Did you know you can see the various Disney end of day fireworks displays without paying park admission? It’s true!
There are many places to view Wishes, the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom outside the parks, but the best in my humble opinion is at the newly refurbished Polynesian Resort. There are a few restaurants there and a beach, where they even pipe in the music from the Magic Kingdom. This is on my list to do this trip. We plan on grabbing a bite to eat at Captain Cook’s quick service restaurant, and then the famous Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai (that’s all they sell there). A bonus of this is that you can view the free boat light show which laps around the lake.
Hollywood Studios just got a new Star Wars themed fireworks show. At the announcement it was only to be shown on weekends, but as of writing it is occurring nightly. Savvy guests used to watch Star Wars fireworks during Star Wars Weekends on a walkway between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.
Along the way you will run into EPCOT area resorts including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Yacht and Beach Club, and the Boardwalk. Total trip distance from Hollywood Studios to the resorts is just under a mile and Hollywood Studios to Epcot is around 1.2 miles. The walk takes around 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. This provides a good alternative to the boats when they are slow or crowded. For a blow by blow picture gallery of this pathway check out Touring Plans.
The Illuminations show at EPCOT is more difficult to see without park admission, but it’s still possible if you spring for the private Illuminations tour cruise. For around $X00 you can charter your own boat for a small party, and they will cruise you right into the lagoon where Illuminations takes place. Sounds like a pretty awesome experience to me and it’s on my Disney bucket list.
At writing Animal Kingdom does not have an end of the day show. Rivers of Light is proposed to open this spring. (I am SUPER excited about it btw.) However, I don’t anticipate it being anything you can catch a glimpse of outside of the park, much like Fantasmic! in Hollywood Studios.