The famed Main Street Electrical Parade has returned to Disneyland in California and is set to run there through Sept. 30. Featuring tons of sparkly lights, floats, performers, and one buzzy soundtrack, park-goers excitement levels are through the roof.
While most Disney fans are familiar with the parade, not everyone knows of its vast history and lasting legacy. That's what we're here to dive into today.
Whether you've watched the parade pass by a hundred times or are still waiting for your first chance to see the streets light up with magic, this one is for you. Here are ten things you might not have known about the Main Street Electrical Parade.
10 It Is Inspired By The Electrical Water Pageant
The Electrical Water Pageant was Disney’s first attempt at parading a light display by park-goers. Beginning in 1971, this event saw a collection of floats light up with the images of sea creatures and parade across the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake outside the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.
This event continues to occur every night (weather permitting) and features a collection of songs including “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” from The Little Mermaid, “Never Smile at a Crocodile” from Peter Pan, and “Whale of a Tale” from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Disney executive Card Walker was inspired by The Electrical Water Pageant and decided to bring an experience reminiscent of it to Disneyland in California, thus the Main Street Electrical Parade was born.
9 It Has Traveled Around The World
Though the Main Street Electrical Parade first began as a Disneyland event, it has been featured across Disney resorts worldwide. It ran for several years at the Magic Kingdom in Florida as well as Disneyland Park in Paris.
Though both of these parks' parades have been retired, Tokyo Disney is still showing a parade inspired by the original event known as DreamLights. It is strikingly similar to the classic Main Street Electrical Parade, featuring loads of dazzling lights and energy-filled music.
8 There Are Over Half A Million Lights
One of the defining characteristics of the Main Street Electrical Parade is its insane amount of lights. In fact, between the performers and floats, there are over 600,000 LED lights featured in the 20-minute parade.
Every light is synchronized to the synth-filled soundtrack via radio control and becomes activated as the floats pass by certain parts of its route.
7 The Parade Features Staple Franchises
Though every version of the parade has varied slightly, there are several Disney franchises known to regularly make appearances in the event. There have always been floats and characters from Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Pete’s Dragon in the parade.
Former versions of the Disneyland parade have also featured characters from lesser-known movies including The Foxand the Hound, Return to Oz, and Babes in Toyland.
6 Tokyo's DreamLights Utilized Modern Disney Properties
We already mentioned Tokyo Disneyland’s DreamLights parade. What we didn’t mention, is that while the parade is themed like the classical Main Street Electrical Parade we know and love, Tokyo Disneyland adds modern franchises into its float lineup.
This unique version of the parade, which was renewed in 2017, features floats themed after Toy Story 3, Tangled, and even Frozen. Despite this, the event still nods to the classics by featuring floats inspired by many of the franchises mentioned earlier. The movie that is notably absent in Japan’s night parade, however, is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
5 It Has An Iconic Theme Song
Early versions of the Electrical Water Pageant featured a synth-pop song known as the “Baroque Hoedown.” This electronic song was reused for Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade in the early '70s, and given a new arrangement in 1977.
The updated version of the song has become the iconic theme for the parade, being prominently featured in every version of it except for the DreamLights parade at Tokyo Disney.
4 The Original Parade Was Once Replaced
Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade had a serious following in the '70s, '80s, and mid-'90s, yet in 1996, it came to a close after a 24-year run. It was replaced by a parade called Light Magic, which opened in 1997. While Disney had high hopes for this new parade, it failed spectacularly and was closed down that same year for lacking the luster of its predecessor.
Despite the poor response, Light Magic was sent to the Magic Kingdom in Florida for a limited run. It also didn’t last long and was replaced by the night parade SpectroMagic. Though SpectroMagic had a decent run, it, too, was eventually replaced by the Main Street Electrical Parade.
3 It’s Been Referenced In Popular Media
The Main Street Electrical parade has a legacy that has stretched far beyond Disney. The Simpsons episode “Selma’s Choice” (S4E13) parodies the parade by featuring an event called the Duff Garden Light Parade. It features music that is strikingly similar to the “Baroque Hoedown.”
The live-action 2002 Scooby-Doo features its own The Electrical Torture Parade inspired by the event. Even Nintendo got in on the action, parodying the parade during the end credits of the games Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario.
2 There Were Malfunctions At First
The first rehearsal for The Main Street Electrical Parade ended in calamity, with a float crashing into a building on Main Street, U.S.A., and some performers’ costumes sparking. Despite this, Disney was able to pull itself together and premiere the parade on schedule on June 17, 1972.
The initial problems also didn’t keep Disney from expanding the complexity of the floats later on. While some floats, like the American flag and elephant train, were initially displayed on 2D flat screens, they were redesigned into 3D displays just a handful of years after the parade’s early runs.
1 This Isn't The Last We're Seeing Of It
As already mentioned, Disneyland in California has brought the Main Street Electrical Parade back to its resort for a limited-time run. It began showing on Aug. 2 and is scheduled to last through Sept. 30. While all good things have to come to an end, the parade's immense popularity will likely have it showing up at Disney parks again in the future.
In fact, this is the third time the parade has opened at Disneyland and the fourth time it is showing up at a Disney park in California. Additionally, the parade has opened and closed at the Magic Kingdom on three separate occasions. It can't seem to stay away from Disney parks, but we can't seem to stay away from it either.