It’s home! The iconic Main Street Electrical Parade has returned to Disneyland after being gone from its home park since it ended its historic two and a half decade run in November 1996. The parade, which originally debuted in the summer of 1972 reappeared in California for the better part of Disney California Adventure‘s difficult first decade and most recently completed a several-year stint at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. Thursday night’s after-hours premiere event was the first time the public could once again hear the familiar electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds of the Baroque Hoedown throughout Disneyland and see the dazzlingly charming parade make its way down the parade route. Today, we take a look at that after-hours party and see how the parade fits in at the ever-changing Disneyland of 2017.
Oh, and surprise! Dateline Disneyland is back, too! Okay, sort of. When I wrapped up Dateline Disneyland at the end of June 2016, I said that I may still pop up here from time to time. So when MiceChat’s Dustysage asked me if I’d like to cover the return of the Electrical Parade this winter, I was happy to come back to celebrate the return of such an icon.
Banners throughout Downtown Disney and along Main Street, U.S.A. are celebrating the return of the parade, which is back for a limited time through mid-June.
With the return to Disneyland, the parade comes with a few changes. The classic Blue Fairy float that originally led the parade is long gone, and the Tinker-Bell float that replaced it in the 2000s when the parade was running at Disney California Adventure has been modified and moved back in the parade. The parade now kicks off with the Casey Jr. train float and iconic drum float.
In a simple but much-welcome change, Disneyland’s refurbishment of the parade included the restoration of the parade’s proper name to the drum float. The parade’s name was officially changed to “Disney’s Electrical Parade” when it moved to Disney’s California Adventure in 2001 and the drum was changed to reflect that. That modified name remained in place throughout the parade’s most recent stay in Florida. That name change is small but makes a big difference — this parade is a uniquely Disneyland experience and seeing that drum float say “Disneyland presents… Main Street Electrical Parade” again is a really special moment.
The Tinker-Bell float added in 2009 now follows the Peter Pan float but comes with a major change — Tink now stands on the front of the float rather than waving from the basket of a hot air balloon as she did when her float was first added to the parade. It’s a strange change, a significant downgrade for that float but perhaps an effort to distance Tinker Bell from Disney’s now-defunct Fairies franchise.
Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island float is partially back — the second half of this unit featuring Tobacco Row on which Pinocchio rode is now history. Reportedly damaged too severely to repair, this unit is sadly never expected to return.
While the rest of the parade took me on a nostalgic trip back to the Disneyland of my childhood, the patriotic finale held a special significance as it rolled by on the eve of the inauguration of America’s 45th president. Disney theme parks have a long history of celebrating American history and this nation’s incredible diversity and its role in the world. From lands like Main Street, U.S.A. and Tomorrowland that celebrate America’s past and the promise of its future, to attractions such as Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Hall of Presidents that honor our nation’s leaders, and experiences that mark our diversity and place in the world like EPCOT Center and “it’s a small world” —— Disney has always made a point to honor the progress and achievements we’ve made as Americans. As our country embarks on a different path under new leadership, it’s important as theme park fans to remember that Disneyland is a uniquely American creation that is borne from American innovation and ingenuity. Disneyland remains here today thanks to the work of Americans that come from every racial and economic background, that represent every sexual orientation and religious practice, and that are of every body shape and every capability. Disney is an uniquely American company; diverse, inclusive, and proud. To honor America, as the finale of the Electrical Parade does, is to be diverse, inclusive, and proud — regardless of what the political climate is or whatever the rhetoric of our current leadership.
Overall, it’s great to have the Main Street Electrical Parade back home. While not all of the classic parade is back, what is back has been refurbished with love and it really shows. The parade looks fantastic — dazzling, bright and full of joy with an energetic cast that seems proud to carry on a Disneyland tradition. It would have been nice for Disneyland to remove the unnecessary “pixie dust” lighting effect that was added throughout the parade when the Tinker Bell float was added in 2009, as it no longer makes sense without Tinker Bell leading the parade. Still, this is a minor hiccup for an otherwise excellent experience. If you’re able to make your way to Disneyland to see the parade before it ends on June 18, do it — it’s a really special experience that’s not to be missed!
Well, that wraps up this special edition of Dateline Disneyland. It’s fun to be back! While I don’t plan on returning full time, maybe I’ll see you all back here again sometime soon…