When Will Magic Kingdom Get a Night Parade?

It has been over a year and a half since a night parade performed at Magic Kingdom. With no announced replacement on the horizon, Walt Disney World should easily cross the two-year mark. In this post, we’ll address the “rumors” of a new night parade at Magic Kingdom, our thoughts on the loss of SpectroMagic (etc.), and more.

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.

Per Disney, ‘Once Upon a Time’ was designed to be a companion show to ‘Happily Ever After,’ which might seem like a logical thing to surmise from the bookended fairytale names, but it’s not true. ‘Once Upon a Time’ was designed as a standalone show for Tokyo Disneyland. It was translated and condensed for Magic Kingdom, but any name-based similarity is mere coincidence. (I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Disney uses a lot of fairytale-style names.)

Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t watch both and think, “these really do a great job of enhancing one another!” Rather, I question how shows that are so similar in technology–but with one clearly inferior–are both shown most nights in Magic Kingdom. For me, ‘Once Upon a Time’ is no redundant (and expendable) now that ‘Happily Ever After’ has been added.

‘Happily Ever After’ is an excellent show; it’s the fireworks show Magic Kingdom has deserved for a while. Although I still find ‘Once Upon a Time’ better than nothing, it’s entirely forgettable with the new fireworks spectacular. A parade would be a better complement to ‘Happily Ever After,’ especially one that served as a spiritual successor to SpectroMagic, or was of the same quality as Dreamlights or Paint the Night.

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. If Walt Disney World creates a new nighttime parade, I hope it weaves SpectroMagic’s score together with floats that have the wow-factor of Dreamlights.

This brings us to the rumors about a night parade coming to Walt Disney World. In short, there are zero reliable rumors to our knowledge. One common refrain we’ve heard is that a new night parade will arrive as part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary. While I’d love to believe this, it seems more like wishful thinking on the part of fans than an actual rumor with any degree of veracity.

This seems to be a plausible scenario that has gained ‘traction’ among fans by repetition. Even assuming (a mighty big assumption) that someone, somewhere within Walt Disney Creative Entertainment is working on tentative plans for a night parade in 2021, there is no way any physical construction has started on floats, costumes, etc. (The operative word there is tentative.)

Until a new nighttime parade is announced by Disney–really until construction on floats is well underway–nothing is certain. I learned long ago not to count my chickens before they hatched, as the majority of blue sky rumors never come to fruition. Even after that, Disney has a penchant for diverting funds that were earmarked for one project towards another.

My biggest fear with regard to a night parade not happening is that October 2021, which is the date of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary, will be 5 years after the last running of a night parade in Magic Kingdom. That’s long enough for park management to become accustomed to no nighttime parade as the ‘new normal,’ especially if there is minimal blowback over the lack of a night parade.

Moreover, it’s long enough for park management to see several years of decreased operational costs by virtue of not having nighttime parade performers. Parades are labor-intensive, particularly as compared to something like ‘Once Upon a Time.’ There are no doubt nightly costs incurred with running that show, but they’re nowhere near what a night parade would cost. (Given that Paint the Night sat backstage at Disneyland instead of temporarily moving to Magic Kingdom suggests to me park management was already eyeing decreased operational costs.)

There’s also the possibility Walt Disney World is viewing current and projected attendance trends in Magic Kingdom and has decided that a night parade is not worth the logistical headache. At first blush, this sounds like a ‘better’ excuse, but what’s the difference between guests on the curbs waiting for a parade, and in the middle of Main Street, waiting for the projection and fireworks shows? The Hub redesign and crowd corridors should have helped alleviate much of this issue.

Given all of this, my suggestion to those who miss SpectroMagic or Main Street Electrical Parade is to not just “trust in Disney” that they will do the right thing 5 years after eliminating Magic Kingdom’s nighttime parade. Express your disappointment in the lack of a nighttime parade, and how that negatively impacts your trips. I’m not talking petitions or that sort of thing, as those are largely ineffectual. Rather, share feedback in guest satisfaction surveys, bring it up if you speak with managers or others in park leadership, or even contact Guest Relations.

The best way to keep parade-free evenings from becoming the new (long-term) normal in Magic Kingdom is by voicing your opinion. Even all of this is hardly any guarantee that Magic Kingdom will get a new nighttime parade, especially if the decision has already been made to permanently nix nighttime parades in Magic Kingdom. Our hope is that’s not the case, and Disney is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach with a new parade. In that event, reminding management of the importance of nighttime parades to the guest experience is a better approach than Disney’s fanbase sitting on our collective hands under the erroneous assumption that one will just magically appear for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.

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Your Thoughts

Has your Magic Kingdom experience been negatively impacted by the lack of a night parade? Would you like to see ‘Once Upon a Time’ replaced by a 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!

29 Responses to “When Will Magic Kingdom Get a Night Parade?”
  1. Dave & Deb April 26, 2020
  2. John Lenahan April 1, 2020
  3. Julie Dooley July 12, 2019
  4. Carmen Howard June 26, 2019
  5. Jim Peters April 19, 2019
  6. KenR March 27, 2019
  7. JANET BRYANT February 27, 2019
  8. nanette lew February 13, 2019
  9. Debbie Niebrugge January 12, 2019

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