The Main Street Electrical Parade returns to Disneyland today for its 50th anniversary. It brings with it a brand new float. Thankfully, they had a soft opening on Wednesday with a live stream on Twitter. As a result, we got to see the new addition ahead of time.
The Main Street Electrical Parade premiered in 1972 and ran continuously through to 1996. Disney ostensibly retired it at the time, even selling off the iconic lightbulbs as collector’s items. But its replacement in 1997, Light Magic, didn’t quite hit the same way that the Electrical Parade did. Disney has been bringing it back for limited engagements ever since.
The parade has traveled to other parks, including the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and even had a brief stint right across the promenade at Disney’s California Adventure. But it’s coming home to Disneyland for its 50th anniversary and that feels incredibly right. This is where it began, so it makes sense to return here.
New Main Street Electrical Parade Float
Since most of the parade features older properties – Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Snow White – Disney has made a move to update the parade with a new float. The latest addition replaces the old American flag float that formerly concluded the parade. It’s inspired by it’s a small world. Different countries are represented by different Disney films. It features Miguel from Coco, Hercules, Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Moana, and many others.
See the new finale float for the Main Street Electrical Parade! Can you spot your favorite character? pic.twitter.com/HFVLrS1YL4
— Disney D23 (@DisneyD23) April 21, 2022
The original American flag float was added in 1979, so some may be a bit disgruntled at the change. I personally enjoy the direction they’ve taken with it. It’s an honor to not just newer Disney properties that have largely been left out of the parade, but a way to celebrate the entire world as well. The extremely patriotic American finale always felt a bit jarring after a parade of glittery Disney characters. To me, at least. Your mileage may vary. Perhaps you dig that sort of thing.
The long multi-national float is followed by Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. The castle also features it’s a small world iconography, most notably its famous clock. Many people who were present at the preview night seemed to be most impressed by that part in particular, and I’m eager to see it in person myself. It certainly looks gorgeous.
Another notable change is the replacement of “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” with the phrase “to all who come to this happy place.” This change was first implemented at Tokyo Disney’s DreamLights show, but this is the first time the iconic parade has been updated with inclusive language at Disneyland. It may be a small thing that most people don’t notice, but for gender non-conforming people, it’s pretty dang neat to hear.
This probably doesn’t mean much to many people, but as someone who grew up specifically with this parade, and has only started using they/them in the last year, this is specifically important to me. Even if it’s small and barely noticeable. pic.twitter.com/k9sdGqNCin
— Angel | ४ 🏳️🌈 🏴☠️💙💛 (@angel_ponders) April 21, 2022
The phrase is also a homage to Walt Disney’s iconic opening day speech from 1955.
To all that come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land.
Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future.
Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.
You can find this speech in a few other places around the park, most notably on a plaque in Town Square at the base of the flag pole. If you know Morse code, you can also hear it being typed out at the New Orleans Square train station. Oh yes, those random clicky clacks you hear coming from the building across the tracks are actually spelling something out! File that fun fact away for trivia night, folks.
The parade is also preceded by a speech honoring its 50th anniversary, which sets up and leads into the new ‘to all who come to this happy place’ opening line. The speech honors the ‘heritage of hope’ and the continued legacy of the parade over the years as the electro-syntho-magnetic musical sounds build underneath it, leading into the official start of the parade.
Main Street Electrical Parade Train Drum Updates
The original parade used to begin with the Blue Fairy. She has been long since retired, however, and the limited engagements have largely begun with the Casey Junior train and introductory drum sign (though occasionally they’ve placed other things here too). This is one of the most changeable parts of the parade, having included sponsorship logos and anniversary messages numerous times. This time we get a 50th-anniversary message.
The lights around the drum also appear to be updated a bit, though that would probably only be noticeable to hardcore fans. I haven’t seen the parade in person since 2002, so I didn’t clock this particular change myself. Kudos to those who spotted it, though. Hardcore Disney adults are certainly pulling their weight when it comes to spotting new things. Thanks, y’all.
We’ll be heading back to the park this summer.
Like I mentioned back in October, the return of this iconic parade is a bit too much for me and I’m compelled to visit the parks yet again. This parade in particular was a cornerstone of my childhood. Every time we went to Disneyland it was the only way to close out the evening. There was simply no other option. It’s just how the day had to end.
I did manage to catch one of the encores at Disney’s California Adventure back in 2002, but haven’t seen any of the others since then. This will be my first time seeing the parade in 20 years, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ll be sure to live-tweet the visit on the Geekiary Twitter account, so give it a follow.
Going to Disneyland soon? Check out our Theme Park Guide, especially our report on the new dining reservation system and COVID-19 park tips. You can keep up to date with changes to their safety protocols on their official website, too.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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