Unofficial Guide to Where to Watch Wondrous Journeys at Disneyland

Where to Watch Wondrous Journeys at Disneyland

The new Wondrous Journeys fireworks and projection show is the best part of the Disney 100 celebration now happening at Disneyland, but where is the best place to watch it from? Read on for our Unofficial Guide to getting the best view of this not-to-be-missed nighttime spectacular.

Wondrous Journeys fireworks show at Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle
Find your favorite spot to enjoy Disneyland’s latest fireworks show with our Unofficial Guide to watching Wondrous Journeys. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

To celebrate the Disney company’s 100th birthday in 2023, the Disneyland Resort launched Wondrous Journeys. This production runs the full gamut of special effects: a rousing score, dynamic lighting, and lasers—not to mention spectacular fireworks effects on select evenings. After an introduction evoking Walt’s earliest efforts, the show manages to squeeze all 60 animated Disney feature films into less than 14 minutes, paying tribute not only to the expected blockbusters like The Lion King and Encanto, but even beloved bombs like Atlantis and Treasure Planet.

The unspoken storyline follows the overly familiar three-act structure of the hero’s journey—the call to adventure, an initial success and tragic setback, and the triumphant victory—yet finds fresh-feeling parallels between Disney’s diverse protagonists; in one musical and emotional high point, Belle, Hercules, Moana, and Quasimodo all sing their “I Want” songs in a goosebump-inducing fugue.

Immersive projections are mapped onto Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Main Street buildings, the façade of It’s a Small World, and mist screens on the Rivers of America, creating amazing visual effects that are a major feature of this fireworks show.

Digital imagery paints landmarks around the park, transforming them into futuristic cityscapes, enchanted forests, or an animator’s sketchpad. Via the projections, structures will look like they’re crumbling to ruins, then being restored by a kaleidoscope of butterflies. It’s a beautiful effect that works well.

And if you have a MagicBand+, it will also glow and vibrate in synch with the Wondrous Journeys show projections.

Of course, Wondrous Journeys features an obligatory upbeat theme song, and “It’s Wondrous” performed by Devan Garcia and Rudi is so catchy you’ll want to Spotify it at home. All these elements combine to form our favorite new Disneyland fireworks show since 2005’s Remember…Dreams Come True, which is high praise indeed. Wondrous Journeys is a fantastic finale to your day in the park, particularly if you can see it from the proper perspective.

Watching Wondrous Journeys from Main Street USA

Without a doubt, the area around the central hub is the best vantage point for watching the show; the area immediately in front of the castle is the most popular, and it usually becomes gridlocked hours before the show, with access to the hub blocked from the surrounding lands. Stand too far down Main Street or at the train station and the castle projections will look like postage stamps. For the most immersive impression from the projection-mapping effects, you’ll want to stand in the middle of Main Street, from the Carnation Café up to Coke Corner.

This pyrotechnic tribute to Disney’s films also features flybys from Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy and Big Hero 6’s Baymax; their brief appearances are very impressive, but they can only be viewed from the hub immediately in front of the castle and are often omitted due to wind.

Unfortunately, every guest in the park won’t fit in this sweet spot at the same time, but you can experience Wondrous Journeys from the middle of Main Street USA vicariously via this video:

Wondrous Journeys from Small World Mall

The same projections seen on the castle and Main Street are also projected on the surface of It’s a Small World. You’ll be missing out on all the flying figures and effects that shoot out of Sleeping Beauty Castle, but It’s a Small World will be your best option if Main Street is full. The fireworks are off-center from here, but the video looks sharper here than on the castle, and there’s often space to sit on or in front of the mall stairs. Although it lacks the energy of the hub’s open-air disco, we prefer the Small World Mall for a more relaxing viewing experience.

Another advantage of watching from here is that you may also see a bonus limited-time projection-mapping show set to the hit song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto. The 5-minute sequence, which plays intermittently from around 9 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., makes It’s a Small World’s façade flip and cascade like the tiles of the Madrigal family’s casita, flow with flooding rain and falling sand, and bloom with colorful flowers. Catch the Encanto projections immediately following the fireworks, or ask a cast member in the area when the next show starts.

Watch this video of the complete Wondrous Journeys show with fireworks from Small World Mall:

Wondrous Journeys from Rivers of America

Your third option is viewing from the Rivers of America. Fountains and lighting fixtures come to life around Tom Sawyer Island, and video is projected onto the mist screens used in Fantasmic!, but they’re not as detailed as the ones projected on the other two locations. You’ll also miss most of the special effects immediately around the castle.

The benefit of viewing from Rivers of America is that, if you have a pass for the first showing of Fantasmic!, you can stay in your spot through the fireworks. Though you get the least impressive view from here, it’s the least stressful way to experience the show and can be very enjoyable if you haven’t already seen it from a better location.

Watch this video of the complete Wondrous Journeys show with fireworks from Rivers of America:

Wondrous Journeys without Fireworks

Keep in mind that fireworks are only used in Wondrous Journeys during select weekend and peak-season performances; the presence or absence of pyro will be noted in the Disneyland app. Obviously, the music and projections lose a lot of their impact when they aren’t accompanied by explosions. On the plus side, unlike past productions it doesn’t have to be canceled entirely during windy weather.

Finally, be forewarned that the fireworks may be canceled for safety reasons with only a few minutes’ notice if there are stiff winds at upper altitudes, even if the air at ground level seems calm. During one of our weeklong visits, the fireworks were nixed a full 40% of the time, which is a fairly frustrating percentage; you’ve never heard a collective groan like 50,000 people learning they’ve waited for nothing. For this reason, we don’t recommend that you build your night around the fireworks—as wondrous as they are—if you only have one night at the resort.

For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr. All Disneyland fans should also check out The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey.

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