An Ode to Wishes

Wishes fireworks at the Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom’s nighttime fireworks spectacular, Wishes, will soon be performing its final show. It has been inspiring guests to trust their heats and make wishes since it debuted in 2003. As a former Cast Member who spent several months working at the park, I’m particularly attached to Wishes and was devastated to hear of its upcoming finale. Wishes’ replacement, Happily Ever After, is slated to have its opening performance on May 12th. The clips of the new show that have been released look very good, but before we welcome that new show, it’s time to look back at what has made Wishes so magical for so many years.

From the iconic flares that kick the show off to the castle-framing fans of light to that evil face that I was always determined to see right-side up to the spectacular beauty of the finale, Wishes was not to be missed. No fireworks show will ever capture my heart quite the way Wishes did.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

Who would think something as simple as a flare would be such a dramatic part of the show?

Being an intern at Disney World meant working the closing shift, and while that had the downside of ending late at night most of the time, it also included the perk of daily Wishes viewing and/or listening. Within a few weeks, those of us who worked at night had seen and heard the show so many times that we could tell how far into the performance it was based on just the sound of the firework bursts. The soundtrack wasn’t played in the ride station, and even though it’s open air, you couldn’t see the fireworks in the station, but we quickly learned to judge how far along the show was by the sound of the explosions echoing through the park. The light, airy bursts from the love section, the crackling sizzle that accompanied the villains portion, and the thundering booms leading up to the finale were as distinct as the music that accompanied them. This wasn’t just fun – it was a valuable skill on nights when the park remained open after Wishes, because the end of the show would signal an upcoming rush of people wanting to board.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

That silhouette still makes me smile.

If there weren’t many guests around to load and unload, we’d have our own sing-alongs providing an off-key, but spirited soundtrack to the invisible fireworks. And, let’s face it, sometimes the presence of guests didn’t even deter us from performing – hey, they call us Cast Members at Disney because we we’re all part of the show, right?

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

It’s even pretty when viewed from across the Seven Seas Lagoon!

By the end of our time working there, Wishes was so ingrained in my heart that it would bring a tear to my eye during the finale. That’s also when my favorite firework of all time explodes – the biggest, loudest shimmery gold one you can imagine. Wishes was an almost nightly ritual for several months, and I spent my last evening as a Cast Member standing on Main Street singing along. Just like certain songs can transport you back to a place and time that you remember fondly, this 12.5-minute long combination of lights, music, fireworks, and a flying fairy will always make me think of some of my happiest days.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

This one! This is my favorite firework of all time.

I tried to make it back to Orlando to watch it one last time, but the whole full-time job thing made that impractical. I’ll have to console myself with listening to the soundtrack over and over again. As luck would have it, I’ve taken enough pictures over the years that I could probably reconstruct it if I arranged them all together. These are some of my favorites.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

What would you wish for?


“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are.”



“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.”



This is perfection.

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

The genie has some wishes to grant!


Uh oh, be careful what you wish for.


Always let your conscience be your guide.


Good news: the Blue Fairy is here to save the day.


The Hercules music used in this section is perfect.


“Wishes! Dream a dream. Wishes! Set it free.”

Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - Orlando, Florida

“Wishes! Trust your heart. Just believe!”


And the grand finale.

I know Wishes isn’t the height of all entertainment, but it will always be near and dear to my heart. I have so many amazing memories associated with this show, and it’s the only way I want to end my evening at Disney World.

Check out this incredible video by OnlyHDVideos:

Do you have any fond memories of Disney shows or attractions?

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The Wishes firework spectacular is ending its 13-year run at the Magic Kingdom. Look back on some great memories and photographs with a former Cast Member.Pin - Wishes2The Wishes firework spectacular is ending its 13-year run at the Magic Kingdom. Look back on some great memories and photographs with a former Cast Member.
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Kris's suitcase never rests. She's either traveling the United States for business or exploring somewhere exciting and new for vacation. She's a former Disney World Cast Member and loves writing about Disney parks almost as much as visiting them.


  • Christina S April 22, 2017 at 1:53 pm Reply

    I haven’t been to Disney in almost 20 years, after growing up in nearby Tampa and going often. The one thing I remember, though, is that the fireworks were always awesome! A return trip is definitely in order.

    • nomadbytrade13 April 22, 2017 at 8:01 pm Reply

      You should definitely go back! It’s changed a lot even in the few years since I left.

  • therainbowroute April 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm Reply

    This is one of the best parts of Disneyland! So sad to see it go…

  • Kaylene Chadwell April 22, 2017 at 5:26 pm Reply

    I remember going to Disney with my family for the millennium; it was so much fun! I went back a couple years ago and loved seeing the fireworks. It truly is a magical place!

  • alexisrivard April 22, 2017 at 7:21 pm Reply

    I always confuse Disney World and Disney Land but I know I’d like to go to both of them because Disney is great at making us all so happy. Good ol’ Walt! It must have been amazing to work at Disney.

    • nomadbytrade13 April 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm Reply

      It was loads of fun. We worked so hard, but had so much fun. More than a decade later, I still keep in touch with friends around the country that I met working there.

  • Valerie April 22, 2017 at 11:59 pm Reply

    Wow your pics are so wonderful .. I was just at Anaheim this past year and so hard to get good night shots!

    How fun you got to intern there!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 23, 2017 at 10:49 am Reply

      It’s really hard to get good pictures! I had to dig through tons of them to find the few that were good enough to post.

  • karen April 23, 2017 at 9:11 am Reply

    I used to go to Florida (and Disney) every year. I loved the fireworks, especially Epcot! I hope to go back soon

  • Milijana April 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm Reply

    I have never visited Disney. But it has been calling my inner child. I guess it’s true that “we never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.” 😉

  • Sandy N Vyjay April 24, 2017 at 2:15 pm Reply

    Wow Fireworks is something I really love from the core of my heart and its like it it brings out the kid in me when I see the Fireworks bright and with full of light in the sky . Working at Disney is one thing really dreamy to me because Disney has been a part of me from will when I was born. It is sad that Wishes is coming to an end.

    • nomadbytrade13 April 25, 2017 at 11:42 pm Reply

      I also grew up on Disney stuff, so working there felt like coming home.

  • Juliette | Snorkels to Snow April 24, 2017 at 8:20 pm Reply

    What an incredible experience. Being a Disney intern sounds like quite the dream. Those fireworks sure do look spectacular, I love your photos with the castle in the background! Great shots. What beautiful memories you will be able to treasure for the rest of your life.

    • nomadbytrade13 April 25, 2017 at 11:42 pm Reply

      Wishes has always been one of my favorite (and most challenging) photography targets. Picking my favorites for this post was really hard.

  • Yannis from Hide In My Suitcase April 25, 2017 at 2:08 am Reply

    Wow! Didn’t know Wishes was a thing!
    But one of my fondest memories of Disneyland was finishing off the visit with a ride at It’s A Small World. It touched me then because of the way I saw the world at the time! And I’m sure it would still touch me now that I’ve made the entire world my home!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 25, 2017 at 11:43 pm Reply

      That’s so cool. I know people like to joke about that ride because of how easily the song gets stuck in your head, but it really does have a good message behind it.

  • Vicki Garside April 25, 2017 at 5:05 am Reply

    Starlight, 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 a do as dreamers do, and all our wishes will come true…

    As a fellow former cast member, I’m super sad there will soon be no more wishes, just writing the opening lines brings a tear to my eyes!
    But I’m sure Happily Ever After will be great, because, well, no-one does fireworks like Disney!

    • nomadbytrade13 April 25, 2017 at 11:45 pm Reply

      That’s so true. I’m excited to see the new show whenever I make it back for my next visit. I’m sure it’ll take things up a notch with technology that didn’t exist when Wishes was created.

  • The Clueless Abroad April 26, 2017 at 5:20 am Reply

    I didn’t even know that such a thing existed – looks like we need to catch up! Visiting Disney World / Land has been on our list for a long time. 🙂
    It’s a pity that this particular tradition is going away, but I’m sure there will be something new to make up for it!

  • The Roaming April 26, 2017 at 12:10 pm Reply

    This sounds amazing and would have been awesome to have got the chance to see it! Hope the new show is just as amazing!

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