We really love the Disney theme parks in the summer. Standing in long lines and watching the daytime parades in the heat may be a big challenge, but the weather allows for certain outdoor activities that just are not the same the rest of the year.
At Walt Disney World, our favorite summertime heat and crowd buster is to take a Specialty Cruise along the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake at the Magic Kingdom or Crescent Lake at Epcot. There is no better way to end a long day in the sun. Leave the parks, have a relaxing dinner at one of the Disney resorts, and then walking down to the dock to board your own private boat to watch the fireworks shimmer and bounce off the water. How’s that for summer magic?
We love Wishes Nighttime Spectacular AND IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, so we just had to do Fireworks Cruises for both; each provides a truly different experience. You can choose from a 21 foot (seats 8 at a cost of $284) or 25 foot (seats 10 and costs $346) pontoon boat for either excursion. The pricing includes a driver and thank goodness, because otherwise my husband would have been behind the wheel! You also receive simple snacks like chips, water and Coke soft drinks.
Unlike years ago, all the boats now offer a soundtrack to the show. Cruises depart 30 minutes prior to the scheduled fireworks entertainment, and are now one hour in length. Bookings can be made 180 days in advance by calling (407) WDW-PLAY. If a cruise needs to be cancelled due to inclement weather, you would receive a refund.
The Wishes cruise leaves from the marina of the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge or Fort Wilderness Resorts. As a bonus, you can usually experience the nightly Electrical Water Pageant while out on the water and tour the Lagoon. An advantage of this cruise is that the body of water is so large that the boats can spread out. You feel as though you are watching your own, unobstructed, private fireworks show! A contrasting point is that you can get a similar vantage point from any of those Resorts’ beaches, and that’s FREE.
IllumiNations cruises depart from the Yacht and Beach Club Marina and park under the International Gateway Bridge. It is a wonderful vantage point for the fountains, laser ball and fireworks, and gives you a completely different perspective from what you see on land. A disadvantage is that you cannot get a full view of all of the Pavilions due to trees and the Bridge. Occasionally there is also a hint of smoke in the air.
There are two additional cruises offered by Disney: the VIP Grand I Yacht docked at the Grand Floridian, and the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage.
Now some tips to make your Specialty Cruise extra special:
• There’s no better place to celebrate a birthday or a special occasion. For $25, Disney will decorate your pontoon with balloons and a personalized banner.
• Disney Private Dining can provide an occasion cake to really make your excursion feel like a true party. Call Private Dining at the resort you will be leaving from in advance, and you will have a large variety of cakes, beverages and other goodies to choose from.
Here’s a tip for any special needs guests you may have in your party. The theme parks can be crowded and overwhelming at any time of the year, but excessive heat takes its toll on the elderly and disabled. Children with sensory issues can find the intensity and noise of the fireworks unbearable. The serenity of a pontoon ride can be a godsend for special needs families. Everyone can enjoy the show together, the couches allow for elevating a wounded leg or swollen ankle; the soundtrack can be modulated as needed. Though not inexpensive, a Fireworks Specialty Cruise can be worth every penny.
As final plus to your unforgettable summer day, while your boat silently pulls back into the resort slip you can appreciate not having to fight the throngs of guests lining up at the monorail, working their way back to the parking lot. You can take your memories and your champagne bottle back to your room.
Thanks for stopping by for a photographical Disney ride, and we’ll see you by the light of the fireworks!
Donna is a wife, mom, physical therapist and year-old blogger at DIStherapy.com. She is a non-profit caretaker for special needs causes and running for the same! She is a regular contributor to WDW Fan Zone, The Magical Blogorail Yellow Loop and Babes in Disneyland. She resides in Killington, VT and Long Island, NY.
You can visit also Donna at Distherapy on Facebook.