For me it’s hard to imagine planning a trip to Orlando without a Disney excursion, but with the steep ticket prices it can be difficult to fit a Disney trip into a budget. While recently visiting Disney I ran across a great way to actually watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks for free and without purchasing a ticket! That’s right you can watch one of the most amazingly choreographed fireworks shows in Orlando at no charge. It’s completely legit, takes some planning, but would make a really great date night for a local couple or even those just visiting.
Before I get too far into the explanation, let me just explain that this won’t always work, and you should have a contingency plan. If you’re just being spontaneous one evening without the kids, this is a perfect way to spend an evening with someone special. Ok so now that I have that out of the way, what am I talking about? I’m referring to watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks for free without purchasing a ticket.
So how can you checkout the Magic Kingdom fireworks for free without purchasing a ticket? Watch them from Disney’s Contemporary Resort of course! While a night at the Contemporary isn’t frugal by any definition of the term, there is a restaurant on the top floor called the California Grill. When the Mrs. and I were cast members we went there a few times years ago and discovered that during the Disney Wishes fireworks show, they dim the lights, and you get an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show at no additional charge. They even pipe in the music and the sound as if you were standing on Main Street USA!
If you have searched the Disney website for dinner reservations, you’ll notice that the California Grill has quite a few dollar signs behind the description. This restaurant is expensive! We also happen to think that it’s worth the cost if you consider the entertainment value, but that’s a debate for another time. If you don’t have dinner reservations, you can checkout the hotel bar. We arrived about an hour early for our dinner reservations, and got a wonderful front row view from the bar window! You can also watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks show from one of their two observation decks outside as well. When we got our seats at the bar area, we were amazed!
There is only one elevator that goes up to the top of the Contemporary Resort and into the California Grill, so It’s heavily controlled. You actually need to check in and ask if you can have a few drinks at the bar. We have never had an issue if we arrive early enough, but beware you must look the part. Despite being Disney, this is a fancy location. That means you need to look the part. While it’s not exactly a suit and tie sorta place, you should be presentable and I wouldn’t recommend it after a day of the parks. Odds are they would politely tell you that the bar is full, but what they really mean is that you don’t meet the dress code.
Were you one of the many folks that dine at the California Grill during the day? A little known tip is that if you dine prior to the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, you can actually bring your receipt to the check in desk and they will let you up to the observation deck to watch as well!
If you plan on having a few drinks and an appetizer, be forewarned, that you’re still looking at about $50. If you’re just looking for a relaxing night out without the kiddos, then this would be a great option. Do you have any other great vantage points to watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks for free?