Best Places to Watch the Hollywood Studios Fireworks & Nighttime Spectaculars
There’s something magical about a firework show. That explosion of sound, color, and light all set to music that has everyone around stopping to watch in collective awe. Honestly, we don’t get why they’re reserved only for special holidays like the 4th of July or New Year’s Eve. That kind of magic deserves to be shared all year long. Fortunately, over at Walt Disney World, it is.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fireworks light up the night like literal pixie dust in odes to Disney animation and the Star Wars universe. In fact, while other parks have only one or two evening shows to choose from, guests actually have three different chances to enjoy fireworks at Hollywood Studios.
Although it is possible to see bits and pieces of the show from several locations both inside and outside the park, for the very best views of Hollywood Studios fireworks, you’ll need to plan ahead. So, if you’ll be traveling to Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the 50th anniversary celebration, and beyond, here’s our guide on where to watch the Hollywood Studios fireworks, as well as a few tips for having the best experience possible.
As a result of COVID-19, Fantasmic!, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Wonderful World of Animation are all currently on hiatus. While Wonderful World of Animation is set to return on August 1, 2021, no reopening dates have been announced yet for Fantasmic! or Star Wars Galactic Spectacular. Additionally, some viewing recommendations below are temporarily unavailable including the Dockside Diner, Tune-In Lounge, Fantasmic! Dessert & Viewing Experience, Fantasmic! Dining Package, and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. As entertainment offerings are subject to change as the pandemic continues, please refer to My Disney Experience or the Disney World website for the most up-to-date information.
About the Hollywood Studios Fireworks Shows
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fireworks take to the sky typically every night during not one, not two, but three different nighttime spectaculars: Fantasmic!, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Wonderful World of Animation.
One of the top Hollywood Studios attractions and arguably the best Disney World nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic! takes to the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater stage in an epic battle of good versus evil. During the show, you’ll enter the dreams of Mickey Mouse himself as he fights against some of Disney’s greatest villains.
Admittedly more stage show than firework display, there is still plenty of pyro to enjoy. Plus, with its combination of on-stage Disney characters (including some stage combat), fountain projections, well-placed fireworks, lasers, and a soundtrack that you can’t help but sing along to, it is probably the most unique fireworks show at Disney World.
There’s excitement and drama. Mickey plays an excellent hero that you can’t help but cheer on. Some of Disney’s biggest baddies are there. And you may just find yourself gasping aloud in both surprise and delight numerous times. In short, it’s a must for anyone paying a visit to Galaxy’s Edge or the rest of Hollywood Studios.
Fantasmic! lasts around 25 minutes and is generally presented nightly with showtimes depending on park hours. During the busy season, the show can even run twice or even three times each night. We recommend you pick which showing you’d prefer ahead of time and then plan your day around it, so you’re not left scrambling towards the end of the night.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
While Mickey is battling Maleficent down on Sunset Boulevard, there’s another epic clash between good and evil that takes place just down the street at the top of Hollywood Boulevard. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular transports guests to a galaxy far, far away, as iconic scenes from the saga are projected onto the Chinese Theater and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Throughout the Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios, guests follow the stories of Luke, Leia, Rey, and more as they journey through the stars. Add in a 180-degree firework show and a soundtrack stuffed with classic Star Wars themes and it’s the perfect ending to a day spent exploring Black Spire Outpost and Galaxy’s Edge.
Keep in mind that although this is definitely a fireworks display, similar to the Epcot fireworks, most of the action happens close to the ground. Unlike how the fireworks there are centered on World Showcase, meaning the show can be viewed from 360°, Star Wars Galactic Spectacular must be watched from the front for the full experience. Just like the projection on Cinderella Castle during the Magic Kingdom fireworks, the projections on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway mean that you’ll miss a lot of the show if you don’t have a clear line of sight to the Chinese Theater.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular lasts around 13 to 14 minutes and is usually shown every night with showtimes varying based on the season.
Wonderful World of Animation
Disney’s Hollywood Studios pays homage to the Tinseltown of yesterday and today. So, there’s no better finale to a day at this starstruck theme park than a show that celebrates the mark that Disney animation (and Pixar too!) has left on the film industry and pop culture.
Wonderful World of Animation treats guests to a colorful cinematic adventure through some of Disney and Pixar’s most beloved animated movies, with scenes fittingly splayed out over the walls of the Chinese Theater, the former home of The Great Movie Ride. Although Wonderful World of Animation is primarily a projection show, there are still some fireworks, smoke effects, and other pyrotechnics sprinkled throughout the show. And of course, it all begins with a mouse.
Wonderful World of Animation has a runtime of around 12 minutes and is typically presented before Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular begins. Like the Hollywood Studios Star Wars fireworks, Wonderful World of Animation is best when watched from in front of the Chinese Theater.
Where to Watch Fireworks at Hollywood Studios
Hoping to be front and center for the action? Whether you’re wanting the perfect view of Fantasmic! or the best place to watch the Hollywood Studios fireworks flicker and flame over the Chinese Theater, these are the top spots to take in the park’s nighttime spectaculars.
Best Places to Watch Fireworks at Disney Hollywood Studios
Happy to fight the crowds for your chance at the perfect fireworks views? Then claim your seats early at these Hollywood Studios fireworks viewing locations:
No matter if you’re watching Wonderful World of Animation or Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, both nighttime spectaculars at Disney Hollywood Studios are best viewed from Hollywood Boulevard, specifically from in front of the Chinese Theater. With the images projected onto surfaces on both the theater and some of the buildings behind it, your best bet is to snag a spot in the open area at the top of Hollywood Boulevard that extends over to the entrances of Animation Courtyard and Commissary Lane.
The stretch of Hollywood Boulevard that spans from Keystone Clothiers down to around Celebrity 5 & 10 and Mickey’s of Hollywood is also a good area to look for a place to stand. Keep in mind, however, that you will only have partial views of the show.
While it isn’t the best place to watch the Hollywood Studios fireworks, the Echo Lake area is another good spot to take in the show. The area in front of Dockside Diner up to the Hyperion Theater, home to the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, doesn’t provide straight-on, completely unobstructed views. But, it is close to the action and an excellent backup plan if you can’t find a spot in the Hollywood Boulevard spots we mentioned above.
Hollywood Hills Amphitheater for Fantasmic!
Unlike the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular and Wonderful World of Animation, which are centered around the Chinese Theater, Fantasmic! is held in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater. Nestled near the end of Sunset Boulevard, the entrance to the theater sits between Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
This show is incredibly popular, so you’ll want to make your way over to the theater at least one hour before your desired showtime to secure the best seats possible. Additionally, as people tend to leave the park after the show, second showings tend to be less busy. So, consider sticking around to catch that one if you and your crew have the staying power.
Keep in mind that the amphitheater does open around two hours before the show starts. However, music is piped in throughout to keep things cheery. Although there are some concession stands available inside, we like grabbing something to eat from one of the Hollywood Studios restaurants outside the amphitheater to munch on before and during the show.
As Fantasmic! is more of a stage show spruced up with some well-timed pyrotechnics and some projections, you’ll want to stick as close to the center of the theater as possible for the best views. While you can see most of the action from the seats at the outskirts, some of the show may seem off-center or far away. And though you may be tempted to save seats in the front row, we actually prefer sitting towards the middle or upper rows as it helps to avoid catching any spray off the fountains, depending on how windy it is.
Best Restaurants to Watch Disney’s Hollywood Studios Fireworks
Wanting to watch the fireworks dance across the sky as you sit down for dinner? Well, we hate to break it to you, but unfortunately, there aren’t really any restaurants with firework views at Disney Hollywood Studios.
That being said, there are a few dining options that are close to the evening festivities. So, while you may not be able to catch the show out of the restaurant’s window, you can try to schedule your dining reservation so that the end of your meal coincides with the start of the fireworks. Although you probably won’t have time to snag one of the spots we shared above, you will be in the thick of the action by the time showtime rolls around and just a short walk away from some decent views.
50’s Prime Time Café
Take a trip back to the nifty 50s at the 50’s Prime Time Café. This retro restaurant – with dining rooms designed to look like supersized versions of kitchens from that decade – is a true blast from the past. As you’re getting kitschy in the kitchen, you’ll nosh on such comfort food classics as Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken and Mom’s Old-fashioned Pot Roast. And the wholesome, themed fun doesn’t end there. Even the servers, posing as your uncle or cousin, get in on it with a bit of playful chiding. So, don’t be surprised if you’re threatened with missing out on Traditional Warm Apple Crisp if you don’t finish your vegetables.
Located in Echo Lake, 50’s Prime Time Café doesn’t have front-on, unobstructed views of the Chinese Theater. But, there are a few places to catch some of the show from the restaurant side of the lake. Just know that you may have to walk a little bit to avoid having your view blocked by Gertie the dinosaur or the S.S. Down the Hatch, the boat that’s home to the Dockside Diner.
Movie buffs will love dining at this next suggestion. Docked along the shore of Echo Lake facing the Chinese Theater, the Dockside Diner is a quirky little quick service restaurant that’s usually only open seasonally when the park is at its busiest. Made to look like an old “tramp steamer”, this open-air restaurant pays tribute to the California-Crazy architecture of the 1950s. There are even some crates waiting to be loaded onto the boat. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out who the precious cargo is addressed to for a little extra Disney magic.
In the past, the Dockside Diner has offered theme park favorites like Foot-Long Chili-Cheese Hot Dogs, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Seasonal Milkshakes, and more. Currently, however, there are only beverages on the menu. So, we can’t wait to see what’s on offer when the restaurant reopens again.
Hollywood & Vine
Looking for a meal with character? Disney characters, that is. Then book a reservation for the Hollywood & Vine. This kid-friendly restaurant isn’t just ideally situated for watching the Hollywood Studios fireworks, it also offers some of the best character dining at Disney World. Come here for bottomless American-style eats, along with up-close encounters with Disney Junior characters in the morning or Minnie Mouse and her pals (all dressed up for the season) in the afternoon and evening.
Technically part of the Echo Lake neighborhood of Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood & Vine is just around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard. So, if you time your dinner right, you’ll empty out of the restaurant into the heart of the fireworks-watching action. Unfortunately, Keystone Clothiers does block the views here a little, and you will need to walk a bit to get a clear shot of the Chinese Theater.
The Hollywood Brown Derby
Wanting a more elevated end to your day? The Hollywood Brown Derby serves of old Hollywood elegance, as well as sophisticated dishes like Filet Mignon Steak Diane, Lobster Thermidor Macaroni & Cheese, and their Famous Cobb Salad. Like the restaurant’s namesake, this signature restaurant takes its cue from the golden age of Hollywood, with celebrity caricatures dotting the walls and classic Spanish Mission architecture.
Located on Hollywood Boulevard next to the Animation Courtyard, the Hollywood Brown Derby is about as close as you can be to the dazzling display without booking a reservation for the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. So, when you’ve finished your meal, you won’t need to go far for a good view of the fireworks.
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
Attached to the restaurant of the same name, The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge is the place to be if you’d rather grab something to sip on as you wait for the fireworks to start. Located along the outside of the restaurant with tons of umbrella-covered seating, you may even be able to watch pieces of the show from your table if you get lucky with where you’re sat. Come here for classic cocktails like the Hollywood Manhattan or Grapefruit Cake Martini, as well as mocktails, wine, and beer.
Part of the 50’s Prime Time Café, the Tune-In Lounge is a delightful Disney bar with prime access to the Hollywood Studios fireworks. There isn’t any outdoor seating available here and that’s more than ok, as the inside is a true delight. Designed to look like a retro living room, it’s the perfect spot to guzzle boozy concoctions or a Peanut Butter & Jelly Milk Shake that’s basically dessert in a cup. Once you’ve finished your drink, be prepared to hoof it a bit for the best views of the Hollywood Studios fireworks.
Special Hollywood Studios Fireworks Viewing Events
Ok with spending a little (or a lot) more in exchange if it means the best views possible? Then think about booking a reservation for one of the following special Hollywood Studios fireworks viewing events instead. Reservations are highly encouraged. However, for those who prefer to play things loose and leave space for spontaneity, same-day reservations might also be available on a limited basis.
Fantasmic! Dessert & Viewing Experience
The Fantasmic! Dessert & Viewing Experience takes an already spectacular ending to a day and makes it even sweeter. Reasonably priced at $39 per adult and $19 per child including tax (gratuity is extra), the Fantasmic dessert party kicks off with a selection of sweets and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks served in a souvenir cup. Afterward, you’ll sit back and relax in the VIP section (seats are first-come, first-served, not reserved) as Mickey and the other forces of good duke it out with the Disney villains.
Fantasmic! Dining Package
Wanting dinner and a show instead? Book a reservation for the Fantasmic! Dining Package. As much as we like dessert, for only $4 to $28 more, you can savor an entrée, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverage, or even a buffet, along with guaranteed seating in the reserved section. Not only can this be a great deal depending on which restaurant you choose, but it also lets you eat the kind of food you’re into on your schedule. You can even do some Disney character dining. Talk about flexibility!
The Fantasmic! Dining Package is available at the following restaurants:
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (Lunch/Dinner – $43 for adults, $18 for children)
Hollywood & Vine (Breakfast Buffet – $50 for adults, $32 for children; Lunch/Dinner Buffet – $63 for adults, $41 for children)
The Hollywood Brown Derby (Lunch/Dinner – $65 for adults, $24 for children)
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party
Pledge your allegiance to the light or dark side (we’re talking both chocolate and the Force) at Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. Prior to the show, you’ll snack on savory and sweet snacks like cheese, charcuterie, Blue Milk Panna Cotta, and Freeze-fried Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse surrounded by Star Wars memorabilia and immersive exhibits at Star Wars Launch Bay. Adults can also unwind with concoctions like the Solar Margarita that’s strong with both the Force and the booze. Afterward, you’ll be escorted – by cast members, not stormtroopers – to the best seats in the house right in front of the Chinese Theater. The Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party costs $89 per adult and $53 per child including tax and gratuity.
Tips for Watching the Fireworks at Hollywood Studios
You’ve booked your dining reservation and decided where you’d like to take in the fireworks at Disney Hollywood Studios. Now, here are our top tips for watching the show once you get there:
1. Mind the rerouted traffic and crowd zones.
As it gets close to showtime, be aware of any temporary changes due to the flow of traffic. Given that the fireworks are centered over the Chinese Theater (AKA Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway), foot traffic tends to be rerouted to avoid any potential fallout from the fireworks around the theater and Commissary Lane. So, if you’d like to join one of the crowd zones in front of the Chinese Theater, follow the instructions of cast members directing traffic.
2. Stake your claim on a spot early for the best possible view.
Don’t think that you can wait until the last minute to find a spot. With Fantasmic! being a stage show and the Wonderful World of Animation and Star Wars fireworks featuring projections, all three fireworks shows at Hollywood Studios are best when (or must be) viewed from the front.
In other words, if you care about watching each nighttime spectacular in all its glory, then you best start looking for a place to watch around an hour before the show. And for those that only care about the Star Wars fireworks, don’t think that you can skip out on the Wonderful World of Animation. Some people will inevitably stick around once the show is done and you may miss out on your preferred viewing location if you wait until then to stake your claim.
3. Keep an eye out for taped and roped-off areas.
As you’re walking, be sure to keep a lookout for any tape lines and roped-off areas. Leading up to and during the show, pathways are physically roped or taped off to help guide guests safely through the park. Keep in mind that while it can be tempting to stand there to watch the spectacle, standing there is not permitted and you will be asked to leave by a cast member should you try.
4. Make note of the Hollywood Studios fireworks times.
With three different nighttime spectaculars happening every evening, we’re sorry to say that things don’t always line up perfectly so you’re able to experience each. Sometimes the shows share the same start time and you’re forced to choose. In that case, it’s good to know which one you don’t want to miss.
Other times you might be able to watch all three, but having a good view will be a challenge. To make it happen, you have a couple of choices. Either take the walkway that leads past the Hollywood Brown Derby up to the Animation Courtyard or cross Hollywood Boulevard and take the Echo Lake path that ends near the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.
5. Don’t forget your exit strategy.
Once the fireworks are over, you and the rest of the teeming masses will head for the exit all at once. If you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, your best bet is to choose a viewing location that’s close to the door. The front half of Hollywood Boulevard is best for those looking to make a quick escape.
Well Hollywood Studios fans, that’s a wrap on our guide to the best places to watch the Hollywood Studios fireworks. Whether you’re happy to wait for up-close views of the dazzling display or content to pay for a special Disney dining experience and the VIP treatment, you’ll find your preferred spot somewhere on this list.