Watching fireworks and parades are one of my family’s favorite things to do at Walt Disney World.
That being said our eldest shed a few tears during our last visit even though she had seen them several times before. Miss L is at the stage where loud noises and not knowing what to expect next is scary for her.
Theme parks can be overwhelming for young children – there’s music playing 24/7, parades passing by several times a day, and firework shows almost every night.
Here are some of my top tips for watching the parades and fireworks at Walt Disney World with little ones:
1. Check the Schedule
Make sure to check the park calendars online or the Times Guide when you enter each of the parks. If you are at a park with evening Extra Magic Hours, fireworks may not be at their regular time so double check when you arrive.
2. Bring Ear Plugs or Noise Reducing/Cancelling Headphones
We did not have these on our previous visit and holding our hands up to Miss L’s ears didn’t cut it. We tried to watch the fireworks or the parade from a distance. There were several instances on our last trip we had to exit the park just because it was too much for her to handle.
Since that visit we have purchased noise reducing headphones for her to use during loud shows and performances. She’s been traveling with a pair of BANZ Kids Headphones – Adjustable Hearing Protection Earmuffs For Children since she was 3 years old. She loves it and now shares it with her brother as she’s getting more used to loud noises.
3. Get There Early
The closer you want to get to the action, the louder and more crowded it will be. You will have to arrive extra early (sometimes as early as 30-45 minutes before the start of the show) to get a good seat.
Younger kids may need to have little toys or activities to keep them entertained before the show.
4. Know What to Expect Afterwards
Getting out of the park after fireworks and night time parades will take a long time. Everyone wants out.
If you are staying at a Walt Disney Resort and rely on Disney transportation to get you there, be prepared to either wait for several buses to pass before you’re able to board.
When my husband and I saw The Osbourne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights a few years ago (pre kids), it took us about 45 minutes just to exit Hollywood Studios. This was on top of the 1 hour wait and bus ride back to our resort. We were pooped by the time to got into the room.
5. Consider Viewing From Afar
Parades are very loud regardless of whether it is during the day or night. Although our kids wanted to be up close but it was just too scary for them to be where many other families were. Instead we took them into restaurants or souvenir shops to watch from a distance.
Watching fireworks from afar (either near the entrance of the park or a resort near by) works better with younger kids – the noise level is a lot less frightening.
I would highly recommend heading to Polynesian Resort’s beach or California Grill (you will need a dining reservation to go up) located inside Contemporary Resort to view Magic Kingdom fireworks. Both hotels are on the monorail line so it’s easy to get to from Magic Kingdom. You can purchase a Dole Whip at Pineapple Lanai at Polynesian Village Resort too if you want a snack during the show.
Whatever you do, try to catch at least one parade or fireworks show. The fireworks are stunning and the parades are a lot of fun for kids.
Do you have any tips on how to make fireworks and parade viewing easier for young children?
Sarah Lynn says
My Mom is the QUEEN of scheduling our Disney days around the parades and fireworks. As we got older, I was able to ask her to watch the fireworks as we were leaving the park to avoid the mass exodus afterwards.
The Disney parades are definitely a must do for kids – all your favourite characters in one location??? Even I still get excited when Mickey waves to me.
Great post, will def buy my daughter noise reducing headphones.
The getting out of the parks after the shows are definitely the most stressful part of watching with kids.
Kerrie @ Family Food and Travel says
Great tips. We haven’t taken our boys to fireworks yet, and the only parade was in our tiny town. I would love to see their reactions to fireworks but feel like they might be scared. I think we’ll have to do some fireworks ‘prep’ before the summer!
Yes preparation is definitely key. It didn’t even cross our minds that kids would be afraid of the noise. Your boys will have tons of fun once they know what to expect
Sarah Bailey says
I went to Disney in my early teens sadly I don’t remember much – I just have the photos and a couple of memories as it was just before I became quite ill I would love to go again one day – ohh to be a big kid at Disney and hug Pooh Bear!
It’s kind of crazy how people of all ages love Disney – myself included 😉
These are really great tips. I am so looking forward to taking my children (hopefully within the next few years!).
eileen at FamiliesGo! says
we loved the light show on the castle when we were last at WDW. But we avoided the fireworks at all costs. TT doesn’t like loud noise at all. But we did catch them out of our hotel window one night, which was perfect — all of the color with none of the noise.
That is a great way to view the fireworks – from the comfort of your own room. One day we will have to stay at a resort near the parks to do just that!
I saw this 2 years ago and thought it was great. My son (6 at the time) really enjoyed it and really surprised me that he stayed up the entire day and did everything there. Can’t wait to take my little girl.
There’s something about Disney that makes all kids have endless energy to do it all 😉
You’re so right, the noise and confusion can be a bit much for the little ones, and if we’re prepared for it, we can help them if/when that happens. Good post!
The noise and not knowing what happens next is pretty scary indeed. And seeing characters you’ve only seen as cartoon characters in real life is quite frightening too. At least for me it was when I was younger – would not get within 10 ft of any character!
Great Tips! DisneyLand will be our next big family vacation. My three year old is obsessed with Mickey Mouse. I can’t wait to give him those memories I hope to be able to give him this right around the age of five. Our last big trip was to San Diego and on our way there we stopped at LegoLand. Great for little ones!
One day we hope to visit San Diego and Legoland too. Are there many parades and fireworks there?
I love these tips. I especially love the exit route tip. The kids will be tired and there are always lots of people moving at once. Being prepared is always the best motto.
Yes it is much easier being one of the first out of the park instead of waiting in line for an hour with little kids! Been there, done that and will avoid at all costs 🙂
Victoria Ess says
Great tips — I think we might make a trip to Disney for our first time this summer, and I’m going to have to spend some time collecting tips from all your blog posts!
Judy Cowan says
Seeing these pictures makes me want to book our next Disney trip, but it is going to have to wait for a few more years
those are beautiful shots
Anne Taylor says
You pretty much covered all of the tips I could think of and more! I wouldn’t have thought to bring ear plugs or noise cancelling ear phones with me.
Anne Taylor says
head phones, not ear phones, lordy I must be tired