While Walt Disney World and Disneyland are now both back open again, and neither is requiring masks for vaccinated guests anymore, visiting the popular theme parks still doesn't exactly feel "normal." There's a lot that has been missing from the parks. There are no parades. Many attractions have had to be altered due to social distancing. But for me personally, and likely many more, the thing that's been missing most has been the nighttime spectaculars. Disney Parks just aren't the same without fireworks. But fireworks are coming back next month.
Today Disney Parks announced that three big fireworks shows will be returning to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. On July 1 we'll see Happily Ever After back at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever, back in its namesake theme park. In addition, Mickey Mix Magic will start at Disneyland Park on July 4.
Needless to say, this is all happening much faster than we expected. Disney CEO Bob Chapek had previously said he expected all pandemic restrictions to be gone by the end of this year or early 2022. As such, I don't think anybody was expecting this announcement so soon.
There had been some hints that EPCOT's brand new nighttime spectacular, HarmoniUS, could be ready to go in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in October, but I'm not sure anybody expected events like this, designed to bring crowds of people together, would be happening at all this summer. This now makes the HarmoniUS launch in October more likely, so EPCOT Forever will probably only run a few more months.
At this point only these three shows have been confirmed to be returning. There's no word on Fantasmic!, either the Disneyland or Disney's Hollywood Studios version, or Disney California Adventure's World of Color. Disney's Animal Kingdom's Rivers of Light show was officially "sunset" during the pandemic and no replacement for that show has been announced yet.
When I visited Walt Disney World earlier this year I literally watched a pre-recorded version of Happily Ever After that was available on my hotel television every night before I went to sleep. Fireworks and other nighttime show are the perfect way to end an evening in the parks and they are thing that I miss more than any other aspect of the various pandemic changes that we've seen. I don't need most parades. I need fireworks.
Having said that, if fireworks are coming soon, then it stands to reason that parades probably aren't too far behind. I would expect that Disney will launch these events, and make sure there aren't any unforeseen issues, and then launch the other events. Disneyland had just debuted a new daytime parade called Magic Happens only weeks before the park's shutdown. There are likely a lot of people looking forward to getting a chance to actually see that one.
If you've been waiting for Disneyland or Walt Disney World to get "back to normal" then it looks like that day may be very close.