We had planned on eating at the BB during our trip, so I just splurged on the dining package for the MSEP and am curious about the "reserved viewing area." I assume this area will be the same as the Paint the Night package, but I've never seen that either, so I have no idea what to expect. Please share your experience and advice with me. Thanks!
I've never had a lot of trouble getting good places for any parade. Pirates is down for refurb from February 3rd through March 15th, which affects the ambience inside the restaurant, assuming that the water is drained.
Now, if you are going on a weekend evening close to when the MSEP returns on 1/19, YMMV with respect to crowds along the parade route.
Yes, we will be there on January 21st, so I'm hoping that the preferred viewing will be of greater benefit during what I think will be a busy parade night.
We have only ever done the dining package at Blue Bayou when it was for Fantasmic! but we loved the meal. And your dates are before the PotC refurb so splurging for the meal alone in the atmosphere would be worth it.
As for the viewing section, for Paint the Night it started being directly along Main Street but made it hard for CMs to really monitor traffic in and out of it with the area being so crowded and real estate scarce. It also started a lot of controversy when people starting lining up for the reserved viewing section 1-2 hrs in advance and people who didn't get front row feeling shafted for the price they paid to stand at the back of a cramped viewing section.
The section was later moved to Town Square across from the Railroad station (facing the railroad station) and made for an awesome parade spot with much better ability for CMs to be able to monitor access to the section. I suspect that this is the section they'll use again, but since I have no insider information, I could be completely wrong too. The only drawback to this section (and one of the major reasons we never booked it for a spot for PTN aside from the fact that we always could find a spot for a reasonable amount of waiting time) is that it was an awful spot to maneuver towards Main Street to have a great fireworks view. We love being able to see the castle and that far away from it, you lose a lot of that atmosphere and when fireworks were set to start just after the parade you had to seize the moment and move into Main Street right as the parade past.
Since the parade came down Main Street towards the hub, that section was one of the last to see the parade and therefore last to try to fill in for a good spot for fireworks along Main Street. But, if your priority is to see MSEP, and you're going the weekend it returns, you'll be in great shape to enjoy it!