REVIEW: Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage

By: Brandon Foster | 4 Minute Read

While the Walt Disney World Resort has many dessert parties to choose from, the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage is perhaps one of the most unique and different experiences available. We decided to try it for ourselves and see what it’s like firsthand.

Pirates & pals | contemporary resort

Pirates & pals | contemporary resort

The Basics

The Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage is a dessert party that consists of four main experiences:

  1. A Dessert Party

  2. Character Meet and Greets

  3. A Pirate Sing-Along/Interactive Voyage on Bay Lake

  4. Fireworks Viewing from Bay Lake

The cost, beginning February 1, 2020, is $83.83 per adult (ages 10+) and $49.87 per child (ages 3-9).

The party begins one hour and fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled fireworks time for the Magic Kingdom. On most nights, this would be “Happily Ever After” fireworks display. But on select Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights, it’s the corresponding holiday firework display.

Checking In

name tag for boat and souvenir bandana | pirates & pals fireworks voyage

name tag for boat and souvenir bandana | pirates & pals fireworks voyage

Check in is located inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the second level — where the convention meeting rooms are located. Disney has signs posted in the main lobby to make it easy to find. But to be honest, once you’re on the right level, you can’t miss the podium. It’s clearly labeled, and the cast members are dressed as pirates.

To check in, simply provide the cast member with the name on the reservation. They will check your name off their list, and each member of your party will receive a souvenir pirate bandana along with a sticker labeled either “Hook” or “Smee” — designating which boat you will be boarding later on.

Once checked in, you can take pictures with the pirate statues as you wait for the doors to open. Yes, meeting room doors. The dessert portion is located inside a meeting room used for conventions.

The Atmosphere

Once the meeting room doors open, you will be welcomed by two pirates. They are the MC’s of the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Voyage — for both the dessert party portion and for the voyage.

When we entered, we expected the meeting room to be completely redecorated in true pirate theme. After all, this is Disney! They have incredible imagineers and so many resources at their fingertips. Instead, we were a little disappointed.

While there were some fun table-top displays, treasure chests, and a nice backdrop to get a picture taken with Smee and Captain Hook, there was not a full overlay. Most of the walls were bare — a muted beige color. The art deco carpet remained. And the ceilings were very low.

Hey, but at least we got to interact with Smee and Hook. You can’t go wrong there! (Genie Tip: Go for the food first before getting in line for the photo op.

Meeting captain hook and smee | pirates & pals fireworks voyage

Meeting captain hook and smee | pirates & pals fireworks voyage

The Desserts

The food was an even bigger disappointment. I truly love many of Disney’s dessert parties — Star Wars: Galactic Dessert Party, Frozen Ever After Dessert Party, Jingle Bell Jingle Bam Dessert Party, Return to Sleepy Hollow… they all have some fantastically themed dessert choices that taste every bit as good as they look.

This dessert party consisted of cupcakes, cookies, and rice krispies. Yep, that was it for the homemade portion. The rest of the food consisted of items readily available at your nearest Walmart: apple slices, carrot slices, pita chips, pretzels, bananas, and tortilla chips with salsa. Oh, and Mickey bars.

I was so dumbfounded by the food that I actually went to a cast member and asked him about it. I mean, this takes place at the Contemporary Resort. It’s a deluxe property. I know they have amazing chefs at their disposal.

I received a very candid response: “We’re still trying to figure out the right food for this event and the right atmosphere. We have room to improve. The money is spent on the entertainment and the voyage itself.”

I appreciated the honesty and hoped that the voyage itself would makeup for the disappointment in the dessert party itself.

There was one saving grace though — as many chocolate gold coins as you could imagine. I filled up the side pouch of my backpack to the brim with them. That was a win!

The Voyage

After everyone had enjoyed their fill of ‘desserts’ and gotten a picture with Smee and Captain Hook, the Pirate MC’s separated us into our groups. We then marched with the Pirates, Smee, and Hook down to the dock of the Contemporary and boarded our vessel. (All of our seats were pre-assigned on our stickers which made this process smooth and easy.)

As we sailed across Bay Lake to find our firework spot, our Pirate MC did a great job of entertaining everyone onboard by recognizing anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. We also shared where we were from. I enjoyed his one-liners and improvisational skills.

Once we were in front of Cinderella’s castle, the fireworks soon began. I had read from other reviews that it could be difficult to see the fireworks depending upon which side of the boat you were seated. I was on the opposite side (far side) from the fireworks and still felt like I had a perfect view. (There is a rumor that Disney is investing in specific boats for this experience to provide even better viewing.)

Watching the fireworks from Bay Lake, with the music piped in, is a completely different viewing experience than inside the park. For me, I thought it was just as beautiful and enjoyable. And I definitely enjoyed not having to arrive so early to find the perfect spot.

The Return

Once the fireworks show ended, our boat immediately sailed back to the Contemporary. On the way, our Pirate MC led a game of Disney trivia — rewarding correct answers with a variety of pirate swag. This was mostly for the kids onboard, but all of the indults, including myself, seemed to enjoy it as well.

When we arrived back at the dock, we were greeted by a special guest — Peter Pan! For me, this was the highlight. Peter Pan can be a difficult character to find during a Walt Disney World trip. And when you do find him, he’s often roaming around and doesn’t stop long for pictures. But this time, he did!

I asked him if he could teach me how to crow. And it was brilliant!

The Takeaway

If the main reason you’re considering the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage is for the character interactions with Hook, Smee, and Peter Pan and/or for viewing the fireworks on Bay Lake, then I would highly recommend this unique experience.

On the other hand, if you’re a foodie and expecting desserts on par with other dessert parties, I would recommend a different experience. You will be left disappointed and unimpressed.

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