We have a very special Christmas article for you today. Last weekend, MiceChat held a holiday event at a theater in Silverlake, CA. During the show, Director and star, James Gray, shared memories of his time working at Disneyland in various Christmas roles. These images are like a portal in time. Much thanks to James for sharing these wonderful images with us.

The Fruitcake Follies

The follies is a fun, fast-paced, Christmas themed variety show written and directed by James Gray.  MiceChat rented out an entire performance which took place at the world famous Casita Del Campo.  The show was two full acts of carols, comedy and chaos.

James Gray and the Christmas Crab Baby.
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (Sesame Street) performs with Lolly the puppet and a chorus of Dinosaurs.


James Gray (Left) Cher Ferrera, Eric Seppala, Kendall Rose, and Momma (right)
Wishing everyone a Mary Christmas



The Very First Very Merry Christmas Parade

During the course of the show, host James Gray shared his memories of being a performer at Disneyland, along with lots of wonderful photos.  James has agreed to let us share these images with the MiceChat readers.

James actually ran a very successful blog of his own for a few years called “Disney on Parole”.  As we go through these shots you may see a few watermarked with that name. First, before we get into the pics, however, we want to show you how Disney introduced the new parade to the cast members in the park.

DL Line 12-1-77 Xmas DOP
Click for larger image


The parade began to run December 17th, 1977.  Christmas in the parks was big, but nothing at all like it is now, with Holiday overlays like Haunted Mansion Holiday reaching all the way into September and Holidays at the resort beginning in mid-November.  What’s more, the run time for the parade is clocked at a scant 15 minutes.

SLIDEParadeFloatsDrawing DOP
© Disney

The large cast of 204 young, energetic cast members posed for a picture backstage

VMCP 77 Cast Photo DOP
Click to view larger image.

As with anything new at Disneyland, Special artwork was produced for the souvenir park guide to announce the new offering.


Opening day came and the cast was ready and in place backstage.  The atmosphere was festive as they were about to start a tradition that would stretch to today.  Disney even presented the group with a cake to mark the occasion.

VMCP 77 marlynn with cake DOP

Backstage, Mickey, Minnie and DOnald all posed for pics.
During the innaugural year, Mickey and MInnie road the parade route in Walt’s car.
The Hundred Acre Wood was represented as well.  But notice to the right, just out of frame, is the King of Hearts.
Pete’s Dragon was also released in 1977 and here is Elliot in his first parade.


Baloo and Louie VMCP DOP


VMCP PP Eric Stoltz CC  DOP
Can you name this young cast member? He was friends with Peter pan then went on to wear many masks.
VMCP opening float DOP
The first float in the first performance ready to leave the gate.

The parade left the gate and became an instant hit with the crowds.  Below are a few pictures of the parade during its first year.

2 CORRECTED__James Paul


VMCP 1977 Cookies foam DOP
Now these were the Cookies that year! We love their look!!!
The only problem with the adorable cookie costume was they were made out of “Scott Foam.” They looked great! but don’t hold up so well… and when it rained on the parade one day that year… They became walking sponges, soaking up water like there was no tomorrow and making them very heavy! They would all come sloshing in the gate at town square absolutely drenched!
There are many more vintage pictures and even more stories to be shared, James promised.  Perhaps we can twist his arm into sharing more with us very soon.
From all of us, to all of yours, the merriest Christmas and the happiest of holidays to you.
  • disneygirl

    Wow, great pictures. It’s fun to see how things have changed over the years.

  • Pingback: A look at the Very First Very Merry Christmas Parade at Disneyland | Current Good News()

  • ExCandyMaker

    Is that young CM Eric Stolz?

    • ExCandyMaker

      I mean Eric Stoltz…

      • ParkerMonroe

        With the “Mask” comment I would have to guess the answer is yes.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Love the photos!

  • Disneygayguy

    They need to bring back “The Very Merry Christmas Parade” back. It so much better than what they have now.

  • tooncity

    Does anyone know WHEN Disney first started the Christmas Day broadcast? Was it always a Parade? Was it first just a Parade at one park or was it always highlights from both American parks? It seems like they’ve been doing them forever, but there must be a 1st broadcast.

  • LoonAZ

    Oh my! I was in this parade. Brings back so many memories seeing that backstage cast photo (I am located sitting on the ground, towards the bottom right in a dark turtle neck, right next to Parade Captain Joey Lopez). I can still recall many names of people I haven’t seen in decades.

    One thing to note is that many of us worked together doing the seasonal parades and entertainment for many years. I started in the Christmas unit in America On Parade in 1975, and continued working seasonally until 1980. This included the return of the last Fantasy On Parade in 1976, the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade in 1977 and obscure events like Easter Parades, Anaheim Halloween Parade, Princess Aurora’s Marriage to Prince Phillip (circa 1978-1980. I think that was the event, but I can’t find any listing of it any where. But I do have a Disneyland PR photo of myself dancing in the royal court down Main Street. So I know it really happened. If anyone has any history to that event, I would appreciate any details.)

    Funny though, I don’t remember Eric Stoltz being in the parade, but his career hadn’t really launched yet, so not too surprising and I certainly did not know everyone.

  • JulieMouse

    Fruitcake Follies was wonderful, as usual!! I’m so glad you were able to share these wonderful pictures with all the MiceChatters who could not be at the event!!

  • SpectroMan

    Wonderfully nostalgic article! I didn’t join the cast of the VMCP until winter of 1992, but at that time it was still a very, very long pageant of wonderful floats, hundreds of performers both child and adult, and live musicians and horses everywhere. Spectacular. By the time the first float got backstage, the end floats hadn’t even stepped off yet. But then, Fantasmic came along and ate away all the parade’s budget so A Christmas Fantasy became the new budget offering.