A trend at Walt Disney World over the past couple of years has been to offer “premium experiences” for visitors looking for a special way to take part some of their favorite Disney activities. One such experience is the popular Dessert Parties, which gives guest access to a variety of treats and most importantly a VIP viewing area for their favorite fireworks show or parade. I have had the opportunity to enjoy quite a few of these experiences so I wanted to share my thoughts on each.
Let’s start with the basics. Like any dining reservation at WDW all the dessert parties can be made up to 180 days in advance online at My Disney Experience or by phone 407-WDW-DINE. Advanced Reservations are required and they often book up early. Where this differs from other reservations is that prepayment is required at the time of booking.
Tiana’s Riverboat Party
While most dessert parties offer premium viewing of the Fireworks,
Tiana’s Riverboat Party – Ice Cream Social and Viewing Party takes place midday and offers a view of the Festival of Fantasy Parade. What I think is the most unique feature of this party is that it takes place on the Liberty Belle steamboat. When you arrive at the dock you are funneled through a buffet line where you pick up a tray of pre-plated desserts and you can create your own sundaes. Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from The Princess and The Frog offer a Meet and Greet queue on the other side of the dock. Guests are then invited to board the Liberty Belle.
After Tiana and Naveen bid good-bye to guests they have to get ready for the parade of course the Liberty Belle which sails out a bit toward Frontierland so that guests can enjoy views of the Festival of Fantasy Parade. While this view offers a unique view of the parade, it is definitely not the best view. You are much better off staking out a spot along the route. Your vantage point on the boat allows great views of the top of the floats but you miss the ground dancers and characters which are personally my favorite part.
What does make this event unique is that following the parade Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen board the boat and spend time dancing with the quests as the boat goes around the river. If your kids are big fans of Princess and the Frog this is an amazing experience. If this is your only opportunity to view the parade… skip it. The cost to attend Tiana’s party is $49 per adult and $29 per child. They do try to increase the value by offering popcorn, ice cream and refreshments on board as well.
Happily Ever After Viewing Party
Magic Kingdom offers two versions of their dessert party for the new Happily Ever After Fireworks. For both you check in at the Tomorrowland Terrace and are given access to a dessert buffet which includes character-themed cupcakes, ice cream, chocolate mousse, and chocolate dipped strawberries. Guests can also choose from a range of hot and cold beverages like sparkling cider, hot chocolate, teas, coffees and lemonades. Where the two options differ is where you watch the fireworks from.
With Tomorrowland Terrace Viewing you remain at your table in the covered restaurant. This option is $79/adult or $47/child and is great for those who require seating or want to ensure they are covered during inclement weather. The view is of the side of the castle and you often miss some of the overhead bursts.
Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing – Magic Kingdom – Instead of sitting on the patio at Tomorrowland Terrace to watch Wishes, guests are escorted to a VIP section located in Plaza Garden for “standing-room-only” views of the fireworks. I have to say not a single person actually stood during the fireworks. Instead they spread out their ponchos and blankets and cozied up on the hub grass. In my opinion this is a much better view as you are more directly in front of the castle in front of the Plaza Inn.
This is also a better value as the cost is $59 per adult and $35 per child (ages 3-9).
With the new Happily Ever After Fireworks it is extremely difficult to get a good view of both the castle projection and the fireworks bursts. Even from this location it was extremely difficult to see the projections. I would recommend a spot in the middle of Main Street about halfway down in front of the Main Street Bakery or Crystal Arts.
Illuminations a Sparkling Dessert Party
This dessert party takes place in EPCOT at the Port of Entry. This is the area where you enter the World Showcase directly across from the American Adventure. I personall have never been a huge fan of Illuminations. From most vantage points your view is blocked by trees or speakers or something. In terms of viewing this is definitely a step up from finding a location on your own. Another thing that sets this party apart is the food. Desserts include Shortbread cookies from the UK, Tiramisu from Italy, Baklava from Morocco, and Chocolate Grand Marnier Vanilla pot de crème from France. There were also two specialty stations that were preparing churros and donuts cooked in Kahlua Coffee liqueur and Bacardi 151 Rum. Sparkling wine is offered but is reminiscent of Barefoot wine- not something you really want to drink. Water, iced tea and lemonade are also served and coffee and tea are available.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party
The Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks are definitely my favorite fireworks at Walt Disney World right now. The size and layout of Disney’s Hollywood Studios wasn’t really built for nighttime entertainment and this show also has many viewing obstacles. This dessert party would be worth the cost just for the view it gives you of the night time spectacular. Everything else that is included is an added bonus and there are a lot of bonuses.
Guests check-in at Star Wars Launch Bay about an hour before the show. You are treated to an incredible arrangement of Star Wars themed desserts including an amazing bread pudding and liquid nitrogen fried nutella. You have exclusive access to the Launch Bay including the character meets. There is also an open bar serving Star Wars Themed cocktails. Yes … you read that right, I said open bar!
Then just before the fireworks, you are escorted by storm troppers to the VIP viewing area right in front of the Chinese Theater for a central view of the fireworks. You are given a Chewbacca stein to take home and the fireworks begin. The cost of this event is $69 per adult and $39 per child.
Now the age old question… Are the Dessert Parties worth it?! If the fireworks are important you and your family and you don’t want to stake out your spot hours before… possibly. I would definitely skip the Magic Kingdom parties, you can get much better viewing on your own and their desserts left a lot to be desired.If you are a Star Wars Fan I absolutely think the Hollywood Studios Party is worth it. Illuminations could go either way and is completely dependent on your family. Talk to your agent and they will help you determine what is best for your travel party.