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Nighttime Entertainment at Walt Disney World

Nighttime entertainment at Walt Disney World. Is there anything better? There is absolutely nothing more fabulous than ending a Disney day with a nighttime spectacular. And there is literally no one on this earth that does fireworks and nighttime entertainment better than Disney. It is grand, emotional and magical. And if you have the chance to stay and watch any of these masterpieces, you absolutely should. It is worth the extra time, extra energy and extra effort to see it. Whether you spend all day in the park, or leave midday for a break, be sure to stay for the evening entertainment. A Disney vacation is truly not complete without it. It’s a “must-do”, at least according to me. 😀

So, let’s rank (from least favorite to favorite) the nighttime entertainment at Walt Disney World. This is purely an opinion piece, you may feel differently about some of my choices.

EPCOT Beacons

#10 Harmonious

Location: EPCOT

Duration: 20 minutes

Unfortunately, I am putting Harmonious at the bottom of the list. Sorry, Disney! While I personally think the intentions were good with this one, it has failed miserably in execution. For starters, the massive barges that are staged in the World Showcase Lagoon for this show are hideous eye sores, and they actually never worked properly. The show itself is set to a rather cute theme song, but visually it’s a mess. The colors, the projections, the fireworks, etc. Too many things are happening at once and I find myself spinning trying to keep up. I get tired, I get bored. And I’m happy to report this show is ending on April 2, 2023. Unfortunately, this one was not a fan favorite with the majority, and Disney recognized that. EPCOT Forever will return on April 3rd as a temporary show, while Disney Imagineers come up with the next fabulous nighttime show for EPCOT.

#9 Electrical Water Pageant

Location: Shoreline of various Walt Disney World Resort hotels

Duration: 15 minutes

Full of nostalgia and charm, the Electrical Water Pageant has been entertaining Guests since 1971! Hard to believe it’s been running that long. The water parade features floats that light up as they make their way across the Seven Seas Lagoon to classic Disney tunes. You can catch this retro water parade from any of the following locations near the shore:

#8 EPCOT Forever

Location: EPCOT

Duration: ~15 minutes

Another show full of retro vibes and nostalgia, EPCOT Forever leans into the older generation and those that remember EPCOT from the “early” years. Classic tunes like Journey Into Imagination, Universe of Energy and Tomorrow’s Child are just some of the old school music you’ll be singing along to. While this show is not an EPIC spectacular, it is cute and charming. Once a substitute until Harmonious started (October 1, 2021), it will now rejoin the nighttime entertainment lineup again on April 3, 2023 (albeit temporary) until Disney Imagineers find a replacement for Harmonious, which is ending on April 2, 2023.

#7 Wonderful World of Animation

Location: Hollywood Studios

Duration: 12 minutes

Get ready to take an incredible journey through 90 years of Pixar and Disney animation. This fabulous projection show on the facade of the Chinese Theater highlights all of the amazing animated classics throughout the years. It’s full of whimsy, charm and emotion. All of your favorites are included, so there is something for everyone. And since we can’t forget that this was all started by a mouse, the show fittingly starts and ends with our all-time favorite mouse, Mickey!

#6 Disney’s Enchantment

Location: Magic Kingdom

Duration: 15 minutes

Disney Enchantment takes us on a wondrous journey through the ups and downs of life, but reminds us all that throughout that journey we always have family and friends (and the magic within us), to keep the joy and hope alive. It is truly a celebration of magic, imagination and inspiration for all who carry dreams in their hearts. Unfortunately, much like Harmonious, this nighttime spectacular did not resonate with fans. The show will soon be ending on April 2, 2023 to make way for the glorious return of Happily Ever After! 

#5 A Kiss Goodnight

Location: Magic Kingdom

Duration: 2 minutes

This closing show features Walt Disney’s goodnight message to everyone in the park. It’s Walt Disney World’s sweet way of saying “time to go home, goodbye!”. It’s much less a “show” as it is an audio track set to sparkles on Cinderella Castle. If you happen to be in the park after closing, you may be lucky enough to see (or hear) this as you are leaving. It’s sweet and nostalgic and a great way to end your park day.

#4 Tree of Life Awakenings 

Location: Animal Kingdom

Duration: Various shows rotate every 5-10 minutes

Disney’s Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a grand firework spectacular. Out of respect for the animals that inhabit the park, Disney opts for a more serene and peaceful nighttime show. The Tree of Life Awakenings is a stunning projection show on the Tree of Life in the center of the park. It includes sparkling lights, gorgeous colors, soft music and scenes from nature. If you are lucky enough to catch it while visiting (it doesn’t play nightly), be sure to stop and enjoy it. It’s a beautiful show.

Tree of Life Awakenings

#3 Projection Shows on Spaceship Earth

Location: EPCOT

Duration: Shows rotate throughout the night every 5-10 minutes

What started out as the Beacons of Magic to kick off the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, has turned into a festive and fun nighttime show that changes throughout the year to coordinate with the ongoing festivals. What Disney Imagineers have created is truly spectacular and I hope that these projection shows never go away.  They are charming, engaging, full of joy and emotion. It’s something that is not to be missed, and it’s one of my favorite things to see when I visit EPCOT. 

#2 Fantasmic!

Location: Hollywood Studios

Duration: 29 minutes

Fantasmic!! What more needs to be said. As a true fan of this magical show, I leapt for joy when Disney announced the return of this spectacular nighttime show. Be there as Mickey battles villains when his dream turns into a nightmare, but don’t underestimate the power of Mickey’s imagination! Featuring stunning effects, thrilling stunts, dazzling pyrotechnics and rousing music, this larger-than-life show is painted on a grand canvas of dancing water and light. This show has been a favorite of mine since the day it started in 1998. Fantasmic! has been a staple at Hollywood Studios for decades and fans adore it. We all welcome it back in November 2022, after a brief hiatus during the pandemic. It is now bigger and better than ever. Don’t miss it!

#1 Happily Ever After

Location: Magic Kingdom

Duration: 18 minutes

And last but certainly not least, Happily Ever After, Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks and projection extravaganza is returning on April 3, 2023! Fans of all ages (including me!) are jumping for joy in excitement for the return of this spectacular show. With the same incredible and heart pounding theme song, this show tugs at the heart and pulls at all of the emotions and it takes us on a magical journey to finding our own happily ever after. That story and journey is different for everyone and I think this fireworks and projection show over and around Cinderella Castle conveys that in such a spectacular and moving way, everyone who sees it is impacted by it. I’m thrilled for its return. The first run was very short (only about 3 years), so the fans are deserving of more time with this epic show. Get ready to find your happily ever after! Return April 3, 2023

Conclusion

Whether or not you agree with my nighttime entertainment rankings, I think we can all agree that no one does evening shows better than Disney. There is something enchanting and magical about staying in the park once the sun goes down and enjoying fireworks, projections, amazing music and great pageantry. Let me know how you would rank these nighttime spectaculars, do you agree with my choices?

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Marnie Raimondo
Marnie Raimondo
Hi there! I'm Marnie, Disney blogger and writer. My passion is helping people plan magical Walt Disney World vacations. I love sharing Disney tips and advice based on my personal experiences from many, many magical trips over the years. I hope through my writing I can help you navigate your way through Disney news, the parks, dining, resorts and so much more! Happy planning!
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