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2022 D23 Expo Announcement: Happily Ever After Returning in 2023 at Magic Kingdom

Next year, Happily Ever After will play again when an updated nighttime spectacular returns to light up the skies over Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort in 2023.

The show ended in 2021, making way for the 50th anniversary show, Disney Enchantment. That show was met with tepid reviews, including ours, and now will be ending and making way for Happily Ever After’s return!

Commentary

This announcement came as no surprise and came very early on in the ‘Boundless Futures’ parks panel, as the show opened with Jordan Fisher performing the titular track. While it wasn’t a surprise, the announcement was met with one of the loudest cheers of the show.

The reason for that is twofold but we’ll start with the positive aspect of it – Happily Ever After is one of the best fireworks shows Disney has ever created. With the unenviable task of following up Wishes, the show came in somewhat quietly and immediately captured guests attention. Debuting in 2017, the show was a technological step up from its predecessor and was far more moving than it’s successor.

HEA MK blue and gold

Personally, some of my favorite times at Walt Disney World have come while watching this show. The first time, we stood by an older man with some trepidations about them replacing Wishes. By the time Tinkerbell flew overhead, he was sold with both arms raised in victory. We watched it the night after finishing a half marathon and the ‘I Can Go The Distance’ vignette felt all too literal. Then, we were there for Happily Ever After’s last night before the 50th anniversary came around.

Like all of Disney’s best shows, they provide a perfect soundtrack to your memories. Sure, they’ll steal you away in the moment but a few months later you’re left thinking about who you were with and what that day meant to you. Happily Ever After is empowering and stunning, forward-thinking and nostalgic. I’ve never talked to anyone who doesn’t enjoy the show so everyone is naturally happy to see it return.

Disney Enchantment yellow and color streaks MK

On the other hand, what it’s replacing is one of the worst nighttime spectaculars Disney has created. During the presentation, Josh D’Amaro mentioned Disney Enchantment and the crowd got so quiet that you would have thought they were watching Enchantment itself, struggling not to fall asleep. That’s a little harsh, really, but it is the opposite of Happily Ever After – boring, slow, lacking character and nostalgia.

It’s a shame that the 50th anniversary produced such a dud but I will give credit to Disney World for pulling the plug on it. Happily Ever After will be back as soon as the anniversary wraps up in April. I’m excited for the return and not sad to see the show it sandwiched go.

HEA MK purple castle

What do you think about Happily Ever After’s return? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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