Walt Disney World did a couple of test runs of Happily Ever After, the fireworks and video projection show, at Magic Kingdom late in June. The intention was to bring the nightly show back starting July 1. I can't quite put into words the symbolic meaning of this. Living about 11,000 feet away from Cinderella Castle (and thankfully out of the thick of the tourist stuff), the nightly fireworks were something that you could set your watch by. Every out-of-town visitor that stayed with us would make it a point to watch. On March 15, 2020, I watched the show from my driveway, and wondered when we would see it again.
About four months later, the Walt Disney World parks reopened, oddly enough just as Covid cases were starting to get really out of control. But the strange, dystopian approach, with plastic barriers everywhere and "wait here" signs on the ground everywhere, made it clear that things were far from normal. The live entertainment, including the fireworks, did not return. As much as it seemed like a bad idea to open the parks, the reality is that there was little to no community spread, which makes sense given the protocols they were using. We were in no hurry to be a part of that.
We bought back in when we got vaccinated. Simon, being 11, is not, but he did so well in school wearing a mask, and following the rules to reduce risk, that we figured that he could handle it. Even with the eased restrictions, he still has to wear his mask indoors at the parks. But in those first few weeks, the lack of live entertainment made the parks feel like, I dunno, I guess a fancy count fair. Street performers and live music, and even the parades I hate getting stuck behind, give theme parks a certain soul. And the nighttime spectaculars, well, there's a reason they refer to them as a "kiss goodnight."
Since July 1, we've had a number of people hanging out on our street at 9:15, because ours offers the best view in the neighborhood. They did not do the usual extra-large show they normally do for Independence Day ("perimeter fireworks," as they say, because they launch them from all around the perimeter of the park instead of just behind the castle), but it was still a welcome experience. On Saturday, we went to Epcot for the last three hours, after a total rain-out of a day. We got to do the primary rides, take one last sip from the Flower & Garden Festival stands, heard live music, and saw Epcot Forever, which should be called Epcot Temporary, since it's a placeholder they started doing when Illuminations ended. The new show, Harmonious, starts in October. Not impressed with the placeholder, but it was still amazing to be in the park and sharing the experience with the people who help pay for my schools and roads (tourists paying sales and bed taxes).
Welcome back, fireworks.