Disneyland has announced return dates for Magic Happens parade, Mickey’s Mix Magic and Magical Journeys fireworks, as well as other entertainment and nighttime spectaculars in the first half of 2024. This post covers the full details, plus our commentary about how this will impact crowds and more. Let’s start with the press release from Disneyland Resort:
Guests of all ages can enjoy a variety of performances, and many youngsters get their first taste of live entertainment at Disneyland Resort. In 2024, friends and family can discover new favorites, as well as create new memories with many returning and reimagined offerings – adding to the robust slate of entertainment available all year long.
From character encounters and dance parties to parades and nighttime spectaculars, a guest could spend a full day and night enjoying the entertainment offerings across the resort. A full list of entertainment and the latest performance schedules are available on Disneyland.com and the Disneyland app. Here are several spectacular highlights:
Disneyland Entertainment in 2024
“Mickey’s Mix Magic” – returns January 8 to March 21, 2024 and April 15-25, 2024: Projections, lighting effects, lasers and catchy Disney tunes create a family-friendly dance party atmosphere throughout Disneyland. The high-energy nighttime spectacular is enhanced with the addition of fireworks on select evenings.
“Magic Happens” parade – returns February 2, 2024: Moments of magic from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films are brought to life on a grand scale with stunning floats, artistic costumes and an energetic musical score.
“Wondrous Journeys” – returns March 22 to April 14, 2024: Originally created as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company, the nighttime spectacular includes nods to Walt Disney Animation Studios films over the past century. Main Street, U.S.A., Sleeping Beauty Castle, the façade of “it’s a small world” and the Rivers of America become an artist’s canvas with lighting effects, customized projections, sparkling fireworks and more.
“Together Forever – A Pixar Nighttime Spectacular” – returns April 26 to August 4, 2024: A tribute to the journey of friendship, this heartwarming show returns with some all-new scenes as part of the limited-time Pixar Fest. On select nights, fireworks take the celebration sky high.
“Fantasmic!” – returns May 24, 2024: Soaring music, dozens of live performers, character appearances and projections will once again illuminate the Rivers of America. In 2024, the nighttime specular returns in modified form with new special effects, and a reworked battle scene between Sorcerer Mickey and Maleficent (without the Murphy Dragon AA), plus the return of the iconic “Peter Pan” scene.
Storytelling at the Royal Theatre: Renaissance men Messieurs Smythe and Jones, with the assistance of some fellow villagers and the audience, bring the tales of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Tangled” to life with music, whimsy and humor.
Live music: The melodic sounds of the Disneyland Band, the Dapper Dans quartet, and the Straw Hatters are all on display on Main Street, S.A. In New Orleans Square, the toe-tapping performances star the Bootstrappers and the Jambalaya Jazz Band.
Special and seasonal nighttime spectaculars: During seasonal celebrations and special events, guests can experience specially themed nighttime spectaculars, such as “Halloween Screams” and “Believe… in Holiday Magic.”
Disney California Adventure Entertainment in 2024
“Better Together – A Pixar Pals Celebration!” – debuts April 26, 2024: The new daytime parade at Disney California Adventure debuts during Pixar Fest, featuring favorite friends and new characters from the latest Pixar films, including “Turning Red.”
“Disney Junior Dance Party!”: Mickey Mouse is joined by favorite Disney Junior characters, including Doc McStuffins and Vampirina.
“The Amazing Spider-Man!”: Throughout the day, guests have the chance to witness Spider-Man swing into action high above Avengers Campus with gravity-defying, acrobatic feats.
“Warriors of Wakanda: The Disciplines of the Dora Milaje”: Recruits at Avengers Campus are invited to join Black Panther’s loyal bodyguards, the Dora Milaje, in training sessions in the courtyard near Avengers Headquarters.
“Doctor Strange: Mysteries of the Mystic Arts”: Doctor Strange steps forth through an inter-dimensional portal to engage guests with illusions, sorcery and tales to astonish from his collection of mysterious relics.
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off!”: Star Lord and Gamora lead a groovy dance party set to rock and roll classics from Peter Quill’s beloved boom box.
Live music: The swinging jazz combo Five & Dime delivers pizzazz and razzmatazz to Buena Vista Street. During “Operation: Playtime!”, the Green Army Patrol from Pixar’s “Toy Story” convoy the park. Plus, the Hollywood Backlot Stage and Paradise Garden Bandstand often host live musical acts.
Special seasonal entertainment: Disney California Adventure offers a variety of special entertainment during seasonal festivals, including Lunar New Year, the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival and Disney Festival of Holidays.
The live entertainment experiences at Disneyland Resort extend beyond the theme parks, with a rotating lineup of nighttime musical entertainment at the newly opened Downtown Disney LIVE! stage and seasonally at the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort, with talented entertainers making appearances throughout the year.
Turning to commentary, this schedule is, uhhh, something. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Disney doesn’t want anyone to visit Disneyland or DCA this winter.
In addition to the dates and entertainment mentioned, there’s also the World of Color closure, which runs from January 8 through February 29, 2024. (There are also several attraction closures on the 2024 Disneyland Refurbishment Calendar; we’d really recommend consulting that before locking-in dates this winter.)
Suffice to say, if you’re visiting in the first two months of 2024 after the Christmas season ends, the nighttime spectacular you’ll get is…Mickey’s Mix Magic. That’s it. No night parade. No World of Color. No Fantasmic. And on weeknights, no fireworks. Just Mickey’s Mix Magic with projections.
I’ll admit that Mickey’s Mix Magic has grown on me a little bit. I hated it when it debuted, but came to appreciate its chaotic energy a little. Like a brain-eating amoeba, the soundtrack worms its way into your head–whether you want it to or not. It can be an unexpectedly fun show.
Still, if we’re doing the whole Survivor thing and I had to pick one nighttime spectacular to never see again, it would be Mickey’s Mix Magic. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, and cannot imagine anyone will be rushing to book park reservations today to see the triumphant return of Mickey’s Mix Magic. At most, I think most locals and Annual Passholders tolerate it.
With that said, I’m not totally surprised Mickey’s Mix Magic is coming back. We speculated a few weeks ago that this might happen. Disneyland is becoming increasingly savvy about using a ‘vault system’ to generate interest in its entertainment offerings, so not bringing back Wondrous Journeys so soon makes sense. (Although only for the peak of Easter and Spring Break…not even a month-long run?! Oof.)
However, the surrounding circumstances I envisioned were a bit different. I didn’t know World of Color would be down or that nothing else would be brought back as counterprogramming to Mickey’s Mix Magic. I don’t know what I was expecting, but certainly not this. Mickey’s Mix Magic cannot conceivably be the ‘anchor’ entertainment to get locals to the parks during what’s historically the winter off-season for Southern California tourism.
I guess if I knew all of the other pieces of the puzzle at the time, I probably would’ve predicted that “Remember… Dreams Come True” would’ve returned for January and February. That nighttime spectacular is beloved among Disneyland diehards, as it’s a love letter to the park and Walt Disney. It’s also been on hiatus for a while, so it would’ve been something to draw locals to the park at a time when they’re needed due to a lack of vacation-goers. Alternatively, Disneyland Forever would’ve been a compromise draw with appeal to locals and tourists.
With that said, the good news is from a crowds and planning perspective. After winter break ends and Los Angeles and Orange County schools go back into session, January and February will be the two slowest months of 2024. That’s not really a bold prediction. For one thing, the weeks between January 15 and February 12 were among the slowest of this year.
For another thing, Halloween is starting early in 2024. This means that the only serious competition to January and February as the slowest stretch of the year–mid-August through mid-September–will likely be busier next year. Even before this news, I would’ve predicted that the early start of Halloween will be enough to tip the scales in favor of the winter off-season being the better time to visit. (Objectively speaking–definitely not subjectively. I’d deal with the slightly heavier crowds to go during the best dates of Halloween or Christmas.)
This announcement pretty much cements that prediction. That’s even with the Southern California resident (and other) ticket deals during the winter timeframe, as well as the likelihood that pent-up demand will exhaust itself over the course of 2024. (Meaning it will fizzle out over time, rather than all at once at the start of the year.)
Perhaps I’m wrong and really underestimating the popularity of Mickey’s Mix Magic with locals. Maybe I missed a memo, and it became a beloved Disneyland institution while I wasn’t looking. I really don’t think so. I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves Mickey’s Mix Magic unironically. Perhaps it’s huge with the TikTokers, who knows.
Ultimately, I almost feel badly for anyone with a Disneyland trip planned in Winter 2024, especially during the January dates that don’t even have Magic Happens parade. Entertainment is (usually) the essence of what makes Disneyland a special place–and very different from Walt Disney World. You’re not going to get the full feel of that, unfortunately. At least you should get really pleasant crowd levels and comfortable (so long as it doesn’t rain) coat-season weather.
I also have to admit that, selfishly, I’m slightly excited for this. As new parents who wouldn’t watch fireworks or nighttime spectaculars regardless, we’ve been trying to pinpoint times when crowds will be low to target our future visits to Disneyland with Megatron. This announcement just added several weeks’ worth of dates to our calendar!
Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!