Talk to Me About HEA, Dessert Parties, and Party Season

We have a 2-week trip coming up in early December. It will be me, DH, DDs 4, 6, and 8, and grandparents. This will be our daughters’ first trip to WDW, and while it certainly won’t be the last, we will only visit every 3ish years because while we’re Americans, we live overseas and only get back to the States every 3ish years.

Anyways, MK closes early 8 of the nights we’re in the World, leaving us a selection of 5 nights in which to see HEA, all of which have predicted CL8 or RED and AVOID on KtP’s crowd calendar. At this point I’m really trying to figure out if it’s worth it.

First of all, I have options for pretty low crowds on party days. We could RD, tour until mid/late-afternoon, and leave and be done for the day. It seems like if I want to see HEA we’ll be battling major crowds all day. We’re planning on 3 MK days and right now I’ve got two party days and 1 non-party day but…ugh, I just don’t know. If we do the full day we’ll leave for an afternoon break, make the littlest littles take naps, and come back but…is HEA worth battling the crowds in party season?

I know I could do a dessert party. But I don’t really want to do the dessert party. It’d be around $400 for us to attend. We could eat at CRT for that price (which would make my 3 girls very happy), or do a million other things with that money. Heck, for that amount of money we could add another park day on and come JUST for the fireworks on that day.

I’m also wondering about crowds when leaving the park. We’ll be driving so will be riding the monorail/ferry to the TTC…but with HEA at 9:00, what time would we really be getting back to the car, dessert party or no? Would we pay $400 for a dessert party and then be stuck fighting crowds for an hour or more in order to leave?

I guess I just want any advice or help you all have. I want to make it work because I don’t want to miss HEA. But I also know that we likely won’t return during a party season (and the kids would be older) so we could see it then. I know HEA is supposed to be awesome. But is it worth fighting the crowds or a $400 dessert party or, in the case of leaving the park, a combination of both? Or is it (gasp!) skipable for the time being?

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Do you have Park Hopper? You could go to a less crowded park on a non-party day, use your fastpasses.
Find one for MK at like 6pm. Leave the less crowded park around non. Go back to your resort and relax until 4:00pm. Head to MK. Eat dinner/snack. Ride your FPP. Wait for the fireworks. Stay after the fireworks (half an hour). If your kids are still going, after the fireworks is a great moment to meet with princesses (all the kids are gone), then leave the park.

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We don’t have park hoppers. But since we have 8-day tickets, it’d be much cheaper to just add an additional park day onto our tickets, even if we only use it for 5-9:30 pm or so. Are the crowds horrid at night? Leaving the park? If we wait for 30 minutes after fireworks that would put us getting in line for the monorail around 10, right?

I hear you saying it’s worth it, but to not be in the park all day. Maybe we could do that…avoid crowds until 5 or so and then buckle down for a few hours!

I really, really liked HEA. I had planned on watching it only one night last year and ended up watching it both nights! I think it would be worth it.

Also, as soon as the fireworks were done, a lot of the rides were walk-on: Haunted Mansion, Little Mermaid, It’s a Small world, meeting the princesses, People Mover, Buzz Lightyear. I think Big Thunder Mountain was 15minutes. Moving towards the castle or Tomorrowland past fireworks is not easy, but you are going against traffic.

We much preferred waiting a little bit to enjoy the park than battling the crowds to go back. Also, once the crowds were gone, it was a great moment to get a night picture in front of the castle! There is something really magical about MK at night.

Your kids are little, but I feel they might be old enough to really enjoy a special night where they go to bed later. Can they nap/rest in the afternoon? If yes, it would be a good plan to take it slow in the morning (or maybe a special breakfast), swim, nap and then plan a late night at MK? And you could book FPP 4-5-6 (or something similar).

However, I would probably plan for leaving the park not before 10pm.

You know your party better than we do! But I do enjoy the fireworks quite a lot.

Well, tonight is just a regular 'ole night (I mean, we’re not at WDW. We did go to a friend’s and watch The Greatest Showman) and they went to bed at almost 10 with no naps. I think they’ll be ok…the 4-year old will nap, the 6-year old might also. The 8-year old has hated sleep since she was born so she’ll be good, lol. I like that plan. It’d only cost us $80 to add another day to all of our tickets. Give us each 3-4 FPP and then just hang and wait for fireworks. MK closes at 9 (currently) so no riding stuff afterwards, but hey, maybe they’ll extend the park hours since the crowds are so crazy!

We went early November last year and they changed the opening hours to 11pm (or something similar) about a month beforehand. If they still close early though, the big stores on Main street stay opened for another hour, which is a great moment for shopping and pin trading. I don’t know your specific dates, but I would look at historical crowds from last year, that might give you a good idea.


I went to the HEA dessert party with our family last month. We did it because my wife is short and could not see the projections on the castle during the fire work show. People start holding good spots for HEA 2 hours before the show. it was $60 each for 6 of us (very expensive). The party was at the Tomorrow Land Terrace and was very nice. They gave us wrist bands to wear and escorted us to a reserved table. The deserts were good but not anything spectacular. Brownies, cookies, ice cream with toppings, many types of beverages, etc… Once we were done, we were escorted to a special viewing area to see the show. It was nice that my wife could finally see it. Now that we did it, I probably will not do it again for a long time. HEA is more of a projection show than firework show and was not as moving as Wishes was. I miss the narrative along with the grand symphonic music score of Wishes. We will probably just ride rides and enjoy the less crowded back of the park during that show from now on. Plus, you can still see the fireworks there too (just no projections). It is always very busy trying to exit the park after the fireworks so I suggest staying until it is near empty before leaving. The park is at its best at night and I suggest that you save your energy and get some rest in the mid day so that you can stay until the last people are leaving. Trust me on this. I would rather spend the day at a pool and get to the parks at 6-7 than spend the busy, hot afternoon there battling heat and massive crowds. Stay and watch the Kiss Goodnight. As for your girls having a character dinner, go to 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian and see Cinderella, the prince and the sisters. It is less expensive and the buffet has food everyone will like. It seems like more than half the CRT entrees have mushrooms and goat cheese in them.


To see princesses: I am planning on going to breakfast at Trattoria al Forno! They have the Bon Voyage Breakfast where you can see Rapunzel, Eugene, Ariel and Eric (I have read that sometimes Merida replaces Erik). The food looks amazing and I read really good reviews. That could be a good morning activity for that fireworks evening and get to see princesses.

Too many choices out there.

Yes! I have a reservation there currently! We’ll see what I get this upcoming week…I want one princess meal and one other character meal (not princesses), so we’ll see what’s available this week and then go from there.

I’m already reworking my spreadsheet and am so much less stressed. Knowing we can ride rides on low crowd days and then just do an evening at MK for HEA and it not cost us $400…that’s just helping the week look less crowded AND less expensive! Thanks for the idea!

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No problem! I have been running into the same problem for my trip… but for the Halloween party instead of the Christmas party!

Tusker House at Animal Kingdom for breakfast has Micky, Donald, Goofy, etc… it is not as well known so it did not feel as crazy/busy as Chef Mickey’s or the Crystal Palace. we really enjoyed that breakfast. $300 for 6 people (adults).

Thanks! I also have a reservation there, ha! My problem is that we’re going over two weeks with two sets of grandparents so I need to spread out the dining love. As soon as this coming week is over and I’ve got whatever ADRs I can get for this next week then I’ll know which of the ones I got last week to cancel. We’re offsite so…just a little bit of a pain trying to get anything, character-meal-wise!

My sister did CP and TH. She loved both character interactions, but enjoyed the food at TH much much more.


You said you are going with Grandparents, any of them use a cane or wheelchair? If so you might be able to get one of the handicapped sections.

There’s a chance my mom will end up in an ECV. She doesn’t usually need one and has no idea if she’ll even buy park tickets because she never knows day-to-day how she’ll be feeling. So I can’t count on it! I’ll keep it filed away, though, thanks!

I will be there in 10 days me and DW will have EVC but I’m not sure how to get the HC sections. Can anyone answer this if not I’ll ask when I’m there and let you know too.

Yeah, I’m not the person to ask. I have no idea. I’m more likely to know where bathrooms are for kid emergencies than where HC sections are, lol. Hope you find the answers you’re looking for!

I know where they are or at least on the map just not sure how to access them properly.

Ahh. Yup. I’m still no help. :joy:

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