Article by Storybook Traveler Holly Averette.
Enjoy a brilliant display of fireworks from the comfort of your own boat when you book a private fireworks cruise!
- You have the option to book a cruise for either the Magic Kingdom or Epcot nighttime spectacular.
- Each cruise is limited to 10 guests (including infants), plus your captain.
- The current cost starts at $ 399+ tax.
- All children MUST wear a life jacket. One will be provided by your captain before boarding.
- For guests with limited mobility, a transfer is necessary.
- Arrival time is 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to the start of the fireworks.
- Availability is limited for this experience. Plan to book as far in advance as possible.
General Information and What’s Included:
If you choose the Epcot fireworks cruise you will depart from the Beach and Yacht Club marina. If you are doing the Magic Kingdom fireworks cruise you currently have the option to depart from the Grand Floridian or Contemporary Resort. The recreation dock at Wilderness Lodge is being refurbished at the time of this article but we were told that the plan was for it to return as a departure location in the future. Each cruise is driven by a captain from the recreation team and accommodates 10 people on a 25 foot pontoon boat. Each boat is stocked with canned drinks (coke, diet coke, sprite), bottled water, and a snack basket. The snacks are all pre-packaged and include chips, rice crispy treats, cookies, and brownies. They are able to accommodate some food allergies as well if you note the allergies when booking. Festive banners and balloons are included in the cost so if you are celebrating a special occasion, be sure to mention it when booking! Each cruise lasts about 2 hours.
Tour Experience- Epcot vs Magic Kingdom:
First, let’s take a look at the Epcot experience. We met our guide at the recreation marina near the Yacht Club and the little ones in our party were fitted for a life jacket. About an hour prior to the fireworks we boarded our boat for a cruise around Crescent Lake and the scenic waterways around Hollywood Studios. Upon approaching Hollywood Studios we could hear the nearby Fantasmic show and even see a few of the pyrotechnic effects. Our captain gave us some background on the area as we headed inside Epcot to the World Showcase Lagoon. For the Epcot experience, we docked underneath the bridge that connects the United Kingdom to France. We tied up with the other boats also doing cruises so we were in close proximity to several other boats. Our captain offered us noise-canceling headphones for the two little ones in our party and I thought this was a nice touch for those who may be sensitive to noise. The view was great! We could clearly see and hear the entirety of the show while relaxing in the comfort of our boat.
Now, let’s compare the Magic Kingdom experience. We opted to depart from the Grand Floridian, where we met our captain at the recreation marina near Gasparilla Grill. The boat and setup were nearly identical to the Epcot experience. The only notable difference that I observed was the addition of a cooler that popped up to make a table. This would be convenient if you choose to bring aboard additional food or drink items. Upon our departure, we headed for Bay Lake, which is the body of water that surrounds the back of the Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness. This area is also home to the abandoned Disney water park, River Country, and zoological park, Discovery Island. You’ll learn some interesting history about both attractions during your cruise. After some time sailing Bay Lake, we returned to the Seven Seas Lagoon where we got in position for the fireworks. For this experience, the boat remains free-floating, meaning you are not tethered to another boat or structure like at Epcot. The music is piped onto the boat while you enjoy a unique view of the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella’s Castle, and the fireworks. After the fireworks, our driver pivoted the boat and we were able to enjoy the Electrical Water Pageant before returning to the Grand Floridian.
A final note to consider- the waterways for the Epcot cruise were much calmer because they see significantly less boat traffic than the waterways around the Magic Kingdom. During the Epcot show you are tethered to other boats and/or the bridge so movement is very minimal and has less of an impact. For the Magic Kingdom cruise, when larger vessels such as the ferry or large boat transportation went by, we definitely felt more movement from the wake of those boats. Since the entire cruise is free floating, you may feel more rocking.
I can’t recommend a private fireworks cruise enough! I love having a place to sit away from the crowds while still enjoying the show. It’s one of the most relaxing and unique fireworks viewing experiences you can get. Bonus: After the show, you skip the crowded exit and long transportation lines as you head back for the boat dock in comfort! There are NO park tickets needed for this experience, making it a great activity to do on a rest day. This is an excellent option for those looking to celebrate a special occasion or just relax and chat with loved ones. Moving forward, I can see this being a regular add-on for me. The calm atmosphere works better for my family and the whole experience from beginning to end is fantastic!
- You can bring your own food and drink (no glass) onboard. Celebrating a special occasion and want cake? Bring it with you! Prefer a certain beverage? Bring it along! Want dinner on the boat? Yep, you can do that too! Just keep in mind that plates, napkins, and utensils are not provided so you’ll want to pack those as well.
- Use the restroom prior to boarding the boat. The total time onboard is about 2 hours and no restrooms will be available during that time.
- Plan accordingly for the weather. The cruise will still take place in cold and light rain but can be canceled in case of severe, or otherwise inclement, weather.
- If someone in your travel party is particularly sensitive to motion or sea sickness, you may want to take that into consideration when booking.
- You will miss the projection elements from the Magic Kingdom fireworks. If this is important, you may consider an alternative experience such as the fireworks dessert parties.
Article by Storybook Traveler Holly Averette.