Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World
There are two delightful evening shows at the Magic Kingdom, Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After. Because they both occur at night, one right after the other, and both use projection technology against the backdrop of Cinderella’s Castle, some guests might not know they are two separate, distinct shows.
Once Upon a Time is a spellbinding show that brings Disney scenes and characters to life with special effects and music. Mrs. Potts is telling her son a Chip a bedtime story and we get to hear it, too! Enjoy classic scenes from your animated favorites Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen in this 14 minute show that takes place most evenings in the Magic Kingdom.
Happily Ever After is a a fireworks nighttime extravaganza and the most advanced fireworks show to ever appear at the Magic Kingdom! Happily Ever After uses lights, lasers, special effects, fireworks, and a score full of your favorite Disney songs to create an awe inspiring end to your day at the Most Magical Place on Earth. This 18 minute show stopper is a can’t miss for the young and the young at heart.
So how are they different?
Once Upon a Time. Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.
Once Upon a Time utilizes a few pyro tricks, but has no other real fireworks. Happily Ever After is considered the main fireworks entertainment, having replaced Wishes. Both use projections set against Cinderella’s Castle, but Happily Ever After’s are more artistically complex, with sequences created specifically for the show. Once Upon a Time features some recognizable tunes, but the music of Happily Ever After is multi layered, with songs from your Disney favorites intermingling with a new theme, “Happily Ever After”, sung by Jordan Fisher and Angie Keilhauer.
Here’s where it gets tricky. While both Happily Ever After and Once Upon a Time usually appear nightly, their timing can change. Seven months prior to the publishing of this post, Once Upon a Time played before Happily Ever After. But as of April 2019, Happily Ever After happens at 9:15 and Once Upon a Time happens at 10. Be sure to check the Disney website for showtimes as your vacation dates get closer.
Happily Ever After. Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Fun fact, on our 2017 trip we had no idea there even was a Once Upon a Time, we thought everything on the Castle was Happily Ever After. We happened to be eating dinner at Casey’s Corner when Once Upon a Time began. We couldn’t believe our luck and settled in to see the new Fireworks show everyone was raving about while we munched on some cheese fries. Our excitement quickly turned to puzzlement. Once Upon a Time was very nice, but the greatest show in the history of the Magic Kingdom? Our girls loved it, and while we thought it was sweet, we couldn’t figure out what everyone was raving about. There weren’t even any fireworks.
Trying to beat the rush to the bus, we grabbed some dessert to go and made our way out of the park…only to see (and hear) the fireworks start. Slightly confused, we spent a very enjoyable time sharing our treats on a bench near the buses, watching the fireworks, and wondering why they happened so late after the show. Silly B Family.
Don’t worry, we made up for it during the 2018 trip, where we got to see what all the fuss was about and truly experience Happily Ever After. But don’t be like the B Family! When it comes to nighttime entertainment, know before you go!
Once Upon a Time is a fun thing to catch if you have the time in your evening, but Happily Ever After is what people start claiming spots hours in advance to see.
Are you a fan of Happily Ever After? How about Once upon a Time? Do you miss Wishes? Tell me your nighttime firework show preferences in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!