The United States of America officially declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Ever since, Americans have celebrated that momentous day the only way possible: fireworks, lots and lots of fireworks.
Independence Day at Magic Kingdom
The figurative heart of Walt Disney World, the Magic Kingdom, is also where the primary celebration takes place. The 4th of July fireworks spectacular over Cinderella Castle is entitled “A Salute to All Nations…but Mostly America!” Whoops, we may be confusing it with something else. It’s actually called Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky. Yes, we like Sam the Eagle’s title better too.
Think you'll watch the fireworks from the beach at the Polynesian Resort? You and a lot of other folks. Disney may be checking room keys for people on the 4th.
These impressive pyrotechnics are 15 minutes of explosive beauty rising not just above the Castle, but all around the park. Independence Day is one of the few fireworks displays, along with the Halloween and Christmas versions, that utilize the perimeter bursts, making it seem like the fireworks are all around you. As you may expect, the display is accompanied by a rousing soundtrack that is designed to speak to the soul of America, although it can presumably be fully enjoyed by any nationality.
Normally special Independence Day fireworks are shown on both July 3 and 4 at Magic Kingdom.
Independence Day at Epcot
While not as impressive as the unique and expanded fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot does get in on the patriotic act. A special 5 minute 4th of July extension is added to the normally remarkable Illuminations to turn it into a more holiday-tastic celebration.
Unlike Magic Kingdom's Independence Day spectacular, this distinctive version of IllumiNations can only be seen on July 4. On that day, the incomparable Voices of Liberty usually play a few special patriotic concerts at the America Gardens Theatre, and historical characters (like Ben Franklin) may greet guests in the American Adventure Pavilion.
Independence Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The holiday spectacular at Hollywood Studios is definitely special. Mostly that's because it is so rare these days to see fireworks at the park at all, but the 4th of July fireworks exploding high above the Chinese Theater are definitely awesome to see. In recent years, live music has joined the pyrotechnics in the Rockin' 4th of July Celebration.
Walt Disney World Crowds for the 4th of July
Being the only summer holiday in the United States, July 4 tends to be a very popular time for a family vacation. As you can imagine, that means very high crowds across the Walt Disney World parks. As far as the fireworks are concerned, the Magic Kingdom is the definite go-to spot for many guests, so that will always be the most crowded. Alternatively, Hollywood Studios tends to be the (relatively) least crowded of the fireworks shows.
No matter which park you choose, there will be high crowds. What is most important is that you go in with a solid plan, specifically one of our scientifically tested touring plans.
Last updated by Brian McNichols on July 13, 2016