Parade viewing at Disney parks can be stressful, which is a shame, because watching Disney parades is one of my FAVORITE past times. I especially love taking photographs of the floats, and during my trips, I’ll sometimes see the same parade multiple times to assure I get multiple shots! Getting situated before a parade, however, can be rather stressful! Where’s the best place to view the parade? How do you avoid the crowds afterwards? What if you have kids? The crowds alone might be enough to make some people skip the parades entirely!
Viewing parades should be entertaining – not stressful! Here are 4 tips on how to find the best spot to view the parade, AND how to avoid the rush of people leaving the vicinity after the parade finishes.
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Figure Out Which Way the Parade is Coming
Even if you’re 99% certain you know which way the parade will be coming, be sure you ask a cast member to confirm. In case you didn’t know – parades start either on Main Street or in Frontierland. Depending on how many times the parade runs that day, that will determine which way it starts. Always check with a cast member before planning your spot. There have been a few times where I thought I knew for sure which was it was coming – and was wrong!
Why is this important? Well, if the parade starts in Frontierland, it’ll be at least 10-20 minutes AFTER the parade’s posted start time before it makes it’s way to Main Street. This could mess up your dining reservations or Fastpass times. Additionally, if you’re impatient like me, I’m not waiting an extra 20 minutes for the parade to get to me! I want to view the parade and move on to my next attraction!
Stay Away From Main Street
Unless you’re looking to exit the park immediately after the parade ends, stay away from Main Street. Not only is this the most popular spot for parade viewing, but you’re also dealing with traffic as people enter and exit the park. There’s also really only one way to the other lands via Main Street. This requires people to push past the crowds as they make their way to their next destination. Most of the other lands that the parades travel through have alternate routes you can take. Finally, if you’re viewing a nighttime parade, the stores all need to keep their lights on – which can ruin the viewing experience! The other lands generally don’t have this problem. All in all, it’s just not worth it to view the parade from there. The exception to this is viewing from the Main Street train station. Naturally, this area is in high demand, so get to the station at LEAST an hour (if not more) beforehand!
Personally, I prefer Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, and Fantasyland near It’s a Small World for Disneyland! Liberty Square seems to be one of the least crowded places along the parade route. In Disneyland, Fantasyland has a nice little raised area with benches – perfect for photography if you’re big in to DSLR cameras like me!
Plan Your Exit
If you’re going to be headed somewhere after the parade – maybe a dining reservation or a Fastpass – be sure you strategically plan your exit! For example, if you’re going to be headed to Splash Mountain after Festival of Fantasy, situate yourself on the side of the street that will allow you to slip out after the parade without having to cross the throngs of people trying to do the same thing. It also would make the most sense to camp out near the land you’ll be headed to. No one wants to try and navigate from Main Street to Frontierland right after the parade lets out!
Be Considerate of Others!
Nothing is more annoying than finding an amazing spot…only to have someone stand right in front of you and hoist their kids on to their shoulders! Yes, everyone wants their kids to have the best view they can, but if you’re traveling with little ones, plan accordingly. Come early and find a seat along the parade route so they can sit and still see the parade. They’ll be able to view the whole thing without any obstructions, and you won’t be bothering others! I recommend heading to the route 1 hour before the parade starts. You might be able to get away with only 30 minutes during the slower Value season!
In addition, if you’re a Disney photographer, think of those around you. If you’ve got your HUGE lens attached to your camera, you should be towards the back of the crowd. You can still get good shots and people won’t have to crane their necks to see around your large camera! I recommend finding a place in front of a tree or some other structure because no one will be behind you, allowing you to twist and turn to your heart’s content to get the perfect shot.
Disney parades aren’t just your average parade – they have that extra touch of magic in them. I recommend viewing all the parades you can, and with these tips, you’ll be able to snag a good spot with minimal effort! Have fun and enjoy!
Which parade is your favorite?? I LOVE Festival of Fantasy and Paint the Night! Drop me a comment below and let me know your fav!