Thursday, March 16, 2017

An Ode to Wishes – A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams

By Rebekah Coley

It is with a distinct element of sadness and nostalgia, that WDW fans will be saying adieu to a beloved nighttime spectacular. On May 11th of this year, the Wishes fireworks show will have its final performance in the sky. Join us in today's new article as we pay homage to one of the most spectacular Disney firework shows to ever light up the night sky...

Before any of the Disney Parks became a reality, Walt Disney accompanied his family to many of amusement parks. In addition to bonding with loved ones, he took copious notes on these outings. Where was their room for improvement? What experiences mattered to park guests? How many steps did the average person take before they littered because they couldn’t find a garbage can? (Yes, Walt actually calculated that.) Anyways, a great deal of this research (and his personal preferences) made a great impact on his theme parks. Specifically, as a child, Walt had a special love of fireworks. During the construction of Disneyland, he hoped to offer a nightly fireworks show for guests to serve as a thrilling wrap-up to the day. A year after Disneyland opened, the first fireworks show was launched into the sky and since then, it has become a nightly tradition in many of the worldwide parks.

Wishes – A Nightly Gathering of Disney Dreams debuted in the Magic Kingdom in October 2003. Replacing the long-running Fantasy in the Sky production, this new show was met with unanimous praise. Featuring 557 firing cues choreographed to music and impressive pyrotechnics, Wishes took theme park fireworks to new heights (pun intended). Narrated by Jiminy Cricket, the plot of the show centered on the various types of dreams we all can dream. Set to Gregory Smith’s original score, the Wishes’ soundtrack did much more than mash up several Disney tunes (although these were included as well). To put it simply, this show pioneered the concept of inventive fireworks and has continued to stand the test of time.

That being said, times change and there is always room for innovation. Specifically, Disney has been refining their use of projections in nighttime shows. These efforts have brought about gems like Celebrate the Magic and the recent WDW addition (from Disneyland Tokyo), Once Upon a Time. The new replacement fireworks, Happily Ever After, are slated to use similar projections of quality and quantity. Keeping in mind that I am personally attached to Wishes, I am optimistic that the new spectacular will be worthy. In addition to the enhanced technology, the show will feature an original score that will (hopefully) tug our heartstrings and ease the transition for many fans. I must admit though, I do worry that Happily Ever After has potential to be a fussy production (the amount of movies and characters represented will be quite large.) Wishes may be simpler, but I always tend to fall into the “less is more” category. I mean, who didn’t get chills when the castle lit up in indigo after Jiminy Cricket said, “Look! There’s the Blue Fairy!” ???

Concept art for the Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular that will replace Wishes in May 2017

Again, my slight hesitation is a result of loving Wishes since I first saw it in 2006. I hadn’t been to WDW since childhood at that point and I had just turned 16. A couple of years later, I stood watching the show with my friends as we prepared to graduate from high school. A couple of years after that, I watched the show with my new boyfriend during the first year we dated. We are now engaged. Needless to say, many fans fondly remember vivid memories as a result of this show. It has been the ultimate experience that 99% of the guests have seen since its debut. I still can’t imagine anything else filling this slot.

If you are a local or have a trip planned before May 12th, don’t miss your last opportunity to see Wishes live. If you aren’t quite so lucky, be comforted by the fact that the soundtrack and video recordings of the show are available for your pleasure. Speaking of which...

It may be bittersweet to see something beloved run its course, but remember, we never have to stop being inspired by the message or beauty of Wishes. Here’s to the next chapter!


Rebekah Coley is a Pittsburgh native who has been obsessing over Disney films (and the corporation in general) for her entire life. Starting with a childhood of constantly dressing up in princess costumes, memorizing songs, and watching the newest Disney VHS tapes on repeat, her love and passion for Disney magic has not faded over time.

In addition to loving the most popular Disney movies, Rebekah has a soft spot for underrated works that didn’t receive the same fanfare (e.g. A Goofy Movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc.) It is a passion of hers to remind other fans of their existence and excellence.

By day, Rebekah works in professional development and holds a Bachelors degree in Human Resources Management from Point Park University. By night, she performs in community theater musicals, reads and exercises compulsively, and strives to stay on top of any Disney-related news. As a lover of entertainment, Rebekah’s blogs focus on reviewing Disney’s theme park productions, stage adaptations, films, and books.

You can find additional examples of Rebekah’s work on her personal blog-

You can find all of Rebekah's articles here.

1 comment:

  1. I remember how I felt when they did away with the Electrical Parade at night. I tend to want things to stay the way they were when I first experienced them. The Electrical Parade is what they had the first time I visited Disney World, so that is the way I wanted it to stay. I don't feel as attached to Wishes because it did exist on my first visit to Disney World. Bob Gray