Here’s everything you need to know about watching fireworks and projections at Disneyland including when, locations, best views and more. Fireworks and Disneyland go hand in hand. The addition of projections a few years ago enhanced nighttime entertainment tremendously. Projection mapping on the front of the castle, sides of buildings down Main Street, on the It’s a Small World facade and along the Rivers of America are incredible. Let’s dive into all the things you need to know to make this experience memorable!
When are fireworks at Disneyland?
One very important piece of information about fireworks at Disneyland, unlike at Walt Disney World, fireworks don’t happen every night of the year. And even when it’s on the schedule it’s not guaranteed you will see any. If the winds are too high they cancel the show. It’s only happened a few times for me, but I just like guests to be aware. The schedule for fireworks normally revolves around the busy times. For instance you can plan on fireworks nightly in the summer, during Christmas and other busy school breaks like fall and spring break. The rest of the year there is a show every night with projections. And fireworks only on the weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. When planning your trip you can look at the entertainment schedule. Disney typically shares fireworks days and times about 6 weeks out. Also you can find times in the Disneyland app under entertainment on the day you’re in the parks.
Firework shows throughout the year at Disneyland
The brand new fireworks show Wondrous Journeys for the Disney100 celebration takes place every night with projections and adds fireworks on the weekends. This show will end on August 31, 2023 due to Halloween time which starts September 1st! Then the show switches to Halloween Screams! There’s always a scheduled show it just depends on the time of year what you can expect to see. On the 4th of July they add an extra patriotic portion too. Then in the fall September through October 31st they have Halloween Screams with fireworks on the weekend. During the week with projections only. Then Disney finishes the year November and December with the holiday fireworks show and snowfall.
Fireworks viewing tips and locations at Disneyland
There are many places throughout Disneyland to view the fireworks. There are 4 viewing locations that offer projections in addition to the fireworks. See the map below for 3 locations and then further down the 4th option. I will explain where each location is at and the pros/cons for each one plus how long you need to plan on waiting for the spot.
Most people like to stand in front of the castle for fireworks and projections. This is my least favorite spot because it requires holding a spot for hours and hours before the show. If that’s where you want to watch plan ahead accordingly, about 3-4 hours before the show starts. I had a friend who held our spot for over 6 hours. The view below was fantastic right front and center, but that’s a lot of time to spend waiting for this view.No matter how early you arrive make sure your view is not obstructed with the Partners statue in the hub or nearby trees (see photo below). I’ll share another near the castle view that only requires holding your spot 90 minutes before the show down further in this post.
I recommend watching somewhere up and down Main Street. Arrive 30 to 45 minutes before the show starts because people start sitting on Main Street waiting for the show. If you want to watch it from Main Street I suggest standing in the middle of the street next to the Penny Arcade.
This spot is about half way down Main Street. From here you can see the projections on the castle plus up and down Main Street. You have great views of the fireworks as well from this spot as seen below.
For less people go to It’s a Small World where they display projections on the facade. You can also see the fireworks to the left above in the sky as shown in the photo below. I like this option because you don’t have to line up early you can show up just before it starts and have a great view.
Another area I like to watch from is to the side of the castle with views of different projections on the Matterhorn. See the map below where we stood for these views. We arrived 90 minutes before the fireworks started. The section closest to the castle does not give you views on the Matterhorn. So make sure you are in the section closer to Astro Orbitor as shown on the map below.
The area will be roped off for guests waiting to watch the show. Mobile order food while you’re waiting. Leave someone to save your spot and send someone to go get your food. Once the show starts you will see projections on the castle and fireworks up in the sky as seen below.
Also from this location to the right of you are different projections displayed on the Matterhorn as seen below.
You have views of the fireworks and standing further away from the castle the trees don’t obstruct your view.
The last option I suggest is over along the Rivers of America. Most people don’t know there are projections plus you can see the fireworks. See the map below where to stand.
This option is less crowded and you can show up just before the fireworks start. There are projections shown against a water screen as shown below.
Listen to the music and watch the fireworks up in the sky to the west of the castle as seen below.
Last minute fireworks spot
My favorite last minute spot to see fireworks is from the Main Street train depot. In the photo below I showed up as the show started, no waiting. The views from here are great cause you can see the projections on Main Street, the fireworks behind the castle and the flashing beams of lights in the sky all at once. Then as soon as the show ends you’re right next to the gates. You can head out and beat the crowds. That’s another reason why I recommend this spot for easy departure.
Secret spot at Storybook Land Canal Boats
A few years ago I happened to be in line for Storybook Land Canal Boats when the fireworks started. I noticed they stopped the ride while we were there standing in line during the fireworks show. We could hear the music and see the sky all lit up. You can’t see any projections but you are almost literally under the fireworks show it’s amazing. And if you really want an extra special experience you have to time it just right. Arrive at Storybook Land Canal Boats before the fireworks, get on the ride before the show starts. If you’re out on a boat when the fireworks start they stop your boat in the water and you watch the whole show from your boat! How magical is that!!!
Exit strategy after fireworks
I have a few suggestions and recommendations for exiting after the fireworks are over. If you can hold out and let the crowds die down your exit experience will be better. Everyone leaves usually after the fireworks and it’s like herding cattle. So go on another ride, mobile order some food or do some shopping. But wait about 30 minutes and then exit the park.
If you want to leave right after the fireworks I’ll share with you the fastest exit strategy. Did you know about the walkways behind the shops on Main Street? Disney opens these walkways on crowded nights after entertainment. To avoid the congestion on Main Street see the map below. Look for cast members directing people and sometimes holding a sign. Below you can see the cast member ushering guests between Refreshment Corner and Jolly Holiday for the entrance/exit location. When I use these walkways behind Main Street I feel like I’m on a behind the scenes tour. The walkway leads you out to Town Square where you can exit and avoid the crowds on Main Street. Note: these walkways are not always open. But when they are be sure to use them to save time!
Options for viewing fireworks outside of Disneyland
If you don’t have a ticket to go inside Disneyland you can still see fireworks from a few locations listed below.
1 – In the Esplanade in between both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, no ticket required. You can park in Downtown Disney and watch from this location. These are the views from the Esplanade below.
2 – There are many rooftop bars where you can see the fireworks. I have been to Parkestry at the JW Marriott and the views are amazing. Book a table through the app Open Table. Other options are at The Fifth above the Grand Legacy hotel and on the rooftop of the Viv hotel.
3 – Another option to view fireworks from your hotel balcony. I love the views from the Howard Johnson across the street. Request rooms with firework views!