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Jan 03, 2018
In 2017, Walt Disney World retired the beloved Wishes fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom. They replaced it with a show called Happily Ever After. Since I live in Minnesota, I do not get a chance to get down to Disney World all that often. Well, I guess that depends on your point of view as I do get there about once a year. Anyway, in December of 2017 I finally had a chance to witness Happily Ever After with my own eyes, and of course, I brought my camera along.
This show is amazing. It is totally OK for you to love Wishes and also love Happily Ever After. The fireworks are absolutely incredible. There are newer, better, fireworks than Wishes ever had. The projections on Cinderella's Castle are completely mind-boggling. In fact, most of my attention was spent on those projections. And the soundtrack is fantastic. The soundtrack may be the only thing that I would say is better in Wishes than HEA, but that may change as I see this new show more often.
Since it was my first time seeing this show, I wanted to get a perfect location to see and photograph it from. I had a few locations in mind and was looking forward to getting one of them. Well, that did not happen. I walked through the hub area in front of Cinderella's Castle about 3-hours before HEA started, and all 3 of my preferred spots were already claimed. Yes. People had already staked out fireworks spots 3-hours ahead of time. And that is life at Walt Disney World. You can make as many plans as you want, but I can guarantee you, more often than not, your plans will not come to fruition. Which is why I always prefer to just go in with an idea, and be open to new options if the idea doesn't pan out. I wasn't going to waste three hours sitting in one spot while at the Happiest Place on Earth. There are photos to take and Pineapple Floats to devour. So, I went out and took more photographs around the Magic Kingdom. And ate a Dole Pineapple Float.
I went back to the main hub a little over an hour before Happily Ever After was going to start, and I found a spot that seemed to be perfect. It was nearly a straight on view, and I was up on the curb so I would be up higher than others who were in the street. I set up my tripod to claim my spot. Talked to a few others who were debating waiting for the fireworks. And then nature called. So, I had to leave my spot to go, well, take care of nature. When I went back, my spot had been claimed by some other Disney fans. I made my way around the hub, and then I spotted a new spot that as you can see from these photos, it worked out perfectly!
The spot I found was also up on the curb, so I could be a little bit higher than other guests, but it was also right behind a trash can. Why was that important? The trash can prevented anyone from standing in front of my camera so I had a nice, clear view of all the projections that would soon be on Cinderella's Castle.
As I mentioned above, I thought the show was brilliant. Knowing how to photograph it was going to be tricky. But thanks to watching Jingle Bell Jingle BAM from directly in front of the Chinese Theater at Hollywood Studios, I had a really good idea of how to get the best photos. And I believe my game plan worked.
The projections on Cinderella's Castle were a series of different scenes. There would be one scene projected on the castle, and within that scene, different characters and movie scenes would play through it. But the scene stayed the same. So, I would use each scene as one photo. That way the scene on the castle should look perfect with a long exposure. The scene might have lasted 45-seconds, it might have lasted 10-seconds. Each time it changed, I would end one exposure and start the next. It was a big change from my normal plan when photographing Wishes. For that show, I counted bursts. Too many bursts in the photo would end up with the photo being blown out. Too few, and it would be an OK, but not a great photo. So with wishes, I tended to count how many fireworks burst in view of my camera before ending one photo and starting the next. I went from focusing my attention on the fireworks to focusing on the projections.
What do you think? Did my plan work out?
All of these Happily Ever After photographs are available in many different media types. There are multiple papers to choose from if you are looking for a print to frame. You can also choose to use one of my frames if you do not have one of your own. These prints are also available as Disney Prints on Canvas, or Metal, or Acrylic! You can also find some of them available as a Disney Mural!
Have you seen Happily Ever After yet? If so, what did you think?
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