It was around 9:00 pm on October 26th, 2014. I was 17 years old, and my grandmother had taken me on a trip to Walt Disney World for my graduation. This was my sister’s birthday trip as well, and she would not travel anywhere without my mom, so naturally, my mom was there, too.
We were staying at the Contemporary Resort. It was absolutely beautiful. That day, we had gone swimming in the pool and went to Downtown Disney. We were exhausted, and the elevators had been having problems all day for some reason. Also, tomorrow was the big day, because we were going to THE Magic Kingdom! We decided to just sit on the balcony on the 7th floor, overlooking Bay Lake until we were tired enough to sleep. The view was stunning.
All of a sudden, I saw Peter Pan and Captain Hook down below, running toward the water’s edge with excited small children and their parents. I hadn’t seen Disney World characters in action since I was five years old, and it was amazing to see how much fun the children were having dancing around with Peter Pan and taking menacing pictures with Hook. That would be our tomorrow at Magic Kingdom!
Then, I heard a distant “pop.” Fireworks were beginning over the big Epcot golf ball. I had never been to Epcot and knew nothing about it. We weren’t even going this time. However, it was fun to watch the fireworks from afar. They seemed a bit few and far between, but they kept us preoccupied and mesmerized. We could see this from our hotel!
Then, it happened. There was a big “BOOM” noise coming from behind us! We all went out into the Contemporary’s hall. There were large, beautiful fireworks outside the window. In the distance, we could see flares over the tiny castle. We had to watch. We propped open one of the Contemporary hall doors and watched the firework spectacular from the ledge. I videoed the fireworks and took as many pictures as I could. These were the best fireworks I had ever seen, and I posted that very sentence on Facebook. The only problem was that the monorail kept making my camera go out of focus…
This place was amazing. I wanted to stay here forever. I never wanted to leave. Fireworks are extremely special to me, because my birthday is July 3rd. This particular showing was out of this world.
That was the first time ‘Wishes’ became special to me…but I had no idea how special it would become.
Let’s fast-forward to August in 2016. I knew I would be back. BUT…now I was back as a Monorail Pilot Cast Member! Who would have thought that one of my favorite things about my 2014 trip, the monorail, would actually play an important role in my life? Not me, that’s for sure, but here I was. When I started training at night, my trainer asked me if I wanted to see ‘Wishes’ from the front of the monorail. I said, “Of course,” because who wouldn’t want to see anything from the monorail train’s front driver cab? The truth is…I had no idea what ‘Wishes’ was. I had never heard of it in my life. I was still pretty new to anything and everything Disney, and I had a ton to experience still.
Then, we got in the cab, and my trainer started showing me important things about the beam that I should be aware of. We came around to the front of the Magic Kingdom on the resort beam, and I noticed fireworks flying behind the castle. Those looked like the same ones I saw two years ago! “There you go…’Wishes!'”
So…they called Magic Kingdom’s fireworks ‘Wishes!’ Um, why did they name Magic Kingdom’s fireworks? They are fireworks. Disney literally named these fireworks. Weird.
Then, after I became an official monorail cast member, I understood. I was regularly scheduled for the Magic Kingdom Monorail Platform at night, and this ‘Wishes’ became my life.
There was a soundtrack to ‘Wishes.’ There was a story to ‘Wishes.’ Magic Kingdom, classic characters, and the epitome of Disney itself came alive during ‘Wishes.’
It was one of my first nights, and my coworker, now very good friend, Laura was briefly teaching me how to set up the monorail queues. She said, “You’re not going to remember everything right away. There’s a map. But remember this: When Jiminy says, ‘It’s the Blue Fairy,’ pull these ropes!”
When will that happen? Pull these ropes?
Well, I figured it out pretty quickly. ‘Wishes’ marked the rush of people trying to leave the Magic Kingdom. The queue had to be properly set up before the end, so people could successfully weave their way through it and board the “Highway In The Sky.”
I did not realize I would see this show every night. I became so accustomed to it. Laura was the Queen of Wishes, and she knew every single word. When I was new, I was amazed that a College Program participant knew this show by heart…after all, she had only been here a couple months!
Fast-forward to October…a couple months from when I started. I had been on audience control duty quite a bit by this time. I knew ‘Wishes’ very well, and I now understood. Even when I was on the platform, I knew the storyline and when the end was near. I couldn’t see the fireworks very well from the platform itself, but the soundtrack blared, and I knew.
On audience control, I danced, swayed, and made arm movements to match the fireworks. As my monorail friends made their way to the break rooms, they danced or even took a step back and admired the show. It was truly magical.
A wish is a powerful thing, especially when it comes from the heart. Fate is kind…she brings to those who love…the sweet fulfillment of their secret longing…
I caught myself getting the words and songs stuck in my head. The show had a powerful message of the impact of wishes. Wish hard enough and focus on your wish so that one day your dreams will come true. Even when the Evil Queen took over the castle, citizens of the Kingdom wished hard enough and overcame evil every time.
Make a wish; see it through. Dare to do as dreamers do.
My friends and I even saw the show on our days off. We could never quite shed ‘Wishes’ from our lives. Then, the holidays came, and with it, so did the variations. ‘HalloWishes’ (This is Halloween, everybody scream!) became an alternative soundtrack, along with ‘Holiday Wishes’ (It’s the spirit of the season!) I quickly memorized those shows as well. However, regular ‘Wishes’ always made regular appearances throughout the week.
My favorite part was always the ‘Go the Distance’ section. It went straight to my head. It made me feel empowered. It made me feel SO lucky to be a cast member. I literally thought on a few occasions: This is really me, standing here with a Walt Disney World nametag on. I am the luckiest person alive.
Any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free.
On my last shift, I paid a little more attention to ‘Wishes.’ Although the show always made my eyes a little teary, I felt the emotion more than ever before this time. I stood by the Express kiosk, holding the ropes, not believing it was all over. I had seen this show every night. I knew all the words. Now, I would not see any fireworks at all anymore, and I was devastated.
Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic in the world.
Fast-forward to now. I never thought this would actually happen, but ‘Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams’ is now a show of the past. Its last showing was May 11th. As of now, it is the last Disney fireworks show, or any fireworks for that matter, that I have seen. The memories I have of this show are infinite. It is hard to believe that it is gone because of its familiarity to me. The magic and sentimentality of this show can never be replaced.
Thanks, folks, for making this little gathering of ours so extra magical, and from our family and friends to yours, may all your wishes come true. So long!
The show ran for 13 years. Many Disney fans are taking to blogging to reminisce about ‘Wishes’ and its impact, especially on theodysseyonline.com. It touched millions over the years, from Magic Kingdom cast members to first-time Disney goers.
Unfortunately, ‘Wishes’ was outdated. It was time.
On May 12th, a brand-new Magic Kingdom firework spectacular made its debut, known as ‘Happily Ever After.’ The show is a fantastic replacement. It features lasers, projections, and a multitude of themed fireworks. Over a dozen classic Disney films are represented. It also features my favorite movie, Tangled. ‘Go the Distance’ still plays and Tinker Bell still flies. I cannot successfully review this show until I see it in person during my Summer Alumni 2017 program, but it is the show I am definitely looking forward to the most. I am excited for the future that this park holds. Although, I must say…’When You Wish Upon a Star’ would have been a nice touch.
Hey, Magic Kingdom…see what a little wishin’ can do?
I will look at my old videos from my Fall ’16 DCP Monorail Pilot days from time to time. This week, I found a video of three of my fellow CP monorail friends and me watching ‘Wishes’ on one of our days off from the Contemporary Resort. At the end, Sadie, Jake, Laura, and I all started singing the theme song and laughing. This video was a summary of my ‘Wishes’ experience, and as a tear slipped down my cheek, I felt like watching it was my own personal “farewell.”
Every night, I wished that I could stay at Walt Disney World forever as the show played on.
Thanks for the memories, ‘Wishes.’ You were so much more than “just fireworks.”