What follows is a detailed look at Disneyland's new fireworks show Remember Dreams Come True. If you want to see the fireworks in person with no preconceived notions or information, you should stop reading now, or at least go no farther than the general overview.
Remember Dreams Come True is not a typical big fireworks extravaganza. If all you want from fireworks are loud boomsand lots of themyou may actually find yourself disappointed. And if it is your first trip to Disneyland and you have not yet formed a bond with a favorite ride, you may find yourself a bit disconnected.
This is because Remember does two things, and does them very well. First, fireworks are not used just to create a spectacle but to put on a show, and second, it truly celebrates Disneyland and its history. This show is not one that can just be transplanted to your local Fourth of July celebration, or even to another Disney theme park. If you have any kind of emotional bond with a particular Disneyland attraction, or just Disneyland itself, you are going to find yourself clapping excitedly at some point in the show.
If nothing else, you can just sit there in awe of the technical mastery of launching gunpowder into the air and blowing it up to such marvelous effect. For the next 18 months, giving up the time to see Remember should be assumed, and many people will find themselves blocking off that time every night of their stay.
Currently, Remember Dreams Come True is being performed nightly at 9:25, and is just over 17 minutes long. The ambitious visitor could watch the 7:45 p.m. performance of Parade of Dreams, get over to Rivers of America for the 9:00 p.m. performance of Fantasmic, then stay where they are to watch the fireworks.
The final section of this page gives detailed comparisons (link) of several possible viewing locations around the park. Spoilers are given in those, so if you just want to know where to go, here's a recap:
You can see some portion of the fireworks from pretty much any publicly available area of the park, and there are several other decent locations that we will cover in the viewing guide at the end of this page (although, again, spoilers abound in that section).
Areas of the park that are closed during the fireworks include:
Spoiler alert From this point on, this page is pretty much one big spoiler. If you are avoiding spoilers, it is definitely time for you to move on to another article.
What follows is a simple run through of the show's many segments, giving you a sense of how far into the show they occur and what generally happens. If you are familiar with the show and just want to get to the viewing location comparisons, click here. Note: The segment names given are our own creation; presumably the show creators have their own that differ from ours.
Julie Andrews begins the show by introducing herself and saying that there was once a place where you could wish on a star. There are no fireworks or effects other than lit castle.
Wishes music begins and continues with light ocassional explosions.
A segment of the song, with marvelous starshaped fireworks throughout.
Julie Andrews continues that 50 years ago a magical place was born, and in this place lived friends who make dreams come true. Light fireworks through this segment end around 02:45 with three large explosions forming a wellshaped Mickey head.
Continuing on the theme of wishes, you hear audio clips from various sources in which wishes are expresed, such as Pinocchio wishing to be a boy, Ariel wanting to be on land, and Aladdin wishing Genie his freedom. Light explosions throughout.
Tinker Bell descends from the top of Matterhorn and, using new rigging, flies around the castle in various patterns. Towards the end of this segment, light explosions begin. If you are in a location where Tinker Bell cannot be seen, this will be dead time, except for some music.
Tinker Bell flies around the castle. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
You hear audio of Walt's speech dedicating Disneyland in 1955. Tink continues flying throughout.
Tributes to Main Street begin with audio of Disneyland Railroad, ragtime music, and the Main Street Electrical Parade. Explosions are themed to a train's smokestack, and you can see the parade's iconic turtle in ballshaped fireworks clusters.
Audio from the attraction accompanies a playful explosion, with more dramactic effects towards end the segment once the gods have been angered by all the celebrating.
Audio from Indiana Jones Adventure begins with Mara projected on the Matterhorn. Don't bother trying to photograph this; instead, stay on the castle for dramatic streams of flame from the castle turrets.
The Indiana Jones Adventure tribute includes flame effects. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
Your ghost host asks if the room could possibly be shrinking, and the highest effects of the show are launched from behind the castle and all around the hub. If you are watching from somewhere behind the castle, this may be the only time you want to turn around to see what is happening behind you. For those at the castle, there are a lot of projections of ghosts and spooky lighting on the castle walls. At almost two minutes, this is the longest single ride segment in the show.
Ghosts project onto the castle for the Haunted Mansion segment of the fireworks show. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
This is by far the most dramatic segment, as the castle and Matterhorn engage in a cannon battle. The effects are marvelous and tell a quick story of battle with a satisfying climax for the segment. Stay on the castle for the final exchange.
There is a respite after the excitement of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Audio for Big Thunder, Davy Crockett, and the shooting gallery starts. Particularly during the shooting gallery sequence (11:45 in), great use is made of synchronizing oncastle effects, sound, and lighting projections.
At this point both Critter Country and Toontown seem to get covered, but the audio is very quickly cut and the fireworks come fast and furious. Although not in a sense of lots of powerful booms, lots of different types are launched. The bouncing Tigger effect is amusing (though I thought it was juggling until told otherwise) and the twirling sparklers on the castle make for an interestingif difficultphoto.
Twirling sparklers make quite a spectacle of the castle. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
This is where the lasers come in, with audio of Submarine Voyage and Adventure Through Inner Space with explosions reminiscent of molecules. This seques into Star Tours and John Williams' Star Wars score opening the floodgates for some traditional big booms. The segment concludes with a space battle, lots of lasers, and launches from all around the hub.
Laser lights during the Tomorrowland sequence. Photo by Frank Anzalone.
Julie Andrews returns to tell us how Disneyland has grown over the last 50 years and is loved by all.
Another Wishes interlude leads into the big finale at 17:05. As far as big finales go, it isn't all that impressive, but everything that comes before makes up for it.
On Saturday, May 8, MousePlanet gathered together willing staff members and readers, and assigned them to various locations in the park to view the fireworks show from different perspectives. Everybody except Sheila Hagen had already seen them and knew what to expect and what they were missing.
My thanks to Jeff Moxley, Adrienne VincentPhoenix, Tony Phoenix, Sheila Hagen, David Michael, Tiffany Eliot, and Lisa for their assistance.
The following satellite image of Disneyland identifies the viewing locations we used.
A satellite image of Disneyland Park is identified with labels noting the locations where MousePlanet volunteers viewed the fireworks show. Image courtesy of the USGS.
The largest fireworks in the show are all launched from an area behind Mickey's Toontown, and are generally launched to heights visible from any area of the park with reasonably clear sightlines.
Being able to see Sleeping Beauty Castle is critical for laser effects, as well as projections on the exterior of the castle. Other castleoriented effects include Tinker Bell's flights, balls of flame, and launches from around the Central Plaza (hub); while these are given context by the castle, many can be seen from other areas of the park.
Matterhorn visibility is necessary to experience additional light projections (such as Mara and a skull and crossbones) and the cannon battle during the Pirates of the Caribbean sequence.
Ignoring all other considerations, such as wait time and crowd control, the ideal viewing location is going to have clear views of the front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the south face of Matterhorn, and all the airspace in between. If you have no other considerations, then viewing location A is the only one for you. For everybody else, these comparisons should help you determine if there is any other area of the park that will be satisfactory.
Most show elements were evaluated on a scale of 0 through 5, with 0 meaning it was completely unavailable at that location, and 5 indicating near perfection.
On the actual group test night (May 8), nobody was actually in this location. Many of the testers, however, had previously watched Remember from here and shared their comments. Before we get into the specifics, let's look at exactly what area we mean by Viewing Location A.
A very rough representation of the Central Plaza and its viewing differences. Image © MousePlanet.
Hopefully you'll excuse the crudeness of this diagram. It certainly doesn't explicitly describe the Central Plaza (or hub as many people call it), but it gets the point across. For those only passingly familiar with Disneyland, the hub is the round area at the end of Main Street, immediately in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This is where the Partners statue with Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse holding hands is.
To get to this area, you walk down Main Street from the main gates. From here, you can take any of several exits to Adventureland, Frontierland, Carnation Garden (the band stage), walk through the Castle, take an alternate route into Fantasyland, or go into Tomorrowland.
This Cental Plaza is the only place from which you can view every element of the show. However, even this area is riddled with good spots and better spots. Many trees in the area can block views of the Matterhorn, higher firework effects, or parts of the castle. If you decide to go for one of these spots, keep in mind what you will want to be able to see. The safest bet is to just try for a spot at the top half of the hub, directly in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
In the diagram, green represents areas where you should be able to camp out as early as you want. Blue represents areas that are not available until after the 7:45 edition of Parade of Dreams has gone through. Finally, red indicates an area where you are never allowed to stop and watch the fireworks, generally for crowd flow reasons.
Please keep in mind that this is a new show and crowd control policies are subject to frequent changes that may not end up reflected in the diagram. It is always best to try and speak to a cast member once you've staked out a spot just make sure you won't be rousted right before the show begins (and even then it may happen anyway; try to roll with the punches).
Comments: The presence of laser effects are completely visible from this location but being below them hides their shape, which is most visible from Main Street Station (Viewing Location B). Generally all the lights in the area of the hub that can be dimmed are, however some observers were heard to comment that the King Arthur Carrousel lights were left on and distracted those sitting in the street immediately in front of the castle. As of May 7, attempts at crowd control in this area were valiant but it was just a case of too many people trying to be in the same place. To get this spot, you must either be patient (and get their very early) or rude (show up late and force your way in).
None in this section. Almost all the photos in this article up to this point were taken from this location.
This viewing location is up at the top of the stairs for Main Street Station for the Disneyland Railroad. This is an important distinction because the Main Street buildings will block many effects if you only stand at the bottom of the stairs.
Comments: For many people, this may actually be the best spot from which to watch, though its quality will quickly decline if it becomes popular. Many of the castle projections are too low to be visible and then when they are, distance makes them hard to discern (as with the projections onto the Matterhorn). Sound and light quality in this area was topnotch, and it is actually the best spot for seeing the laser effects since the elevated view gives a good angle. At least for now, it does not appear that this location requires much camping, as it remained uncrowded until after 9 p.m. If the fireworks are your last activity of the day, the quick access to the exit is a definite plus. If you're heading back in for more rides, hopping on the train will bypass many of the crowds.
Even with a fairly long lens, this location is not ideal for photography because of the everpresent flag pole. Photo by David Michael.
From this farther angle, the individual explosions in the Mickey head show some separation. Photo by David Michael.
From straight on and so far away, it is difficult to tell that this effect was launched from locations surrounding the Central Plaza hub. Photo by David Michael.
This littleknown location was known for providing decent views for previous fireworks shows. As with Main Street Station, it provides an elevated view that removes buildings and trees from your sightline. If Innoventions is closed, you can get to the location by walking up the building's exit ramp. Cast members made no effort to remove watchers from this location, either on May 8 or during previous shows.
Comments: Although the experience of watching the show from here is not quite as bad as the numbers may indicate, pretty much every element of the show is compromised. The soundtrack is particularly poor as the area does not have its own presenation, but is rather heard from surrounding areas. The great benefit is that there were no crowds and once the show is concluded, you are on the opposite side of the park from the major traffic jams should you wish to continue your evening in Tomorrowland or Fantasyland.
Matterhorn creates a blocking silhouette for much of the show, but when lit, this is one of the few off-Main Street locations where the projections are visible. Photo by Jeff Moxley.
From Innoventions, the lower effects at the castle are obstructed. Photo by Jeff Moxley.
The stretching effect, being a little farther south brings the Orbitron into view, providing a unique foreground. Photo by Jeff Moxley.
Plaza Pavilion is the area right between Refreshment Corner (aka Coke Corner) and the entrance to Adventureland. In addition to the pin, Disney Vacation Club, and lemonade carts, there is also some seating in this area.
Comments: Although right on the edge of the hub, there aren't really any perfect views available here because of the number of trees in the area. A sightline that makes Matterhorn visible will leave parts of the castle obscured, however, so if you investigate, it is possible to find a good spot. Other than missing the Matterhorn, the only major drawback for Sheila and her friends was that there will be a constant flow of pedestrians in front of you during the show. The exit from Adventureland to Main Street will have Fantasmic crowd control moving people right in front of you, waving their light wands and shouting instructions. After the show, do not expect to move quickly, as you'll be caught between the people trying to get down Main Street to the exit and people trying to get to Rivers of America for the second Fantasmic.
A photo during the castle effect, showing the great view of the castle and Matterhorn. It also highlights that some effects may resist photography, being too big when in front of the castle and unimpressive without it. Photo by Sheila Hagen.
Fantasmic crowd control will be out in force in this area during the shownote the yellowjacketed Fantasmic crowd control cast member waving his orange traffic flashlight. Photo by Sheila Hagen.
It will be just about impossible to get a good photo of Tinker Bell for most camera equipment, so just settle for getting a good view of her and save the film or batteries. Photo by Sheila Hagen.
This viewing location is right on the Main Street sidewalk by the corn dog cart next to Plaza Inn (in front of the Baby Care Center/First Aid). The reason this location may be of interest to many is that it is the reserved wheelchair viewing location for the Parade of Dreams. Remember itself does not have designated wheelchair locations so if this is important, you should stake a spot here for the parade and then stay for fireworks. Tiffany reported that the area did clear out after the parade, allowing people to show up just for the fireworksbut this isn't guaranteed. For best viewing, be as far left as possible (they'll eventually put up a rope, so go all the way out to the curb after the parade).
Comments: The biggest drawback is that while it is near the hub, the sightline to Matterhorn is through all the trees in front of Plaza Inn and it is difficult to find any view, let alone an unobstructed one. However, this will be the best of the parade wheelchair locations for fireworks viewing. Unfortunately there seemed to be no attempt at crowd control in this corner. Once the show started, not many others in the area had much respect for the watchers forced to sit through the show and therefore further obstructed the view of those in wheelchairs.
The Mickey head, seen from the intended angle. Photo by Tiffany Eliot.
This was about the best photo of Tinker Bell taken by any of the contributors, highlighting how difficult it is to do so. [She is the blue-green speck to the right of the center of the photo.] Photo by Tiffany Eliot.
The grand finale shows that this area is a fine spot, if you can live without the Matterhorn effects. Photo by Tiffany Eliot.
This location is at the far left side of the Fantasmic seating area, near the reserved priority seating by the Rivers of America, not quite as far as as the McDonald's fries at Harbor Galley.
Comments: The Fantasmic viewing area is huge, and the variety of views for fireworks is likely wide ranging. The obvious benefit of this example is that you can either watch Fantasmic and then stay for the fireworks, or watch the fireworks and then stay for the second showing of Fantasmic. However, this isn't the best location for Fantasmic, so you may want to adjust yourself in the gaps between shows. One of the surprise things, for us, was that Tom Sawyer Island has its own laser effects during the fireworks. However, the rumor that there would be duplicate light projections onto the mill seems to be incorrect. Unlike other areas of Fantasmic seating, these area stays sparse until right before showtime, and crowd control needs are minimal.
Sample Photos: None for this location.
This location is at the far right side of the Fantasmic seating area, near the petrified tree and to the left of the Mark Twain dock.
Comments: Although closer to the action, this location actually has several disadvantages over the other end of the Fantasmic seating area. First, Frontierland is full of tall trees, which block out Tinker Bell's flight, as that is mostly visible from the other side of Fantasmic. Second, you'll be caught among people leaving the first Fantasmic, people trying to get to the second Fantasmic, and people who just stop where they are to watch the fireworks. Finally, the lights remain on at Golden Horseshoe, and may prove a distraction. While space for watching was available here pretty late, it is not a good tradeoff for the hassle.
The stretching room effect from the Haunted Mansion. The Golden Horsehoe does provide a different context but is simultaneously too lit and distracting without being visually compelling. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
The higher the effect, the better the visibility, but it is completely divorced from the castle. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
Another effect that looks great in front of the castle, but is just a pretty set of lights without it. Photo by Adrienne VincentPhoenix.
This is another location you can predict will not be very good, but has been good for past shows. It is snuggled in between it's a small world and Fantasia Garden (behind the current Princess meetandgreet location). Even at its most crowded, this area will be easy seating for fireworks.
Comments: This was my spot, and I watched the fireworks under conditions where it would have been difficult to hit someone with one of my kernels of popcorn. For previous fireworks shows, this area has been a reliable secondary location for when the crowds are just too much to contemplate. For this show, though, you have to just resign yourself to watching the big effects coming out from behind Toontown. If you look at the map above, you can see how the location is actually between the two primary sources of fireworks. If you try to catch everything, you'll be whipping back and forth to the point of distraction. One specialty case that may make this area of interest is for photography. Although everybody who takes pictures of these fireworks will want to be in front of the castle, this location allows you to just focus on the big effects, and gives an interesting alternative for the foreground.
From this location most large effects still look pretty good, and it's a small worldprovides a different context. Photo by Alex Stroup.
Castle-centered effects, however, are behind you, and even if you know they are coming, you are likely to miss them, as I did here with the stretching room effect. Photo by Alex Stroup.
An example of an effect that looks fine from the intended viewing location but has a weird angle for this one. Photo by Alex Stroup.
Again distracted by what was happening behind me, it appears that the Princesses are battling at their meetandgreet location. Photo by Alex Stroup.
Hopefully, armed with this knowledge of the various locations, you can choose the best spot that works for you.
(Send an email to Alex Stroup)
Alex Stroup works in Web functional design and married his way into this Disney thing. He currently focuses on movie reviews for Disney theatrical releases and other family-friendly films.