It’s hard to believe that “Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams” (more commonly known as simply “Wishes”) has been running nightly in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida for over 13 years and is still one of the most popular and highly regarded fireworks shows on Disney property. Later this spring, the nighttime fireworks show that has been running since October 9, 2003 will be replaced with a new nighttime show titled “Happily Ever After”. So, I think now is an appropriate time to remember what is special about this show and maybe even learn a few things we didn’t already know about it.
1. The show has an all-star cast animated cast
The show features voices of classic Disney characters including: Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy from “Pinnochio”, Snow White and the Wicked Queen from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Ariel from “The Little Mermaid”, Aladdin and Genie, and Tinker Belle from “Peter Pan” makes a physical surprise appearance in the night sky.
2. There are some epic creators behind the magic
Steven Davison, Walt Disney Creative Entertainment’s VP of Parades & Spectaculars, was commissioned to help create “Wishes” as a replacement to “Fantasy in the Sky”, which began been running 32 years prior in the opening year of the park. Additionally, “Fantast in the Sky” ran at the Disneyland park in California from 1958 until 1999 and was requested by Walt Disney himself. Steven Davison also created the Disneyland “Fantasy in the Sky” replacement, “Believe…There’s Magic in the Stars” fireworks show, which was created for the park’s 45th anniversary and ran from 2000 until 2004.
Greg Smith is the composer and arranger who created the amazing score for “Wishes”. In addition to Wishes, Greg composed the music for the “Remember…Dreams Come True” fireworks show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Disneyland as well as music for Mickey Mania (a parade which ran in Magic Kingdom), “Illuminations 25” and “Splashtacular” at Disney, and even the theme that you hear at the beginning of every Universal Pictures film.
You can hear an exclusive interview with Greg Smith about “Wishes” on the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast Episode 109 – Wishes and More.
Greg Smith conducting the orchestra recording of “Wishes” at Skywalker Ranch
3. Lots of bang for the buck
Operating the show each night, which consists of 655 individual pieces of pyrotechnics and 557 fireworks firing cues, costs Disney a whopping $33,000 each night the show runs! The fireworks are shot off mostly behind New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom as well as from some of the other surrounding buildings and even a few from and around Cinderella Castle itself. The many firing points make for an immersive experience with multiple points of views to focus on.
4. There are various renditions of the show for special events
Disney runs special versions of “Wishes” during their hard-ticketed events. For instance, “HalloWishes: A Grim Grinning Ghost Spooktacular in the Sky” runs during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” runs during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and, “Magic, Music, and Mayhem” ran during Mickey’s Pirate and Princess Party when they were being held from 2007 to 2009.
Over the years, “Wishes” has become much more than a fireworks show. It is the perfect ending to a magical day in a park that allows us to live out our fantasies and experience adventure. The encore Pop version of “Wishes” that plays after the show has ended tugs on my heart strings every time I hear it. I would even go so far to say that “Wishes” is more of an experience than it is a show. The experience starts 15 minutes before the show begins as Jiminy Cricket comes on the speakers counting down the minutes until the show begins all the way through until the last bit of music is played and the hub in front of Cinderella Castle has cleared out. This show will always remind me of a time when I was falling in love with Walt Disney World as an adult and falling in love with my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, on numerous trips throughout the year. While I look forward to the new show, “Happily Ever After”, debuting in May, “Wishes” will always hold a special place in my heart.