Dragon

The Dazzling Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland

The Main Street Electrical Parade is one of Disneyland’s most iconic and beloved nighttime entertainment offerings. Debuting at Disneyland on June 17, 1972, this spectacular display of lights, music, and Disney magic has been delighting guests for over 50 years.

A Brief History

The Main Street Electrical Parade was created by Disney legends Robert Jani and Ron Miziker, who served as director and producer respectively. It was inspired by the Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World, taking the concept of lights on barges and adapting it for a parade with Disney characters and floats. Some key dates and events in the Main Street Electrical Parade history:

  • June 17, 1972: The parade debuts at Disneyland, with over half a million lights on floats themed to Disney films like Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Pete’s Dragon.
  • 1977: A version of the parade opens at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.
  • 1996: After a 24-year run, the Disneyland version concludes its regular performances.
  • April 2017 – August 2017: The parade returns to Disneyland for a limited-time showing, in honor of its 45th anniversary.
  • June 2022: Another limited-time return to Disneyland is announced, celebrating 50 years of the iconic parade.

Over its lifetime, the Main Street Electrical Parade has brought joy to millions of guests at Disney Parks around the world, with versions appearing at locations like Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris as well.

Main Street Electrical Parade Disneyland Full Show in HD

When to Catch the Magic

The parade typically has two showings per night at Disneyland. For its 50th anniversary run, the scheduled times are:

  • First Parade: 8:45 PM
  • Second Parade: 10:45 PM

These times are subject to change, so check the Disneyland app during your visit for the most up-to-date schedule. The second parade often has smaller crowds, as many guests have left the parks for the night after the early showing and fireworks. But if you don’t mind staking out a spot early, the first parade presents gorgeous photo opportunities with the lights shining on a dark Main Street backdrop.

Finding the Best Views

With its glowing lights and music, the Electrical Parade delivers magic wherever you view it. But if you want the full immersive experience, consider these prime spots:

Main Street USA

The classic backdrop of Main Street provides perfect theming for the parade’s retro vibes. Stand across from the Refreshment Corner for a central view as the parade makes its way towards you, or camp out in Town Square to be right up close as it passes by.

It’s a Small World

The parade kicks off its route here, letting you see all the floats in their full glory without any obstructions. The area also has snacks and restrooms nearby to make the wait more comfortable.

Rivers of America

Posted up across from the Frontierland Shootin’ Exposition, you’ll get great glimpses of the parade floats framed by the charming New Orleans Square architecture.

Plaza Inn

Dining Packages

If you want guaranteed seating for the Electrical Parade without spending hours waiting for the perfect spot, Disneyland offers a dining package at Plaza Inn:

  • Cost: $40 per adult, $25 per child (ages 3-9)
  • Time: Dine between 1 PM – 3:30 PM
  • Includes: Fried chicken meal, dessert, and reserved parade viewing

This package books up quickly, so reserve your spot as early as possible. Taxes and gratuity are not included in the pricing.

Snacks

Parade Snacks

  • Parade Confetti Bundt Cake – A confetti cake with blue sopapilla filling, cream cheese glaze, and Main Street Electrical Parade chocolate decorations. Available at Plaza Inn for $5.99.
  • Uni-cone – Banana, cherry, and pistachio ice cream in a white chocolate dipped waffle cone designed to look like a parade drum. Available at Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor for $10.49.
  • Electric Relish Dog – All-beef hot dog with bacon, mustard cheese sauce, electric relish, and sport peppers. Served with chips or mandarin oranges. Available on mobile order at Refreshment Corner for $10.49.
  • Parade Macaron – Large lemon curd and buttercream macaron designed like a parade drum. Available at Jolly Holiday Bakery.
  • Electric Sweet & Salty Popcorn – Colorful kettle corn combined with butter popcorn. Available at Fantasyland Theatre and It’s a Small World popcorn carts.
  • Main Street Electrical Parade Cotton Candy – Blue cotton candy in a bag featuring Elliot the Dragon. Available at various locations.

Merch

Glowing Merchandise

In honor of the 50th celebration, Disneyland has released a whole collection of Main Street Electrical Parade apparel and souvenirs. Highlights include:

  • A spirit jersey with glow-in-the-dark artwork ($75) 
  • Commemorative pins with vintage Mickey Mouse and parade float designs ($18) 
  • Light-up LED wall decor featuring parade floats ($50) 

The merchandise is available across Disneyland Resort and on shopDisney.com to bring the magical memories home with you.

Creation of the Floats

Construction Process:

  • The parade floats are constructed by companies that specialize in making elaborate displays and floats, such as Silvestri out of Chicago, which made the original floats in 1972.
  • Much of the construction takes place in warehouses and facilities in California, as well as other locations like Chicago.
  • Building the floats is an intensive process involving welders, painters, electricians, engineers, and more to bring the designs to life.

Design and Technology:

  • The original 1972 floats featured flat, 2D screens on rolling platforms with lights, inspired by the Electrical Water Pageant. Over time, more dimensional designs were introduced.
  • Modern floats feature a mix of LED and incandescent bulbs to balance the classic look with improved technology. LEDs allow more control over lighting effects.
  • The floats operate on battery power that is recharged between performances. Using LED lights reduces the battery power needed.
  • Radio-activated triggers along the parade route synchronize the lights, music, and effects on each float as it moves along.

New Floats:

  • New floats continue to be added over time, like the Tinkerbell float, featuring a mix of LED and incandescent lighting.
  • The 50th anniversary finale float was inspired by Mary Blair’s “it’s a small world” designs and features representations of different Disney stories.

Old train

Conclusion

For over 50 years, the Main Street Electrical Parade has sparked joy and imagination with its dazzling lights synchronized to an electrifying synth soundtrack. This limited-time return to Disneyland offers a chance for nostalgic fans and new generations alike to enjoy a classic Disney creation. Take advantage of the dining packages, glow-in-the-dark merchandise, and prime viewing spots outlined here to make the most of your Electrical Parade experience. And as the tiny bulbs sparkle down the street, let your inner child bask in the spectacle of it all. The music, the lights, the magic – it’s a sight that must be seen to be believed!