Main Street Electrical Parade Returning to Disneyland

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Confirming a week of speculation, Disney announced that Main Street Electrical Parade will return to Disneyland after ending its run in Walt Disney World on October 9. The run in Disneyland is described as “a limited-time encore engagement.”

No timeframe is given for Main Street Electrical Parade’s return to Disneyland, which could be as early as October (although unlikely given the time it will take to ship the parade and make necessary repairs) or as late as early 2017. The Parks Blog has posted a virtually-identical follow-up with the added detail that MSEP will debut at Disneyland “next year” and Paint the Night will run select dates the remainder of the year.

Nowhere in the announcement are any details concerning what will happen with Paint the Night, which debuted only last year as part of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration.

My Reaction

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There was a lot of speculation about this and there still is. The announcement only covers Main Street Electrical Parade returning to Disneyland, creating two potential scenarios: 1) Main Street Electrical Parade is an interim replacement while Paint the Night is refurbished, and will be retired after that; or, 2) Disney is playing a classic game of “Parade Swap” with Main Street Electrical Parade and Paint the Night.

Let’s start with the first scenario. This is my preferred scenario, and I hope what proves to be true. This is definitely plausible, as we’ve heard rumors that Paint the Night needs a refurbishment after months without any downtime. Sending Main Street Electrical Parade to Disneyland for a limited run would make fans happy (see below) and Magic Kingdom doesn’t really need it during Halloween and Christmas Party season, so that’s a win-win.

However, this leaves the question of what Magic Kingdom will do in terms of a night parade. There have been no rumors that a night parade is being built for Florida, and it’s not just a matter of buying a golf cart and covering it in Christmas lights. Night parades take a decent amount of time and money to design and build.

There’s the possibility something is being constructed in a shroud of secrecy (ha!), or they will start building a parade quickly (haha!) for a Spring 2017 (or sooner) debut, but that doesn’t seem so likely. There’s also the possibility that Magic Kingdom goes without a night parade until next summer.

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Then, there’s the second scenario: Paint the Night and Main Street Electrical Parade swapping coasts. Until today, I filed this under “wishful thinking.”

Main Street Electrical Parade returned to Walt Disney World during 2010’s Summer Nightastic, in what was to be a limited engagement for the summer. (Sound familiar?) After the initial excitement over seeing Main Street Electrical Parade “one last time” wore off, most Disney fans longed for a return of SpectroMagic (myself included). Beyond that, I don’t really think the circa-1970s Main Street Electrical Parade has really played well with the tourist demographic at Walt Disney World that lacks an emotional attachment to it.

Conversely, in California, many diehard fans pined for a return of Main Street Electrical Parade (it’s starting to sound like we fans just want what we can’t have!) since the dismal Light Tragic was salt in the wound following the farewell season of Main Street Electrical Parade.

For me, the differing opinions of Main Street Electrical Parade are easy to reconcile: it’s all about nostalgia. SpectroMagic ran from 1991 until 2010 (with a gap during the Millennium Celebration) in Magic Kingdom, which time frame can be described as some of the most formidable years for Walt Disney World fandom.

By contrast, Main Street Electrical Parade ran at Disneyland from 1972 until 1996, and in DCA from 2001 until 2010. It’s thus no surprise that so many Disneyland fans have strong nostalgia for this parade. Plus, as with all-things nostalgia, the parade has probably aged better in many memories than it has in reality.

From that perspective, this move makes some sense as a temporary measure. While Paint the Night certainly has not faded in popularity at Disneyland, the initial surge of local excitement over it has subsided. When Main Street Electrical Parade returns, the local audience will go nuts, and the park will likewise see a decent bump thanks to the parade.

So, win-win, right? Well, not exactly. Yes, Disneyland will receive a nice, short-term bump and Walt Disney World’s largely tourist demographic will enjoy the more modern-era style of Paint the Night. However, the bump at Disneyland will be short-lived, and this still doesn’t solve the problem of Main Street Electrical Parade’s age.

Not so long ago, I was told that Main Street Electrical Parade likely would never return to Disneyland, because it “couldn’t survive shipment.” That could’ve been exaggeration, but it might also be the best case scenario here: the floats are so badly damaged in transit that a new parade is built from the ground up.

Even with fervent Disneyland fans turning out for a few months, Main Street Electrical Parade just doesn’t have the power to draw guests like Paint the Night. After its initial spike, Disneyland management will be left with the decision of letting it hobble along, or creating another park. (Given that dilemma, I’m surprised they would even agree to letting Florida take Paint the Night–a parade paid for out of California’s entertainment budget. That is, unless they had no choice.)

Moreover, as the most popular park in the Disney empire, Magic Kingdom is due for an original, one-of-a-kind light parade that features next generation technology. Not something developed for Hong Kong, and handed down to it from Disneyland.

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In an ideal world, I would love to see the first scenario play out. After Main Street Electrical Parade goes dark, Magic Kingdom would develop and debut a brand new parade with the grandeur of Dreamlights at Tokyo Disneyland, and cues borrowed from SpectroMagic (namely, the music and SpectroMickey). As fun of a parade as Paint the Night is, it didn’t feel right for Disneyland in terms of tone, and won’t fill the void left by SpectroMagic in Magic Kingdom. (It was perfect for the upstart Hong Kong Disneyland.)

I guess we shall see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath. I know a lot of Disney fans are ardently in favor of Main Street Electrical Parade returning to Disneyland permanently, but I think its age is really showing. Another farewell run is fine, and gives fans a chance to say final goodbyes, but the parade has not stood the test of time in terms of technology, and is due to be retired.

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Your Thoughts…

What would you like to see happen with these parades? Do you hope Paint the Night comes to Walt Disney World, or would you like Magic Kingdom to get its own, new parade? Excited for Main Street Electrical Parade to return to Disneyland? We love hearing from readers, so please share your thoughts or questions you have in the comments!


42 Responses to “Main Street Electrical Parade Returning to Disneyland”
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