change during the holiday season!
These magical little bursts were the first fireworks guests had seen in Disney World since its closure back in March. But, they went away at the end of the holiday season.
Click here to see more about the fireworks and flares that appeared in Magic Kingdom during the holidays!
What We Can Learn from Upcoming Events
There are some things we can glean from how Disney is handling upcoming events. Harmonious was originally set to debut in Spring 2020, but has since been met with delays due to the park closures. A revised date has not yet been announced, so we’re still wondering when it will make its appearance.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which typically runs on select nights from mid-August to early November, was canceled completely in 2020 due to some key parts of the parties — including fireworks — being suspended. Shortly after, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which typically runs through the end of December, followed suit.
This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has once again been canceled. A new After Hours Event called BOO BASH is set to replace the Halloween parties in Magic Kingdom this year. Disney has said that special decor, lighting, music, and more will be available during the event, but none of Disney’s announcements about BOO BASH mention fireworks.
If the inability to display nighttime spectaculars like fireworks was a major driver for the decision to cancel Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party this year again (and replace it with BOO BASH), Disney may be anticipating that fireworks won’t be possible through the fall, or even through the rest of 2021.
That said, we’ve rarely experienced fireworks testing in Disney World without the upcoming show being imminently debuted. Why disturb guests in surrounding hotels if you don’t intend to run the show soon?
Click here to see what the difference is between Disney World’s After Hours BOO BASH and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
The Return of Fireworks in Shanghai and Tokyo
Shanghai Disney closed on January 25th and reopened on May 11th. Tokyo Disney followed suit with the parks closing on February 29th and reopening on July 1st. Both closures lasted roughly four months, with the Shanghai closure being a few days shorter than Disney World, and the Tokyo closure being a few days longer.
Tests were spotted with the Shanghai fireworks in late April, but the displays did not come back when the park first reopened. Instead, trial runs began in Shanghai in late July (roughly three months after opening).
Fireworks initially returned to Tokyo Disney in early September of last year (two months after opening), but were then suspended in January of 2021. Fireworks came back (again) to Tokyo Disney in March of 2021.
We are now several months from Disney World’s original reopening, but fireworks have not yet returned as they did in the international parks. Still, because Disney has been able to resume fireworks in some of their international parks, it’s possible that they have learned some valuable lessons that will then translate to Disney World when fireworks do come back.
Disney Hires Fireworks Professionals
Over the past few months, Disney has also posted some job listings for Principal Fireworks Designers as well as Fireworks and Special Effects Designers! The job description reads: “The Fireworks & Special Effects Designer develops/executes pyrotechnic and special effects designs for live shows across property, including Parks, Resorts, Special Events, and Disney Cruise Line.”
These responsibilities would include ordering pyrotechnic products, supervising crews, and participating in creative development, and more. Plus, the position would involve developing and executing special effects and pyrotechnic designs for live shows, providing evaluations of existing shows, giving proper documentation of “all live show effects plots” at Disney World, developing and providing input with special effects budgets, and more!
We even saw a new fireworks-related job listed in May of 2021. This was ANOTHER job listing for a Fireworks and Special Effects Designer.
These hiring posts haven’t yet given us a timeline for when fireworks could return, but progress appears to still be taking place towards their possible reopening sometime soon!
Things Are Going Back to “Normal” in Some Ways
The situation with COVID-19 has changed over the past few months. Many more Americans are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, including some children.
As the situation with the pandemic changes, things in Disney World have started to change too and some things are back to “normal.” Some hand-washing stations have been removed in the parks, some self-serve drink stations are back, more hotels are reopening, some restaurants are reopening as well, and even one of Disney’s live shows, the Festival of the Lion King, will be officially reopening soon with some modifications.
Temperature checks are also set to be phased out soon in Disney World. Other theme parks have also started to reduce their social distancing requirements (shortening it to 3 feet, as opposed to 6 feet). And one study has suggested that theme parks could reduce social distancing guidelines.
The fact that some offerings Disney had previously suspended are now returning or some things are returning to “normal” could be an indication that more of Disney’s currently suspended offerings (like fireworks) could be returning soon.
So, When Will Fireworks Return?
Over the past few months, Disney has tested fireworks at some of their parks, moved forward with construction and work on the Harmonious barges in EPCOT, brought back fireworks and flares in a limited way during the holidays, and even posted job positions for fireworks-related jobs.
Ultimately, though, it’s still totally up in the air (no pun intended!). If Disney knows the plan, they sure aren’t sharing that info with anyone (yet)! Any number of things could affect the return of fireworks — especially changes in the global health crisis. So, stay tuned to DFB for the latest updates. You’ll know the fireworks are coming back as soon as we do!
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When do YOU think fireworks will come back to Disney World? Tell us in the comments!