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Parade Viewing at Walt Disney World

Friday, September 16, 2011

Awww Yes!  There’s nothing more magical than enjoying a parade at Walt Disney World.  Guests have come to expect an afternoon or evening parade as part of their theme park admission.  It completes your day like a cherry on top of a sundae.  Weather you are in Hollywood Studios, the Magic Kingdom, or Disney’s Animal Kingdom you’ll probably have your eye on the afternoon or evening parade times.  A parade not only is enjoyable to watch, but it also brings a theme park to life.  The echoes of parade music in the background or seeing parade floats from afar carrying classic Disney characters is sure to draw your attention. 

On occasion Disney will change its parades.  Most recently Spectromagic was replaced with the Main St. Electrical Parade at the Magic Kingdom; a classic Disney parade.  Although some of you have your parade favorites watching any parade is a treat, especially with family and friends.  Just make sure to check unofficial Disney websites or the official Disney website for parade changes.  Parade times can also change.  Planning your Disney vacation should include knowing what parades you wish to view and what time they start.  This will help your group know when to get your viewing spot and where best to enjoy the parade. 

Parade Etiquette

Speaking of getting your viewing spot make sure you get to your spot well before the parade starts.  Don’t expect to get a good viewing location 5 or 10 minutes before the parade kicks off.  Unless you are extremely lucky you won’t be able to get a prime spot.  Just remember there are planners and non-planners in the same park.  The one place planners and non-planners come together is on a parade route and it can sometimes lead to frustration and unhappiness between them.  Don’t be a non-planner and crash a planner’s parade viewing location.  The results will not be favorable for anyone.   

Also, please don’t put your children on your shoulders.  There are a couple reasons for this.  First, it’s a safety issue.  With other guests sitting at your feet you don’t want to trip with your child on your shoulders.  Secondly, it’s not fair to the people behind you when you suddenly add your child on top of your shoulders.  It will obstruct their view in an unexpected way. 

Another etiquette tip is don’t try and squeeze into a spot near the parade viewing boundaries.  If you see a few inches of space please don’t try and rub shoulders with the guest who has been waiting for 30 minutes.  They won’t appreciate it.  A Cast Member will probably come along and ask you to find another spot.  In fact, you should always listen to Cast Members.  If they ask you to move it’s not because they don’t like what you are wearing, it’s probably for safety reasons.  Nobody wants to get hurt and Cast Members are looking out for your best interest. 

Finally, when you are at your parade viewing location holding spots for your family is not fair to other guests who have arrived at your spot.  Unless your family or friends have already showed up and had to leave to use the bathroom or get a drink holding spots for people who’ve never been at your location is not polite.  Taking up prime space for a number of guests who’ve never arrived takes away precious space for other guests who need it immediately. 

Parade viewing etiquette is strictly a matter of common sense, but sometimes other people have a different perspective of common sense.  This is where problems can and sometimes do exist.  Just try and keep politeness and courtesy in mind when viewing a parade.  This will help everyone around you enjoy their parade experience. 

Parade Favorites

Our family loves the Disney parades.  We enjoy the music, floats, and how a parade can change the atmosphere in a theme park within seconds.  One of our family favorites is grabbing a box of popcorn at night and waiting for the Main St. Electrical parade to come through Main St. USA.  We especially enjoy the night time parade because of how it lights up the park.  The pre-parade atmosphere of the night time parade is very upbeat and provides a lot of enthusiasm. 

Disney World offers a number of parades for your family to enjoy.  Each parade carries a theme which coincides with the park you are attending.  Every guest has a different opinion as to which parade is their favorite.  It maybe because you enjoy particular music, or because your favorite characters are showcased, or because the parade floats appeal to you. 

Here are my top 5 parades I’ve enjoyed over the years.  Please feel free to share yours or why you enjoy a particular parade in the comments section below or on our official Facebook page. 

Number 5 – Tapestry of Nations/Tapestry of Dreams – EPCOT’s World Showcase

I maybe in the minority, but I really enjoyed a parade in EPCOT.  This particular parade seemed to fit the park very well.  Maybe a parade will return to EPCOT someday. 

Number 4 – Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade – Magic Kingdom

I have to admit most of the afternoon parades in the Magic Kingdom don’t do much for me.  However, this particular parade does bring a great musical score and wonderful costumes with it.  And, of course, the classic Disney characters in their traditional costumes. 

Number 3 – Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I can hear some of you moaning and saying “This parade has run its course”.  Personally, not for me.  I really enjoy the music and characters in this parade.  I also appreciate how Disney incorporates guests into the parade.  You can see their excitement as they ride by in a Disney parade float. 

Number 2 – Stars & Motor Cars Parade – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I wish they would bring this parade back to Hollywood Studios.  I enjoyed the musical score and how the parade was presented in general.  Disney characters were the stars in this parade and presented in cars and floats.  You also saw a few characters you wouldn’t normally see in other Disney parades. 

Number 1 – Spectromagic – Magic Kingdom

We love the lights, floats, and especially the music of this parade.  It’s been (according to Disney) temporarily replaced by the Main St. Electrical Parade.  You saw unique floats both big and small.  Plus it was an interactive parade with a lot of characters and even some floats coming up to you as you enjoyed the parade.  I hope Disney will bring it back to the Magic Kingdom. 

As you can see there’s a lot that goes into a parade from a guest’s perspective.  There’s planning, etiquette, and decisions to be made like what parade to view or where to sit.  These factors and decisions will make a huge difference in your overall parade experience.  The one place where several guests come together is on a parade route in 3 of the 4 Disney theme parks.  Just remember to try and be courteous and use common sense before, during, and after the parade. 

The next time you are at a Disney World theme park make sure you pickup your ‘Showtimes, Parades, and Fireworks’ guide as you pass through the turnstiles.  It will give you everything you need to know to enjoy the parade like the route, where it starts, and what time it begins.  Disney has done their best to inform you about all of the theme park parades.  Now it’s up to you to make good decisions and be courteous to other guests.  Simply put, your parade experience is in your hands.  Make it a good one.  See you on the parade route. 

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About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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