Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Taping

Christmas Parade sign

Ever wonder what it’s like to be part of a TV production? Well today (December 3rd) my wife and I got to be part of the audience for the taping of the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade that will be shown on ABC Christmas morning. A couple points of interest. First, the parade is no longer called the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade but instead the “Disney Parks” Christmas Day Parade. I assume that means they’ll be a little less emphasis on Walt Disney World and include more Disneyland features. The second items of interest is that the taping at Walt Disney World is being done over three days. Today no actual parade segments were taped. Just two stage performances: Yanni (Yanni Voices) and Kris Allen. Both were excellent!

For those of you who don’t know, Yanni has discovered four young and incredibly talented singers and they are called Yanni Voices. Those singers are: Nathan Pacheco, Ender Thomas, Leslie Mills and Chloe. They have done a PBS special as well as recorded a couple albums. Today they performed “Oh Holy Night” which just happens to be my favorite Christmas song. It was beautifully sung by Nathan Pacheco along with Chloe, Leslie and Ender. And of course Yanni doing a superb job playing the piano. Don’t miss this performance Christmas morning!

Kris Allen, the 2009 American Idol winner, and his band played a really hip version of Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. Kris has a great voice and I really like the arrangement of the song that he came up with. He is an outstanding entertainer who really connected with the crowd; which was filled with young, female Disney College Program Cast Members. He signed autographs and interacted with the crowd during the many breaks.

Alright, so how did I get to be selected to be in the audience for this taping? Well it started four or five weeks ago when I registered on the Disney’s Wide World of Sports web site. Then a couple weeks ago I received an email telling me I was selected to attend this particular taping. I was directed to a site where I could print out my tickets. Tickets for this event where also park admission tickets into the Magic Kingdom.

We were asked to be there by 9:30 AM, to wear holiday colors and not to wear clothing with logos other than Disney.

My wife and I arrived at the Magic Kingdom gates around 8:30 AM and found quite a few people already in line. They had set up a separate bag check and entrance just for those with parade tickets. The line moved quickly and before we knew it our group was being escorted down to Cinderella Castle. When we arrived we could see all the production personnel getting their equipment all set up. We weren’t allowed to get close to the stage at that point as there were still too many workers, wires and equipment all over the place.

As we waited we were greeted by Billy Flanagan. Now Billy is a 27 year Cast Member who has been part of Walt Disney World Entertainment for all that time. According to Billy he has played every (male) role except for the Luau over at the Poly. Now I think he exaggerated a little bit because I really don’t think he ever played the lead singing role in the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom. Anyway, Billy did one FANTASTIC job keeping us entertained for the entire four hours we were there. I cannot praise Billy enough, because without him those four hours, standing all the time, would have been too much to bear.

Both Yanni and Kris Allen performed their number at least four times. So, it wasn’t them performing and then leaving the stage. I didn’t mind hearing these performances repeated; they were that good!

Our role, as the audience, was to ignore the camera, smile, look happy and cheer loudly. I must admit that we did a really outstanding job.

Here’s a picture of my ticket that was used to enter the Magic Kingdom;

Christmas Parade Ticket

The one and only Billy Flanagan as he greets the audience:

Billy Flanagan

Production crew getting ready.

Production Crew

Production Crew

Cinderella Castle and stage decorated.

Cinderella Castle

Billy talking giving us a run down of what to expect.

Billy on stage

Yanni on stage going over the production elements.

Yanni on stage

Yanni on stage

Ender Thomas, Leslie Mills getting ready.

Ender and Leslie

Billy kidding with Chloe.

Billy and Chloe

Nathan Pacheco warming up.

Nathan Pacheco

The actual performance of Oh Holy Night.

Yanni Voices performing

Yanni Voices performing

This is what they called the “wrap up”. Wow give me a little knowledge and I’m dangerous. -:)

The wrap up

Now that’s one really big camera. I glad I didn’t have to lug that around today!

Big camera

Billy on the stage where Kris Allen would be performing.

Chris Allen stage

Billy getting us organized while Kris Allen and his band get ready.

Getting set up

Here’s a close up of Kris. Wonder why the young ladies like him (besides his great voice). -:)

Chris Allen

Kris Allen and his band performing.

Chris Allen performing

Chris Allen performing

Chris Allen performing

And that’s a wrap!

Chris Allen

So, I went today not knowing what to expect. However, I did think that it would be a very long four hours. I was oh so wrong! I’m really glad I got to see these two wonderful performance (as many times as I did) and to watch the talented production crew in action. And as I said before, Billy did a great job entertaining us! He just kept coming up with things that kept our minds off the fact that we were standing, and not moving, for such long periods of time. Kudos to Billy!

As a bonus, I got to meet up at the end with two long time AllEars.net readers; Carolyn Musselman and Jill Dodson Linton. It was great getting a chance to talk with both of them. And while all of us were talking another AllEars.net reader joined us. So, that was the perfect end to a wonderful day!

Now make sure you watch the parade on Christmas morning and look for me. I’ll be the good looking guy wearing red. -:)

Finally, be one of the first people to hear when my newest blogs go live on AllEars.net by joining “DisneyMike’s World” Facebook group.

Well, that’s all for now. As my good friend says “see ya real soon”…DizneyMike

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25 Replies to “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Taping”

  1. hi mike,
    i went last year and i LOVED it, but we had season passes and just happened to go on the weekend that they were having it. we made lots of friends with many of the people that were there for the parade. a lot of them were saying how they got tickets for free to go be a part in the parade.
    this year, we do not have season passes and were wanting to try and go for the parade, but we couldnt find the website of where to get the free tickets from.
    when and what website can we go to, to find and sign up to get the free tickets? thanks for sharing the great pictures from last year, i agree.. it was AWESOME! thanks mike! (:

    DisneyMike replies: Kaitlynn, I registered on the DWWoS (ESPNWWoS) site under their “events” menu. However, I had to register at http://www.active.com/register. To be honest I don’t remember the sequence. But I do know it’s a bit too early. I haven’t seen anything about it yet. I would suggest you write WDW Guest Services. They could provide more info. Hope this helps…Mike

  2. How did you find out how to apply for the tickets? Did they post it on the Walt Disney World Homepage?

    DizneyMike replies: Andrew, I believe I received an email from Disney to Annual Passholders. You had to register on the Wide World of Sports web site and wait to see if you were picked. So, keep an eye out for this sometime this fall…Mike

  3. Hi Mike! I’m Kristen, the Allears reader that came up to you while you were talking to Carolyn and Jill. I’ve just now gotten a chance to get back over here, being that work and school have been ridiculously busy! Anyway, it was great getting to meet you…I really enjoy reading your blogs and envy you for living so close to WDW! haha The parade taping was a very cool experience and can’t wait to look for myself in the audience on Christmas morning. Enjoy your holiday and have a healthy and happy new year 🙂

    DizneyMike replies: Kristen, I’m glad that you added this post! I was hoping to hear from you. It was great meeting you that day. I hope you like the blog I did on the parade taping. Anyway, let’s hope we get on TV; that would be fun! Merry Christmas….Mike

  4. Mike,
    We were there on Sunday and as we were walking over from Tomorrowland a cast member asked us if we wanted to be part of the Jonas Brothers taping. Of course my 8 year old daughter said yes. So we were let in and had a great spot up close. My daughter was given a scarf to wave in the air during the performance. I can’t wait to watch the airing on Christmas day. We had a great time!

    DizneyMike replies: Angie, what a great treat for your daughter! Hope you guys make it on TV….Mike

  5. Great report of the on-goings!!! I absolutely love seeing the taping of the performances. It may not be the most glamorous thing… with all the standing around and all. But it’s something unique to do; especially for the frequent Disney visitor. I was able to see the Jonas Brothers on Sunday. My wife makes fun of me, but I’m all into taking tons of pics of Disney events, so that was an occasion I couldn’t pass up. And oh yeah…. Billy is just great!!!

    DizneyMike replies: Scott, yes, it’s definitely worth doing; you don’t get to be part of a taping of a TV show every day….Mike

  6. I am incredibly jealous. Curious – was the park closed to the public while this was going on?? And how the heck do I get on the list for NEXT year?!? Congratulations…I’ll be watching for the good looking guy in red on Christmas morning!

    DizneyMike replies: Tammi, as far as I know there isn’t a list. You just have to sign up once they announce the dates. That won’t be until late fall next year….Mike

  7. I wholeheartedly agree, Mike. My wife and I were there celebrating our first anniversary and really enjoyed Billy’s antics. I especially enjoyed Billy musting in me and asking for the playback of me shaking my head no when asked if I was still happy. The time flew by and the performances were great.

    DizneyMike replies: Bill, thanks for the comment and “Happy Anniversary”….Mike

  8. Hey Mike, I was just in the Magic Kingdom on Dec 2-3, for my daughter’s 5th birthday and saw the taping going on. How can I get tickets for that next year??? She would have loved to have seen the Jonas brothers. Please let me know how I can register to get them next year. Thank You

    DizneyMike replies: Julie, unfortunately you can’t register until they set the dates, etc. Once that’s done they will release information as to how to register. My advice would be to email WDW and see what info they may give you regarding notification. Sorry I couldn’t give you better info….Mike

  9. Great article. I was there for the Friday taping of Celine Dion. It was a great experience and I would do it again given the chance even though we were caught in a downpour at 7 a.m. in the Magic Kingdom!

    I want to thank you for giving Billy the recognition he deserves. He did a great job of keeping everyone informed and entertaining everyone during the downtime and made the experience that much more enjoyable. I almost forgot that we had been standing for several hours straight and the time went by so fast!

    DizneyMike replies: Dawn, my wife really wanted to see Celine but we had other plans. I bet she was really good! I can’t imagine standing there for four or more hours without Billy there to keep us entertained….Mike

  10. Mike,

    Great article. I was there for all three days. Thursday was Yanni & Kris, Fridays was rain & Celine Dion and Sunday was The Jonas Brothers. It was quite the experience.

    Would I do it again… ummm.. yes – in a heartbeat. A lot of standing but hey.. I can lay down when I’m dead.. lol.

    I want to give you kudos for giving Billy the recognition he deserves. I oddly developed a little crush on him over the three days. He was THAT funny and entertaining in between all the downtime(and there was A LOT of downtime). As the parade ended and the filming was a “wrap”, I found myself sad about it being over. I guess it was realizing it is now time to go back to my real life away from WDW. I also found myself wanting to thank Billy for making this experience that much more enjoyable….. but good luck finding him in the mass exodous of people exiting stage right. Well I was only disappointed for about a half hour b/c he found me. He approached me to say thank you for smiling and that he knew it was a long process but when he scanned the crowd he noticed my smile all three days. I wonder if he knew the smile was me laughing at him on stage. Not only does he have talent, but he has class. I can’t wait to see the show Christmas morning.. If they do show my smiling face.. I will probably first be embarassed and second be wondering what funny antic Billy was doing at that moment to make us all laugh.

    Thanks for the blog.. I recall it being mentioned and you being called out on day ONE.


    DizneyMike replies: Heidi, thanks for that great recap of your parade taping experience! As for Billy, there wasn’t a person I spoke with that didn’t have the highest praise for him and the job he did. I hope the your “smiling face” gets on TV Christmas morning…..Mike

  11. Hi Mike- I just watched a Food Network special on holiday dining at Disneyland. They showed a guy making big home made candy canes and you had to get a special ticket to buy one. He only makes them a couple days a week. Is there anything like that at WDW? If so, where/when? Merry xmas!

    DizneyMike replies: Nancy, the only two shops in WDW that I know of that make candy and treats of any kind right in front of you are the Main Street Confectionery in the Magic Kingdom and Goofy’s Candy Co. in Downtown Disney. I’ve watched them make candy apples and chocolate/rice treats at these shops but never candy canes. Maybe a reader has more information. Merry Christmas to you….Mike

  12. My husband and I got to see the taping of the Christmas parade in 2007. It is really something to see. We had alot of fun. Billy is great about keeping everyone entertained. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    DizneyMike replies: Teresa, yup that Billy is quite the entertainer….Mike

  13. We were scheduled for Saturday also but went on Sunday since they rescheduled. It wasn’t as organized as it was earlier. We weren’t even needed so we walked around the park which was extremely crowded. I heard a lot of people complaining about the taping since it did make getting around the park a lot harder. We did see the Jonas Brothers and Kelly Ripa. I don’t know if I would do it again though. Luckily we have been to the park numerous times so we really didn’t miss anything. We hopped over to Epcot and it was less crowded and very Christmasy – LOL!

    DizneyMike replies: Cari, my wife and I went into the Magic Kingdom around 3 PM on Sunday, not for the taping but because we had tickets for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that night. When we got there they were taping very large dance group on Main Street. We just got on the train and headed to the back of the park to get away from that. However, I must admit the MK was very crowded yesterday….Mike

  14. Hi Mike,
    Lucky You,
    We happened to be there that day, I thought the crowds weren’t bad at all! What beautiful music. We were staying at the Grand Floridian, and because of the rain yesterday, they filmed in the lobby. That was a bit of a headache for the guests, but people got to hear Celine Dione! They had a similar audience type set up. Can’t wait to see you on TV 😉

    DizneyMike replies: Leslie, thanks for that information regarding the Celine Dione taping. I wondered how they were going to handle that. I knew that she was too big a star to hang around until the weather cleared. I figured that Disney would have an alternate plan. Yes, look for me on TV, I’m sure I’ll be easy to spot. -:) …..Mike

  15. Thanks for the wonderful picture… my family and I were at last years taping.. It was our last day at Disney and our flight was not to leave till that evening around 8pm.. my kids were so ready to watch Miley Cyrus.. they were really close to the stage and got a great view of her.. they also saw her mother and little sister.. as we were walking out my daughter noticed Kelly Ripa and waved to her.. she was so gracious to turn and wave directly at us and I got a great picture of it.. and might I say as we were heading to the door we saw Kelly’s husband Mark.. wow.. what a great way to end a Merry Magical Day in the Greatest Place on Earth.

    DizneyMike replies: Felicia, see dreams do come true at WDW…Mike

  16. We made the mistake of being in the Magic Kingdom once during the taping. The whole park was grid locked! They were atempting to tape Raven. She kept on missing lines. Then she got pretty upset. A VERY bad day in WDW

    DizneyMike replies: Denis, all the taping of the two shows the day I was there was done near the castle. Cast Members had all the walkways cleared so that park guests could move about without any problems. So, maybe Disney learned their lesson from the time you attended….Mike

  17. Great article, Mike. I was so looking forward to going to the parade taping tomorrow, which has now been changed to Sunday, but I’ve come down with the swine flu. I’ve got three FREE tickets to Sunday’s taping (12/6), which includes park admission and free parking if anyone wants them. The only catch is you have to come and get them from the Sarasota/Bradenton area. Feel free to contact me if you are interested. Again, I’m not asking for anything as I received them for free by winning them in the lottery on WWoS website. Thanks.

    Betsy Bates
    [email protected]

    DizneyMike replies: Betsy, I’m sorry to hear that you’re not feeling well. I hope you get well very soon. Hopefully someone will read this and want the tickets….Mike

  18. Mike, you must have been standing next to me! My shots are almost exactly the same. I was wearing the blue Penn State Santa hat and spent a few minutes talking to Billy about my 51st birthday. It was a great morning!

    DizneyMike replies: Renee, yes I do remember seeing the hat so we must have been very close. As I said in the blog I was “the good looking guy with the red shirt’. -:) It was a great morning; I really enjoyed being part of the show. Also, looks like we got the best day. The weather hasn’t cooperated since….Mike

  19. Hi Mike! My family is planning on going to Disney World next year the same week. Where do you register on the Wide World of Sports website? Do you think that is the only way to get an invite? Thank you so much!

    DizneyMike replies: Kristen, I registered on the DWWoS site under their “events” menu. However, I must admit this parade registration is new to me this year. So, I don’t know if there are other ways of getting tickets. I would suggest you write WDW Guest Services. They could provide more info. Also, hopefully one of my readers, who knows more than me, will help us out….Mike

  20. Mike,

    What an awesome opportunity! Is the castle stage decorated like that throughout the holiday season or just for the taping? It looked beautiful. We will be at Disney World in a week for our first trip at Christmas time and we can’t wait to see everything decked out for the holidays. Thanks for always sharing your great experiences.


    DizneyMike replies: Debbie, the stage is beautifully decorated throughout the holiday season because of the holiday shows that are held on the stage. However, with that said, this was a special set up for Yanni and the taping of his number. Lucky you coming down to WDW during the holiday season! I sure you’ll have a great time….Mike

  21. Great blog Mike!! It was great to see you at the taping!!!

    DizneyMike replies: Jill, I really enjoyed our time together; it was fun! Enjoy the rest of your trip….Mike

  22. I always read on the net about the taping of the parade, but I have never seen the parade and believe me, this year I will be in the Magic Kingdom so I won’t see it…again.

    One year a Chilean tv channel did show the Disney Parade, but the latin version, hosted by Cristian De la Fuente (Do you know him?) with the presentation of Backstreet Boys…jeje Great show!!

    I hope you had a great time in the taping!!
    See ya in a few weeks!

    DizneyMike replies: Marianela, you need to find someone who will tape the show for you so you can see it when you get back home. I know you’d love it….Mike

  23. Hi Mike,
    WOW you are so lucky! Thank you for another great blog and my husband wants to know what kind of camera do you use because the photos are so clear and bright.( He use to teach art and photography in high shool)
    Take care

    DizneyMike replies: Cathy, yes I am VERY lucky! Living this close to WDW it’s a dream come true for me and my wife. I just recently purchased this camera, it’a a Sony DSC-HX1. It’s one of those new point and shoot/super zoom (20x) cameras. I love it as it has some really neat features. By far Amazon had the best price for it…..Mike

  24. We had such a great time chatting with you Mike! So much fun! Thanks for another great blog!

    DizneyMike replies: Carolyn, yes it was great meeting up with you and Jill even if you did get us in trouble. -:) It was a fun morning and I’m really glad I didn’t miss it….Mike