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  1. #1

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    Talking The History of SpectroMagic!

    Hello everyone! I posted this on another fan site, as well as on a blog where I write about Disney entertainment...it's a long read but I hope you enjoy the history of SpectroMagic!

    The SpectroMagic parade was debuted in 1991 at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It was to serve as the first of many worldwide replacements for the Main Street Electrical Parade. Michael Eisner and the Disney entertainment crew wanted something new to replace the aging parade, which had debuted in 1977 and hadn't been updated since 1983.

    Don Dorsey, who was the music designer for the Main Street Electrical Parade, was briefly in charge of the "Electromagic" parade, however when his suggestion to bring back Baroque Hoedown in a slower form to the new parade was put down, he left the project and Steve Skorija took over music creation. John Debney wrote the famous theme song "On This Magic Night". The show, retitled "SpectroMagic" was directed by Don Frantz, and produced by Ron Logan, who was also known for producing Fantasmic! at both parks that it has appeared in so far.

    The parade centers around the Spectromen, who together with Mickey create the power of SpectroMagic that is the basis of the parade. The parade has six different units that harness the power of SpectroMagic: Opening, featuring Mickey Mouse and the SpectroMen; Silly Symphonies, featuring a large chorus of musical instruments led by the Genie; the beautiful garden of the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty; the undersea kingdom of King Triton and his beautiful daughter Ariel; the whimsical world of Fantasia, featuring Chernabog's frightening conclusion; and the grand finale painted by the Three Little Pigs to change from a colorful world of black and white, featuring many famous Disney characters.

    The parade has had multiple small changes over the years, but nothing on the level of new floats or units. However, these changes, however small, are quite significant and changed the parade for better or for worse. The parade went on hiatus for refurbishment from 1999-2001 andwas retired in 2010 in favor of the former parade, the Main Street Electrical Parade.

    SpectroMagic Opening Unit

    These floats have stayed exactly the same, however, their lineup and costumes have changed throughout the years.
    The floats include: SpectroMen whirling around on giant lighted whirlyballs, speaking and singing strange phrases and sentences; a band of SpectroMen playing trumpets; a title float featuring a SpectroMan on each side creating the logos "Walt Disney World Presents" and "SpectroMagic"; and Mickey Mouse aboard a platform creating SpectroMagic inside an electricity ball with a glowing cape that leads down and up the float.

    Here is a 1991-1993 walkthrough of the parade opening.
    Two SpectroMen on whirlyballs
    SpectroMagic trumpeters
    Mickey's SpectroMagical Cape
    SpectroMagic title float
    Two SpectroMen on whirlyballs

    In 1993, this was reorganized to form a slightly different lineup.
    Two SpectroMen on whirlyballs
    SpectroMagic title float
    SpectroMagic trumpeters
    Mickey's SpectroMagical Cape
    Two SpectroMen on whirlyballs

    During the 1991-1999 run, the SpectroMen were masked performers with a face lit up in light whitish colors, and had fiber-optic hair.

    In 2001, when the parade returned, the opening unit was given a more sensible order.

    SpectroMagic trumpeters
    Four SpectroMen on whirlyballs
    SpectroMagic title float
    Mickey's SpectroMagical Cape

    In the first two years of the parade, the SpectroMen had some different speech phrases, and various noises came along with them. The sounds were limited to voices in 1993.
    The fanfare trumpeters once had completely different music which again only lasted two years and was replaced in 1993.

    Between 2007-2008, the SpectroMen were split up to appear by two before and two after the title float.

    From 2001-2007, the SpectroMen had color-changing heads from pink to blue with wider faces, and red hair and large hats. From 2007-2010, the SpectroMen were face characters who wore silver makeup and had fiber-optic hats/wisg. The title float was never updated to include the 1995 Walt Disney World logo, and still features the original.

    Silly Symphonies

    These floats, loosely based on Disney's Silly Symphony cartoons, have always been exactly the same through the history of the parade. Minimal changes have been made associated with the unit.

    The floats are actually one long drive unit pulled along by the first float, which is a giant metronome; the second being a large group of percussion instruments featuring Goofy playing the timpani, cymbal, and xylophone and a self-playing female harp; a group of wind and brass instruments and two self-playing basses; and a huge piano featuring Chip and Dale.

    The conductor of the unit stands atop the giant metronome at the beginning of the parade. From 1991-1999 the conductor was Roger Rabbit, and due to Amblin and Disney's fallout, he was replaced by the Genie in 2001 and he has remained at the post ever since.

    Sleeping Beauty Garden

    These floats underwent some lineup changes during the 1999-2001 hiatus, and they are a garden featuring the three fairies of Sleeping Beauty, and the floats change from a "day" setting to a "night" setting. Initially the fairies were all grouped on one float, but they have since been moved to three separate floats. This allowed Flora and Merryweather to "fight" and change the colors of their dresses. New dresses were commissioned for the fairies which did not have this ability but were a lot lighter.

    The floats include: an oversized, glowing peacock with the first garden behind it, formerly occupied by a dragonfly and now by Fauna; a second garden occupied by Flora that formerly also carried Merryweather and Fauna; and a third garden that previously featured another dragonfly but now features Merryweather, with a lovely waterfall scene on the back.

    The floats and fairies are accompanied by female butterfly and dragonfly dancers, whose wings light up in different colors.

    The Little Mermaid

    This is perhaps the most film-centric unit of the entire parade, as it solely focuses in on the famous Disney picture which had been released two years prior to SpectroMagic's opening.

    The floats include: a "train" of four fish, decreasing in size, almost considered a family; Ursula whirling around in float form; Ariel's undersea paradise with the mast of a pirate ship and featuring the titular character and her fish friend Flounder; King Triton's chariot and Sebastian and his undersea band; and two fish who blow bubbles.

    Sebastian was a puppet in the 1991-1999 run, and became an animatronic for 2001-2010. The bubble fish did not blow bubbles after 1993; this effect finally returned around 2005. Before more rules and regulations were set in place, the bubble fish could swim right up next to the floats before it.

    Fantasia

    This unit has not changed over the years at all, and features characters and music from Walt Disney's 1940 feature Fantasia.

    The floats include: Ali Gator spinning Hyacinth Hippo atop a platform, with Mme. Upanova by their side; ostriches surrounding the ever-happy Bacchus atop another platform; Diana and her fleet soaring above the clouds; and a lava mountain, which opens to reveal the infamous Chernabog.

    Chernabog is well known for sometimes not appearing in the parade at all; in certain sections of the route, he cannot open his wings to reveal himself, and just stays shut. In 2005, Hyacinth fell to the ground and was replaced by a disco ball while Mme. Upanova was replaced by a character version of Hyacinth; Hyacinth reappeared in 2006.

    The Grand Finale

    The finale is known for its many small changes over the years, though the floats have essentially stayed the same like the rest. The finale changes from a world of color to a wonderful black-and-white scene. Some of the floats and characters are homages to the Main Street Electrical Parade.

    The floats are separated into three sections, each having its own drive unit.

    The floats of the first unit include; a big platform with towers, featuring the Three Little Pigs who are painting the floats to change colors; Cinderella's carriage, essentially very similar to the Main Street Electrical Parade float, featuring Cinderella and Prince Charming and with Jaq and Gus in front; and the Queen of Hearts' labyrinth with Alice and the White Rabbit inside. Accompanying this unit are the Queen of Hearts and Mary Poppins.

    The next float is a giant carousel, which features Disney scenes and a small castle on top, and many animals, including Dumbo, circling around.

    The floats of the second unit begin with another tower, representing that of the Evil Queen, who stands next to it, and the remaining float consists of Captain Hook's pirate ship, another direct homage to the Electrical Parade, with Captain Hook onboard and smoke shooting out from the cannons; Dopey in the diamond mine and Pinocchio and Geppetto at Pleasure Island, two homages to the Electrical Parade; and another set of towers and platforms featuring Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Jiminy Cricket to finish off the parade. This unit is accompanied by many characters, including Snow White, Br'er Bear, Pluto, Peter Pan, Mr. Smee, and the remaining dwarves, Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Grumpy, and Bashful.

    At one point the floats were run up right next to each other and characters walked alongside them and mingled with each other. The floats were split up around 2004 and characters were split up and stayed in particular areas; Mary Poppins and Queen of Hearts between the first set and the carousel; Peter Pan and Mr. Smee between the Carousel and the second set; and the remaining characters following the parade. In 2010, the other characters were brought before the second set, and no characters followed the parade.

    As far as changes to the first unit have gone, Prince Charming once stood outside of Cinderella's carriage. By 2005, he was inside the carriage. The carousel is a bit of a temperamental float, similar to Chernabog, and thus occasionally does not appear. The second unit once featured a puppet Jiminy Cricket who could look up when the lights changed; he was replaced in 2001 by an animatronic who could not do so.

    The Parade Music

    The music of SpectroMagic features a score by Steve Skorija, who is a top composer for Disney Parks, and the theme "On This Magic Night" was written by John Debney. The first two units only make use of this theme and variations upon it, and the finale also uses a second theme by Debney known as "Music Surrounds Us".

    The Sleeping Beauty garden unit also uses "Once Upon A Dream", The Little Mermaid features "Under the Sea" and "Part of Your World", and Fantasia features various classical themes. The Sleeping Beauty garden and finale units utilize "When You Wish Upon A Star" as transformation music as they transform from day to night in Sleeping Beauty's case, or black and white to color in the finale's case.

    The parade used to conclude with a version of the parade themes featuring chimes and bells, which actually had two different versions, one from 1991 and one from 1992-?; this was cut before the parade returned in 2001 and was replaced by the usual underliner.
    Walt Disney World May 1998
    Walt Disney World May 2002
    Walt Disney World March 2003
    Walt Disney World March 2004
    Walt Disney World September 2005
    Walt Disney World March 2007
    Disneyland August 2010

    Check out my YouTube channel with Disney theme park music!
    Music of the Mastro Master

    Visit my Disney entertainment blog!
    Disney Entertainment History

  2. #2

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    That's nice. I just wish this parade WAS HISTORY already. You write about Disney entertainment, then head to Tokyo so you can write about some of Disney best parades in history.. and shows, and events as well.

  3. #3

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Even to me seeing this parade for the first time, it came off like a cheap copy of the MSEP, with worse music and a weird funky twist..

    and outdated >.>

  4. #4

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Having just returned from WDW, I'll bravely disagree with the last two posters about SpectroMagic and the MSEP. I watched MSEP on two different nights and was left with a cold, non-emotional feeling after the parade. Sure it was candy to the eyes, but the Baroque Hoedown wasn't Ba-rouque before, so why did they mess with it. It leaves the whole parade feeling cold (there's that word again) and clinical. The new instrumental score is too crisp and structured, any fluidity in the old soundtrack is now gone. It never seemed repetitious to me before, but it sure does now. On top of that, the finale float, To Honor America, just doesn't work like it did years ago. MESP's final float sadly removes me from the fantasy that is a Disney theme park and throws me into realityland with Fox and MSNBC battling on about politics, and then it JUST ENDS.

    To me, and I repeat, to me, Spectro leaves a much warmer "Disney" feeling overall, be it the orchestral arrangements (the musician in me appreciates the score), or the childrens chorus finale and the variety of newer lighting effects. Between the changing colors, the characters and the units themselves, the finale floats of Spectro remind me that I'm in one of the Happiest Places on Earth. As Jiminy Cricket passes by and says goodnight, Spectro actually has an ending.

    I used to watch SpectroMagic every time I was in the MK and it was making its run through the park. Sadly, I felt that after two viewings of the MSEP, I didn't need to watch it anymore. It was good, but in my opinion, it doesn't hold a candle to SpectroMagic. I hope it finds it's way back to the MK for the 40th.

    (And remember-I'm not trying to change any opinions out there, just wanted to air my thoughts-and thanks to mastromjm for the history lesson. Martin Smith has a great tribute video to Spectro on his site, martinsvids.net)

  5. #5

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Quote Originally Posted by steve2wdw View Post
    Having just returned from WDW, I'll bravely disagree with the last two posters about SpectroMagic and the MSEP. I watched MSEP on two different nights and was left with a cold, non-emotional feeling after the parade. Sure it was candy to the eyes, but the Baroque Hoedown wasn't Ba-rouque before, so why did they mess with it. It leaves the whole parade feeling cold (there's that word again) and clinical. The new instrumental score is too crisp and structured, any fluidity in the old soundtrack is now gone. It never seemed repetitious to me before, but it sure does now. On top of that, the finale float, To Honor America, just doesn't work like it did years ago. MESP's final float sadly removes me from the fantasy that is a Disney theme park and throws me into realityland with Fox and MSNBC battling on about politics, and then it JUST ENDS.

    To me, and I repeat, to me, Spectro leaves a much warmer "Disney" feeling overall, be it the orchestral arrangements (the musician in me appreciates the score), or the childrens chorus finale and the variety of newer lighting effects. Between the changing colors, the characters and the units themselves, the finale floats of Spectro remind me that I'm in one of the Happiest Places on Earth. As Jiminy Cricket passes by and says goodnight, Spectro actually has an ending.

    I used to watch SpectroMagic every time I was in the MK and it was making its run through the park. Sadly, I felt that after two viewings of the MSEP, I didn't need to watch it anymore. It was good, but in my opinion, it doesn't hold a candle to SpectroMagic. I hope it finds it's way back to the MK for the 40th.

    (And remember-I'm not trying to change any opinions out there, just wanted to air my thoughts-and thanks to mastromjm for the history lesson. Martin Smith has a great tribute video to Spectro on his site, martinsvids.net)
    I totally agree with you. I miss it and hope it returns.

  6. #6

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    It was nice to have something different over the summer but I really hope we are not going to be stuck with Disneyland's antiquated left overs for the long term.

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    I'm a big SM fan, but then I've always liked the MSEP as well. I haven't seen it since they updated the music, so I'm looking forward to it tonight!

  8. #8

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    I absolutely love Spectro and while it was fun to see MSEP I'll always love Spectro more. The music is way better and I agree with the previous poster that said when it's over you don't have that "disney feeling"

    I would like to see the best of Spectro and MSEP come together. I love Pete's Dragon and the pirate ship.

  9. #9

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    After watching MSEP last night, I think I can easily say that I like SpectroMagic much better. It seemed like all the floats were basically the same with MSEP, nothing really unique. And with the redo of the music, they changed the timing - took out or rather put back in a previously dropped beat that made the track more interesting. The crowd around me started to lose interest about 1/2 way through the parade - not a good sign. Good to see it again, but I don't need to see it for quite a while.

  10. #10

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    After watching MSEP last night, I think I can easily say that I like SpectroMagic much better. It seemed like all the floats were basically the same with MSEP, nothing really unique. And with the redo of the music, they changed the timing - took out or rather put back in a previously dropped beat that made the track more interesting. The crowd around me started to lose interest about 1/2 way through the parade - not a good sign. Good to see it again, but I don't need to see it for quite a while.
    Even though I like the new music, that beat being re-added where it doesn't belong was my one tiff with it. I have this strange feeling that SpectroMagic will never return, and that either we will see the Main Street Electrical Parade forever or we will get Fantillusion. But looks like if Spectro goes to Paris Fanti will probably die because...well, where would it go? It's too similar to Fantasmic which runs in two (excuse me, three) of five parks and Hong Kong doesn't want to have anything to do with electrical parades.

    Shanghai?
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  11. #11

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    I too, hate the added 4th beat that was inserted at the end of the "chorus". It takes all the momentum out of the score. Hate the beat as much as I hate the hat. Feels like an episode of Seinfeld where we all Hate the Drake.

  12. #12

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    ORWEN: The Electrical Parade was wonderful when it was new. But it's not aging very well. It's past time to put it to sleep. And I agree with those who like Spectro Magic better. It comes across as a much better night parade that captures the true spirit of Disney Magic. I just wish Elliot would 'jump ship' and come over to Spectro!!!

  13. #13

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    That some good history info do you have any other info of any disney parade?

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Quote Originally Posted by joe80x86 View Post
    It was nice to have something different over the summer but I really hope we are not going to be stuck with Disneyland's antiquated left overs for the long term.
    Funny... "antiquated" is the best description of Spectromagic, when compared to TDL's Dreamlights. So in a sense, both electrical parades at the MK have run it's course.. and FYI.. TDL is adding 4 more new floats to Dreamlight with the promise of state of the art light technology.. further making Spectro look like the old albatross it really is.

    WDW fails again.

  15. #15

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    Re: The History of SpectroMagic!

    Tokyo is so far away and so NOT within the realm of possibility for the average American. The discussion was between Spectro and MSEP, not a park that 99 percent of us will never see.

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