Happy Birthday Wishes
The Magic Kingdom still seeing fireworks
Friday, October 15, 2004
by Mike Scopa, MousePlanet staff writer
Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight
We'll make a wish
And do as dreamers do
And all our Wishes, all our Wishes
All our Wishes will come true.
Mark Goldhaber was right. The Magic Kingdom nighttime spectacular Wishes
is very much a keeper. A few weeks back I popped my brand new Wishes
CD into my CD player and I was immediately transformed back to the Magic
Kingdom. It has been one year since Wishes made its debut in Walt
Disney World on October 9, 2003 and in this session we take a look at
this outstanding fireworks display on its first birthday.
Son of Fantasy in the Sky
I remember going to Walt Disney World in 1976, the year that Fantasy
in the Sky made its debut. Back in the 1970s Walt Disney World was
basically the Magic Kingdomno Epcot, no MGM Studios, no Animal Kingdom,
no Downtown Disney, and certainly no Pleasure Island.
When Fantasy debuted some 28 years ago, it was also the inaugural flight
of Tinkerbell from atop Cinderella Castle. Have you ever noticed that
we never get a good look of Tink until she's about 10-20 feet from the
castle? There's a reason for that: Forced perspective where
the windows on multistoried buildings in Disney theme parks are built
on a smaller scale to give the impression that the buildings are actually
taller than their actual height.
The same goes for Cinderella Castle. We never will see Tink perched on
a castle window ledge. Tink is a pixie, she is always supposed to be tiny.
On a castle window ledge she would look far larger than a pixiein
fact she would probably dwarf the window.
Not only does Tink continue her duty of opening up the Magic Kingdom
fireworks with a flight from the castle, but also with an enhanced multicolored
costume and lighted wings.
Wishes is quite larger than Fantasy and about five minutes
longer than its predecessor.
According to Disney, Wishes is the largest fireworks display to
date that has ever been shown at the Magic Kingdom. When I watched video
on the show, I counted more than 600 shells going off in approximately
12 minutesthat's at least 50 shells a minutequite a sight.
So who created Wishes? As Mark told us a year ago, there were
several key people responsible for this magical display:
Steven Davison is the show creator and director. He is also creative
director with Walt Disney Creative Entertainment
Eric Tucker designed the fireworks. You may have seen his work
beforeat IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot.
Steve Skorija is the music director for Wishes. He is also
music director for Walt Disney Entertainment and has his hand in all musical
productions for Walt Disney World.
Gregory Smith serves as composer and arranger for the musical
score to Wishes. Smith has also worked on other Walt Disney World
productions such as Mickey Mania at the Magic Kingdom and Illuminations
25 at Epcot.
These four gents are responsible for giving guests quite a lasting memory.
The show's principle narrators are Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy,
but they are not alone. We hear about Wishes from many other well-known
Disney characters. I think one of the amazing aspects of the show is that
although not all of the voice talent is made up of the original character
voices, they certainly sound like them.
The original theme of Wishes is based on the children's nursery
rhyme Star Light, Star Bright, and child soloist Charity Farris
starts off the program with her rendition of it.
From that point on, the musical score calls upon a dozen songs first
heard in 10 Disney animated filmsand you will likely recognize each
Lessons from Sorcery in the Sky
When I first saw Wishes, I immediately thought of Disney-MGM Studios'
Sorcery in the Sky, which I first saw in 1990. It combines low-level fireworks
with famous movie themes and songs. The choreography involved made Sorcery
a very popular attraction. When Fantasmic arrived at MGM, Sorcery was
packed away, to be only on shown special nightsmostly holiday evenings.
If you ever plan on being at MGM when Sorcery is shown, you will experience
some of the highest crowd levels of the year. That's how popular this
show has become.
I cannot help but think that some of the lessons learned for that show
were incorporated and improved for Wishes.
Lights, action, music
The fireworks used in Wishes are launched from several places
around the Magic Kingdom, including the rooftops of the Fantasyland dark
rides. This approach results in a more robust performance and makes for
some outstanding effects.
One thing you'll notice about Wishes is the concentration of the
shells at times which make for some brilliant displays.
Another important component of this show, which showcases Cinderella
Castle, is the use of colors and images on this Magic Kingdom icon. During
the performance, the castle takes on the mood of the musicbright
and cheerful colors for those happy moments and ominous colors for scary
ones. You also see images projected onto the castle. I won't spoil it
for you, but when you get a chance to see Wishes for the first
time, be sure to have a good view of the castle (especially the bottom
It's the combination of choreography of the fireworks, colors and images
that can result in an emotional reaction to this show.
How to watch Wishes
If you've ever seen Fantasy in the Sky at the Magic Kingdom you probably
have your own special spot to watch them. However, for Wishes it's
important to note that the focal point for the show is Cinderella Castle.
I have three favorite spots from which I like to watch Wishes:
Approximately 50 yards from the Partners statue, which places
you at the tip of Main Street, U.S.A. From this spot you can see all fireworks,
be in full view of the castle and in close proximity to some well hidden
The upper Rose Garden to the right of Cinderella Castle on the
bridge to Tomorrowland. This spot gives you a very good view of the castle
and is close to some speakers. I also like it because it takes you out
of the egress lanesmore of that later.
The lower Rose Garden on the lower lever near the Plaza restaurant
to the right of the castle. Not that many people watch from this point.
Note that the angle of the fireworks is different here. You will notice
that the fireworks will be more to the right of the castle instead of
behind it. If you want to be away from the crowd this is the spot for
When watching this spectacular, it's important to also listen to the
blending of music to the spoken words. Many guests are there to see the
fireworks, but this is much more than just a fireworks show.
Zoning with Wishes
The first time I saw Wishes my reaction was neutral at best. I
wasn't sure if I liked it. There was a good reason for that. First for
almost three decades I was a fan of Fantasy in the Sky and now it was
being replaced. One of the first attractions to have ever introduced me
to the concept of being in a Disney Zone was gone and I was in denial.
I also didn't understand something very importanthow to watch this
show. When you watch Wishes you need to be a sponge and absorb
everything around you. Empty your mind and open up your ears, your eyes
and your heart.
Don't make the mistake of leaving too soon. There are nine individual
pieces to this show and each one should be given your attention.
As the show nears its end, we hear Jiminy Cricket announcing the return
of the Blue Fairy, which is soon followed by the children's chorus of
Star Light, Star Bright. This portion of the show is titled
A Wish Triumphant, and it's at this point that I really being
to start to enter the Disney Zone. Many of the songs, words and music
work toward tugging at our emotions and the finale will really touch those
of you who are true Disney fans.
The Wishes finale is truly something, but what many guests fail
to do is enjoy the song following it. Those who remain and gaze upon Cinderella
Castle are rewarded with an amazingly haunting and melancholy rendition
of Wishes performed by Michele Lindhahl and David Wise.
At the show's finale (and sometimes beforehand) many guests start their
mad dash toward the front of Main Street, U.S.A. I feel sorry for these
guests because their sprint to the front of the park causes them to miss
the full Wishes package. Sure you can try to beat the crowd to
the monorail, but you will deny yourself the amazing atmosphere.
As the song finishes, the castle is covered with a blue background filled
with stars and a crescent moon until the stars and, finally, the moon
slowly disappear into the night.
Hand me a tissue.
The message from Wishes is clear:
We must never stop believing in our Wishes, for they are
the true magic in the world. Wishes can come true when we just
believe with all our heart.
So follow your heart
make a wish
and let your special magic
I'm with Mark. It is a keeper.
Happy birthday Wishes!
It's time to look at a few Disney-related sites. We'll look at a young
Disney Community site, visit a place in the Internet that may help you
make someone's visit to Walt Disney World a bit special, and then take
a lighthearted look at a site that you might find quite entertaining.
Hopefully some of these will end up in your Favorites.
Thoughts, questions, or comments? Contact Mike here.