We return to Disney’s Magic Kingdom to reevaluate the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party with Terrace Viewing, now that the price has gone up and beer and wine are included.
There are a number of dessert parties centered around seeing the Happily Ever After Fireworks, most of which include different viewing areas offered at different price points. Some even include the same viewing area with buffet access at different times.
Of course, we’ve reviewed the “Ferrytale Fireworks: A Sparkling Dessert Cruise,” which is unique in that it begins and ends outside of Magic Kingdom, at the Transportation and Ticket Center. It also offers a worse fireworks viewing experience than you could probably get from taking the regular ferry over to, and back from, Magic Kingdom at fireworks-time. The $99/adult and $69/child cost is now about the same as the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party that we’re about to embark on. The Ferrytale Cruise used to be unique in that beer and wine were included, but that’s no longer the case as we’re about to see.
Chances are that if you’re considering a Happily Ever After Dessert Party, that you’re trying to choose from among the three offered inside the Park.
In this review, I’ll compare the current offerings at the Before Fireworks Plaza Viewing, the After Fireworks Plaza Viewing, and the Tomorrowland Terrace Viewing Dessert Parties, along with the logistics of attending each. It might sound complicated, but it’s really not that bad. The Before Fireworks Party includes buffet access before the fireworks. The After Fireworks Party has you viewing the fireworks first, and then attending the same buffet area after the show concludes. The Tomorrowland Terrace Party is offered at just one time, and includes seating at the Terrace. We’ll compare costs and alternate ways to see the fireworks as we move along.
If you’re doing one of the Dessert Parties with Plaza Viewing, then you’ll line up to get checked in on this side of Tomorrowland Terrace. The Plaza Restaurant is directly to my right. You’ll want to double check the arrival time when you book it, but those with the Regular/Before Plaza Viewing Happily Ever After Fireworks Party should be able to check in 90 minutes before the fireworks are scheduled to begin. Those attending the After-Fireworks Dessert Party are asked to arrive in the same place one hour before the fireworks are scheduled to begin.
Regardless of which dessert party you attend, the food and non-alcoholic drink offerings will be the same. Here’s Disney’s listing for the original “Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing,” which includes the buffet before the fireworks, along with fireworks viewing in the reserved area in the middle of the Hub:
You can pull up Disney’s official word and check on availability here. In addition to eating before the fireworks, the key is that beer and wine are not offered at the Regular/Before Fireworks Dessert Party.
Here’s Disney’s listing for the dessert party that includes the buffet after the fireworks:
You can pull up Disney’s official word and check on availability for that party here.
The cost to attend the party after the fireworks is ten dollars more per adult, and six dollars more per child, but it does include beer and wine. The cost difference is somewhat interesting, considering both the Before and After Parties used to cost the same with the Before Party proving more popular. Adding beer and wine is a way to differentiate the two events and potentially drive certain people to the later affair. If anything, adding an hour of unlimited beer and wine for ten dollars is a bargain by Disney’s standards. It’s slightly interesting that the price for kids also goes up for the After Fireworks Party, even if the eight-year olds probably aren’t putting back too many moscatos.
The website reviews Disney dessert parties largely based on how much time and hassle electing to pay the upcharge saves over seeing or doing the same thing without paying the additional cost. The picture above is from 6:15pm on Tuesday, February 4th, 2020, with about a hundred guests huddled around the dessert party check-in area waiting to say their names and be walked to a table on the right side of Tomorrowland Terrace.
For a lot more on the After Fireworks Dessert Party versus the Before Fireworks Dessert Party, see the first half of this post, along with the conclusion at the end. When deciding between the two, there are a couple of logistical things to take into consideration, including when Magic Kingdom closes. If you do the After Fireworks Dessert Party, then you’ll either be at the buffet after the rest of the Park closes, or during one of the better hours of the day to tour. You’re probably better off if the Park closes as Happily Ever After Begins, as you can relax and let the people stream out of the Park while you nibble on cookies and (now) chug Bud Lights.
On the evening of our visit, Happily Ever After began at 8pm and the Park officially closed at 8pm. So those attending the After Fireworks Party got to enjoy an extra hour inside the Park when they couldn’t be doing much else. If Magic Kingdom closed at 9pm, then those attending the After Fireworks Party would be enjoying the buffet during an hour when the lines at the attractions are only going to get shorter. That’s a worse deal.
Check-in for the Terrace Viewing Dessert Party is on the opposite side of Tomorrowland Terrace and officially begins one hour before the fireworks. With the fireworks at 8pm, that puts us at a 7pm start.
The circled seating area closest to the water is the one used for Terrace Viewing.
Tables are not assigned, so it behooves you to arrive earlier than you’d probably like, as you’re more likely to be assigned one of the better tables along the railing if you arrive early. We got there at 6:20pm for the 7pm check-in and 8pm Happily Ever After fireworks, and were around the eighth group in line.
It’s hard to tell, but there are dozens of groups waiting behind us. The line stretches back and around towards the entrance to Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.
Unfortunately, crowd control was pretty lousy on this particular evening. There were no cast members around to help show prospective guests where they were supposed to go. Check-in also began ten minutes late, at 7:10pm, which caused just about everyone in line to become a little restless and question whether or not they were in the correct location.
I’ll begin by covering the food and drink options that you’ll find regardless of which dessert party you book inside Magic Kingdom, starting with these “Mickey’s Cookies ‘n Cream Push Pops.”
This is basically cookies-and-cream flavored icing with crispy chocolate pearls across two layers.
Next up is probably the most precious dessert of the night with Cookie Dough topped with Chocolate Minnie Ears. Sweet and delicious with a nice chocolaty crunch boosted by the white chocolate topper.
Cheesecake Brownie Bites are up next. These enjoy a nice, bold chocolate cake base with a refreshing, cool cheesecake center. The sugary icing on top added some sweetness and the chocolate pieces on top of that added some crunch, in addition to the chocolate drizzle.
These sweet little petit-four-esque cakes were nice and fluffy with layers of berry icing and jelly. The alternating white and pink frosting with different colors of crispy chocolate pearls are nice touches.
The Happily Ever After Confetti Cupcakes are probably about what you would expect, with a soft vanilla cake base underneath sweet vanilla icing and Mickey sprinkles. Some have a festive Happily Ever After chocolate logo on top.
The Pineapple Delight was fresher than we were expecting with little chunks of sweet tropical fruit underneath the light cream on top. The fresh piece of pineapple sticking out of each little cup was a nice touch.
The Dark Chocolate-dipped Strawberries were another highlight – juicy berries and quite a bit of chocolate with the fun Disney Happily Ever After art.
We have fresh fruit with some good-looking grapes for once, along with watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple.
Your standard assortment of Disney Dessert Party Cheese is on offer with Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Colby, and Swiss.
Baguette Crostini are up next.
Along with what looks to be a particularly sad Spinach and Artichoke Dip. That might actually just be glue.
This is “literally” listed as “Secret Sauce,” which seems like a strange way to describe a buffet item. It tasted largely like a mayo-heavy ranch dressing to me. I’m not sure where it fits in since there aren’t any vegetables to speak of.
But they’re probably meant as a dip for the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls, which are the only “heavy” savory item at the Dessert Party. They were a lot fresher than the last time we tried the taco version – just as greasy, but with a lot more of a crispy crunch. They were also stuffed full of hamburger, for a satisfying bite.
On the non-alcoholic drink front, you’ll be offered a cup of Sparkling Apple Juice.
There’s also Water, Passion/Orange/Guava POG juice, Odwalla Strawberry Lemonade, Odwalla Lemonade, and Milk.
From right to left, we have Hot Cocoa, Coffee, Decaf Coffee, Hot Water, Twinings Tea, and Creamer with a variety of Sweeteners.
Tea, as pictured.
Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake, similar to what’s served at Liberty Tree Tavern for dessert over there, is available by the tray-full. That might be worth your $79-$99.
Hand-scooped ice cream with a variety of toppings, including Whipped Cream, Chocolate Sauce, and Sprinkles, is available.
Some plainer offerings, potentially aimed at the youngsters, are also offered. We’ve got Brownies, Sugar Cookies, Chocolate-Chip Cookies, Brownie Bites, and Cupcakes.
You can take your item around the corner and gussy it up with an assortment of toppings.
Here’s my little sundae from my last go-around.
That’s the food and non-alcoholic drinks that you can expect to find regardless of which Dessert Party you book.
The Tomorrowland Terrace buffet area is separate – located to the rear of the seating area. The Before/After Dessert Party buffet area is located up above on the other side. Not that you are probably too concerned, but it was quite the hassle to get the pictures of the buffet at the buffet, particularly considering the entire buffet line was unlit and people were fiending around it to long lines all night. That’s particularly true considering people had 10 to 20 minutes less than they were probably expecting to grab food and drink. With the official 7pm start, my assumption was that the first guests of the evening would be seated around 6:45pm, allowing the line to dissipate as the official start time grew near.
Instead, guests who arrived around 7pm were still waiting to be checked in after 7:20pm. It would have been nice if the Party had been officially extended for 15 minutes after the fireworks or something, but the late start was never acknowledged. Should you run into an issue like this, request to speak to a manager after the event concludes. I would guess that they would refund you 25% of the cost without much persistence on your end. There isn’t much of an excuse for cutting a $99 event that’s supposed to last an hour by as much as a third.
As far as wine and beer are concerned, we have two sparkling wines in the Villa Rosa Moscato d’Asti and Paul Chenau Lady of Spain Cava Brut. There’s also the Vermonte [sic] Chardonnay, Frontier Red Blend, Bud Light, and Blue Moon:
This menu card was set up at Disney’s typical temporary bar, making me think that the original plan was for there to be a single line and for guests to request what they wanted from a bartender.
Instead, it was a self-serve situation, with the Bud Light poured out of these 16-ounce aluminum bottles.
Blue Moon was also available to grab and go. At a Magic Kingdom restaurant, Bud Lights run $8, and a Blue Moon will set you back $8.50, plus tax and gratuity. That puts each beer at a relative value of $10 or more.
I thought the wine pours were generous and you could take two at a time to your heart’s content. The Paul Cheneau on the right is nothing to write home about, but the $10 bottle of Cava is crisp and refreshing with little bubbles that make it easy to put back a couple in a hurry. Not that I would know about trying anything like that. On the left is the Veramonte Chardonnay. From the Casablanca Valley of Chile, the white wine is nice and oak-y up front with a juicy flavor dominated by pear and lemony zest with a nice vanilla finish. Also very easy to drink.
The Frontier Red is a Fess Parker Wine that’s easy to drink with a slight spice and plenty of oak backed up by luscious dark fruits like plum and cherry.
The Villa Rosa Moscato d’Asti is easily the sweetest of the wines offered. It’s not personally my thing, but the sugar wasn’t overpowering, and the wine enjoyed a fragrant, fresh flavor.
Somebody has to try them all, right? I’ve got all four wine selections here at my table with a nice view of Cinderella Castle.
And how often do you get the opportunity to toast Cinderella Castle with a sparkling glass of not-champagne? I mean…every day from now on…but…
Just to make sure the beers still tasted like beer, I gave those a shot too. The little lanterns on the tables are cute.
Once you get settled, things run smoothly. Back in the day, when the dessert party cost about 30% of what it does now, the Terrace was filled with tables, and it was common for guests from the back to stand up and watch against the railing, blocking the views of those with better tables up front. That’s no longer an issue, so once the fireworks begin, you’ll simply need to swivel your chair around towards the Castle. This picture was taken from the far side of the seating area.
Probably due in part to the price increase, and the time of year lessening demand, our dessert party was potentially 70% full, if that. Reservations were available for larger groups running up to the event time on the day of our visit. The previous day, availability was much more limited.
I enjoyed our view of the fireworks, which was better than the seat from which I’m currently sitting. This view is basically the worst case scenario, as some of the fireworks will be blocked by the roof.
This was the view from my seat.
The experience ended up being one of my favorite viewings of the show of all time.
There was no concern that we were going to be shut out of a great view by some last-second shoulder child.
Everyone else around us had also paid the premium to be sitting there, and we lucked into some pretty quiet neighbors, which allowed everyone to enjoy the music that accompanies the fireworks.
We could have still ran into some bad luck with annoying guests around us or a table farther away from the railing, but you can mitigate at least half of that by arriving 30 to 40 minutes before the Party begins.
The big downside to the viewing location is that you’ll have basically no ability to see or enjoy the projections on Cinderella Castle. About 90% of the fireworks will also look off-center.
That’s where the Plaza Viewing comes into play with the Before and After Dessert Parties. This picture was taken from their reserved section, and it’s a straight-on view of the Castle and fireworks.
The Plaza Garden view is likely going to be better overall, but because it’s open seating/standing, the area does fill more and more as showtime approaches. How full it ends up being depends on the number of people booked for the After Dessert Party, which may grow in popularity now that it’s the one that includes the booze.
If you’re not interested in drinking, then the Before Dessert Party is the cheapest option by $20 per adult. That will allow you to enjoy the buffet spread prior to the fireworks, and then find a suitable spot to watch the fireworks in the Plaza Garden viewing area, potentially towards the back of the reserved area, where it’s easier to see over people’s heads. Disney tries to time it so that the Before Fireworks Party goers arrive 30 minutes before the After Fireworks Party goers, but the bottom line is that everyone attending the Plaza Viewing Parties will be checked in at the same time, at around 6:30pm. At that point, the After Fireworks Party folks will probably head down and stake out positions for the fireworks, while the Before Fireworks Party goers are still chowing down at the buffet. That’s one potential benefit to the After Party – you’ll be down in the Plaza Viewing area earlier, and then after the show, you can sit and relax for an hour without any concern about your eventual fireworks-viewing spot.
Happily Ever After is a show that will be three years old on May 12th, 2020, which does make it easier to see as millions of guests have already taken it in and aren’t willing to stay late and deal with the crowds for a repeat viewing. While getting spots to see the show in the Hub was a real nightmare two years ago, it’s only a bit of a struggle these days. During the fall, when Mickey’s Halloween and Christmas Parties shut down Magic Kingdom at 6pm on three or four days most weeks, then the Dessert Parties have more value, because seeing the regular fireworks on one of the three or four days that they’re offered becomes much more difficult.
Overall, the various Magic Kingdom Happily Ever After Dessert Parties remain a costly addition to your vacation. The event cost of $99/adult would cover an appetizer, entree, and drink at just about any Disney restaurant. It’s also enough to cover California Grill brunch on Sundays, where you can eat and drink as much as you want for a couple of hours, before returning to the restaurant in the evening with your receipt to head up to the terrace to watch the same fireworks from up there.
Those who are looking to slam a couple of beers and wines may find more value now. But even then, the official event is just an hour long and there is not a whole lot of dilly-dallying to be had. This picture was taken where the bar would have been during the event, just a minute after the fireworks concluded. You’ll note that there is no bar anymore, so there’s no opportunity to grab a drink after. The buffet food was also taken down during the fireworks. You’ll want to make one last run for food and drink just prior to the start of the show. They won’t let you walk out of there with a beer in your hand, but you’re welcome to stay and sit in the area for as long as you’d like. A few people stayed for the “Once Upon A Time” projection show, which typically begins 45 minutes after the Happily Ever After fireworks begin. The view of that show from the Terrace is terrible, but you may care less with two white wines in front of you.
Overall, the Terrace Viewing Dessert Party is quite the splurge, particularly with no parting gift and a lack of much concern for the check-in process, which I’m sure was uncomfortable for guests farther back in line. We also lucked into some of the best seats in the house on an evening when the event wasn’t full. I appreciated having the seat for the show, knowing that the odds of somebody disturbing my enjoyment of it were low.
Nobody is getting their money’s worth from the various food and non-alcoholic beverages. You could potentially make a meal out of it with the fruit, cheese, spring rolls, bread, and dessert, and rationalize some savings that way. With young kids, or for shorter adults, the seating would also be advantageous over trying to see it with the general population.
Officially, there is a 5-day cancellation policy, so you’ll want to be aware of that. Theoretically, you could try to see Happily Ever After towards the beginning of your trip, and then book the Dessert Party for one of your last nights. If your first try seeing the show from the Hub goes terribly, then you could stick with the Dessert Party later in the trip. If seeing the show on the first night goes well, then you might cancel.
As far as Plaza Viewing versus Terrace Viewing – I think seeing the show from the front of Cinderella Castle on your first viewing makes for a better experience. The Terrace offers a delightful view of the fireworks, but it remains decidedly off-center. A lot of the story also relies on what you see being projected onto the Castle. Having seen the projections, I’m familiar with all of that. If it was my first viewing, then it’s possible that I just wouldn’t know what I was missing. The fireworks bursts are gorgeous in their own right.
As a splurge, and/or with guests in your party who would prefer an easier overall experience in exchange for a lot of money, then the fireworks parties may makes sense. But considering that you still need to arrive at 6:20pm, for a Dessert Party that begins at 7pm, with Fireworks that begin at 8pm, means that you’re still dedicating a lot of time to seeing the show. If you were to show up in the Hub at 7pm, then you’d certainly be able to find good spots on Main Street for the show. You just never know how tall that guy is going to be who always shows up at the last possible second.
I enjoyed my experience at the Happily Ever After Terrace Viewing Dessert Party, but there are a lot of other ways to spend a hundred dollars at Walt Disney World. For you, the convenience and comfort of being seated for Disney’s best nighttime spectacular may be the way that you want to spend that money. Have a Bud Light and a Spring Roll for me.