Wishes: A Magical Gathering One Last Time

The traffic is slowing, the questions are stopping and you can truly hear the music of Main Street U.S.A.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, in just 5 minutes we will present our night time fireworks spectacular Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams... And now, your host, Jiminy Cricket!"

"Why good evening folks, just look at this gathering of friends. Talk about magical. You're all here looking for some magic, aren't you? So where's all the magic you ask? Well, in just a wink, we'll find it together with a help of a few of our friends. Isn't that right Blue Fairy, ah, my lady?"

"Yes, Jiminy. This night is made for magic. We'll journey to the stars where dreams are born and together we'll discover the magic that makes wishes come true."

"Gather round folks. This I've got to see."

Then, a moment. The quietest Disney gets during the day. Everyone is waiting anxiously for those quiet chords to start. I stand, watching the crowd, knowing the exact moment it will begin. Months on the street haven't diminished my love for this moment. In fact, it has increased it. 

I glance over to my best friends near me, enjoying the moment of calm before the post-show rush. They have their glow-with-the-show ears on and are smiling at in anticipation at the castle. They've sold too many glowing objects to count, but tonight both of their focus isn't on their cart and their role... it's where it should be: The Castle.

Then, it begins.

Soft sounds of the brass, woodwind and strings sections of a band, almost as if they are playing their tuning notes, starts. It  crescendos into the moment that gives me goosebumps. Two notes and the castle color changes to yellow then fades into pink before going yellow again with those two notes repeating.

The Blue Fairy's calming voice appears, "When stars are born, they possess a gift or two. One of them is this: they have the power to make a wish come true." 

A firework imitating a star shoots over the castle as we hear the beginning of the song, "Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight. We’ll make a wish, and do as dreamers do. And all our wishes…Will come true."

The next moment brings about one of the louder fireworks, one I would see people scream from as they walked throughout the park and they weren't prepared for it... a blue star.

"When you wish upon a star, Makes no difference who you are! Anything your heart desires will come to you."

We get a moment of calm as Jiminy speaks to us, "Pretty, huh? I’ll bet a lot of you folks don’t believe that—about a wish coming true—do ya? We’ll I didn’t either. Course, I’m just a cricket, but let me tell you what made me change my mind. You see, the most fantastic, magical things can happen, and it all starts with a wish!"

In this second, memories rush back. To 2013 when I worked custodial in my Disney College Program in Magic Kingdom at Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Whenever I was in Fantasyland and Wishes began, I would ensure I did all of my duties to give myself 15 minutes to make magic. I'd walk behind Prince Charming's Regal Carousel and narrate the fireworks--telling people when to look at the castle's fireworks or behind the park. But this second is where my friends and I would get the kids looking in the right direction by pointing with our brooms and yell, "It's Tinkerbell!"

And the music starts up again as Tinkerbell flies from the castle. Kids scream in excitement and parents are in awe as she passes over. Then, we hear the wishes of our favorite Disney characters and say the wishes as they do.

"If your heart is in your dreams…"

Cinderella: "I wish I could go to the ball!"

Snow White: "I’m wishing… someday, my prince will come!"

"No request is too extreme!"

Ariel laughing, "I wish—Oh, I wish I could be part of that world!"

Peter Pan: "I wish we’d never have to grow up. Off to Neverland! Haha!" 

(And you're lying if you would watch Wishes enough times and did not say the "Haha" with Peter Pan.) 

"When you wish upon a star, As dreamers do."

Pinocchio: "Look Jiminy! Someday, I wish I could be a real boy!"

Aladdin: "Genie, I wish for your freedom!"


Jiminy Cricket: "You know, any wish is possible. All it takes is a little courage to set it free! A wish is a powerful thing—especially when it comes from the heart."

"Fate is kind. She brings to those who love, The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing."

The romantic part of Wishes starts as a Once Upon a Dream instrumental plays in the background. It transitions to Beauty and the Beast as a line of fireworks alongside the castle shoot straight up into the air. With the sequence ending with pink hearts forming in the sky, we cheer as we can actually see the heart form (as sometimes they do explode sideways and the effect is lost.) And while we cheer, the rest of the crowd goes "Ohhhhhh!"

Jiminy Cricket: "Like a bolt out of the blue, Fate steps in and sees you through. When you wish upon a star, Your dreams come true! (Chuckles.) Sometimes, wishes can be granted in the most unexpected ways."

Then, we watch as fireworks gradually grow until...

Genie: "Whoa!!! 10,000 years can give you such a crick in the neck! Hello people! Up here. Come on, we’ve got some wishes to grant!"

(I'll try to mimic here) Bah bum bum bah bum bum bah as fireworks set off from the sides of the castle.

We hear the Fantasia music and the walk of the broomsticks as the castle starts to look like the sorcerer's hat and red firework balls shoot straight into the air.

But then, the music turns as the moon and stars on the castle fall.

Jiminy Cricket: "Uh oh, now don’t worry. Just remember, always let your conscience be your guide. Let your conscience be your guide… Let your conscience be your guide…"

As the Snow Queen summons the face of the magic mirror, I can't help but let out a giggle. Once upon a time, when the Queen would say, "Let me see thy face!" there would be a frowny-face firework in the sky. Only on some nights did you catch it since it could turn and not look like it. Then, when projections came to the castle, it turned to the face of the mirror appearing on the castle and just a large firework overhead.

Jiminy Cricket: "Ya know folks, you gotta be careful what you wish for around here, or you’ll get yourself in an awful mess. But just when things look bad, fate steps in to see you through. Well I’ll be—it’s the Blue Fairy!"

DAH DAH, I always say with the music as giant fireworks light up the sky.

Blue Fairy: "Remember, we must always believe in our wishes, for they are the magic in the world. Now, let’s all put our hearts together and make a wish come true."

And as the song continues, the fireworks crescendo. Then, a pause.

Jiminy Cricket: "You see, it's just like I told ya—wishes can come true, if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is, you’ll never run out of wishes. They’re shining deep down inside of you. ‘Cause that, my friends, is where the magic lives."

"Just believe.
Just believe!

Like a bolt out of the blue,
Fate steps in and sees you through!
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true.

Make a wish, and do as dreamers do.
Just do as dreamers do.

Make a wish!
Dream a dream!
Trust your heart!
And your wish will come true!"

The chorus fades as we see the two shooting stars light up the sky above the castle. Then, the castle goes dark, the fireworks stop for a beat. Then, the final words:

Jiminy Cricket: "Haha, see what a little wishing can do?"

When Disney announced the conclusion of Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, my heart broke. I did not know the last time I saw the show that it would be my last. I saw it in September from across Bay Lake at the Polynesian, but there was no music. And the music makes that show. Before then, it was in January 2015, the last night I was in Magic Kingdom after working and living there for six months. Maybe it is better this way so I know just how powerful the spectacular was. It made me cry even when I knew I would be back eventually, but did not know when. If I did see Wishes and know that it was the last time, I would not have been able to take in every lyric, every sight and every bar of music... and now those memories will live with me forever.

12 minutes and 26 seconds of magic, wonder and hope ends with a moment of anticipation before a grand finale of fireworks bursting behind the shadow of Cinderella Castle.

Then, the lights come on.

"Thanks folks, for making this little gathering of ours so extra magical. From our family and friends to yours, goodnight, and may all your wishes come true. So long!"

Tears in my eyes threaten to pour out as I stand, trying to see through the emotions to stare at the castle while the crowd rushes around me towards the exit, a shop or the next attraction.

And there I stand, taking a moment in the middle of Main Street USA. You can tell who the Disney fans and cast members are... they are the ones standing there, taking it all in.

Then the 90s Pop after-music begins, to which my best friends and I can't help but to do an air guitar to the solo and wave our arms back and forth in the air while singing at the top of our lungs.

"And all our wishes, all of our wishes... all our wishes, will come true. Oohh Wishes. Wishes-es."

14 years of pure magic happened almost every night for 12 minutes and 26 seconds at this spot. I don't know the exact number of times I experienced the wonder, but I can tell you that this show--the music, the sights, the meaning, the feel--got me through so much. This show saw me at my highest and at my lowest. It reminded me when it was time to pursue a new dream from completing one and of my strength to dream again when feeling broken. Those 12 minutes and 26 seconds guided me through my time in Walt Disney World.

Laughing through tears we look back at the castle. We are all reminded that it dreams start with a wish, of the wishes we can make and see through, of being careful what you wish for, of wishes being granted in the most unexpected ways, that wishes can come true if you believe in them with all of your heart, that you'll never run out of wishes, that the magic lives deep down inside of us... and to wait and see what a little wishing can do.

May all your wishes come true.

Thank you for reading,

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