The Great Parade Charade

Bryan RipperBlog

Main Street Electrical Parade

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A couple of weeks ago Disney announced that the popular Paint The Night parade, currently running at Disneyland park in California, would be ending its run as of September 5, 2016. The parade will make a few more appearances after that on select dates for the holiday season, but the last chance to see it on its regular schedule will be on September 5th. This came as a pretty big disappointment to Disneyland regulars. On the other hand, Walt Disney World regulars, like myself, were excited and hopeful that this news meant the Paint The Night parade would be coming to the Walt Disney World resort in Florida.

Approximately a week later, Disney officially announced that the Main Street Electrical Parade, currently running at the Walt Disney World resort in Magic Kingdom theme park, would be leaving Florida and returning home to Disneyland, where it began back in 1972. Suddenly, many Disneyland-goers were happy again, and Walt Disney World regulars were shocked and up-in-arms.

Paint The Night parade

The Paint The Night parade at Disneyland

The reason for the shock was not just because the beloved Main Street Electrical parade was leaving. The shock was caused by the fact that Disney had announced no immediate plan to replace it with anything. Nighttime parades have been a staple in Disney parks on both coasts, and for Magic Kingdom, which most people consider to be the Walt Disney World resort’s flagship park, to not have a nighttime parade at all just sounds absurd!

So, does Disney have a plan that just hasn’t been announced yet? Could Magic Kingdom really be left without a nighttime parade? If so, what could Disney possibly be thinking, and what is their aim with making this decision?

Stay For The Night

It’s no secret that one of the main reasons Disney has spectacular parades, fireworks, and castle shows is to keep guests in the park spending money for longer periods of time. So why would Disney do away with a great nighttime parade in Magic Kingdom? Perhaps one possibility is that Disney is trying to even out the crowd levels to other areas of the Walt Disney World resort at night. We have recently seen a myriad of new nighttime experiences added to areas other than Magic Kingdom. Furthermore, crowd levels have been bordering on uncontrollable in recent years. The addition of Fastpass + and My Disney Experience is evidence of the fact that it is becoming more and more challenging for Disney to manage the crowds they are experiencing. Enticing guests to spend their evenings at other areas around property would be a good way to distribute the crowds more evenly.

Up until recently, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been lacking in nighttime experiences. Disney can’t do fireworks at this park, because they would spook the animals. Nighttime is also the time where they bring the animals back into the barns for the night, so there’s not much to see there in the evening. As a result, this park usually closes somewhere around dusk. Well, Disney has just unleashed a fantastic solution that will make this problem a distant memory.

The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic

The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic

The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic is a nighttime show featuring music from The Jungle Book, special effects and performers for a limited time. The centerpiece of Animal Kingdom, The Tree of Life, is also the star of a new nighttime spectacle called Tree of Life Awakenings. Additionally, stadium seating was recently installed all around the river for a show coming soon that is supposed to be an absolutely amazing “music-filled water and light show” called “Rivers of Light”. They even started the Discovery Island Carnivale, which is basically a dance party inspired by carnivals around the world, that takes place at dusk. The problem of not having any animals to look at has also been solved. Hyenas, wild dogs, and other nocturnal animals have been brought in to offer an animal experience that guests will hopefully want to stay in the park for as well.

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks, pyrotechnics, and special effects debuted back in June. Combined with nightly showings of Fantasmic, this should be sufficient to entice guests to stay in the park until close.

Then there’s the massive overhaul of Downtown Disney, now known as Disney Springs. Disney has massively expanded and improved Disney Springs to offer a myriad of additional shopping, dining, and lounging options outside of the 4 theme parks. With the installation of 2 new parking garages, a brand new section, Town Center, that was all parking lot before, and even an aesthetic facelift, it’s obvious that Disney fully expects and desires guests to flock to Disney Springs after a long day in the parks.

Maybe research has shown that, since Magic Kingdom is the flagship theme park of Walt Disney World, it really doesn’t need the parade in order to keep guests in the park. The “Wishes” fireworks show has been a fan favorite for years and continues to pack the recently enlarged hub in front of Cinderella Castle. Speaking of the castle, the “Celebrate The Magic” castle show with projections, special effects, and fireworks is really an E-ticket attraction all on its own. In my opinion, it’s somewhat under-recognized, but word is beginning to spread of how great this show is. Then you have the classic and legendary attractions like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan, etc. Magic Kingdom probably has the most amount of attractions that stay open until park close, and they are classic. My point is, the attractions alone are possibly enough to keep guests in the park until closing.

Is There Something You’re Not Telling Me?

Then there’s the possibility that maybe Disney does have a plan for a nighttime parade at Magic Kingdom. Maybe they’re just not ready to announce anything yet, though. There has been much discussion about the possibility of bringing back Spectromagic. After all, it’s a pretty great parade that many Disney fans, myself included, miss. The word on the street is, though, that the parade floats for Spectromagic have been disassembled and torn apart. It’s unlikely that Disney would go through the trouble of rebuilding the floats only to bring back a parade that many people have already seen. But that doesn’t mean that there might not be another plan either in-the-making or already decided on. Maybe Magic Kingdom will end up getting a parade from a park outside of the North American continent. It wouldn’t surprise me if a plan for a replacement parade was announced in the very near future.

Everybody Stay Calm

I’m not really concerned with, what I’ve come to call “The Great Parade Charade”, because parades come and go. Nighttime shows are just like rides and other attractions. They change. They update. They move to other parks. And, yes, they are even retired from time to time. The Main Street Electrical Parade originated out in Disneyland, but to the pleasure and dismay of park-goers and tourists on both coasts, it has been shared with both audiences of the years. Now it is time for it to return home. Who knows? I would say it is likely that Florida will see this parade return again at some point down the road.

I believe Disney knows what they are doing with this decision. The recent news of drastically declining park attendance at Orlando area theme parks, including Walt Disney World, means Disney can’t afford to have guests looking for things to do off property. That’s something I believe they are well aware of. Perhaps Magic Kingdom won’t see a nighttime parade return for some time, but you can’t say they aren’t adding additional nighttime experiences in other areas of the Walt Disney World resort. So, stay calm everyone! As long as we’re willing to give Disney our time and money, Disney will continue to develop and create ways to make it easier for us to do just that. In the end, we all win.