The end of the operating day has been somewhat of a buzzkill at Disney's (DIS 2.21%) Florida theme parks since they reopened 11 months ago, but that's about to change. In the latest sign that things are getting back to normal at Disney World, the company has announced it will resume nightly fireworks shows at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT starting July 1.
That may not seem like a big deal, but those spectacles have been a tradition for the world's largest theme park operator since Disneyland began launching fireworks in 1957. And speaking of Disneyland, the company's original theme park resort will resume its nighttime shows on July 4.
Lighting up more than just the sky
The return of "EPCOT Forever" at the namesake park will find guests once again perched along the railings of World Showcase Lagoon to catch the combination of fireworks, music, and lighting effects. It's a celebration of the gated attraction's legacy, but it's not likely to last long. "Harmonium" -- a brand new and far more ambitious nighttime show -- is expected to launch in October, just in time for the start of the planned 18-month-long celebration of Disney World turning 50 years old.
"Happily Ever After" at the Magic Kingdom will feature pyrotechnics and tunes as projections play on Cinderella Castle. Out on the West Coast, "Mickey's Mix Magic" will feature projections on the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle as well as the face of the It's a Small World ride as lasers, show lighting, and a dance party culminate in a nightly fireworks display.
Many fans of the theme parks are giddy about the return of these events. And for those guests who don't enjoy being part of the large crowds that gather for Disney's nighttime shows and parades, they do offer the side benefit of shorter lines for rides throughout the parks as a large portion of the theme parks' visitors take in the pyrotechnics. However, the real winner here will be Disney itself.
Those feasts for the senses that Disney likes to offer at its theme parks near the end of every operating day are about more than just leaving visitors with a theatrically potent final impression of their visit. Disney is a business, and making sure that folks stick around until well past dusk means that they are more likely to have dinner in the parks. And that juicy "kiss goodnight" as Walt Disney himself used to call these shows, can further inspire guests to hit up gift shops on the way out.
With Disney already relaxing in-park mask requirements and social distancing guidelines, it was just a matter of time before it brought the fireworks back. Reviving the nighttime extravaganzas in early July will also add to the parks' allure during most of the summer travel season. You can be sure that at least a few families who had been on the fence about booking last-minute getaways to those parks will be making it official this week.
This was already going to be a strong summer for national theme park and regional amusement park operators. Those companies have been among the more dynamic travel and tourism stocks that investors have been gravitating toward as post-pandemic reopening plays. Disney should be near the top of investors' watch lists in this sector -- and you probably didn't need the entertainment giant to send rockets into the sky to make that clear.