Staking my claim... Fireworks Viewing

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by Nakkira, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Nakkira

    Nakkira DIS Veteran

    Apr 30, 2013
    I see so many posts discussing Fireworks viewing parties, dining packages, etc.

    In many of these posts people are saying it is worth the cost because you don’t have to stake out a viewing spot an hour (or more in advance).

    I also see things about staking out parade viewing for an hour.

    I have seen people do it.

    I am just now sure why.

    I have Never saved a spot for myself more than 15 minutes before the start of Parades or Firework. Ok, not never, but the one time I did, I found the same issue everyone else complains about to hold true. No matter how early you stake out a spot, someone will come and be in front of you at the last minute and crowd you out anyway.

    So why bother?

    I am usually pretty last minute (milking my ride time) to parades and fireworks and and only once have I had issues actually seeing the spectacle. (This was the AK parade which was going on when I emerged from a show and it was already in full swing). On top of that I have some anxiety issues in large crowds. If I keep moving I am pretty good but when people press in on my and I am stuck in one place I start to panic a bit. Once the show starts and the focus is changed it’s less difficult for me (in general)

    Is the difference is the fact that (for the fireworks anyway) Disney has gone projection heavy and you need to work harder to see the castle projections? In the past (for the fireworks) I never worried about my “spot” as most of the action took place pretty high up.

    Although this one time I did have to ask a family to get control of their balloon because when I looked up that is all I saw.

    I also admit for the record that I am 5 foot 10 inches, so maybe that is a factor.

    I am not criticizing those who find these dessert parties etc. worth it. I really wish I could afford them. However I am not really big on sweets and the price is a bit too steep for a good view of a show I can see from the streets. It’s almost worth it , but that would mean giving up my one Table service meal. To me worth it is relative. Staying on site is “worth it” to me now because my income is higher and I’d rather not have the hassles that come with being outside the bubble, but on prior trips it was not “worth it” at all to pay more than double for a room I was only sleeping in.

    Ok, I guess the real point to this rambling post is this. (Forgive me, pre-coffee run-on-thoughts)

    So, do I need to stake out territory more in advance to see HEA? I have never seen it before and I really do want to get the full effect. However, I am dreading trying to claim and keep a spot in “prime territory” and being crowded and shoved into for more than an hour before the show ever starts. Has anyone had any luck sort of wandering about the area (Main Street) and then just stopping to watch once the show actually gets going? Can you perhaps see everything okay from a little further away?

    Are there less popular areas that still have a good view ( I do want to see the projections) that might not work for a family but would be fine for two tall-lish adults?

    Any advice is welcome. I also plan to see the Star Wars fireworks show so I wouldn’t mind tips there either.
  2. vicb

    vicb DIS Veteran

    Jun 8, 2001
    I was in WDW May 3-8 this year... my experience:

    Star Wars: I was there on May 4th so it was probably more crowded than normal (but fun atmosphere) and seeing the fireworks was important to us as it was our first time. I followed Robo's advice and maps ( ). Movie Magic was at 9:10 and Star Wars 9:30 that night, we were in our spot by 8:40 so 30 min prior to Movie Magic. It was quite crowded already. Everyone was very chill and sitting down so an easy wait. 5 min before MM a CM asked everyone in the open area to stand up and move together to make more room :crowded:. I lost some of my view (I'm 5'4) but we did gain in terms of sliding more to the middle. My DH looked down the main st and said it was packed at 9:05 and that was before F! would have let out. I don't see how those people could have got close enough to see any of the Star Wars show.

    HEA: This was not our priority even though we hadn't seen it. We were of the opinion ok if we do, ok if we don't. We were there for eve emh which was 10-12, with HEA being at 9pm. We arrived by boat from FW after HDDR show at 8:40. Main St. was packed! Our thought of just standing on the street to see what we could was obviously the same of thousands of others. We had a FP for PoC 9-10pm so decided to head to HM instead of fighting this crowd. We had to blaze a trail through the line of shops on the left to get to the end of Main St. It was even more packed up in the Casey's area. We walked right on to HM and when we came out we saw the last 5 min of HEA from back there, others did the same. Then we headed to PoC for our FP.

    Generally speaking we rarely stake out a spot. We did a few times when our kids were young but the Star Wars night was the first time in a long time we had done that. And might I add... totally worth it. :chewy::darth: And we enjoyed Movie Magic just as much.
    Nakkira likes this.
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  4. kniquy

    kniquy DIS Veteran

    Dec 15, 2014
    We have done the dessert party for HEA and thought it was a poor experience with feeling rushed and people propping their kids on their shoulder, yet they were in the very front of the section -- so i think you can still deal with the same frustrations in a dessert party as you do out in the park -- so to me it was not worth it. I would just stake out a spot a half hour prior send one person to go get ice cream and poof you have your own dessert party. I think with staking a spot you might need a back pack or something to help limit the crowding.

    We did do the SW fireworks and happened to wander over right after Fantasmic so we were not there more than a couple minutes before the fireworks started. We were able to find a spot right in the center, somewhat further back but still a great view and it was not wall to wall people. I do think it was on a slightly slower day, but with TS opening I am wondering if that will increase the crowds at that park.
    LuvMyEAR and patrickpiteo like this.
  5. JerseyJanice

    JerseyJanice A Disboards original...

    Aug 20, 1999
    Totally hit or miss, but if it rains an hour or so before HEA, that’s the night you can walk up minutes ahead of the start time and still get a great view.
  6. Nakkira

    Nakkira DIS Veteran

    Apr 30, 2013
    See that is part of why I wonder if it's really worth it to "stake a claim". If other people don't shove in front of you the Cast Members will still put them there. ;-)
    oceanmarina likes this.
  7. CAS239

    CAS239 Disney Vet Squad ∞

    Apr 27, 2014
    Star wars we grab a spot about 30-45 min prior to the movie magic show

    HEA we grab a spot about 15-20 min before. There's so much space you don't need to grab a spot super long in advance unless you want a specific spot
    patrickpiteo and Beer Me like this.
  8. PrincessV

    PrincessV DIS Veteran

    Jul 6, 2006
    FWIW, I rarely stake out a spot early, and I'm only 5'1". But I also don't really care about projections: I want to see fireworks. HEA was one I actually got to early once to see what all the fuss was about - think I got to the fenced-in grassy area (not reserved) about 45 minutes before show time, and I grabbed a spot immediately in front of the fence, so no one could stand in front of me (CMs kept the walkway on the other side of the fence clear as a walk-through). I'm glad I did it that one time, as it really would be hard to see the projections without being head-on to the castle. But I never need to do it again, lol!

    ETA: this was at a VERY high crowd time. Other times of year I doubt 45 minutes would be necessary.
  9. WDW_Ding

    WDW_Ding Ohana means family.

    Jan 11, 2018
    I've been to WDW many times and have watched all of the night time shows many times.

    I've never really "staked out" a spot too far in advance. For Wishes and HEA I try to find a spot about 15 minutes prior to the show. For Illuminations, the same. For Star Wars, it is usually so light, crowd-wise, that I've never had an issue getting a spot (in the "green section") 15 minutes before.

    I could never understand why someone would spend an hour "getting a good spot."

    The difference between a "good spot" that you got an hour before the show vs the spot you got 15 minutes before the show is pretty negligible, IMHO.

    Same for parades. I actually find that it is easier to get a good viewing spot for the parades if you come "late" because then you can see where everyone else is standing and find a spot that everyone else has ignored.
    mickeyluv'r and Nakkira like this.
  10. Beer Me

    Beer Me DIS Veteran

    Jun 3, 2014
    If you want to be right in front of the castle for HEA you probably want to be there at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Even then it may be crowded but there will be space. At some point - like 15-20 minutes before the show CMs make everyone stand and fill in the gaps. After that it would be hard to penetrate the crowd.
  11. Skicks35

    Skicks35 Earning My Ears

    May 13, 2015
    For me, I think the dessert party for HEA is worth it (at least once) for a few reasons:

    1. I haven't seen it yet, so I wanted to guarantee a good spot, which leads into..
    2. It's a guaranteed spot (people will pay for certainty, and/or their time). I realize this is an extreme first world problem, but it removes the unknown. Without it, instead of relaxing and enjoying the earlier time in the park/dinner, my mind would wonder and start thinking about what if we don't find a good spot? Will we need to get somewhere 60 minutes beforehand?, etc. This is especially true for people who only get one or two opportunities to see it during their trip.

    That said, I've seen Wishes multiple times from the flagpole without waiting at all (being over 6' helps), so I'd say you'd be ok waiting 15 or so minutes beforehand if you're not comfortable doing the party.
    JTinStPete and KittyKitty like this.
  12. MomOTwins

    MomOTwins The Mommy Fairy

    Mar 5, 2018
    These are shows for which a completely unobstructed view is just not feasible. I saw another thread on here where people who staked out spots early complained about how the CM shouldnt allow people to stand up at the hub to let more people in or lift up a kid to see, but in all fairness to disney that is what is depicted in all the fireworks scenes of WDW tv promos (the parent holding up kids, not the scowling guests behind them). It is basically a mosh pit—there are no guarantees of a clear view, it will be crowded, and you do not “own” a spot or a view because you got there first.

    We avoid the crowds and settle for seeing less than the full show from another part in of the park, behind a tree, or even from outside the parks.

    To the op’s question, to be honest, I don’t think you will find a good view if you show up late. But then, I don’t think you will get a good view if you show up early either...
    Nakkira likes this.
  13. jwolfpack

    jwolfpack Mouseketeer

    Mar 11, 2012
    We stake out our spots for both parades and fireworks. We have always had 3 small children with us + at least a double stroller (some trips a double + a single), so navigating the crowds to find a spot close to parade or fireworks time doesn't work for us. We use our stake-out time as a break for everyone. We keep 2 beach towels in our stroller and spread them out on the curb about an hour before the parade on the shady side of the street or along the curb of the hub about an hour before fireworks. We take turns going to the bathroom, running into shops, getting ice creams, etc. No one is ever bored, and it never feels like wasted time - more of a welcome break! Being on Main St for the parade and having a great, centered view of the castle for fireworks is a priority for us.
  14. Babs1975

    Babs1975 Loves Eeyore

    Aug 3, 2014
    No, I'm the same as you. We don't get to fireworks or parades early. Maybe 10 minutes before we find a spot. Never had an issue or trouble viewing. I don't get it either, but to each their own! I may pay for different add-ons that others wouldn't!!
  15. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    I'd rather have a good spot staked out and know it, rather than showing up just prior and hoping I can squeeze in somewhere with hopefully a decent view.

    In either case you just don't know if someone will throw a kid on their shoulders, hold up a big freakin iPad to film the show, or something else...

    monorailrabbit likes this.
  16. Nakkira

    Nakkira DIS Veteran

    Apr 30, 2013
    I would say that makes a ton of sense for families with children. I can weave through the crowds just fine but I cannot imagine it working well with children/strollers in tow.
  17. JBinORL

    JBinORL Mouseketeer

    Jan 2, 2018
    I don't like when I "stake out a spot" for fireworks or a parade, so I try to either position myself where that's less likely to happen or be way in the back. I also don't try and rush to a good spot at the last minute. It's a hard thing, though. Not everyone can wait around for an event to start when they have limited time in the parks, and sometimes no matter how well you place yourself, sometimes a dad and his little girl show up, she can't see so he puts her on his shoulders and you get blocked. It is what it is.
  18. PrincessNelly

    PrincessNelly DIS Veteran

    Mar 28, 2014
    We do the dessert party but only because we had very poor experiences with other guest when we didn't. We also do them because we tend to travel during "party" season so HEA is only shown on 3 nights or so which makes it even more crowded. But honestly, you don't need to.
  19. Moliphino

    Moliphino DIS Veteran

    Jun 29, 2016
    If you try to get a spot for HEA at the last minute they may not even be letting people into the hub anymore. I went into it with my usual Wishes plan and that did not work AT ALL, couldn't even walk through the hub. We had to settle for a spot off to the side where the projections were all blocked by trees. We made sure to stake out spots well ahead of time the next two times we watched.
  20. wdw&sonny

    wdw&sonny DIS Veteran

    Sep 24, 2008
    The only show for which we "stake out" a spot is HEA. We get there early enough to watch them lay down the masking tape defining the walkways. IF you toe-the-line, no one can/will stand in front of you. The distance between you and the crowd across the walkway is enough to give a good view.
  21. GeneralTso

    GeneralTso DIS Veteran

    Aug 28, 2009
    We do not.
    The not so secret is---right before things start, they make everyone stand up or move forward. There is plenty of space to get in and view. There is so much shuffling around and rearranging of masses of bodies that it's not a big deal.

    Wherever we are during a parade, once it hits where we are, we watch it from there. We go to the castle before the fireworks and always get a great spot (no trees in view) and enjoy.
    I see a lot of hand wringing about how long to wait and stake out spots and put blankets down, etc. That's a never for us. Ever. We don't miss a thing. Never encroach on anyone and don't have a problem.

    We almost saw a fight break out (at the happiest place on earth) when a parent tried to plant his 2 kids in front of other kids who had been waiting. Boy that got heated.
    georgina and WDW_Ding like this.

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