Taking an Illuminations Cruise

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Even frequent guests to Walt Disney World may not realize that every night fireworks cruises are offered by Disney that allow guests to see either Illuminations or Wishes from a unique stetting–a boat.   On a recent trip, I surprised our family with an Illuminations cruise following our dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Illuminations cruises begin from the dock at the rear of the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts around 8:00 pm (assuming Illuminations is running on its usual schedule). This makes it an excellent activity to schedule after dinner at one of the many restaurants around the Boardwalk area.

The cruises are given on pontoon boats, and hold up to 10 guests, plus a driver, and have a set price of $346.13 (as of 3/26/15). They can be booked 180 days in advance of your desired date by calling 407-WDW-PLAY and leaving a credit card number. The fee for your cruise will not be charged until the date of your cruise, and cancellations can be made (without fees) up to 24 hours prior to your reservation.

I booked our cruise right around the 180 day mark and had no problem getting my desired date, but recommend that you do make advanced reservations for this activity since there are only a few pontoon boats available for each evening.

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After checking in for our reservation, we met our driver and each child in our party was provided with a life jacket, which they wore throughout the cruise.

Just after 8:00 p.m., we pushed away from the dock and began sailing towards Disney Studios. Our driver was very entertaining, telling us stories and quizzing us on Disney trivia questions. He also provided us with a large basket of chips and other snack food, and a cooler filled with water and soft drinks.

After reaching the Studios, the pontoon boat turned around and headed back towards Epcot again. The boat moved slowly, but we were having so much fun that it seemed like a quick ride.

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We arrived at the International Gateway area of Epcot just a short while before Illumination was set to begin, and our pontoon boat pulled right under the International Gateway Bridge- tying itself to the other three Illuminations pontoon boats, so that it felt like a big viewing party. This location gave us great views of the France pavilion and the rest of World Showcase, all illuminated for the show.

The cruise provides you with a unique and up close viewing location for Illuminations without the hassle of saving a spot or squishing between other guests. In fact, our seats on the pontoon were very comfortable.

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At the end of the show, the pontoon boats untied from each other and began sailing back towards the Yacht Club dock. From there, disembarking was easy and it was just a short walk back to our cars in the Yacht Club parking lot.

I would highly recommend an Illuminations cruise as a fun family activity, especially if you are looking for something new to try at Walt Disney World.

Have you ever done a Fireworks Cruise before to see either Wishes or Illuminations? Do you have any great tips about attempting either?

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