Disney Fireworks: Magic in the Skies

50 years of Disney World also marks 50 years of fireworks over Central Florida

A new nighttime spectacular, “Disney Enchantment,” will debut Oct. 1, 2021 (Disney, Walt Disney World)

ORLANDO, Fla. – In case you missed it, on Friday Disney unveiled a new look at the much-anticipated new fireworks spectacular Disney Enchantment, which is set to replace “Happily Ever After” on Oct.1 at the Magic Kingdom.

While many fans are sad to see the “Happily” show ending, Disney has been dazzling guests with ever more elaborate displays since long before Walt Disney World debuted.

The first Disney fireworks show, “Fantasy in the Sky” debuted at Disneyland in 1958 with cast members manually firing off each colorful shell. “Fantasy in the Sky” first debuted in Florida for the dedication ceremony of the Polynesian Village Resort on October 24, 1971. The original 5-minute-long show played regularly with some additions and modifications through 2003.

"Fantasy in the Sky" was the original fireworks show in the Magic Kingdom, debuting in October 1971 (Disney)

“Fantasy in the Sky” featured classic Disney songs including “The Second Star to the Right,” “When You Wish Upon A Star,” “Mickey Mouse March,” “Grim Grinning Ghosts,” “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and more. It also featured Tinkerbell’s flight, which is the only element of the original show that has carried over into all regular Magic Kingdom displays.

Tinkerbell Flies over the Magic Kingdom during the "Wishes" fireworks show (Disney)

Tink first flew over Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in 1961, portrayed in California by a circus aerialist named Tiny Kline, who was 70 years young when she first glided over the crowd, In those first days, she launched from the Matterhorn to the castle, landing face-first in a mattress held up by a team of cast members to break her fall. In Florida, Tink takes off from the much taller Cinderella Castle, landing on a rooftop in Tomorrowland.

While a version of “Fantasy in the Sky” still plays each New Year’s Eve, the longer and more elaborate “Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams” played from October 9, 2003 - May 11, 2017.

Fireworks over Cinderella Castle (Disney)

Steve Davison, vice president of Parades & Spectaculars, created “Wishes.” The 12-minute-long show was hosted by Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy and featured 683 firework shells, including a “Wishing Star” which crested approximately 100 feet over the spires of Cinderella Castle. He is currently working on Epcot’s enormous new spectacular, “Harmonious.” Like “Disney Enchantment,” it is expected to formally debut on Oct. 1.

Happily Ever After debuted on May 12, 2017 at the Magic Kingdom. It will end its run September 30, 2021. (Disney)

While “Fantasy in the Sky” ran for some 32 years, and “Wishes” enjoyed a nearly 14-year stay, The current show “Happily Ever After” debuted less than 4 1/2 years ago on May 12, 2017, with more than a year break in its run due to the pandemic. The 18-minute show features more lasers, lights and projections than any other spectacular in Magic Kingdom Park history and includes some newer Disney classics like“Moana,” “Big Hero Six” and “The Princess and the Frog.” The trend towards more projections will expand with “Enchantment,” which will feature moving images up and down the facades of Main Street, USA. Disney is encouraging the many fans of “Happily Ever After” to say their farewells. It is set to be performed nightly through Sept. 30.

Disney 50

To all who come to this happy corner of ClickOrlando.com, welcome! Walt Disney World is counting down to its 50th Anniversary, and so are we. With 50 days until 50 years, we are taking a daily look back at the past, how Disney’s opening shaped Central Florida’s present, and a peek at what’s in store for the future.

We’re also looking to hear your memories of Walt Disney World: What do you love? What do you miss? What are some of your magical moments? You can share them with us and we’ll post them all for everyone to enjoy. Some might even be featured during our News 6 TV coverage of Walt Disney World’s 50th.

Here’s to dreaming, and here’s to another half-century of The Most Magical Place on Earth!

About the Author:

Ken Pilcher is a lifelong Floridian with more than 30 years in journalism experience. He joined News 6 in 2003 and has covered Central Florida attractions and theme parks since 1988. He currently produces News 6 at 7 p.m.