I waited over 2 hours for World of Color and would not do that again. It was for the second to last show when it first came out so the park was closed and we were all herded, I mean instructed, to remain in one area until we could go to the viewing area. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if we were allowed to sit down while waiting, but we had to stand.
I have waited about an hour for Fantasmic and that wasn't as bad. I don't think I'll wait for more than 2 hours again (but who knows maybe I'll change my mind later if there's a super awesome new show).
I usually show up about 30 minutes before a show, and I find that's usually enough time to get a good spot. My feet are usually hurting after a long day in the park, but somehow watching the night time entertainment, I forget about that.
I waited about an hour for World of Color earlier this year. I could have given myself 30min and probably would have been fine, though. Sitting on the cement staring at the Mickey wheel of death tends to get boring after a while.
I have waited for Fantasmic up to 90min in the past. I usually give myself an 45-60min, though.
Sometimes it's SO nice to wait for a show, I didn't have this experience until recently.
By the time most people are on their third full day of a Disney trip, they are exhausted, as were my boyfriend and I. We decided to take it rather slowly the third day and not rush to get anywhere. We did want to see Fantasmic! our last night, so we sat down 2 hours early to see it. I know it sounds like an insane amount of time and maybe not worth it to some of you, but to be honest, it was fantastic. It was dusk, and beautiful on the river, with the sun setting. We talked about our day, about all the good memories, and even made friends with the people next to us! I got up at some point to walk right over and get us some of that yummy gumbo in NOS, and returned within a few minutes with our dinner. It was so peaceful to just relax and rest our feet, eat our dinner, and chill out on the blankets waiting for the show. Two hours felt like one, and I would totally do it again when I get exhausted or just want a break from walking, some down time. And it's not like you're wasting your time, because we got a spot right up front, waterside, and we got to see an amazing show of course.
I highly recommend waiting long for things if you're looking to chill out for awhile and visit with family/friends, or meet new people.
I might wait on Main Street for 20 minutes for a regular fireworks show. Maybe 45 minutes at Small World Plaza for New Year's Eve or July 4th fireworks. The longest I wait as a rule is 3 hours for Candlelight at Town Square on opening night.
Getting a "good" spot for A Christmas Fantasy parade can be brutal! You have to stake out your spot 45-60 minutes before it starts. We usually wait about 40 minutes for Aladdin so we can get within the first three rows.
I don't think I have ever waited for the fireworks shows or the parades. I usually just walk into them or watch from a distance, especially the fireworks. I don't see any point in parking it/cramming with people on Main Street when you can see the fireworks from just about any part of the park. You can also see them from outside the park.
Most of the time when I have seen the fireworks with the audio it was while waiting for Fantasmic. The fireworks usually go right before the first Fantasmic show.