Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage

Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage

Who’s ready to go on a spectacular Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage?  Because there are so many know before you go facts today, we are going to split these up. The Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage is really a 3 part experience.  The first part is a hearty junk food party with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, the second an adventurous sailing full of trivia and jokes, and the last a surprise meet and greet back on shore. Our family got to experience the voyage a couple of years ago, so today I’m going to walk you through our time while discussing the three phases of the journey.

Part One – Captain Hook & Mr. Smee

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Your journey actually begins up to 90 days in advance of sailing.  This is the earliest you can make reservations for the fireworks voyage.  You can do so by contacting your travel agent, or by calling (407) 939-7529.  If you have anyone in your party that will be using a wheelchair or ECV, be sure to note this when you book.  Both are allowed on board the ship, but Disney needs to prepare for this in advance.

The current cost for the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage is $69 per adult, and $41 per child (tax not included).  Guests are not charged for infants 2 years or younger, but they need to be noted on the reservation.  Any guests under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult.  Reservations may be cancelled up to 48 hours in advance, but after this you will forfeit the entire price of the tour if you do not attend.  Finally, if you are worried about canceling or unsure about adding the tour ahead of time, same day bookings can be made as long as there is availability.  This must be done at least one hour in advance of the event start time.

Speaking of start time, the fireworks voyage begins one hour prior to the scheduled fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  Be sure to confirm the fireworks time about 2 weeks before your trip begins and once again on the day of the event.  You must arrive at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at least 10 minutes early.  I recommend arriving 30 minutes ahead of time to give yourself a little cushion.  If you need to kill a few minutes you can watch the Monorail pass right through the middle of the resort, visit the gift shop, or take a nice walk outside by the lake.

When the time arrives to begin your fun, look for the events board in the main lobby of the resort.  This will direct you to the location of Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.  When we went, our journey began on the bottom level of the resort in one of the conference rooms.

img_0362You may have to wait a few minutes before being granted access, but there are a few fun things to do and see out in the hallway. I enjoyed taking my picture with the pirate skeleton on display.  Soon, you will be joined by Captain Patch and Captain Patch.  Yes, they have the same name, hence an indication of the comedy that is soon to follow.  The two captains invite you inside where there is a treasure trove of junk food.

I like my candy and sweets, but seriously, this is all the stuff that will rot the teeth right out of little pirates heads.  There is cotton candy, Mickey ice cream bars, popcorn, cake, chips, pretzels, and chocolate.  To wash down these sugary sweets you can choose from lemonade, tea, coffee, or water.  Be prepared for a sugar overload!  I recommend eating an early dinner, or a light healthy meal in anticipation of the dessert you will indulge in here.  The trap we fell into was feeling an obligation to get our money’s worth.  You pay a pretty penny for the event so you end up trying to eat two days worth of junk food in less than an hour. I think we all stuffed our bags with 2-3 bags of chips and pretzels for later, but don’t try this with the ice cream!

While the sugar rush is going on, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee make an appearance and set up in front of a cool looking pirate backdrop.  A line forms quickly, but everyone should have a chance to take their picture with the dangerous duo before this part of the evening is wrapped up.  Kids are welcome to dress as their favorite pirate, which makes the whole evening that much more fun.  Special event bandanas will be provided so you don’t have to worry about that part of your costume.

For the most part, our family went in our normal vacation wear, but our pictures with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee still turned out great!  You have a little more time here than a typical meet and greet in the parks. I do recommend grabbing a plate full of snacks before trying to take your picture.  The food does run out and if you are the first in line for the photos, you may find the cotton candy has all been devoured by the time you get done. Just keep an eye on the time.  Remember you have to make it out into the Seven Seas Lagoon in time for the fireworks so you only have about 30 minutes to get loaded up with sugar and take your picture.

Part Two – Sailing the Seven Seas Lagoon

That brings us to part two.  Captain Patch and Captain Patch will rejoin your crew after your junk food jamboree is complete.  Next, you will be split into either the Smee or Captain Hook boat.  Don’t let the names fool you.  Captain Hook and Mr. Smee do not join you for the sailing.  You must way goodbye to the comical villains before heading to the docks.  Patch will choose one of the young sailors to host the pirate flag and lead a march down to the water.  This is a fun way to get the little ones excited about the water voyage ahead. At the docks you will see two boats, and your respective Captain Patch will direct you to the appropriate one.

img_1271Each boat holds has a canopy overhead, but is open on all sides, and contains enough hard bench seats to hold about 60 people.  Our cruise was not completely full so we had plenty of room to spread out.  Well, I should really say huddle in!  You see, the sea was a little angry the night we set sail.  As it is prone to do in Orlando, it was raining.  However, it was unusually cold that evening so the ponchos we brought along only helped with half the battle. It is very important to keep an eye on the weather and be prepared!  Disney does not provide umbrellas, ponchos, or blankets.  While the cruise may be cancelled due to inclement weather, it does operate in rain and cold conditions. I should also point out that whatever temperature you feel on land, it will feel cooler on the water.  Fall, winter, or even early spring cruises may have you wanting a blanket or sweatshirt to wear under that poncho. If you are taking a summertime voyage you probably only need to worry about staying dry.

It only took a few minutes for all of us to be huddled up together as far towards the inside of the boat as possible.  Before we even made it around the Contemporary Resort and out into the Seven Seas Lagoon our faces were dripping with rain and the little nephews were starting to shake from the cold.  Still, that didn’t stop Captain Patch from making sure we had a great time!  He began by introducing each family by name, asking them where they normally laid anchor (that’s where they’re from for any landlubbers out there).  I have to say, our captain was one of the best examples of a magical Disney Cast Member I have experienced. He made each family feel welcome, while simultaneously giving someone in the group a hard time, thus providing laughs for the whole boat.

Our time on the boat holds one of my favorite Disney memories. It’s a pretty funny story involving my dad, 8 hours in pirate face paint, rain, and one hilarious Captain Patch. We don’t have time for that here on the blog, but go listen to the podcast for the full account!

In addition to great jokes, Patch taught us some seafaring songs and played pirate trivia as we floated deeper into the lagoon.  With each correct answer, Patch gave the winner a small trinket or treasure to take home with them.  I really enjoyed this as he started with some pretty hard questions, but mixed in some so simple everyone could get a prize. No one left the boat without a correct answer, even if Patch had to help them along the way!

img_0385As for the fireworks, did I mention it was raining on our cruise?  Not only that, but the wind direction was such that all the smoke from the fireworks was blown in front of the castle.  Basically, we had a rainy smoke screen between our boat and the fireworks exploding over Cinderella’s Castle.  Patch did his best to position the boat where we could see, but it was a tall task that night.  Had it been a clear night I’m sure this would have been one of the most memorable shows we could have hoped for.  That being said, don’t go on the cruise expecting to get great pictures.  Unless you are a professional photographer that can account for the sway of the boat, and the position far out in the water, you will probably end up with some blurry blobs of color.  This is one time I recommend taking the camera off the castle and putting it on the ones you love next to you.  You may not be able to get great views or pics of the fireworks, but you can get some good shots of everyone on board enjoying the experience.  One of my favorite pictures from this trip was my sister and brother-in-law dancing together as Captain Patch lead the boat in an upbeat pirate waltz.

Part Three – A Surprise Guest Welcomes You Home

img_1294Once the final firework has exploded in the night sky, Captain Patch directs the boat back to the Contemporary.  In our case, the rain began to subside on our way back, making for a nice peaceful boat ride.  Seeing the Magic Kingdom and surrounding resorts lit up at night is beautiful.  The lights from the Contemporary reflect on the Seven Seas Lagoon, creating their own little show of moving color. It was especially nice not fighting the crowds leaving the park after the fireworks show. The short boat ride gave us just enough time to reflect on the fun evening we had just experienced.  That reminds me, I forgot to mention one of the highlights when we first set sail.  We passed right by the Electrical Water Pageant on our way to the lagoon.  By the time we returned from the fireworks the pageant was long gone but it was fun seeing this charming light show up close.

When we pulled back into the dock, we were pleasantly surprised to learn there was a mystery guest welcoming us back!  It may have been the highlight for my little nephews, or anyone else that never wants to grow up!

All together, our Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage took about 2 1/2 hours.  Plan on leaving the Contemporary about an hour after the fireworks are scheduled to begin. If you are staying at another Disney resort and don’t have a car you will need to get a bus back to your resort.  The easiest way to do this is to hop on a Monorail to the Magic Kingdom.  From there you can walk down to the bus station like normal and wait for your resort’s bus to arrive.  This adventure is sure to wipe you out, so anticipate getting back late that night and maybe plan for a relaxing morning the following day.  If nothing else, you will need some time to recover from the sugar crash!

With any extra magic like this, the question is always, “Is it worth the additional cost?”  In our case we used a day of park tickets that morning so this was purely an add-on item.  I should mention that you don’t need park admission for this event.  So, if you have a day when you won’t visit a park this could be a fantastic way feel like you are still part of the magic.  It could also be an extra special way to kick off your vacation on arrival day.  You could save a day of park tickets and just plan on the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage.

Whatever the case, when I reflect on our time there, I have to say the memories were well worth the extra money spent!  Like so many of my favorite Disney memories, this experience was a mixture of weather ruining the preconceived, idealized version in my head.  Without the rain and cold we wouldn’t have been huddled together making the most of a challenging situation.  My dad’s pirate make-up would have been much less frightening and who knows what Captain Patch would have made fun of.  I would have loved to see the fireworks without the smoke and rain. Still, sharing that time with my family on a new adventure was the real show.

Hopefully, our story will help you decide if you want to add the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage to your next Disney vacation.  If so, let me give you some quick reminders so you can make the most of your pirate adventure.

  • Book 90 days in advance
  • Eat a light, healthy dinner early in the evening
  • Dress in your pirate best for extra fun
  • Arrive 1 1/2 hours before the scheduled fireworks begin
  • Pay attention to the weather
  • Bring your own poncho, umbrella, or blanket as needed
  • Plan your transportation back to your resort
  • Prepare for a late evening, and schedule a relaxing morning the following day

Well, mateys, we have had some good times here on the WDW Ride Guide exploring most of the pirate fun to be found in Walt Disney World.  Thank you so much for joining me again today.  Until next time, I hope you each have a great month may each day be a ride worth taking!

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