At most Disney attractions every seat is a good seat, but there are a few where it pays to know a trick or two to make sure you get the best seat in the house.
Parade Watching Secrets
The Main Street train station is a great place to watch both the parades and the fireworks — the only downside is you have to stake out a spot a couple of hours before as it fills up quickly. So if you’re only taking a short trip I wouldn’t recommend this one as your time is better spent enjoying the park.
Try one of these instead:
- Outside the Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square you will find Santa’s Sleigh. It makes a perfect elevated perch from which to watch the parades and it’s such a well-kept secret that you don’t have to get there too early.
- Outside the Shooting Arcade in Frontierland are a couple of large concrete planters — they make a great raised platform from which you can view the parades. Once again this spot doesn’t get taken until shortly before the parade as most people are crowding the edge of the sidewalk. If the parade is starting on Main Street then you don’t even need to get here until the start time as it takes about twenty minutes for the floats to work their way around.
Fireworks Watching Secrets
- The fireworks spectacular is best watched from the middle of Main Street between Casey’s Corner and the Ice Cream Parlor. A lot of people start standing here in readiness as soon as the parade has passed through. We usually just squeeze in ten minutes before the fireworks are due to start. This only works if you’re travelling without young children – there is no way you would be able to squeeze a stroller in that late.
- If you’d prefer to sit down while watching the fireworks then you can look for a chair at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Tinkerbell will fly right overhead and you’ll have a great view of the fireworks.
- Another great place to experience the spectacular is the walkway in front of the Crystal Palace which you can access from Main Street or the Adventureland Bridge. You will need to make sure you can see the castle clearly as some trees can block the view. Look for the spot where the path circles a tree and stand where the fence bows out in a semi-circle. Last time we were there this was being used for Photopass photos – which proves there is a great view of the castle from there. We just lingered next to it until the Photopass Cast Member stopped for the fireworks and then moved into position.
- Mickey’s PhilarMagic: The best view for any 3D attraction is towards the back of the auditorium in the middle of the row. When you enter the theatre don’t be too eager; let some guests walk in front of you and follow them towards the back of the room. Wait until you think a row will be half filled and then follow them in so you’ll be towards the middle of the row.
- The Haunted Mansion: When the doors open choose the left one and then walk over to the fireplace in the pre-show room. When the welcome narration finishes a door will open on one side of the fireplace. If the right hand door opens you need to walk through and stand by the second panel on your left in the next rom. If the left hand door opens then walk through and stand by the second panel on the right. When the pre-show finishes the panel next to you will open and you’ll be one of the first onto the ride.
Fireworks Watching Secrets
People begin staking out a spot for IllumiNations up to two hours before the fireworks spectacular begins. If you know where to go this really isn’t necessary. You should be able to find a good spot 20-30 minutes before show time.
- Head to Italy and look for the little jetty where the gondolas are. Anywhere on the left of the steps or the left of the jetty makes a perfect spot — and the wall makes a great ‘tripod’ for your camera or video camera.
- On the UK side of the bridge is a peninsular that juts out into the lagoon which is another good spot.
- On the France side of the bridge is another peninsular that makes a great vantage point.
- Anywhere in front of Germany will give you a great view.
Whichever spot you choose you might want to grab a snack from one of the Counter Service restaurants and eat while you wait for show time and bring a blanket to sit on as the concrete can be uncomfortable — especially at the end of a hot day.
- Captain EO: Aim to sit towards the rear of the theatre for the best 3D effects. Let 15-20 people enter the row before you so that you are seated towards the middle.
- Soarin’: If you are polite to the Cast Members they will usually let you select a seating row (unless it is really busy). Ask to be seated in block B in one of the middle rows — this will put you smack in the centre of the screen when the ‘hang gliders’ take off. For the best experience remove your shoes and socks and feel the wind between your toes
- Mission Space: The GREEN side is less likely to cause motion sickness — but you should avoid this attraction if you are claustrophobic.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Fantasmic! Watching Secrets
Fantasmic takes place in a stadium just across from the Tower of Terror. Be prepared to get in line about an hour before show time if you want to secure a decent seat. Unfortunately this isn’t like Epcot or the Magic Kingdom where you can just turn up minutes before the fireworks and still get a good spot. But don’t worry it is definitely worth the wait!
- Grab a Counter Service meal before entering the stadium and eat while you wait for the show to begin. There are food carts inside the stadium but options are limited and lines are long.
- Try to sit in the back few rows of one of the middle sections for the best view.
- The bleachers are quite uncomfortable to sit on so bring a blanket or a towel.
- Muppet Vision. Stand on the right hand side of the pre-show area (which has a cute movie) and let 15-20 people enter in front of you. You want to aim to be near the back towards the middle of a row.
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Choose a left hand door and let 12-15 people enter before you. You want to aim to be near the back towards the middle of a row.
- Indiana Jones. Try for the first ten rows towards the right hand side of the middle. Much of the action happens on the right hand side of the stage.
- Lights, Motors, Action! Sit as high up as you can for the best view.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Parade Watching Secrets
- The parade starts and ends in Harambe – through some giant doors next to the Kilimanjaro Safaris. As most people experience Africa in the morning it’s also the least crowded place to watch the parade. Since most people are lined up to watch the parade Kilimanjaro Safaris should be relatively quiet. Watch the parade start and then jump in line.
- Dinosaur: When you enter the pre-show room try and work your way to the far side while everyone is watching the movie — you’ll then be the first through the doors to the attraction. The front row of the jeep is the smoothest ride while the back row is the wildest!
- It’s Tough to be a Bug: 3D movies are best seen from the rear of the theatre towards the middle of the row. Stand near one of the left hand doors in the pre-show area and allow a number of guests to enter first so that you are more likely to be in the middle of the row. Beware that this show features a number of special effects that might frighten small children — and adults who don’t like bugs!
- Festival of the Lion King: Arrive at least 30 minutes early as this is a very popular show. All four seating areas offer a great view but your children are more likely to be chosen for the show if you sit in the first couple of rows of bleachers.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: The animals on this attraction are real (you’d be surprised at the number of people who think they are animatronics!) so no two rides are ever the same. Try to ride early in the day before it gets too hot, or later in the afternoon when it cools down. The animals are more active when it rains so that’s another good time to head to the attraction.
- 44 Insanely Useful Things to Pack for Your Disney Vacation
- The Smart Mom's List of What to Bring to Disney World Parks
- The Best Kept Secret Entrances to Disney World Parks
- 21 Fabulous Disney Autograph Book Ideas for Extra Magic!
- Vacation for Free! 4 Ways to Gift Card Your Way to Disney!
- How to Save Money for Your Disney World Vacation - $4500!
- 12 Totally Cute Matching Family Disney Shirts for Your Vacation
- 30 Awesome Road Trip Games for Kids You Need to See
The Best Disney World Guidebook
Researching your Disney vacation online is a brilliant thing to do, and we are so glad you are here reading our secrets.
But nothing beats a guidebook that you can read over and over before your trip and then throw in your suitcase so you have all of the information you need at your fingertips while you are on vacation.
This is the best paper guidebook whether it's your first trip or your hundredth trip, because it is regularly updated throughout the year so it has the most up to date information in it.
~Clare – currently pinning to All Things Disney!.