Happily Ever After is Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular. The show debuted in May of 2017 and typically plays once a night. This review will cover our thoughts on this new show along with a little bit of strategy on where to watch it.
I won’t try to bury the lede here, I love Happily Ever After. The show’s pacing, soundtrack and visuals are near perfect. On top of that, Happily Ever After is the longest firework show in a Disney park that I can ever remember.
Happily Ever After begins simply enough with narration but the projection on to the castle is already a noticeable, especially compared to the somewhat outdated technology in the show’s predecessor, Wishes. While a little odd to not hear Jiminy Cricket come over the Magic Kingdom speakers, I like the narration throughout this show. The opening of the show also includes the (somewhat) original song, conveniently called Happily Ever After. Both the narration and song are strong and more modern than Wishes, while still being classic.
Happily Ever After utilizes some otherwise little used songs throughout the show. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, and Brave all have songs throughout. These are of course mixed in with classics. The segment featuring How Far I’ll Go from Moana is a crowd favorite and ups the ante a little bit when it comes to pyro. This followed by playful music highlighting several films, notably Aladdin, makes for the most fun portion of the show.
The highlight of the soundtrack is a beautiful duet on Frozen’s Love is an Open Door, followed by orchestration of Can You Feel the Love Tonight and You’ll be in My Heart. This is where the emotional punch of the show comes in. Happily Ever After knows when to take things down a notch, which is an underrated trait in firework shows. The pyro and projections expertly follow the music’s lead. Halfway through this new show I was worried that it wouldn’t pack the same emotion that Wishes had but that qualm was quickly answered in this beautiful segment.
After all of the ooey-gooey feelings comes the villain portion of the show, which features some really cool visual gags. The Pirates segment especially is interesting with the smoke lingering around the castle. This was a favorite moment of mine. I guess if you are a villains fan then you could argue that this segment is too short. I would disagree as I wouldn’t want any other portion of the show to be cut in place of more villains.
The ending of Happily Ever After kicks off triumphantly with a stirring rendition of I Can Go the Distance. A surprise visit by Tinkerbell is a perfect nostalgic moment, paying tribute to the shows that come before it. We were watching this show and had a nice conversation with an older couple who visited about once a year. The husband was excited to see the show but wasn’t one to show much emotion. When Tinkerbell appeared though this gentleman went crazy, applauding and yelling. As silly as it sounds, seeing him embrace that moment was one of my favorite parts of our trip. This speaks to Happily Ever After’s ability to work for all ages, something I think Disneyland struggled with when debuting Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever.
When I heard that the show was 18 minutes long I was concerned that the fireworks would be toned down. Those fears were largely unfounded. On top of that, the projections played a heavy role in Happily Ever After. Because of that, I recommend standing not far behind the Partners Statue in the hub. This will give you a great view of the projections while still being able to see the fireworks. If this spot is full then the next best would be about even with Casey’s Corner on Main Street. The closer to the train station the harder the projections will be to see. While the train station will offer some very fun views, I wouldn’t recommend this if it for first-time viewing.
The sheer amount of characters and films Happily Ever After highlights is impressive. These appearances never feel rushed though and the pacing is spot on. Projections give the show the ability to go through all of these films in a fairly organic way. The layers of the soundtrack are likely my favorite part of the show but, to be fair, I geek out about that stuff more than most people.
Happily Ever After’s plot is passable although it is more of an inspirational speech than a story. This works for most nighttime spectaculars, as these shows generally work better as vignettes that fit a main idea than an actual show. Happily Ever After certainly fits that bill.
Overall, Happily Ever After is one of my favorite nighttime spectacular I’ve ever seen. The show’s visuals and soundtrack work together seamlessly to pull guests through an array of emotions. Using some unheralded songs keeps Happily Ever After from being predictable but still a classic. This show is a must-see.
Overall Rating – 10/10
Have you seen Happily Ever After? Let us know your thoughts and questions on the show in the comments! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!