The Magic Kingdom fireworks may include lumps in throats and tears in eyes along with pyrotechnics this week. “Wishes,” the long-running, end-of-night show, comes to a close Thursday evening at Walt Disney World.
It’s not a dream come true for some fans, especially those in the millennial generation, who have known no other production going up behind Cinderella Castle.
“When I found out, I was just devastated that they were ending it,” said Jordyn McCray, 23, of Orlando. “Nothing will replace ‘Wishes’ and how important that it is.”
She connects the 12-minute show to friendships made through UCF’s Happiest Club on Earth and her impending college graduation. She’s drawn to the optimistic message of the production, which debuted in October 2003.
“It’s based on pretty much anything can happen as long as you have faith in your dream and the wishes you have,” she said.
Along with the usual explosive bursts of colors, “Wishes” features music from animated films, narration by Jiminy Cricket and a story line involving the hopes and desires of Disney characters, such as wishing to be a real boy, for a prince, an invitation to a ball or to never grow up. “When You Wish Upon a Star” is prominent.
A new Magic Kingdom fireworks show called “Happily Ever After” debuts Friday.
McCray and friends will take in the finale of “Wishes,” but they also plan to gather at the theme park earlier in the week.
”We’re calling it a graduation party, but it’s really just an excuse to watch ‘Wishes’ again,” she said.
For Hunter Underwood, a self-described lifelong “Wishes” fan, the show gives him flashbacks of watching the fireworks as a child with his family in front of the castle. It’s like a scene from a commercial, he said.
“It’s what Disney wanted to happen — I got to live [out] their promotional work,” said Underwood, who’s 22 and lives in Tavares.
Disney announced the show’s end in February, which prompted “a lot of ugly-crying emojis” in Underwood’s Twitter feed. Since then, he’s been catching the show from different angles, including from the Tomorrowland Speedway and the Swiss Family Treehouse attractions. His favorite spot? Behind the castle, which provides a different — and louder — perspective than from jam-packed Main Street.
“It’s just being surrounded by all that — it’s a surreal experience,” he said.
Nearly a decade ago, Ryan Miller traveled with his family from New Jersey to Florida to celebrate his grandmother’s 80th birthday.
“That was, by far, for her, the highlight of the whole entire trip was seeing ‘Wishes’ for the first time,” said Miller, 22. She had never been to Disney World before.
“I think it was important to her that ‘Wishes’ encompassed Disney roots,” he said. “She liked the fact that she heard music from her youth.”
Miller’s next Disney visit is in late May, days after “Wishes” wraps up.
“For me, it’s always a fond memory of having my whole family there,“ he said. “It’s a little bittersweet.”
Although Underwood has become optimistic about the new “Happily Ever After” show, the end of “Wishes” is the end of an era, he said.
“I guess the millennial age group is, like, ‘This is the one that was our show,’” he said.
And McCray is bracing for the last blasts of “Wishes” color Thursday.
“Our plan is to go, bring blankets, grab a spot after the last ‘Move It, Shake It’ parade and just sit until the final ‘Wishes,’” she said. “And then cry.”