Happily Ever After Is Back! Our Experience On Opening Day

Happily Ever After
Credit: Disney

There is no better way to end a day at Walt Disney World than with fireworks. The shows never disappoint. Sadly, the skies have been dark since the middle of March, 2020. On July 1, 2021, that changed, with the return of Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever at EPCOT.

My daughter and I were at the Magic Kingdom for the historic event. All of the Disney Park Pass reservations were gone, so we were thrilled when we were able to grab our spots. Since we’re local Annual Passholders, we decided not to spend the entire day in the park. We walked through the gates around 6:30.

I wasn’t surprised to see that there were already people claiming their spots. It was raining, sadly the rain didn’t stop all evening. We decided to hit a few rides. For the beginning of a holiday weekend the Wait Times weren’t bad.

A few minutes after 8:00 I was curious, so I called the Park Hopping Hotline (407-560-5000). I thought if ever there would be a time when a park would be full it would be for the return of the fireworks. Much to my surprise, all parks were open and available for Park Hopping. If you’ve been worried that you won’t be able to Park Hop, don’t be. To my knowledge Disney has never closed a park to Park Hopping since it’s been back. As long as you have a Disney Park Pass Reservation and enter the first park, you should be fine.

Happily Ever After is running at 9:15, so at 8:45 we decided to claim our spots. Main Street, U.S.A. was crowded, but it was still easy to find a place with a perfect view. There was no social distancing at all.

Even in the rain, the crowd was electric. Little things caused everyone to shout for joy. A Mickey balloon got away from someone and the crowd cheered as it floated into the sky. The Cast Members who were in charge of securing Cinderella Castle received lots of applause. The announcement that the show would begin in “just ten minutes” brought about a new wave of excitement. People were ready. I was ready.

At exactly 9:15, the lights dimmed and the show began. The people who were near where we stood were courteous and put down their umbrellas. It had been a while since I had seen Happily Ever After, even before the shutdown. I had forgotten how special the show is.

I considered livestreaming, but the internet at Walt Disney World is spotty on a good day. Facebook didn’t want to load, and I knew that those trying to watch at home would be frustrated by long periods of buffering or poor quality video. I instead took pictures and some videos. I also just enjoyed the show. It’s been such a long time.

The only downside was that Tinkerbell couldn’t fly because of the rain. That was okay, safety first. We could see people (including someone dressed in bright green) up in the part of Cinderella Castle where she starts her flight, so it might have been a last minute decision.

It’s been a long 16 months. I live just minutes from Walt Disney World, and I’ve missed hearing the fireworks in the distance in the evening. With the return of Happily Ever After, things felt optimistic for the first time in a long time. I can’t wait to see EPCOT Forever again.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.