Fireworks Tonight? Why Not?
Mark your bucket list for next year. Contributing blogger Cathy Healy watched DC’s fireworks from the roof of her condo building. She was feeling smug until she discovered that a friend in Orlando won the prize for Best of Show.
Fourth of July occurs every night in this fantasyland where fireworks light up Cinderella’s castle and the geodesic dome at Epcot Center. So what’s special about the real 4th in Orlando? It’s bigger, better, and sooner. Orlandoans erupt with cheers for fireworks on July 3 with the Red, White and Boom show, a few miles up I-4 in Altamonte Springs, says Mari Lynch. The next night, some residents, like Mari’s husband, Michael, an Orlando native, and their seventh-grade twins, John and Liam, join visiting friends to make a Disney night of it on the Fourth.
That’s when the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Movie Studios combine forces to shower your senses with 35 minutes of fireworks, smoke, fiery torches, lasers and music, starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 10:16 pm. These aren’t your usual fabulous displays, these are multimedia, pyrotechnic Disney stories, with patriotic extras.
Let’s pause for truth in reporting: “Why would anyone come to Orlando in July?” asks Mari. “It’s 95 and humid!”
Answer: To cool off from Washington, D.C., where thermometer stayed stuck at 103 for days.
Mari’s secret: Her family pretends they’re in Yellowstone (where snow most recently fell on July 3) by going to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for fun and fireworks. “The Lodge is really beautiful,” says Mari. “It has a seven-story lobby will lots of logs and wood and collections of Native American and regional art. It’s my favorite Disney resort.” Similar to Old Faithful Inn’s soaring 85-foot fireplace, the Wilderness Lodge has an 82-foot fireplace as well as a geyser outside that blasts plumes of water 120 feet into the air, just like the real deal, except Orlando’s geyser doesn’t spew boiling hot water from the center of the earth.
The Lynches’ friends stay in the make-believe wilderness and the gang watches the multimedia fireworks from the employees’ parking lot, which has the best view outside of paying the entrance fee ($34 + tax) and watching inside the park.
More truth. The Lynch twins are blasé about fireworks. I guess you would be, too, if you lived somewhere where you could watch fireworks any night you wanted. But at 13, they still love swimming in Lodge’s pool and eating in its Whispering Canyon Cafe, where waiters are supposed to have attitude and the staff amuses kids by doing “silly things” like shouting “Ketchup”
to the whole room if you ask for some. That’s the signal for diners with ketchup on their tables to run their bottles over to you. Which, of course, leaves you buried in bottles. “My kids can’t wait for the waiters to call,” says Mari.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
As with any good fantasy, you don’t have to wait for your dreams to come true. You can watch fireworks tonight in Orlando. And if you want a really, big show, Disney amps up again for Halloween and Christmas.
P.S. If the concept of Disney is your nightmare, Fox compiled a list of all the best U.S. places
to watch Fourth of July fireworks. My godson was going to the display at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota this year, but it was canceled because of the fire hazard.
Photo: IceNineJohn via Flickr