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The Rich History of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade

The Rich History of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade

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In anticipation of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Main Street Parade, we will go down memory lane on what inspired the popular nighttime parade and the additions and changes throughout the years at the various Disney Parks.

Main Street Electrical Parade

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

The nighttime Main Street Electrical Parade has been around for many decades. In fact, it will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in June. The parade was originally created by Robert Jani and Ron Miziker who served as project directors. It ran from 1972 to 1996 at Disneyland Park.

The parade features numerous floats with live performers and entertainers which are covered in 600,000 electronically controlled LED lights. Additionally, the parade utilizes a synchronized soundtrack which is triggered by radio controls along key areas on the parade route.

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

The Main Street Electrical Parade ran at both Disneyland Park and at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. It has inspired various spin-off versions like the Toyko Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights.

In 2014, Hong Kong Disneyland premiered a successor version, the Paint the Night Parade. An extended version of the parade premiered at Disneyland on May 22, 2015 as part of the park’s 60th anniversary celebration. In 2018, it moved to Disney California Adventure Park.

Inspiration for the Main Street Electrical Parade

electric water pageant
Photo: Disney

Believe it or not, inspiration for the nostalgic parade came directly from Walt Disney World!

The Electrical Water Pageant consists of fourteen 25 feet tall screens that are decorated with electrical lights. They float by in a parade fashion along Walt Disney World’s Seven Seas Lagoon. It debuted in 1971 and continues to delight Guests to this very day.

The original Main Street Parade incorporated nickel-cadmium batteries and miniature bulbs that were Italian made. The parade floats were constructed by Silvestri, a Chicago based company who made holiday displays.

Opening Day and Over the Years

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

One of the first rehearsals for the parade proved to be a catastrophe as one of the floats crashed into a building on Main Street. Additionally, many costumes on performers emitted sparks!

Luckily, the parade’s opening day on June 17, 1972 debuted with no issues!

The Main Street Electrical Parade first opened at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on June 11, 1977. However, it closed in September of 1991. SpectroMagic took its place from October 1991 until May 1999. In 1992, the Main Street Electrical Parade from Magic Kingdom traveled to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, where it remained until March of 2003.

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

After a 24 year run at Disneyland, the Main Street Electrical Parade closed on November 25, 1996. The light bulbs that were part of the floats were sold to collectors. The following year, the Light Magic Parade opened and guests were not impressed. In fact, shortly after, the new night time parade was canceled.

In 1999, as part of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration, The Main Street Electrical Parade was refurbished and ran for two years.

Floats in the Parade

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

Throughout the parade’s history, many of the floats have changed over time. However, some of them continue to remain the same. For example, the Main Street Electrical Parade for Disneyland Park, the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Paris all include the Casey Jr. Train float from the animated film Dumbo, which carries Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.

Other consistent floats in the parades include “Alice in Wonderland,” “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Pete’s Dragon” and the grand finale float, the patriotic American float “To Honor America.”

Credit: KTP Writer

In the past, the parade included floats such as the Blue Fairy from “Pinocchio,” a circus float in connection to “Dumbo,” and a “it’s a small world” float. In 1985, a promotional float for the movie “Return to Oz” was included. However, the float was destroyed by a fire.

Tokyo Disneyland’s Electrical Parade: DreamLights features many of the traditional floats found in the United States parades. However, in 2017 they added the following floats: “Blue Fairy,” “Knights of Light,” “Mickey’s Dreamlights Train,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Disney Fairies,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Peter Pan,” “Toy Story 3,” “Aladdin,” “Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Frozen and “it’s a small world.”

Credit: Susan

One can not talk about the Main Street Electrical Parade without mentioning the music! Its tune is as catchy and recognizable as the music from the attraction “it’s a small world!”

The Main Street Electrical Parade’s theme song is titled “Baroque Hoedown.” It was originally created in 1967 by Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, two synthesizer composers. Throughout the years, the music has been updated and rearranged.

Present Day

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

On June 28, 2019, Disneyland officially announced that the parade would return for a limited engagement from August 2, 2019 through September 30, 2019.

Two years later on October 26, 2021 Disney released a TikTok teasing that the parade would return once more to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. During the Destination D23 convention in 2021, it was announced that the Main Street Electrical Parade will return in Spring 2022.

On February 22nd, Disney unveiled the return date of the Main Street Electrical Parade alongside with the addition of new floats and a grand finale.

(Artist Concept/Disneyland Resort)

Over the past five decades, the Main Street Electrical Parade has brought families together to delight in its many whimsical stories and featured characters. And soon, that will continue for a whole new generation of dreamers. In honor of the parade’s 50th anniversary, this nighttime spectacular will return with an all-new, enchanted grand finale that celebrates the theme of togetherness.

Inspired by both the original design of classic “Main Street Electrical Parade” floats and Disney Legend Mary Blair’s iconic art style on “it’s a small world,” the new grand finale brings to life more than a dozen Disney Animation and Pixar stories from “Encanto,” The Jungle Book,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Aladdin,” “Coco,” “Mulan,” “Brave,” “The Princess and the Frog” and more.

(Artist Concept/Disneyland Resort)

I eagerly anticipate the return of the parade and cannot wait to hear, “Ladies and Gentleman Boys and Girls Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival of lights in nighttime magic and imagination in thousand of sparkling lights and electrical sinphonetic musical sounds: The Main Street Electrical Parade.”

Are you a fan of the Main Street Electrical Parade? What is your favorite float in the night time parade? Are you excited about the brand new finale inspired by Mary Blair? Let us know in the comments on Facebook and in our Facebook group.

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Thursday 17th of March 2022

Ask yourself why we couldn’t have had this back for the 50th anniversary, at the very least they could have shipped Spector magic from Disneyland for our 50th. That would have made our 50th pretty special

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