When Walt Disney World announced that it would be replacing its long-running fireworks show, "Wishes" with a new show, my first thought was, "Thank God". I've always had an issue with the Walt Disney World fireworks' focus on Disney movies rather than the park they're celebrating, having been spoiled by Disneyland's "Remember...Dreams Come True" fireworks for years. "Wishes" had always felt like it needed the same update, however, when Disney World livestreamed its new show, "Happily Ever After" I found myself missing "Wishes" within two minutes.
I didn't mind the new song so much, since every Disney fireworks show is accompanied by its own cheesy, uplifting ballad. It was what followed that irked me. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled when Tiana appeared on the castle, since she rarely gets the attention she deserves, and I couldn't stop smiling when Moana got her own shell-shaped fireworks, but the new show is essentially just a montage of scenes and characters projected on the castle without any rhyme or reason.
It felt a bit like Disneyland Paris' fireworks, which rely heavily on the spectacle of the water fountains beside the castle and frankly low-quality projections on the castle. The issue here, though, was that I loved Disneyland Paris' fireworks because they still told a story. The fireworks followed Peter Pan and his shadow through scenes from other Disney movies, making for an endearing spectacular I wouldn't mind watching again. "Happily Ever After," though, provides no such pay-off. Most of Disney's fireworks tell a story or carry a message, whether that is that wishes can come true or to continue dreaming, but "Happily Ever After" seemed to lose its moral within a minute or so, falling back on projections and a slew of "I Want" songs without giving any of them any real explanation.
The Paris of "Ratatouille" appears during "Part of Your World," followed by a "Love is an Open Door" cover by someone who couldn't quite hit the high notes and a handful of other pop covers of classic Disney songs accompanied by a few scattered fireworks that seemed like they were trying not to infringe on the projections beneath them. The show has its moments, like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" section or the effects that make the castle seem to move, but overall it feels more like a light and projection show featuring fireworks rather than a fireworks show featuring projections.
To remedy this, I feel like this show could take a few notes from Disneyland's newly updated "Remember...Dreams Come True" fireworks. This show's return to the park earlier this year still showcased its fireworks, but combined those fireworks with projections on the castle that were added simply for some modern color. Your attention during "Remember" should be on the sky, so characters never appear on the castle and the projections rarely distract from the light show above. This difference between the two shows may be inherent to the parks themselves, since Disneyland is far more nostalgic while Disney World is more focused on indulging in modern technology and the newest Disney properties. Still, Disney World could use some of that nostalgia once in a while, and the new fireworks show would have been the ideal place to introduce it.