When my wife and I were deciding what to do on our Walt Disney World honeymoon, we had a couple of park days planned–a day at Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends, and of course a day at Magic Kingdom–but we also were looking for Disney experiences above and beyond the theme parks. We did find fun options, including a horseback ride at the Fort Wilderness Resort and Fantasia-themed miniature golfing, but one of the standout activities of the trip was the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Cruise.
This cruise isn’t cheap, we paid something like $55 each, but it’s an amazing way to see the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show and the entire pirate-themed trip is a lot of fun. Plus, there was cake!
The cruise began at the Contemporary Resort, in a small area decorated with pirate statues. Upon checking in, we were assigned to one of the two boats (we got Smee, and the other one was–you guessed it–Hook) and given our official Pirates & Pals bandannas to wear.
After a short wait (we had gotten there well before our 8:45pm cruise time) we were invited into the pre-cruise lounge area. Here there is a spread of snacks ranging from cake and ice cream to bags of pretzels, as well as lemonade and coffee, and guests have some time to hang out here before boarding the boat. No seating meant awkwardly holding food and drink, or standing at one of the small cocktail tables, but there are a bunch of pirate-y decorations and the aforementioned cake and ice cream so it’s all OK in the end.
Captain Hook and Mr. Smee made an appearance for a meet and greet shortly before boarding the boats. My wife and I have gone as Hook and Smee for Halloween (she was Hook, I was Smee) so obviously we love those characters and it was very cool for us to get a picture taken with them. There’s a little area set up for the meet and greet, with a Neverland-themed backdrop and a few little set pieces.
After the meet and greet the “captains” of the boats arrived. Introducing themselves as brothers Patch and Patch, they went over some basics (there’s no restroom on the boat, so they advised using one before boarding if needed, and we could feel free to grab some snacks to bring aboard). These guys were hilarious from the start, playing off of each other really well and just having a great time and making people laugh while going through the safety rules and such. Then they led us to the dock, where we boarded the boats.
Once everyone was settled into their seats (and Mr. Smee came down to the dock to see us off) we set out onto the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Our “Patch” was absolutely hilarious. He went down the center aisle, calling out each family in a fun little introduction and asking (well, getting the entire boat to ask in unison) where they’re from. He also had a list of any special events, so he made sure to announce those as well. Note to anybody looking to book something at Walt Disney World: make sure you mention if it’s a special occasion, because sometimes you’ll get a shout-out on a boat by a pirate.
This guy was great at getting people involved (since it was our honeymoon, he made us get up and dance together) and keeping everyone entertained with comedy, good natured jokes aimed at passengers, and more. There was an ongoing trivia contest for the kids on board, answering Disney movie questions to win little pirate-themed prizes, and when I raised my hand and answered a question he:
A) Remarked that I was the fastest at answering that particular query, which was “Name Jafar’s parrot in Aladdin” (and seriously, how does anybody not know that?), and
B) That I was apparently very proud of myself for stealing prizes away from little kids. Which I was. I have the pirate beach ball that I won proudly displayed on a shelf with all of our Mickey ear hats.
On certain nights aboard the cruise, it’s possible to see the Electric Water Pageant. This depends on whether or not the pageant is running, of course, and if the time of your cruise coincides with it, but I made sure when making our reservations that both were the case. I remember seeing the Electric Water Pageant as a kid, from the beach of the Polynesian, but seeing it much closer from the boat was extremely cool.
After the Electric Water Pageant, we continued on our journey towards Magic Kingdom and the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. We got a beautiful view of the park entrance from the boat–you can see the lights of the train station and Cinderella Castle rising up behind that–as it got into the optimal viewing position for the Wishes show.
They shut off the boat’s lights shortly before Wishes starts to minimize any extra illumination that could get in the way of enjoying the show. The pilot even cuts the engines, only starting them up to keep the boat in a good viewing position, to minimize any distractions. Then (and this part is really cool) they pipe the show’s soundtrack through the boat’s speakers. The fireworks are amazing, but the narration and music is such an integral part of Wishes that I think taking that out would really hurt the magic of the show, and it’s great that you’re able to get the full experience from the boat.
The view of the fireworks was breathtaking. There’s no jostling with crowds of people trying to get a good spot, no noise or distractions, just you and a handful of other people on a quiet boat in the lagoon and a spectacular vantage point from which to see the show.
After Wishes concluded, we headed back to the dock at the Contemporary, where Peter Pan was waiting to welcome everyone back.
We did a lot of fun things over the course of our magical Disney honeymoon, but our evening spent with some pirates (and their pals) was one of the highlights.