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The World Loves a Parade!
by Rose Folan, ALL EARS® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the May 7, 2002, Issue #137 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Everybody loves a parade! Right? From what I've read, that was especially true of Walt Disney. From his youth in Missouri, where Walt followed the circus train, on to Disneyland in California, Walt was said to "indulge his infatuation" with parades. Parades offered the opportunity to bring his animated characters to life, especially on Main Street, U.S.A., the perfect place to let them interact with guests young and old.
Yet, you might wonder, with all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, if it's really worth enduring the wait and the crowds to see a parade. Perhaps you should just spend that time doing something else -- especially if you're an adult without children? I say, NO! Don't miss the unparalleled opportunity to see Disney Imagineering come to life before your eyes.
"What is it that makes a Disney parade so special?" you ask. Disney parades aren't just an assembly of moving floats and characters. Each is a well-planned and rehearsed theatrical production, perfect in every detail from the methods of transportation, to costumes and music.
Here's something you may find interesting. I recently surveyed visitors to my WDW website as to their favorite parade. The evening parades were the overwhelming favorites among those who voted. The Main Street Electrical Parade got almost 50 percent of the vote; SpectroMagic followed with more than 25 percent. The new 100 Years of Magic parades followed, but with fewer votes.
Let's take a look at some of these parades through these old eyes to see what they offer.
My first WDW parade was the classic Main Street Electrical Parade. The memories remain, even now, in my mind and heart. The moment when all the lights in Frontierland went out and a hush fell over the crowd, everyone straining to see the first float coming into view. The sounds of the music reaching our ears. I recall standing, with my eyes wide and mouth hanging open, as the Blue Fairy came gliding down the street. Her gown, which made up the entire float, aglow with tiny sparkling lights and atop the towering float she smiled down and waved as she passed. Like a child, I stood in awe and wonder -- speechless, tears glistening in my eyes, even at 40+ years old.
The Share a Dream Come True parade, which currently runs daily at the Magic Kingdom, presents classic Disney moments captured in giant snowglobes with live Disney characters inside - "snow" occasionally swirling around them as though they had been suddenly shaken.
The first snowglobe (or "dream bubble," as Disney calls them) is a salute to Mickey Mouse -- of course! It is exquisite in every detail. Imagine, if you can, the type of intricately designed, large snowglobe you can purchase at the Disney Store magnified until it's larger than life size. That's what you see.
Be sure to listen to the characters as their snowglobes pass. They're talking and interacting with guests, making us a part of the parade. For example, listen and you might hear Pinocchio pondering, "I wonder why the little boys aren't in school?" or Peter Pan chuckling, pointing and saying, "over there" as though we can't quite find the "second star to the right" without his help. Several times we're asked to shout "Pixie dust!" to make some magic happen.
But the real adult enjoyment of Disney parades is looking at the incredible details. Disney Imagineers are renowned for their attention to detail and parades are no exception. For example, I've recently read that you can find "Hidden Walts" (Walt's profile) somewhere on every float in the Share A Dream Come True parade. Although I haven't yet had a chance to find out for myself, it definitely sounds like something these clever designers would do. (EDITOR'S NOTE: One "Hidden Walt" can be found in the very first snowglobe of this parade. Look for a silhouette of Walt's face on the left side of the video projector, on the very top of the float, above the dream bubble Mickey is standing in.)
Another thing to look for is the detail on the vintage cars in the Disney Stars and Motor Cars parade at Disney-MGM Studios. Not only are the cars beautifully restored and exquisitely painted, they're decorated to perfection. There's Andy's bed, complete with headboard and blanket, for Buzz and Woody; Genie morphed into a big blue car so Jasmine and Aladdin could come along with their magic carpet; and Mary Poppins and Bert didn't just bring a penguin, they came on their carousel horses.
Don't overlook the live characters who walk along in the parade. Watch their interaction with guests - not only children but ALL guests. They're having fun and want you to be part of it. They love to ham it up for a camera, too... Grumpy will stop, scuff his feet, put hands on his hips and try to be tough, all the while trying to make you smile.
This reminds me of another detail about Disney parades. The characters don't just walk along -- they dance! My favorite choreography is in the Disney Stars and Motor Cars parade. I love seeing Chip & Dale, Alice, White Rabbit, Pinocchio, Geppetto and others line up and start synchronized dancing as they move down the street. Incredible to watch and, if you're like me, you may wish you could join right in with them!
I will concede that parade time offers the opportunity to visit some of a park's most popular attractions while the crowds are occupied. (And that is a good tip for those times when you've seen a parade several times.) But I encourage you to take the time to see every parade at least once for a memorable, magical experience as only Disney can create.
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.