When Will Fireworks Spectaculars Return to Walt Disney World

Fantasmic Finale Mickey Mouse Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney World

Walt Disney World has now been open for several months and much of what was closed when the parks first opened has gradually returned, albeit in an altered fashion to allow for social distancing to be enforced throughout the parks.

But one iconic element of the Disney Parks experience has yet to return in any real capacity, fireworks spectaculars. So we are going to speculate on when they will return to the park and how they will be different when they return.

Fireworks shows are difficult to do amid the pandemic as they are designed to cause crowding, something that cannot happen amid COVID19. So in order for them to come back one of two things needs to happen, either a complete downturn in COVID19 numbers likely from widespread usage of a vaccine, or finding a way to force social distancing.

IllumiNations Reflections of Earth Red Fireworks Epcot Disney world

If the parks have to wait until a vaccine is in widespread use, that means we are probably talking about late spring to early summer at the most optimistic. 

But there are some nighttime spectaculars that would be easier to bring back than others.

Both Fantasmic and Rivers of Light take place in stadiums that would be easier to manage in a socially distant world than traditional fireworks shows like Happily Ever After. The seats could theoretically be marked to allow for social distancing.

There would be challenges to bringing these shows back though.

First, loading and unloading people into and out of the theater. These are massive theaters that normally hold thousands. While in a socially distant world they will hold significantly fewer people, it still will be hard to get people in and out of these theaters without causing crowding, as anyone who has seen Fantasmic in Disney's Hollywood Studios will know.

This could be fixed with a few temporary solutions. For the way in, maybe implement a reservation system for night shows similar to the Rise of the Resistance boarding groups. You book a spot earlier in the day for the show, ensuring only as many people as can fit in the theater come in.

On the way out, maybe have additional crowd control cast members that control what section of the audience is allowed to leave when, ensuring the pathways don't become overwhelmed. If this was explained early in the show, like in preshow announcements this could control a lot of the risk. Rivers of Light would also likely be easier to implement this in as it just has more entrances and exits to the theater.

The other issue with bringing back these spectaculars would be the shows themselves. While Rivers of Light would be relatively easy to bring back, given it has no performers, Fantasmic has a large cast that might require the actual show to be reworked.

Fantasmic Finale Boat Scene Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney World

While some scenes would certainly be fine, others are not going to work in their present form with social distancing. The finale boat for instance would likely need fewer characters, but this is only one of many changes that would potentially be needed. Some might be minor like the princess and princess dancing further apart from one another, while others might need larger reworks.

Also, keep in mind social distancing would not only be needed on stage, but offstage. Fantasmic is an incredibly complicated show, with just as complicated a backstage. Some scenes might need reworks, not because of anything happening onstage, but because the cast can't get onstage safely. This is just as important, and it would be complicated to get this to work for the performers.

Mickey On Top Of Fantasmic Finale Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney World

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that Walt Disney World entertainment was devastated by recent layoffs and it is likely many of the cast members that make this show happen aren't with the company anymore. This would probably complicate bringing it back.

Rivers of Light We Are One Finale Disney's Animal Kingdom

While it is likely to still be a while for shows like Happily Ever After to come back, stadium shows could potentially be brought back with necessary changes sooner if Disney thinks it is worth it.