In this post, we are going to take a look at the Happily Ever After dessert party currently offered nightly at the Magic Kingdom. We are going to dive into exactly what you get and see if the value can justify the cost. For this review, we elected for the “Plaza Garden” viewing which is the only version we would even consider. The “Terrace View” is not only more expensive, but offers a much worse view of the show.
The Plaza Garden version is still quite expensive in its own right. The upcharge can be booked for $69 a per adult and $41 per child (ages 3-9). This is up $10 from last year. There are not any AP or DVC discounts for the event either. Let’s take a look at what you get for your money.
Check in is right inside Tomorrowland Terrace. Upon confirming your reservation you will be given a wrist band like the one above. You will have already pre-paid for the party when you booked it so no further payment is required. You will then be led to one of several small tables spread throughout the restaurant.
On this evening, about half of the tables were filled up when I arrived about 15 minutes after the recommended check in time.
The party officially starts 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to Happily Ever After. I have found that to be a bit excessive and prefer to arrive more in the 45 minute to 1 hour range. We like to spend about a 30 – 45 minutes at the party and then head over to the plaza gardens about 15-20 minutes prior to showtime.
Lets take a look at the food and beverages offered.
Off to the side of the main buffet table is a smores station. This is a big hit with the kids.
The spread is basically a bunch of bite size desserts, most of which are on the level of good, not great. I actually enjoyed the fresh fruit, cheese and crackers more than most of the desserts offered. There were hamburger egg rolls being served as well for some reason.
On the other side of the main buffet tables is an ice cream station. This is also where you can pick up the ooey-gooey butter cake which is the only dessert that really stood out.
A table side table with cookies and brownies was picked almost completely clean. The table was empty for a good 5 minutes. For the price of the event that probably shouldn’t happen.
There is also a build your own cupcake station which the kids seemed to enjoy but can also cause quite the mess I would imagine.
Lets take a look at the beverages offered.
Coffee is available in both regular and decaf.
Hot chocolate is in the container on the left. The one on the right is hot water for tee which there is a wide variety of options for at the table on the right.
Here we see some iced tea, very watery milk, water and juices.
The sparkling apple cider is the way to go if you are electing for a cold drink. Not only does it look fancy but its super delicious too!
Now lets try to put some kind of value on the event.
Here is a look at my first plate.
And my second. I would probably put a value of all the food I had at around $25. That’s about the cost of 2 table service desserts which is about right for the amount of food I ate. I also had a sparkling cider, hot chocolate and a coffee so lets say $10 for all of that (based on WDW prices, not real world).
So we need the stress free view of the fireworks to be worth minimum of $45 a person for the party to be worth it. Lets take a look at things over at the plaza gardens around 15 minutes prior to showtime.
As we enter the plaza has a decent amount of people in it but there is still plenty of space.
The hub is packed at this point. Any free space you see in the photo above is a walk way area which you will not be able to stay and watch the show from.
Main Street isn’t any better. The crowd will compress a bit once the show starts. People who were sitting will stand up and everyone tends to just move forward a bit. This does open up some last minute spots but its a bit chaotic. This is where the dessert party comes in.
This is the spot I chose. I had plenty of room around me to set up my tripod and not have to fight with anyone over space. I also don’t have to worry about anybody cramming their way in front of me at the last second which is almost a guarantee when viewing from the regular area in the hub. Because there is a walkway directly in front of the plaza, you are also far less likely to be effected by shoulder kids and ipads blocking your view.
The show itself is fantastic. I know a lot of people still claim to miss Wishes but I don’t get it. Happily Ever After is superior to Wishes in almost every regard. It’s almost double the duration has just as much, if not more pyro, to go along with the castle projections. The one thing I will admit I miss about wishes is Jiminy Cricket. If he was brought back to narrate HAE, it would be the perfect fireworks show in my opinion. Even without him, its pretty close.
Overall, the dessert party certainly makes things a lot easier. It’s a great experience if money is no factor, but it may be hard to justify the $69 a head value. The average adult will probably get around $30 of value out of the food and beverages. It’s tough to say that the reserved viewing is worth another $40 a head on top of that. If it were still priced at $59 per adult I would say the value would be a bit more appropriate for what you get.
You can easily show up around the same time you would for the dessert party and be able to grab a great spot in the hub for free. The downside to that is you are likely to be squished in like a sardine closer to showtime and there is a good chance someone will try and jump in front of you at the last second. You will have to deal with the sea of phones, ipads and shoulder kids as well. For this reason we elect to do the dessert party every now and then just so I can enjoy the show without any of the headache. We know its not a great value but sometimes its still worth it for us. This is especially true when our young nieces are with us and we want them to be able to get a good view and not have to deal with the crowd.
So basically, our conclusion is that it’s not technically a great value for cost, but it will still be worth it for some folks. Its by far the easiest way to view Happily Ever After and if you are on a once in a lifetime trip, particularly with small children, you may want to consider it.
What are your thoughts on the HAE dessert party? Let us know in the comments below!