Who Murdered the Disney Parade?

Do you know how many parades there are currently at Walt Disney World? I’ll save you some time — the answer is one.

Disney Festival of Fantasy parade

On a regular day, the only parade that can be seen across Walt Disney World’s four parks is the Festival of Fantasy daytime parade at Magic Kingdom.

Not too long ago, there was also a daytime parade at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade), a nighttime parade at Magic Kingdom (Main Street Electrical Parade), and a daytime parade at Hollywood Studios (Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun).

So what happened?

Main Street Electrical Parade

Well, for one, parades are a very expensive form of entertainment. You have to maintain floats, not to mention train and pay a huge group of cast members — from float drivers and parade techs to dancers and character performers. Most of the cast is getting some kind of premium on top of their hourly rate as well — whether it be for safety or the parade itself. (Disney pays more for dancing and performing in a parade vs. a meet and greet.)

Parades are also, frankly, a huge crowd control and safety concern. Guests often unknowingly get trapped by the parade and aren’t allowed to cross until the Parade Control Cast Members let them know it’s safe. This can be frustrating, even though it’s for your safety.

SpectroMagic parade formerly at Magic Kingdom

Guests are unpredictable and parades are one of the most dangerous experiences at Walt Disney World. Float drivers and parade techs are on high alert for kids running into the route to hug their favorite characters, or adults thinking they can “just cross real quick.” And while that may work, the parade cast may still be required to emergency-stop the float and cause a delay in the parade.

So with fewer parades — is anything taking their place?

Super Dance Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Yes! Dance parties! In the past few years, we have seen an incredible increase in interactive entertainment, such as dance parties or street parties, in the parks.

Currently, there is at least one dance party in three of the four parks — Magic Kingdom (Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party), Hollywood Studios (Super Shindig or Disney Junior Dance Party), and Animal Kingdom (Hakuna Matata Dance Party and Donald’s Dino-Bash). Not to mention all the dance parties that pop up during special events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party nights.

It seems like guests enjoy moving and grooving with their favorite characters, or else Disney wouldn’t keep including them. Dance parties are also not as much of a time-suck as a parade — by the time you grab a good seat and wait for a parade it can be an hour or more. A dance party can be just five minutes if that’s all you want it to be! You can pause and dance for minute or two, then move on.

Dance parties are more cost-effective than parades, and guests might feel like they got a more “one-on-one” or special moment with the characters if they busted a few moves together.

Goofy in Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance it!

At this point it seems obvious who murdered the parade — its cousin, the dance party. The numbers seem to speak for themselves.

What do you think — dance parties or parades? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about the dance parties around the parks, not just in Disney World, but in Disneyland, too!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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27 Replies to “Who Murdered the Disney Parade?”

  1. I absolutely miss the night time parade. Dance parties are not even a poor replacement for the parades. they are no replacement at all. As the prices have gone up a lot I can not understand- it is like a bait and switch. More like they did away with the parades to be able to handle all the paid after hours events. Too sad.

  2. I miss the electrical parade. I agree that the crowd control issues and getting stuck in the wrong part of the park were a pain, but Electrical Parade and Boo Parade as MNSSHP are worth the trouble. Is the Halloween parade gone too?

  3. I love the parades. It is just classic Disney to me. I miss the Night parade at Magic Kingdom so much. I had to see any other parade be taken away. The dance parties are just ehh to me. My littles like them okay but my bigs do not. They all love a parade though!

  4. Been going to Disney World since 1984. Seems to me that the parades are very popular. Just look at all the people lining up to watch them. Personally, I have always enjoyed the Electrical Parade. That being said ,getting trapped in the park is not an enjoyable experience. As with all things in Disney World, you plan, you improvise and you move on.

  5. This is 8th trip and I think last.The missing parades and free walking characters is so obvious.It also seemed run down and a bit less colorful. Over all felt like a amuse.ent park.Fast passes for all takes away the perk of paying high on site resort prices.paying to park,resort fees and taxes on everything in a no state tax State.

  6. I seem to be the minority here yet again, but this is something I complained about for years and took the time to answer the surveys about numerous times. Glad to see Disney making the changes I’ve requested yet again though. So at least I’m in tune with them.

    I hated the parades!!! To my family and I, they were the biggest pain the butt thing to deal with. For hours people start cluttering sidewalks and blocking walking paths and doorways to stand/sit waiting for them to start. Then cast members come along and rope off everything, making it impossible to get around the parks!! At one point, the entire entrance of MK gets roped off and no one can even cross to exit. I agree with the safety concerns as it was always something I brought up.

    Crowd control is a major issue and Disney has no ability to keep 50k people doing what they want around those parade routes. “Don’t stop along the sidewalks of Main Street… keep a walking path open”… yeah ok, I’ve never had a clear walk down Main Street to exit while a parade was going on. Not to mention all the huge strollers, ATV like Wheelchairs and other nonsense that block the ability to pass. Or the line coming out of Starbucks during a parade that blocks that entire side of MS.

    While we don’t do the “dance parties” either… at least they don’t take up hours of time and half the parks space.

    As someone from NYC… the leisurely strolling and stopping around the park is my biggest issue. Just keep moving people!!! Know where you need to go and do it. Do your rides, take your pictures, meet the characters, eat your meals and then head home. It’s so simple yet gets bogged down with traffic.

  7. I really enjoyed the Magic Kingdom nighttime parades. In summer, there is no direct sun so more comfortable to watch plus it’s a nice wind down to a fun day at the parks. I’m 66 now so tend to pass on dance parties plus they are definitely not as magical as seeing all the lights during the nighttime parades….and the faces of the kids watching as all of the floats pass by with the great music.

  8. We went in 1996. The night time electrical parade was amazing. Being in South Africa it’s very expensive to visit Disney. We were fortunate enough to return twice in 2018. My 2 special needs’ nieces would really have loved the electrical parade. It needs to come back!

  9. One of the reasons I enjoy MNSSHP is the Boo to You parade. It is great! I miss the nightly parades at MK as well as the Jammin Jungle one at AK. That one was so unique. Dance parties are not even a close comparison.

  10. It’s such a bummer. Our teens miss the parades that they enjoyed when they were younger. Dance parties are a disappointing replacement.

    Everything has gone down hill since 2013 when they went to FP+

  11. I desperately miss Spectromagic!!! That was my all time favorite parade. It’s just not the same anymore without all the parade options. We have never enjoyed the dance parties, but have always loved the parades.

    1. Loved Spectromagic.

      Cutting the parades, and particularly the illuminated night ones, is ending another one of the unique experiences that tied guests emotionally to the park. Pennywise and dollar foolish.

  12. I’m sure the dance parties cater to the younger generation but those of us in the extended generation still like parades, change is inevitable but sometimes I miss the classics.

  13. Like all things Disney it is about $$$ and your list of expenses will always outweigh the guest satisfaction with the parades, I personally prefer parades but my grands LOVE them and whatever brings them joy makes me happy.

  14. Interestingly, in California the opposite has happened. The Parades remain a huge thing, day and night, while the one attempt at a dance party scene over in DCA was quietly sent to Yesterland a few years ago when the rest of DCA’s “temporary” Frozen activities (the movie singalong and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure) closed to make way for the new show at The Hyperion.

  15. I don’t think any dance party compares to a parade. I think Disney needs to come back with a night time parade at MK. Not having that is missing some of the magic.

  16. The dance parties don’t even come close to replacing the parades in my opinion. I really miss the nighttime parades in Magic Kingdom, esp. I know Disney is a business, but I don’t think Walt would have approved of all the greed that’s going on now–resort parking fees, lack of parades, end of evening extra magic hours for resort guests (unless, of course, you want to pay for them), etc. I love WDW, but it’s definitely losing some of its magic.

    1. Please quit using the word “greed”. It is so overused and an almost meaningless term these days. If wanting to make more profit or income is greedy, then we are all greedy.

      I have Disney stock on my 401k and a kinda like the record profits they are making. Means a better retirement for me. Go greed!

  17. I’ve never been a fan of the parades myself because I’d rather spend my time riding the rides. I do miss them sucking up the majority of the crowds to make the lines shorter though. The only ones I ever made a point to see were the Electrical light and Spectro Magic because they were spectacular and different from anything you could see anywhere else.