Disney parades are some of my favorite attractions at the park. I love taking pictures of them, the soundtracks, and the excitement when you hear the opening announcement come on over the speakers. The nighttime electrical parades are some of the most magical of all. The entire concept – parade floats made out of lights – is uniquely Disney. On many nights, you can find the streets around the parade route filling up with people HOURS in advance to get a good seat.
The three main Disney electrical parades from the last few decades have undergone lots of changes. In some cases they’ve been retired for good but they paved the way for current night parades. If their popularity is anything to go on, nighttime parades at Disney will likely be around in some form or another for a long, long time!
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Main Street Electrical Parade
We’ve got to start with the classic nighttime parade that started it all – the Main Street Electrical Parade. Currently retired, this parade introduced us to the catchy nighttime soundtrack “Baroque Hoedown” and has made it’s way to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World over the years. This parade holds a special place in my heart as being one of the first parades I remember from Disney. How could I not remember it with that irresistible theme song?! The fact that this parade came out way back in 1972 is also extremely impressive. Not only has it stood the test of time, but think about what a marvel this parade must have been when it first debuted!
This parade features floats from some classic Disney movies including Dumbo, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Peter Pan. It then ends the whole thing with a glorious float celebrating America (sounds like the end of Muppet Vision 3D, doesn’t it?) It’s gone through some changes over the years, replacing some floats and adding some updates to others. The most notable change was the addition of a Tinker Bell float in the late 2000’s. She replaced the Blue Fairy at the head of the parade.
One of the few cons of this parade, however, is that many of the floats have NOT changed since it first came about. This doesn’t exactly hold up well for repeat viewings. It also references a lot of movies younger kids might not be familiar with, like Pete’s Dragon. This was probably the biggest reason they took out the Blue Fairy and replaced her with a more recognizable pixie. Who knows – maybe when (or if) it does come back, they’ll have added some much needed new floats to the line up!
In the meantime if you’re like me and LOVE the soundtrack, check it out on Amazon so you can have the magic with you whenever you want!
If it ever comes back, I definitely recommend seeing it at least once. You won’t be able to help but dance along to the soundtrack, I guarantee it!
Excuse me, I might get emotional remembering this parade, because it was so good and a fresh change of pace from the MSEP and one of my all time favorites. Also, I apologize for the terrible quality of these pictures. These are way back from 2006, aka the stone ages of photography.
In case you can’t tell – this is the float showcasing the Fairies from Sleeping Beauty.
SpectroMagic had its run in the Magic Kingdom in the 90’s and early 2000’s before disappearing for good. Yes, it’s been confirmed by Disney that all of the parade floats have been disassembled for SpectroMagic, which is a shame. Although as we know, that never truly rules out a comeback! In the meantime, we can remember it fondly and watch old YouTube videos of the show online!
This soundtrack, while not as instantly recognizable as MSEP’s, is definitely catchy and a great track to listen to if you’re missing the parks or just want to listen to something upbeat for about 20 minutes. This parade also featured floats from Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, and The Little Mermaid, and also had a segment featuring the Genie from Aladdin, bringing in some of the more recognizable movies of the era. The music changes along with the parade route, weaving in the recognizable tracks from the movies represented in the parade with the parade soundtrack.
However, the Fantasia segment might have gone over little kid’s heads. I distinctly remember asking my dad what movie the flying horses were supposed to be from when I was 8 (and maybe even adults might not have gotten it right away – because he definitely told me Hercules). Also, the parade featured “Spectromen” along with Mickey, who were cast members wearing childlike masks, playing fake light up instruments and so on. After the revival of It last year, I can’t imagine these guys being very popular with kids today. Who knows, though – maybe for an anniversary celebration, they’ll reboot the parade with new floats and new stories. Maybe this time without the creepy Spectromen!
Paint the Night
As much as I love SpectroMagic, nothing can compare to Paint the Night. This is probably my most favorite Disney show of all time. If anyone from Disney is reading this – if you could bring this parade to WDW in October 2019, that would be GREAT 😉
Paint the Night is a remake of the parade of the same name from Hong Kong Disneyland. This parade features LED lights as opposed to the older parades, and also showcases many of the more recent films. They really do cater to just about every age group here. From princesses to Cars, to classic movies like Peter Pan, the parade touches on all of them!
The soundtrack to this parade is also spectacular. It is a mixture of the movie soundtracks (corresponding to whatever float is going by at the time) and Owl City’s “When Can I See You Can?” from the film Wreck-It Ralph (although can I just say, how unfair is it that Ralph himself doesn’t get a float!?) Finally, the parade soundtrack also has breaks where a reimagined “Baroque Hoedown” is played, paying homage to the parade that started it all.
Simply put, Paint the Night is truly a work of art. These floats are Disney masterpieces, thanks in part to the updated LED technology used in this parade. It is truly a sight to behold. If you can get out to Pixar Fest and see this parade, I highly urge you to do so. As of right now it has extended its run there to September of 2018. In fact, they recently added an Incredibles themed float! My hope is that this indicates that the parade will be sticking around for a while. Hopefully it’ll be making a visit cross country soon?
There you have it – a little trip down memory lane to compare the three nighttime parades at Disney. Which electrical parade is YOUR favorite? Drop a comment below!