I finally went to see the new version of the same old parade at the MK yesterday. This is something I was looking forward to since I am a geek for all of the live entertainment that the parks offer.
The "new" Celebrate a Dream Come True parade is somewhat of an improvement over the old version. Of course, the first problem here is the re-use of the same old floats we have been seeing for the past 8 yrs at the MK...and that is simply disheartening for me. But no point in beating that poor horse.. and on a positive note, no horse was harmed in the re-creating of this new version of the parade at the MK.. so let's move on.
At first, I did not care much for the new music but once it kicked into gear, it kind of grew up on me some. I liked it that the music is a bit high NRG, but still a bit repetitive in the verses and chorus.. but for what it has going.. I do appreciate the extra thought that went into re-arranging the music to fit each float's dedicated themes or characters. Seems to me the soundtrack is expansive enough to even release at CD of it (TDL would do that right away as they always do.)
Ok... Not sure yet if having the grand marshall BAC at the beginning of the parade is a good thing but I can live with it. However.. in this day and age, why do they continue to use a simple banner to announce the beginning of this parade? It's cheap cheap cheap. All other parades at all other DL parks have real opening float for their respective parade's names.. why can't WDW do the same and eliminate the CMs walking on either side of a bland banner?? Also, why have only ONE girl dancing with a twirling streamer at the front of the parade? Why not 8 or 10 of them like they do at TDL? This would immediately add a small "punch" to the parade, instead of making it look puny and mininal.
Mickey's float... they did a very nice job retrofitting this float to match the "Celebrate" theme. However, in doing such a nice retrofit, it has accidentally made the rest of the floats look bland and un-festive. This is a parade that now looks a bit off visually in execution. The point is even more evident when you see the performers wearing the same colorful costumes throughout the entire parade. Why mot make some more varied costuming to fill in the middle spots of the parade? But on a positive note, I do like the new "celebrate" costumes worned by the rubberheads in the beginning and ending of the parade.
Speaking of performers...the "many" performers.. well, that is a welcomed change here and I have to give great kudos for taking the bicycles OUT of the parade for good and adding dancers to the mix! Seemed to me this parade now has a few more performers doing more elavorate looking dance routines than before..when the old version was littered with countless walking rubberheads doing jumping jacks to entertain the crowds. It makes the parade as a whole more energetic and vibrant as opposed to boring with all those bikes they used to have before. I also enjoyed that each set of performers get to do a different routine that matches their respective floats behind them. So at least that amateurish aspect of the parade has been plussed up a bit.
However, there are some issues I have with the performers as well.. The costumes for one.. why place these guys in the same costumes from beginning to end? Their colorful costumes makes the floats that didn't get a retrofit look blander in comparison but it is a minor thing here. However.. I also have an issue with some of the performers themselves.. maybe because I am used to seeing much younger and talented ones at the Tokyo and HKDL parades? While these guys give it all they got under the limitations they have to deal with.. I have to say that some of these dancers need to be retired from the parades... I mean, some of these dancing guys are pushing the mid 40s it seems.. and having mature-looking men who look like Mr. Clean in the parade.. do not project an energetic youthful feel to the procession. Maybe it's me, but guys? Time to go into supervision with Disney. On the plus side of it.. I found that having the girls wear wings that match the color of their costumes to be an inspired TDL-like touch. I enjoy the little things like that.
This brings me to the most controversial part of the parade: the show mode. Yes, controversial because I honestly believe the show modes do add a little quality to these parades when done right. Anyone who saw DL's "Lion King Celebration" or "Blast to the Past" will surely remember how much fun it was when the parades featured show modes that were truly memorable and added quality to the spectacle, not to mention... those huge confetti blasts to close the show modes. TDL parades are still the best with this idea and those in charge of creating these parades for Tokyo take advantage of the japanese's eagerness to participate in these show modes, so they work great in Japan. Here in this MK parade? Well.. several problems basically kill the show mode experience.
-Bland music. The show mode features a musical interlude that seems to be too "Cheetah Girls" for the taste of many. That alone reduces the quality of the show mode by tenfolds IMHO.
-Bad choreography. The show mode is well intended but poorly executed. in TDL.. when the show modes begin, all of the performers are positioned along the entire parade route, and even on either sides of the floats, that way.. *everyone* gets to enjoy the performance throughout the parade route. Here? That is not the case. If the show mode happens when you have a float parked in front of you, you basically do not see (or can't appreciate) the short dance movement by the dancers, instead you see the charaters up on the float singing along and that's it.
-The performers try their best to engage the crowd to clap along.. but the problem is.. the choreography is not meant to involve the crowd into participating. Gesturing to clap along is simply not enough to engage the crowd.. especially crowds as boring as the ones we see at the WDW parks where they much rather eat liver than getting caught dancing along with Disney performers. Of course, if the spectacle in front of them was more impressive.. maybe they could allow themselves to get more involved? Where are the brazillian tour groups when you need them?
-The most crippling problem of the show mode: NO reason to celebrate. Theming this parade to the very thin idea of "Celebrating Today" is simply.. a poor excuse. At least one lady next to me was watching the show mode and asking her husband.. "what are they supposed to be celebrating here?" Which makes me wonder if this marketing tool will succeed in engaging guests who really have no reason to celebrate anything during their vacations to WDW. Without a reason to celebrate for the many guests, there may be no point in having a show mode to "celebrate" anything.
On the plus side.. as soon as the show mode began, my question was.. "why isn't there props to go along with it? like balloons, flags.. surprise characters appearing from the floats like they do in TDL, etc" Soon enough, some props saw the light of day.. like twirling flags and streamers... so that aspect of the show mode I do appreciate and added eye candy to the show mode. Of course, it would have been nice if they had also allowed the characters on the floats to pull out their own props to wave as they lip-sync'd for the crowds below, as it would add an element of fun to their minimal participation as well. I don't know.. something about looking at cute male dancers twirling rainbow flags all over the parade route.. it adds a lot to this show!!
To comment on other positive aspects... I do like that they have re-arranged some of the characters around.. like Alice and madhatter now sharing the "glass" float with Peter and Wendy. I also like that Snow White finally got her man to share the float with. Similarly, I like seeing Bert alongside with Mary Poppings. One faux pas.. Please replace the Beast with a real male playing the Prince in human form? It would not hurt to add a few more rubberheads or face characters to go along with the dancers, since the characters have always been more effective in engaging the crowds with the parade experience.. especially when characters shake hands with guests as they move along down the parade route. Also, little props like .. festive push-along rolling balloon bouquets scattered throughout the parade would have added more color and festive feel to the whole show.
Another observation.. when the parade starts.. there is this announcement.. "Since 1971, the Magic Kingdom has been entertaining guests...jada jada". My immediate though: OMG! this is the 40th anniversary parade. Makes me wonder if we'll still be seeing the same parade past 2011.
Finally, all in all, the effort is appreciated and they did an OK job retrofitting the parade to match the current marketing initiatives. However, there is room for improvement. Sadly.. what I see happening is this: sooner or later, they will start cutting back on the number of performers, and probably the show mode will go altogther, and we will be left with a parade that after a few repeated showings, will become as bland and uninspired as anything they have done at the MK since the 25th anniversary ended a decade and a half ago. Surely I hope this won't be the case, but with WDW's track record of taking away by degrees, as opposed to adding by degrees..this is most certainly what will happen. I hope I am wrong about this.
But all in all...even though the floats are still the same old ones, the parade is fun enough and worth watching during your vacation at the MK.
TDLFAN rates it a 3*** out of 5.