When Will Disney World Get a Night Parade?
It has been several years since a night parade performed at Walt Disney World. In this post, we’ll address the rumors of a new night parade at Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, our thoughts on the loss of SpectroMagic (etc.), and more. (Updated November 18, 2021.)
I’ll be the first to admit, more than any change at Walt Disney World in recent memory, I miss the night parade. In particular, I miss SpectroMagic, which is the parade at Magic Kingdom that I remember when I was growing up, and which was the parade that was running the first several years Sarah and I visited Walt Disney World together.
We watched SpectroMagic every single night we were at Magic Kingdom, and there was just something special about the anticipation that built when Jiminy Cricket’s voice started coming over the loudspeakers. Along with the fireworks, the night parade sets the nighttime mood in Magic Kingdom. While Main Street Electrical Parade did not have the same emotional resonance for us, we were also sad to see that go. In a way, when that parade left, we should have seen this coming.
If Main Street Electrical Parade is the only nighttime parade you’ve known and you weren’t particularly impressed by that, keep in mind that it was over 40 years old when it stopped running. While some people loved its quaintness and charm, we prefer the newer Paint the Night and Dreamlights.
The latter is our favorite nighttime parade anywhere, and we always make a point of watching Dreamlights. For years, I’ve held out hope that Walt Disney World would create SpectroMagic 2.0, weaving together that score with floats having the wow-factor of Dreamlights.
This brings us to the rumors about a night parade coming to Walt Disney World. When this was originally published a few years ago, it said “there are zero reliable rumors to our knowledge” regarding a new nighttime parade coming for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
In a way, that’s still accurate. There’s no new night parade on the horizon–we can stop wishing for a spiritual successor to SpectroMagic.
As recently as late last month when news broke that Main Street Electrical Parade was returning to Disneyland, we wrote: “Walt Disney World has been given the option of borrowing Paint the Night multiple times, and passed on it due to those aforementioned maintenance and operating expenses. After so many years of not having a night parade in Magic Kingdom, we think the only way Walt Disney World would rethink that decision is if attendance falls off a cliff in early 2022…So, there’s no reason to hold out hope that Paint the Night coming to Magic Kingdom will be the next announcement.”
“…I really hope this is a ‘take that ages poorly’ and you all get to dunk on just how wrong I was!”
Only a few weeks later, that is no longer accurate–you’re all probably about to get to do some dunking.
We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but the rumors swirling right now are very credible. There’s still a decent amount of uncertainty, but that pertains more to the specifics rather than whether it’ll happen. Basically, questions of “where?” and “how?” rather than “if?” at this point. There are compelling reasons for a night parade to come to two different Walt Disney World parks–and for it not to come to each of those, as well.
Before you get too excited, please be advised that this is purely rumor at this point. Until a new nighttime parade is announced by Disney, nothing is certain. I learned long ago not to count my chickens before they hatched, as many rumors never come to fruition.
Even ones that are so close to announcement and coming to fruition. I’m not getting excited just yet, even with the odds being in our favor. We have been burned by night parade rumors in the past, but this time just feels different.
For those who have never experienced Paint the Night at Disneyland Resort or Hong Kong Disneyland, think of it as Main Street Electrical Parade for the new generation. The core concept of the light parade is the same, but the execution has been technically modernized, as has the soundtrack and the Disney characters represented.
In its full form, Paint the Night parade has eight units: Tinker Bell Opening Unit, Monsters Inc. Unit, Cars Unit, The Little Mermaid Unit, Belle Candlelight Unit, Toy Story Unit, Incredibles Unit, Mickey & Friends Finale Unit. It features Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” as its theme song.
Previously, the Disneyland Resort version of the parade featured a “Frozen Fractals” float and performers. This float no longer exists, and was replaced by the Incredibles float for Pixar Fest a few of years ago at Disney California Adventure.
If Paint the Night were to come to Florida, it’s unclear which of these floats would make the move. There are a variety of factors at play–from float and costume maintenance to the physical toll some elements of Paint the Night takes on performers to turn radiuses in two of the Walt Disney World’s parks to available space in backstage storage facilities. (Speculation from me and not part of the rumor, but I would not expect to see Mack make the drive from California.) Of course, budget cuts are always a possibility, too.
Parades are labor-intensive, particularly as compared to something like projection shows. There are no doubt nightly costs incurred with running those, but they’re nowhere near what a night parade would cost.
Given that Paint the Night sat backstage at Disneyland for so many years instead of temporarily moving to Magic Kingdom suggests to me park management was already eyeing decreased operational costs.
Even without a night parade, we can say with a high degree of confidence that at least one parade will be returning to Walt Disney World in early 2022.
Currently, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade is running during Disney Very Merriest After Hours. Once that event concludes, it’s possible the Christmas parade will transition to daily ops for (what’s left of) the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s.
Following that, it’s likely at least some of those same performers who were recalled for Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade will shift over to Festival of Fantasy Parade in early 2022. (Probably February or March–January would be too quick of turnaround time.)
That’s not a rumor–just what we’re surmising from the circumstances and operational logistics. For what it’s worth, the return of a night parade would pose no operational impediment to Festival of Fantasy also coming back. This is not part of the rumor, simply what’s potentially feasible.
Ultimately, Walt Disney World fans could be on the precipice of receiving some very good–and frankly overdue–news. It’s my strong belief that Walt Disney World fans “deserve” a night parade, and I’ve made it clear for a while that it’s a colossal shame that today’s generation of young guests doesn’t get to conclude their day with that awe-inspiring spectacle.
Beyond that, bringing a night parade to Florida would provide a desperately needed goodwill win for Walt Disney World. After all of the price increases, nickel & diming, debut of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, cuts to things like Disney’s Magical Express, Extra Magic Hours, on and on–fans could really use some positive news and a reason to feel less cynical. Hopefully we get that in the very near future. We’ll keep you posted!
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Has your Walt Disney World experience been negatively impacted by the lack of a night parade? Would you like to see Paint the Night come to Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Which is your ‘preferred park’ for a night parade? Any other questions or comment? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
Hey Tom, it’s been quite a while and obviously we haven’t gotten a night parade. have you heard any more recent rumors about this? I sorely miss the night parades. I only ever knew Main Street Electrical Parade, but I absolutely loved it, and it was always the highlight of my trips. Such a shame that current generation fans don’t get that experience.
LOVE LOVE LOVE Spectro Magic. I can hear the electrical music that makes your heart excited no matter how many times one has seen this parade. Sitting on the curb, waiting, anticipating while eating an ice cream cone. Nothing in the world like it. I have witnessed people weeping because it seems to bring hope and peace with all of the different guest from countries represented.
It was the dessert to end a delicious day.
BRING IT BACK TO FLORIDA.
I loved SpectroMagic, but it cannot come back. Walt Disney World left the floats outside when MSEP came to Magic Kingdom, the floats rotted and were destroyed. SpectroMagic doesn’t exist anymore.
Yes, I too loved Spectro Magic As it was there at my first Disney world trip. It was one of the most anticipated things I could not wait to see. It did not disappoint and I had tears.
Also liked electrical parade.
Have not been since 2013, and will not return until there is a night parade at Magic Kingdom.
Still waiting. Thanks .Please.
i’ve said it before and will say it again, a night parade is ten times better than a day parade. i’d much rather spend an hour waiting for a night parade, given the difference in heat index alone, among other things. 3pm is that cranky part of the day, and not just for kids. i’d honestly much rather they stick with the small cavalcades during the day and be spontaneous, and have a permanent night parade.
spectromagic will forever be my all-time favorite disney parade. i still cry if i hear the music. it was just so wonderful, and it’s unnecessary demise still brings the angry tears. there is no reason at this point that wdw has gone so long without a permanent replacement. if they brought paint the night, that would be huge, even if modified. we got to see it once and it’s really amazing, the tech is phenomenal. it’s no spectromagic, but it’s WAY better than msep.
100% agree with everything you’ve said here.
I sincerely loved Spectromagic. The music, the lights, the floats… I wasn’t a fan of the Electrical parade. I would LOVE to see Paint the Night come to WDW. It woukd certainly make the 50th anniversary so much more special. I’ve only seen video of this parade, and it’s stunning. I can’t imagine what it woukd be like in person. With all the inflated costs to visit Disney, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an experience that just 10 yrs ago, was an almost nightly show. Perhaps that is a way to cut costs and bring the parade back. Have it on selected nights, in peek times, every night.
I also miss spectro magic. I grew up with it and wish my grandkids could see it.
Nighttime parades, in my opinion, are one of the defining features of a Disney World vacation. The Magic Kingdom has felt so much less magical to me without the nighttime parade. I feel like all of the many changes to the nighttime routine have compounded to make for a comparatively frustrating, unpleasant close to many a Magic Kingdom evening. The nighttime parades, in addition to providing an exciting, beautiful and joyful experience, used to stretch crowds out from Splash Mountain all the way to the Main Street tunnels. When castle projections came to the park, there were often two separate 10-minute shows that occurred before and after the separate fireworks show. This, again, allowed crowds to stagger. Some of the best fireworks views back then were from Frontierland and Fantasyland. Nowadays, there is only one nighttime show to cap your MK day, and it’s designed to be viewed from one angle. This causes anyone hoping to see the show to cram into the forecourt and Main Street areas so tightly that I’ve seen more than one physical altercation between guests. Add in the modern reality of every second person in possession of a smart phone feeling like they must take video of the entire show and anyone under 5’6″ is essentially forced to watch the fireworks through one of the hundreds of smart phone screens blocking their sight lines to the fireworks. (Tip – unless you are a professional filmmaker, YouTube has countless videos of this show that will be better than the video you are taking). I guess this whole scenario is ideal for Disney- Operational costs are lower, while the misery of staking out and protecting viewing spots has prompted people to pay $100 a head for $10 worth of desserts and a less claustrophobic viewing spot. Best of all for Disney, the masses have voluntarily collected themselves near the park exit, rather than spreading out closer to the e-ticket lines they might like to jump into right before park closure. It’s probably obvious that I am one of those Disney fans that Tom is talking about – in desperate need of a reason to feel goodwill toward the company again. I truly hope we see Paint the Night come to Lake Buena Vista!
When my kids were young they were not fans of parades ( still aren’t) and when they were old enough they would go off and do rides while I watched the parade. But to be honest I can take it or leave it.
Back in high school, my marching band performed at Disney for a week each year, kicking off various parades and the nights we got to kick off Spectro Magic were always my favorite. I haven’t seen a night parade since those trips (2005 would have been the last one). I would give pretty much anything to see a night parade return.
Truly an alternative universe.
Please bring back the night-time parade experience!
After visiting Disney World over 25 times since 1992, and as an AnnualPassholder since 2016, I am once again anticipating a Disney Nighttime parade before we are too old to visit!
Please make our Happy Place even more special again!
Out of all the changes implemented by Disney executives over the last half century, nothing has been more disappointing than the discontinuation of the night parade at the Magic Kingdom. This parade has always been the highlight of our friends and family members trips to the Magic Kingdom over the years and one of the “must sees” each time we vacationed in Central Florida. Whether it was crowd control or cost cutting factors that contributed to the suspension of this parade, Disney management should make every effort to bring the nighttime parade back to the Magic Kingdom if not every night then at least on selected nights. I feel confident I speak on behalf of hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of loyal Disney visitors regarding this issue.
I am so sad to hear there is no longer a night parade. When I took my kids that was one of our favorite parts and I recently told some friends that were going to make sure to see the night parade because they would love it! So disappointed.
Absolutely miss evening parade!
My number 1 thing to do in Walt Disney World!
So, I am crushed at the thought of it not returning!
I have a grandchild now and I certainly wanted to share that magic with him as we did with our son!
Thank you for the information. We have been annual passholders since we purchased our very first ones in the Official Ocala, FL Disney “outpost” so many years ago. We have raised 4 daughters and two grandsons by many visits to Disney World over the years. I planned our schedule and the schedules of many friends (by way of a spread sheet) the hours and days the Spectromagic Parade was “active” radiating such beauty and magical vibrations that always brought tears to my eyes, especially the very end of the parade. Ever since I purchase my cell phone that allowed me to choose my “ringtone” many years ago , I have only had One: “Spectromagic”. I truly miss this part of Disney World and the experience that was once offered. So sad, it’s gone. Dreams do come true. Maybe one day the Spectromagic Parade will vibrate to they who have never experienced such wonder and beauty.
Still very disappointed that the Magic Kingdom has no nighttime parade. Resorts with no theme and a Kingdom without beautiful music and colorful lights on Main Street. Tragic! Wishes, SpectroMagic and the Main Street Electrical Parade all had music that was unforgettable. I can’t remember how Happily Ever After sounds after numerous viewings. That’s how you know if something has lasting quality.
I’m very disappointed that the night parade is not performed any more.
I have planned a trip to Disney for my grandson’s 8th birthday just so he could see this parade. This has me rethinking my options. It’s like a deal breaker. Come on Disney bring back the night parade.
I have fond memories of the Main Street Electrical Parade when I was a child; as well when I took our son; now, I want to experience the same magical moments with our granddaughter.
Please bring the parade back. I was spellbound with the twinkling light.
We enjoyed a trip to the Magic Kingdom with our grandaughters last July. We were very disappointed that the night parade was no longer there. I agree that it, along with the fireworks, was a perfect ending to a “magical” day at WDW. Please bring a night time parade back for the enjoyment of all!