If you decide to visit Walt Disney World for New Year’s Eve, it would be incredibly busy, and it also incredibly fun, and something you’ll definitely do again. For New Year’s Eve, Magic Kingdom and Epcot each have special fireworks shows. The Magic Kingdom also does its New Year’s Eve fireworks show, Fantasy in the Sky, on December 30.
On both of these nights, it also shows Holiday Wishes before the New Year’s Eve fireworks, so don’t leave after the earlier version!
Epcot also shows Illuminations twice on New Year’s Eve, with the earlier showing only having the holiday “Peace on Earth” finale, and the second showing being the New Year’s Eve version. The Peace on Earth finale is good, but not as good as the New Year’s Eve finale. These fireworks shows are so intense that some guests might consider wearing sunglasses and earplugs while watching. They’re seriously good–so good that they just might help you overlook those
crazy crowds (okay, probably not!). Other New Year’s Eve entertainment around Walt Disney World might be good (we’ve never done any of it), but it’s really just offered to draw some people away from the busy parks and provide an alternative.
If you’ll be visiting for both December 30 and New Year’s Eve, watch the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasy
in the Sky fireworks on December 30. This is a no brainer. The Magic Kingdom will still be busy, but not as busy as it will be on New Year’s Eve, plus, seeing the fireworks on December 30 frees you up to watch at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot on New Year’s Eve. If you’re only visiting for New Year’s Eve, our pick is still with Fantasy in the Sky, as we think it’s the best show, and worth dealing with the Magic Kingdom crowds.
Between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the choice for New Year’s Eve is easy. In addition to the fireworks, there will be special shows and DJs in Epcot (both Future World and World Showcase–the silent DJ in Japan has become really popular, but you’ll need to lineup for headphones), and additional bar-booths throughout the park to help celebrate the New Year prior to the fireworks shows. Likewise, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have booths up that will sell “specialty food and drinks”, which basically is Disney speak for overpriced alcohol with glowcubes and cupcake.
The reason that this is now a no-brainer (it didn’t used to be) is because Disney’s Hollywood Studios is running its normal Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks for New Year’s Eve. This is the first time they’re doing this, so it’s unclear whether there will be a countdown at the end, but it won’t be the live band performing during the show, as it has been in the past. It should be slightly less crowded than Epcot (but still crowded), though. Epcot’s World Showcase can hold a lot of people, but it still manages to fill up, and becomes difficult to navigate. In theory, Epcot is great…in reality, it’s crowded and that many drunk guests with noise- makers become really grating after about hour 4 of standing elbow to elbow with them. Read our Best Illuminations Viewing Locations post for more insight into picking a spot for the Epcot fireworks.
Plan to get to wherever you’re going to watch these fireworks shows at least two hours in advance. Possibly more. In the Magic Kingdom, we saw people saving prime locations for the shows in the early afternoon. This is just a bit excessive, but it should give you an idea of how popular the shows are. You definitely will not be able to stroll up to a good location 15 minutes (or even an hour) before the fireworks start. This is especially true in the Magic Kingdom, which is more crowded than Epcot, which is more crowded than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We have a blog post detailing our favorite viewing spots for Magic Kingdom fireworks, and this holds true for the Fantasy in the Sky New Year’s Eve fireworks One thing worth noting in that list of viewing locations is the spots outside the park. These are busier than normal, but they’re still great alternatives.
Again, Bay Lake Tower warrants mentioning here, as the Top of the World Lounge is a fantastic, relatively uncrowded spot for fireworks. I captured the photo above on New Year’s Eve from there. This doesn’t do you much good if you’re already at Walt Disney World and aren’t staying at Bay Lake Tower on Disney Vacation Club points (it’s only open to guests staying there on December 30 and New Year’s Eve).
However, if you are booking a trip for next year, it’s a great reason to give Bay Lake Tower serious thought. The other locations, like the Ticket & Transportation Center and beach of the Polynesian Resort are good alternatives if you’re not staying at Bay Lake Tower and want a less crowded vantage.
Like with attractions, developing a plan for the fireworks before New Year’s Eve is a good idea. Having things to do while you wait will make the experience much more bearable!
You can have a lot of fun spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s at Walt Disney World, and it definitely is one of the best places to be for New Year’s Eve. It’s all about developing a game plan and rolling with the punches. Not everything will go according to plan, and it can be a frustrating experience if you let the crowds get to you.
However, if you go into the trip with the right attitude and just want to have fun, you probably will. The fireworks and the other supplementary entertainment make a New Year’s visit to Walt Disney World a lot of fun, even if you do have to deal with the crowds!