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The Best Happily Ever After Experience At Magic Kingdom

One of the most miraculous moments at Walt Disney World is watching the nighttime spectacular and fireworks to end a day of magic, wonder, and fun at the park.

The Happily Ever After Fireworks show is my absolute favorite. It combines amazing animation projections onto Cinderella’s Castle as we hear a medley of our favorite lines and songs from Disney’s classic animated movies, and enjoy a stunning view of fireworks. 

It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom – it always gets to me. When I started planning my recent trip to Walt Disney World, I knew I wanted to see it at least once. I was really blessed to see it two consecutive nights and I can say I discovered the best way to experience Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom!

First let me give you the back story. My friend Carol had told me we would go on a boat ride, because she wanted to celebrate my birthday. Well, you know I’m not used to anyone celebrating my birthday, but Carol is the sweetest and she even got me a Happy Birthday Pin and wore a pin that read “Celebrating Elayna’s Birthday.”

After spending our first Disney day at Hollywood Studios (Toy Story Land, yay!), we had an amazing day at the Magic Kingdom.

We had breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest and were delighted with the food and impressed with the service. 

We visited Ariel in her Grotto and chatted about the release of her movie “The Little Mermaid” into the Walt Disney Signature Collection with sing-along mode along with over 45 minutes of exciting new bonus features.

We went to hang out with Dumbo and ride the ride, because it’s one of my favorites and to celebrate Disney’s Dumbo live action coming out in March!

We saw the 3:00 afternoon Magic Kingdom Festival of Fantasy Parade and I really enjoyed the music, the characters, and the costumes.


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We rode Pirates of the Caribbean and I was excited to see the scene update we were all excited about! It’s not only the childlike wonder that reminds me how much I love Disney Parks, but also the efforts to empower all people of all ages. 

After eating a healthy and delicious vegan meal, we went to see The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, because it’s another one of my favorites, and Aladdin is also getting a live action movie this year. The 2019 slate is insane!

By the time we took the monorail to the Contemporary Resort, we were really tired and really excited to sit, relax, and enjoy the fireworks from the boat. I had taken the ferry boat from the Magic Kingdom and the gentle breeze off of the Seven Seas Lagoon is quite pleasant and soothing.

But, as it turned out, I had no idea what I was in for!

As we walked up to the marina, it was about 6:45 p.m. and were greeted by Captain Ryan and Captain Rachel. He explained that he would be taking us on a nighttime pontoon tour around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. I was in a bit of a shock when they explained the itinerary.

As we approached the boat, I fully realized what was going on. The pontoon boat was decorated with balloons and a huge banner reading, “Happy Birthday!” I felt so special and cared for. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for my birthday.

Upon finding a spot on the boat, Ryan pointed out where we could find our life vests, in the less-likely chance that we need them. Then him and Rachel offered us quite an assortment of beverages and snacks, along with a chocolate dessert plate. They made sure to provide a fruit platter so I could have a vegan snack! You can bring your own food and beverages, too.

It was just Carol and I on the boat, but there was room for 10 guests aboard the Magic Kingdom Fireworks Cruise (Premium)  25′ Tracker Pontoon Boat. and there were towels and blankets to keep us dry and warm.

I know we were in Florida, but you know I get cold really easily, so that was really helpful for me. The atmosphere was intimate, serene, and relaxing, and it was only the start of a truly memorable experience.

As Rachel drove around Bay Lake, we chatted with Ryan and in his charming announcer voice, he amazed us with Walt Disney World history and trivia.

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

The Seven Seas Lagoon is a man-made lake at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, and Magic Kingdom, the Grand Floridian, the Contemporary and the Polynesian all call it home. 

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

There are ten total water bridges in the world and three are located at Walt Disney World! Unlike a standard bridge, which allows cars to travel over a water source, a water bridge allows water to travel over the road! 

  1. There is a water bridge that connects The Seven Seas Lagoon to Bay Lake, located just south of the Contemporary Resort on World Drive.
  2. There is a water bridge just north of the Boardwalk Resort, where Epcot Resorts Boulevard passes under.
  3. And the last water bridge is located where the backstage road Avenue of the Stars passes under the water.
Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

As you sail across Bay Lake, you will pass a tree filled with hanging white shoes in its branches! Ryan pointed his flashlight to this spot and let us know that when someone ends their Disney college program, it is a rite of passage to toss their white shoes here. 

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

A few moments after, right between Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, we saw the ruins of River Country, an abandoned water park that opened in 1976 and closed in 2001. Ryan informed us that Disney is planning to develop a new nature-inspired deluxe resort here, set to open in 2022. The new resort will be Disney’s 16th Disney Vacation Club property, and will have more than 900 hotel rooms!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Despite Ryan’s many hints, we tried to guess what animal shape Wilderness Lodge was designed to look like. A bear! The top two triangle-shaped windows are the eyes and the one below is the nose. 

The Copper Creek Villas and Cabins are a dream and I am adding it to my Disney Bucket List

Rachel told us that some nights, we would be able to see the Electric Water Pageant at this point. We passed the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, too!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

The mystery continued as we passed by Discovery Island, a 11.5-acre abandoned island right on Bay Lake, which was closed to the public on April 4th of 1999. This former Disney attraction is off-limits to everyone, including cast members.

When it opened in 1978, it was home to walk-in aviary, bird shows, and flamingo pool attractions. Most of the birds and wildlife in Disney’s Discovery Island were relocated to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, when it opened in 1998, as well as other zoos, and the ones remaining were the natural inhabitants of Bay Lake. Now it makes sense why the Animal Kingdom Safari Village hub area was renamed Discovery Island!

We heard how in 2009 and 2017, two respective small group of amateur explorers trespassed the abandoned land of Discovery Island. They swam across Bay Lake from Disney’s River Country all the way to Discovery Island, and after publishing photos and video footage, they were banned from Walt Disney World. 

Ryan told us that all the original buildings and attractions remain on the island, even after sustaining major damages from hurricanes and natural decay. So surreal!

Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

The estimated cost for the nighttime fireworks at Disney is about $50,000 per show! And if you think about it, that’s a total of a quarter of a million dollars a day to give us Illuminations: Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, Reflections on Earth at Epcot, Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: a Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios, and Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom.

Playing trivia with our captains was really fun and getting to know them was a real delight. Disney cast members are a joy to be around. 

Then the time came to stop the pontoon boat and enjoy a perfect view of Cinderella’s Castle and the Main Street, U.S.A. train station. The music and narration were piped through the pontoon boat’s sound system and the lights started to shine bright.

And they all lived happily ever after. Each of us has a dream, a heart’s desire. It calls to us. And when we’re brave enough to listen, and bold enough to pursue, that dream will lead us on a journey to discover who we’re meant to be. All we have to do is look inside our hearts and unlock the magic within.

And there I was, on a pontoon boat, celebrating my birthday with my new friend, enjoying the cool breeze off of the water and a wide open view of the nighttime spectacular, Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, in the most magical place ever, Walt Disney World Resort! There were tears of joy shed, for sure.

I highly recommend this experience! If you ever feel exhausted or worn out from your day of fun and rides at the Magic Kingdom and feel like you need to slow down or avoid the heavy crowds, you can rent a pontoon boat and enjoy Happily Ever After like a princess.

You can also get wonderful views and audio feed of the Happily Ever After fireworks, from the beach areas of The Grand Floridian, the Polynesian, the Ticket and Transportation Center, and The Contemporary Resort.

Now, if you’ve never seen Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom before, you may want to find a spot in the park and sit close to see the projections on Cinderella’s Castle, because these are a major part of the story.

For a magical upfront experience, try to be just outside the main hub and as close to the middle as you can, or as close as the Garden View area for the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Party. 

After Carol and I disembarked from our pontoon fireworks cruise, we slowly returned back to the Contemporary Resort marina refreshed, recharged, and filled with joy in our hearts.

We took a few pictures on the dock, we headed back to the Contemporary Resort and did some shopping. We both love Mouse Ears and Disney collectibles and merchandise, and Disney character dress up!

The next day, after the Flock Presents conference, Carol, Meg, and I had dinner at California Grill, located on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and once again enjoyed Happily Ever After in style.

The California Grill has a mid-century modern design and the views of Magic Kingdom are heavenly.

They pipe in the music inside and at the two outdoor decks they have for nightly fireworks viewing.

I discovered that they have a vegan menu and I ordered a 4-course vegan plate for $30. It was so delicious! It was the best end to our day and our journey at Walt Disney World Resort this time around. 

I am excited to make viewing Happily Ever After like this a Magic Kingdom tradition! I’m so grateful to Carol for her friendship and love – I will never forget this “birthday.”

What is your favorite memory of Happily Ever After or any Disney nighttime spectacular? Share your story in the comments below!

Elayna is a single mom of 4, award-winning Storyteller, Story Strategist, and Student of Pain. She’s a bestselling author, internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, and 4x TEDx speaker. Founder of the Positive MOM® and creator of the S.T.O.R.Y. System: a blueprint to craft and share powerful stories that will transform your results, so you can have the wealth, opportunities, and freedom you deserve. Connect with Elayna Fernández at thepositivemom.com/keynote-speaker and follow @thepositivemom. To receive a gift from Elayna, click HERE.

Be Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna FernandBe Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOMez ~ The Positive MOM
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Becca Talbot

Thursday 14th of February 2019

This one isn't really for me, as I don't have kiddies and not a fan of Disney LOL. But I'm gonna send it over to my friend who has 2 boys - I'm sure she'll find your post helpful :) x

Sincerely Miss J

Friday 8th of February 2019

Loved the post. Disney is indeed my happy place. Hoping to go soon with my husband and daughter when she is older. Bookmarking your post for reference.


Friday 8th of February 2019

We are going to Disney World for the first time this month!! Cant wait!!

Chelle Dizon

Wednesday 6th of February 2019

I’m so happy reading your adventure there I absolutely love the photos. This is really a perfect place for kids and young at heart.


Wednesday 6th of February 2019

What a wonderful trip. I love the pictures.