Illuminations cruise, anyone?


I remember hearing about this many years ago, but just inquired about it last month. We are going in May, and can’t book until 180 days out, and the CM on the phone said that it will be dependent on availability, etc. etc…
So, IF it is available, and IF (and it’s a big IF) I am able to afford it, has anyone ever done this? Is it worth it?? I know that you can have up to 10 on the boat, and it would just be my hubby and I, so price per person is a bit high…but I wanted to make a special experience (celebrating his 10th visit to WDW). Illuminations is our favorite nighttime show, and it seems like every trip the last few years has the “prime” viewing locations being roped off for “VIPs”, parties, and such.
So, sorry to babble, but just wondering if anyone’s done this…is it worth it, any details would be appreciated. Thank you!!:mickey:


Far be it from me to send someone to another board, but there is a thread over at the DIS boards where you can share a boat with another family and thereby decrease the cost. We did it on our last family trip and met the lovliest family to boot. There were 5 of us and 4 of them, so the cost was greatly decreased. Go check it out…but come back to us when you’re done. :wink:

You will love the cruise, it is a wonderful treat for all involved, but it is even better when you get to share the cost.


Thank you for the suggestion-I was thinking about the possibility of sharing the boat rental…I am not sure though-trying to have a “romantic” evening.
It sounds like you’ve done the cruise? Can you please give me more details/specifics? Anything about the experience you’ve had. Thanks again!


We’ve done maybe four Illumination cruises over the years and really enjoyed them. However, after the price increased so much a few years ago we just didn’t feel they were worth the money. If you have never done it then give it a try, it’s a relaxing way to see Illuminations.


The price is over $270 for the boat. Your party can be any size up to 10 people.
Cruises can not be booked until 90 days prior, not 180 (unless this has changed recently).
Now, get ready for the really bad news!

This is a very limited resource, unlike Wishes/MK cruises where you can literally have 20 boats out, because there is room for no more than six boats in the mooring area.
I was told it breaks down so that each resort gets one boat (Yacht, Beach, Boardwalk), one boat is reserved for guests with vacation plans that include fireworks cruises, one boat is held for the advance planning office (concierge/club level guests), and a slot is available for the Breathless, the Swolphin’s boat (if they have one), or perhaps if the stars align correctly, some lucky party not staying at an Epcot resort.
Anyway, this was how it was explained to me, but even if the three boats are not for the exclusive use of YBB guests, or even priority for YBB guests, we’re still talking no more than 4 boats after you factor out the package boat and the APO boat.

These boats go faster than a free breakfast for 10 at Chef Mickey’s!
A few years back, we were staying at the Boardwalk and the morning 90 days prior to the night I wanted, I was on the phone at 7 AM. I got through at about 7:10-15, and was told that all the boats were gone already.
We were staying club level so I called the advance planning office at about 7:30 and lucked out by scoring “their” boat.
I shared the boat with another family from here on Mousebuzz, in order to get the cost down, and then decided to treat the Davids as well (at least I think I treated the Davids). This was my third cruise, but the first time I’d had my own boat. I don’t know that I need to do it again, though it is time to see Wishes from my own boat on Seven Seas Lagoon instead of from the ferry.


Ok, good to know-worth it at least once, difficult to get…sounds like Cinderella’s breakfast or something! :wink:
Ok, so the plan is to try to get it booked (I really do remember the cast member saying that it was just like dining, 180 days out, but I’ll have to re-check my notes), then, consider splitting with another family or something.
Thanks for the tips everyone!


We took the cruise once and my children hated it.


We did the Illuminations cruise in June 2009 for my mom’s birthday. We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it! Now my sister and I did split the cost as it was for mom’s birthday. We liked it so much we are doing the Wishes cruise in 53 short days for DD’s birthday. My parents, sister, and the other couple that went with us were just happy I had booked this for our trip. They all still talk about it when we get together. My kids ESPECIALLY loved it, they were 2 & 8 at the time.


[QUOTE=SnazzyCMB;1089722]Ok, good to know-worth it at least once, difficult to get…sounds like Cinderella’s breakfast or something! :wink:
Ok, so the plan is to try to get it booked (I really do remember the cast member saying that it was just like dining, 180 days out, but I’ll have to re-check my notes), then, consider splitting with another family or something.
Thanks for the tips everyone![/QUOTE]

Breakfast in the castle is easy compared to this limited resource!

Also, you book through WDW-PLAY (the recreation and tours line).
And as I noted earlier, if you’re a club level guest, you can use the advance planning office to assist you as well.

According to All Ears IllumiNations Cruises at Walt Disney World
it is now 180 days and the cost is $346.13.

For that kind of money, I’d bring the tux and cocktail dress from home and do the chef’s table at Victoria and Albert’s instead.


We did the IllumiNations cruise in Feb. 2009 for my wife’s 40th birthday (and my son’s 9th, kind-of).

I decided to share our cruise with another family, not to defray the cost but, quite honestly, I thought it would be cool to share the magic. So I posted a thread on that other website and I vetted the requests. I wanted to look for a compatible family. We have 2 kids, so I wanted the other family to have 2 kids of similar ages.

I found a very nice family. Like me, the husband was the planner, and the wife was having a milestone birthday (30th) and one of the kids was very near a birthday (8th). We both had 2 kids near the same ages.

Other than that, I knew we were total opposites … Yankees and Southerners, doctors and lawyers, Jews and gentiles, and so on. I say this in a light-hearted way … and I use it to point out that we had a wonderful time together because we were so compatible in the ways that count.

The other cool thing about it is that both the other guy and I wanted this to be a total surprise for our wives and kids. Well in advance, we communicated via e-mail and cellphone to arrange everything like what to have written on the birthday cake (which cost extra, etc.). And then the day of, it was like a spy game, “OK, we’ll meet at the dock at 7:30 p.m., I’ll be the one in a white shirt and you’ll be the one in the red shirt …”

It was very nice to share that 90 minutes with another family. And I had very little trepidation about it because, as I said, I chose a family similar to ours so that I knew we’d have similar goals (focus on the kids having fun) and thus we’d be able to have a nice time together.

I’d definitely do it again. Go and share! :phone:


These boats are almost impossible to get, which is why they are able to keep raising the price.

The family I talked about sharing with in my earlier post were the ones who were able to acquire the boat rental due to their package. If you’re still interested, then keep an open mind about the romantic part of it: it is still a lovely evening, no matter how many people are on the boat.


Oh and as for the experience, It has been slightly different each time for us, due to the people on board and the drivers. The driver will usually take you out for a spin around the lake before it is time for the fireworks. They then take you under the bridge and park…quite closely…to the other boats. Your view is spectacular, and you will likely get quite envious looks from the people crowding around on land. Hopefully the wind will cooperate and not blow the smoke in your direction, but I have heard of this happening to people.


Thanks for all the replies, everyone! Are there any other sort of refreshments served that you can recall-snacks, drinks, etc? I know that if I wanted a cake or something like that it’d be extra, but do you know if there are any “basics” included?
I will seriously have to consider sharing the boat with another family-due to cost and availability. It’s tricky because we are kind of “shy”, especially in such a close setting with strangers-kind of like getting seated with strangers at the Biergarten. I know many folks and families love getting to know other people, and honestly, I always end up enjoying it…but there is always an element of social awkwardness where I have no idea what to say or make small talk:wacko: Anyway, I’m rambling a bit (obviously I’ll have to just get over the social awkwardness and try to get more folks to join us), but I do appreciate the help. This would definitely be a ONE time thing for us if we are actually able to book it!


You can order all sorts of food or dessert selections. Call WDW PLAY and they can fill you in.


At no extra charge, the cruise includes small, single-serve bags of chips and stuff like that, plus soft drinks like cans of soda and juice boxes. These are available to just take, there are many of them, it’s not like you are given just one or can take just one. And they are available throughout the cruise, it’s not like you have to hurry and grab.

Many other foods are available for a separate fee from Yacht Club Private Dining.


Wow, I knew we were lucky but I didn’t know how lucky:wub:-- last Jan Me, my DH, DS, and DD were staying at tthe BCV and had stayed for the AK EMH(I’m going to miss those!). We decided to get off at the Swan or Dolphin, whichever was first, and walk back instead of staying on the bus. We were on our way to Beaches and Cream for dinner.:heart:

As we walked by the dock, a man came over and asked us where we were going and we told him–he said, “they’re open 'till 11, would you like to go on a free fireworks cruise instead?” :huh:Here someone had reserved and then either didn’t show or cancelled at the last minute, so the boat was just sitting there empty. It had “Happy Birthday” balloons all over it, which was cute. :wub:
Of course, we said “yes”, so we got on and there complimentary sodas and snacks like cheese popcorn, pretzels, chips, and Doritos. We had a slightly cut back version because we didn’t walk by until close to 8 and they tie up under the bridge by about 8:30, so he just took us by the Boadwalk and explained all the shops and restaurants and clubs there, then we went under the bride and he explained how Illuminations was run(where the projectors were, where the lazers come from)–I have to tell you, it takes a lot to make my 14 year old DS grin from ear-to-ear that’s not a new video game, but this did.:biggrin:

When Illuminations started it was incredible! We had done the Grand Gathering dinner and dessert viewing and I thought that was amazing, but this rocked! It was a bit chilly so the boat captain gave us blankets, and my son was thrilled to see pieces of the fireworks floating down on us. He kept a larger piece and put it in our scrapbook.

On our way back to the dock, people on the bridge were yelling “happy birthday” so I told my DD to pretend it was hers and she kept yelling back “thank you.”

When we went to Beaches and cream we were all a bit awestruck and agreed it the BEST Disney Magic we ever had. When we went back to the hotel I told the manager about our wonderful experience and got an e mail address to praise our boat captain, which I did as soon as I got home.

It seems incredibly expensive for just the two of you though, and as for the romantic part, you are docked right next to another boat or two boats(we were on the end so only next to one boat, but the people kept yelling over “hi” to us before the show started) so I guess that would be luck of the draw as to who was next to you. In Jan you could have snuggled under a blanket together, but in May, not so much:laugh:


wow! That is a great story-love the Disney magic! You and your family were incredibly lucky!! Thanks for sharing your experience!