Festival of Fantasy is the daytime parade in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. This post offers viewing tips, photos, and my review. We’ll also discuss the floats, which are inspired by New Fantasyland, and include Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Sleepy Beauty, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and other animated films.
Honestly, when the Festival of Fantasy Parade was announced, I wasn’t all that excited. I thought it was a good idea to tie-in with the conclusion of the New Fantasyland expansion, but other than that, I wasn’t all that enthused. At the time, I often said I was “not a daytime parade person,” an opinion that was largely the result of not having been particularly enamored with any daytime Magic Kingdom parade since I was a kid in the mid-1990s.
With that said, now that we’ve seen Festival of Fantasy Parade–many, many times–I really enjoy it. Actually, I downright love it. Unlike almost every Magic Kingdom parade in recent memory, this parade actually feels ambitious, and large in scale and scope. The parade floats are all large, detailed and have a lot of substance to them. Of course, there’s one float that stands out above all else…
The float that has captured everyone’s attention is the steampunk-esque Maleficent dragon float, and this is understandable because it breathes fire, but the Brave, Tangled, Peter Pan, and Monstro floats don’t garner nearly as much attention, despite being quite well done.
Add to this performers in costumes that have a lot of detail and are, in some cases, a bit darker and more interesting than the ‘fantasy fluff’ you’d expect to find in a Magic Kingdom parade, a catchy soundtrack, and a great energy, and you have a parade that’s a real winner.
In terms of overall quality and appeal, I’d put Festival of Fantasy Parade up there with the parades I’ve seen at Tokyo Disneyland, and the park sets the gold standard for daytime parades.
With that said, I don’t think the Festival of Fantasy Parade is entirely perfect…
My only criticism of the parade, and this could just be a creative decision that was done by design, is that it is stylistically disjointed. Every float seems to have its own look, with no really aesthetic yarn or semblance of a unified style.
This could have been a considered decision, given that numerous films are represented, but this is the case with virtually every parade, and most of the best ones do have a cohesive look. Still, it’s a fantastic parade with some very cool-looking floats, a catchy soundtrack, and just a great vibe to it in general.
If you want the best experience and photos, there’s only one place where you should watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade, and that’s Main Street. This is because it’s a fantasy themed parade, and of the places the parade travels, only the backdrop of Cinderella Castle is fitting (ironically, the parade does not go through Fantasyland).
Locations in Liberty Square and Frontierland are less crowded than Main Street, but it’s a bit of an incongruous experience seeing a fantasy parade in the wild west or colonial America.
We recommend braving the slightly larger crowds and watching from Main Street. From there, we really like two different spots for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
The first is right in front of Cinderella Castle and often is surprisingly uncrowded.
The second spot is essentially anywhere close to the Train Station end of Main Street that offers a clear view back at Cinderella Castle.
I prefer skewing towards the left side of Main Street, either at the end of the street, or on the Train Station side of a trash can (to put a little space between you and the party closest to you). This type of spot allows you to look back down Main Street and again get Cinderella Castle as a backdrop.
Along these same lines, the Main Street, USA Train Station itself offers a nice and unique view of Festival of Fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s also a location where guests frequently camp out in advance (or that gets blocked off for VIP guests on occasion).
There are a lot of different locations from which you can shoot the parade to take advantage of this perspective, so it isn’t a “spot” per se, and it should be easy to snag one of these locations so long as you show up over 30 minutes before the parade steps off (adjust that time up if the Magic Kingdom is busier than average).
That’s it in terms of my recommended locations. If you find yourself somewhere in Liberty Square or Frontierland, I’d just look for a spot that will allow you to shoot the floats on a neutral backdrop, such as trees or blue sky.
To accomplish this, stand on the side of Frontierland that has buildings, shooting towards the Rivers of America. Still not the best spot, but less crowded and a good way to photographically made lemonade out of lemons.
On another note, we are not fans of either the Festival of Fantasy Dining Package. The cost of this upcharge offering is simply not worth it.
This is especially true given that Festival of Fantasy is not particularly difficult to watch. It’d be one thing if you had to camp out for over an hour or securing the best spots was impossible without the package. However, that’s not the case.
Hopefully this Festival of Fantasy Parade Tips post has provided you with some insight as to where to view the parade (if you don’t already have a favorite spot). Even several years after it’s debut, we still love Festival of Fantasy, and watch it frequently when we’re in Magic Kingdom. The fire-breathing Maleficent remains a showstopper, and it’s worth catching the parade for that float alone!
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If you’ve seen the Festival of Fantasy Parade, what did you think of it? If you haven’t, are you looking forward to this new Walt Disney World parade? Any tips of your own for best viewing locations? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!