Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Minnie Moms: Parades and Fireworks

Janine: This month’s post is another hypothetical one for me as we have yet to take F to WDW and she has not even seen a firework display or parade in England yet. We have an annual celebration on 5/11 called Guy Fawkes Night (fireworks night or bonfire night) which dates back to when Fawkes tried to blow up the English parliament with gunpowder. Therefore there have been fireworks going off in our neighborhood for the last few weeks. But F has yet to really notice them as she’s usually asleep by the time the parties start.

If we were over in the parks at the moment, we would actually miss all the parades and fireworks as F likes to be at least dozing by 7:30pm. And unlike most children, F refuses to sleep in her stroller so we would not even be able to do that. We will have to see what she is like with excitement and loud noises and what her bedtime is when we go over in a few years. If we have to miss out until she is older then we are not too worried, we've seen them all plenty of times and we'll make sure we see the daytime ones.

But I'll still write a little about what we like to do. For MK we've had many different spots for the parade but we actually found a very relaxing one a couple of years ago! We sat on the outside chairs by the Main Street Bakery to the side where you can hear a music lesson in one of the upstairs windows, right by where there is a CM entrance where the balloon sellers come in and out. So we got to sit down with a coffee and cake after a long day and watch the parade go by, and then just move back onto the street for Wishes! And we were only a minute or so from the exit, great stuff! The Noodle Station was another great spot where we could actually sit down and saw Tink fly over really well but was incredibly busy!

For Illuminations we have stood in different places every year. Last year we actually stood on the gateway between FW and WS and that was actually a pretty good spot! When we've been in a party, we all take turns saving the spot whilst the others go off and get snacks and when we've been on our own we just made sure we had a drink and sat down in a decent spot about 30 minutes before it was due to start. To be honest there are so many places to see from I don't think you need to find a spot hours before unless you have a member of your party who has to sit down I guess. We were lucky enough to catch the 4th July fireworks at EPCOT in 2008 and these we the best we've ever seen.

My only tip for Fantasmic at HS would be to get there in good time as it fills pretty fast. We've done both the 9pm and 1030pm shows (both been packed) but the late one meant getting back to the hotel after midnight which may be too late for some little ones.

In regards to handling the wait with the kiddies, maybe if you have more than one then mom can take one for a quick stroll while dad and the other stake out a place and vice versa. Definitely make sure they've been to the restroom and you've got a drink and a snack. This could be a good time to check for any nearby hidden Mickeys or discussion on what to do the next day/reflection on what you've just done. We will be with our in-laws when we next go so if F gets fidgety then we will take it in turns to walk her stroller around until time for the show. I may even try to buy her a little in-expensive treat during the day and then whip it out before the parade/fireworks if she starts to get too fussy.

General points for consideration - bear in mind your child’s reaction to the dark, the crowds and the noise if they have never seen anything like it before. I would plan to be somewhere where you can make a quick exit if your child does not react well to their first viewing of the parade/fireworks without causing too much fuss and bother. If this does happen, just take it in your stride and don't panic too much. Kiddie may just be overtired from the day and if you try a different park's nightly entertainment the following night you may be pleasantly surprised. And if not, hey it's a great excuse to go back next year when they're older!

DH reminded me of another very good issue. Just because a spot looks good to you, make sure your little one can see everything they need to from their much lower vantage point. If you're planning on putting them on your shoulders, take a second to consider those around you. You and your child may be having a ball, but that couple who've waited over an hour for this spot now to have it impeded by the child-sized impediment in front of them may not be so pleased.

We're yet to know whether the dark will be an issue for F, she seems happy enough during night feeds etc but that can all change at any time. And being outdoors at night is a whole different ballgame. One way to make your child more at ease in the dark (although the parks are very well lit, the lights all go down for the fireworks for atmosphere) may be to get a glow stick. They sell all different kinds in the parks or get a much cheaper one before you go.

Amy: Tink has been to Walt Disney World twice this year and she hasn’t seen any of the parades or fireworks. The afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom has either been during a nap, a break at a resort, or simply rained out. I know some would think that makes me a horrible Disney mom, but at this point, a well-rested baby is much higher on my list of priorities than parades. Once she’s a little older and able to understand why we are waiting, we’ll camp out on the curb and get a good spot to wave at all her favorite characters. Regarding nighttime shows, those are just too late for her and at 18 months old, she doesn’t really care if she sees fireworks or not. Again, once she’s older, we’ll get a good spot in Frontierland for the parade and enjoy a Dole Whip while we wait. I did find a pink glow stick fairy wand in the dollar bin at Michael’s with the intent of using it at night. Once it comes down to it, she has just been too tired to stay out late. On my most recent trip, I was able to stand with my cousin’s daughters while they saw their very first Disney parade, Main Street Electrical Parade. (Tink had left the park with Granny and Granddaddy.) We waited at the rope to make sure they had a great view. It was so much fun to see them take it all in. Once the parade was over, we headed toward the center of the park to find a spot for Wishes. We found a good place for the girls and the adults all stood back just a bit so we didn’t crowd those who had been waiting. Since it might be a couple of years before we take Tink back to the World, we’ll attend some local fireworks shows between now and then to see how she reacts to the noise.

Corby: As we all know Disney has some great rides and attractions. They also have some great parades and some of the most spectacular fireworks shows you’ll ever see. I am a big fireworks show fan! It’s usually not my 6 year old son but myself who begs the family to stay and watch them! My husband can’t stand the mass exodus afterwards but every now and then, I win and I get to stay and watch! My favorite show is Epcot’s IllumiNations. Coming in a close second place is Magic Kingdom’s Wishes. For IllumiNations, as long as you’re standing by the lake, you’re going to get a good view. We seem to change our location each time. I think our favorite spot was when we watched it on the bridge. Every time those torches go out and I start hearing the beat of the music, I can barely contain my excitement! For Wishes, I will admit, I get a little teary when I hear “When You Wish upon a Star”. Sad, I know, but it’s true. My family’s favorite viewing spot is on top of the train station. There are some chairs up there and if you get there early, you may be lucky enough to get one. We like going early, grabbing a seat and people watching as the crowds start coming in below. In regard to Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic!, we’ve only seen it once with our son. He was three and it basically traumatized him so we haven’t been back since. We may just give it a try again now that he’s six but I do think it’s something parents need to be aware of. It is very entertaining but in my opinion, it’s not for every child, especially those that are young or get easily scared.

As far as parades go, we usually only take time to view one as we’re not big parade fans. I know, I can hear the boos and hisses. We see it as the perfect opportunity when everyone else is watching the parade to go get shorter lines at the rides! Our favorite one hands down, is the Spectro Magic night-time parade at Magic Kingdom. As I’ve said in the past, we always plan our dinner at Tony’s Town Square around it and that’s where we view it. I’m looking forward to seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade next week so I can compare the two. (Yes, I said next week…*smile*!) (Amy’s note: Corby is in WDW now! Yay!)

Heather: We recently returned from WDW with our 4 year old and 6 month old sons. While there we enjoyed the Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party, Illuminations, and Wishes. Last year, our then 3 year old was petrified of all fireworks to the point after the first night of crying we punted any other nighttime performances. This trip we planned ahead and after some research bought Peltor 97070 Junior Earmuff, Black for Ben. We let him decorate them with Toy Story stickers and practiced wearing around the hotel before the nighttime parades and fireworks. They worked like a charm. Ben was still a little apprehensive and wanted to watch the fireworks from a far, but he seemed happy that the noise was muffled and didn’t bother him.

As far as parades we tried to make sure we found a location near the start of the parade so that we could hit rides with a limited line wait while others were still watching. This strategy worked especially well on the night of the Halloween party. We timed eating at Pecos Bill CafĂ© for dinner before the parade start. We in turn had great seats at the start of the parade and were close to Woody and Jessie’s Dance Party at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon afterwards for some one on one dance moves with Bullseye.

Ben was genuinely interested and loved the fireworks this trip. A little pre-planning and also another year of maturity made a big difference in his (and also our) enjoyment of the fabulous nighttime shows at WDW.

Thanks to our Minnie Moms for sharing such helpful tips! If you have a question for us or a topic you'd like us to cover, please leave a comment or email Amy.


  1. I love some of the parade viewing places mentioned on this post from other moms! Thanks!

    A Mental Note for the next trip. Bill and I recounted on this trip (thanks to those earphones) we saw every parade (except the one at AK or the 3 pm MK) and every nighttime show. A first. I have to say Electric parade will always be my fav.

  2. One of the things we did to prepare our kids for one of our trips to WDW was to take them to all the fireworks and parades in our area. During each fireworks display, we were able to bring our UV ray tent for babies, which my 5, 3, and 2 year old could fit into. My 5 and 2 year olds sat in the tent at the beginning of the fireworks. They could peek out the front (my three year old has no fear of anything, not sure that's a good thing!). My son eventually emerged from the tent after having a safe place to view the fireworks from. My two year old did the same. It gave us some insight into how they would react at WDW. They all made it through Wishes, though that was the only night we could keep them up late enough for fireworks.


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