Walt Disney World Character Cavalcades, Motorcades, Flotillas & Cruises
There’s no question that the Covid-19 pandemic stripped a lot of the pixie dust from the Walt Disney World Resort. Parades and stage shows were halted, meet-and-greets were canceled, characters were pulled from restaurants—and that’s just to name a few of the less-than-magical modifications to hit The Most Magical Place on Earth.
But believe it or not, there were a few positive changes to come from this turbulent time, like the popular Disney character cavalcades. In fact, even with the return of character meet-and-greets (including autographs and hugs), character dining and entertainment offerings like Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade and Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, character cavalcades show no signs of stopping anytime soon.
So, exactly what is a Disney character cavalcade? Where and when are they? Which characters can you see? And, most importantly, are they worth your precious vacation time? (Spoiler alert: Most definitely!) Read on as we break down everything you need to know about this quick and easy character experience.
Things to Know About Disney World’s New Character Cavalcades & Flotillas
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a cavalcade is a procession of riders, carriages, vehicles or ships, or, alternatively, “a dramatic sequence or procession.” If you’re thinking that sounds a whole lot like a parade, we couldn’t agree more. But just what does a cavalcade mean at Walt Disney World? Let’s dive in and take a look.
What are character cavalcades at Disney World?
In general, a Disney character cavalcade is like a pint-sized parade. Rather than a 20-minute-long spectacle of costumed dancers and popular characters waving from over-the-top floats, a character cavalcade is short but sweet, consisting of only one or two floats (or boats, cars or carriages, depending on which Disney park you’re visiting) and a few of your favorite Disney characters on foot.
These miniature processions are over and done in just a couple of minutes or less (the longest tops out at a mere two minutes and 30 seconds). As a result, they’re ridiculously easy to squeeze into an already jam-packed day. A chance to see your favorite characters without having to wait in line or stake out a seat forever? Yes, please!
Where are all the character cavalcades at Disney World?
Technically, Magic Kingdom is the only park at Disney World with character cavalcades, with each animated processional following the same parade route used by the Festival of Fantasy. That said, you’ll still find these parades-in-miniature at other Disney World theme parks, albeit with different names and formats. At Animal Kingdom, for example, multiple characters set sail around Discovery Island on their own Discovery River character cruise or flotilla.
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, meanwhile, Disney Junior or Pixar characters used to coast down Hollywood Boulevard from the backseat of a convertible during a character motorcade. As for Epcot, you could previously enjoy a princess promenade, with royalty riding in a covered, horse-drawn carriage, or see Mickey and Minnie embark on a “world tour” around World Showcase in an old-fashioned convertible.
Are Disney Parks still doing cavalcades, motorcades and flotillas?
Yes and no. Although the character cavalcade and Discovery River cruise is alive and well at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, respectively, sadly, you can no longer enjoy the star-studded motorcades and promenades at Hollywood Studios or Epcot. This is largely due to the return of character meet-and-greets, as well as character meals at the likes of Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot and Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios.
That said, it’s hard to say whether the mini-parades will be a long-term fixture, especially with the Magic Kingdom parade making a comeback. So, we recommend you take advantage of these convenient entertainment offerings while they’re still around.
What characters are in Disney cavalcades?
All sorts! From iconic favorites like Mickey and the gang to regal Disney Princesses to rarer Disney friends like King Louie and Goofy’s son, Max, there’s a character cavalcade for fans of all kinds. The most characters can be seen in the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade at Magic Kingdom Park, which touts around 30 characters.
How many character cavalcades are at Disney World in 2023?
Due to the triumphant return of Disney parades, meet-and-greets and character dining experiences, there aren’t as many character cavalcades at Disney World as there were during the height of the pandemic. While you could previously enjoy several different pint-sized processions at each of the theme parks, there are now only two Magic Kingdom character cavalcades and six Animal Kingdom character flotillas. We’ll dig into each of them in a bit.
How often are cavalcades at Disney World?
That depends on which Walt Disney World park you’re visiting. With Festival of Fantasy back in action, Magic Kingdom character cavalcades run much less frequently compared to character flotillas at Animal Kingdom, which each float down the Discovery River seven times a day, or roughly once per hour.
While at Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade cruises down Main Street, USA three times a day, once every few hours, while the all-out character extravaganza that is the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade is only offered once or twice daily, depending on how busy the park is. Be sure to check out the My Disney Experience app to see the current list of showtimes during your visit.
What time are the cavalcades at Disney World?
As we just mentioned, character cavalcade showtimes vary greatly from park to park. Additionally, the number and timing of showings are always subject to change, with more appearances added on or taken away in the busy season or during inclement weather. We have included the current showtimes for each of the new character cavalcades below. However, for the most up-to-date cavalcade schedule, refer to the My Disney Experience app.
Are Disney character cavalcades worth it?
Absolutely! In our opinion, no trip to Walt Disney World is complete without seeing some Disney characters. After all, it all started with a mouse (Mickey Mouse, of course). However, as magical as meet-and-greets, character meals, parades and stage shows can be, these experiences can often take up a lot of time, especially if there’s a long line to see your favorites, or, in the case of character dining, no advance reservations are available.
That’s what makes character cavalcades so great and, not to mention, well worth your time. Since they happen so quickly and relatively often, cavalcades offer the perfect little hit of pixie dust and Disney character fun without the time commitment and schedule rearranging that comes with seeing a parade or show or waiting in line for a character greeting. You can even fit one in on your way to your next attraction. Talk about convenience!
All the Character Cavalcades at Walt Disney World in 2023
So, what character cavalcades can you see at Walt Disney World this year? Whether you’re hoping to see Mickey Mouse and some of his Fantasyland friends parade down Main Street, U.S.A. or watch as everyone’s favorite Wilderness Explorers set sail down the Discovery River, here are the current cavalcades offered at Disney World for 2023.
Character Cavalcades at Magic Kingdom Park
Magic Kingdom has seen a massive downsizing when it comes to cavalcades, dropping from seven processions to a meager two. On the bright side, this is also where you’ll find the grandest Walt Disney World character cavalcade of them all: the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade.
Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade
In honor of The World’s Most Magical Celebration, Disney World’s 50th anniversary, don’t miss Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade. This Magic Kingdom cavalcade features the EARidescent 8, classic characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and Chip ‘n’ Dale, who are all dressed up for the occasion in their snazziest party clothes.
Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade characters include: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, Goofy and Chip ‘n’ Dale
Showtimes (subject to change): 10:45 AM, 1:35 PM, 4:25 PM
Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade
For a dazzling array of Disney’s most adventurous characters, be sure to check out the Adventure Friends Cavalcade. With more characters than any other cavalcade at Walt Disney World and two compass-bedecked floats, this impressive display is a must-watch. See everyone from lovable Disney animals like Clarabelle Cow and The Lion King‘s Timon to Disney Princesses and Pixar characters.
Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade characters include (subject to change):
Mirabel Madrigal from Encanto
Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon
Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie from Aladdin
Max Gooffrom A Goofy Movie
Elena of Avalor
Stitch from Lilo & Stitch
Merida from Brave
Miguel from Coco
Moana from Moana
Terk from Tarzan
Pocahontas and Meeko from Pocahontas
Baloo and King Louie from The Jungle Book
Mulan from Mulan
Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl from The Incredibles
Mary Poppins and Bert from Mary Poppins
Marie from The Aristocats
Woody and Jessie from Toy Story
José Carioca and Panchito Pistoles from The Three Caballeros
Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from Zootopia
Timon from The Lion King
Showtimes (subject to change): 5:10 PM
Magic Kingdom Cavalcade and Parade Route
As we mentioned earlier, all Magic Kingdom cavalcades use the same parade route as Festival of Fantasy, with floats stepping off in Frontierland near the upcoming Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, rolling through Liberty Square and in front of Cinderella Castle, then finishing on Main Street, U.SA near the Main Street Train Station. However, it is possible that cavalcades may have a shortened route, starting and finishing on Main Street with a loop around the hub.
Previous Magic Kingdom Character Cavalcades
With the return of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, character greetings and character dining, there aren’t as many cavalcades available at Magic Kingdom as there were in the thick of Covid-19.
Instead, you can now meet characters at their normal locations, including Princess Fairytale Hall for Disney Princesses, Thotful Spot for Winnie the Pooh and his crew, Town Square Theater for Mickey Mouse and, starting Sunday, January 15, 2023, Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus for Disney friends like Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy. And while you can’t meet them, you can often see the Country Bears waving at guests from a balcony overlooking Frontierland.
Past Magic Kingdom cavalcades and their characters include:
Mickey and Friends 50th Anniversary Cavalcade – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Pluto
A Goofy Cavalcade – Clarabelle Cow, Goofy, José Carioca and Max
The Royal Princess Processional – Belle, Cinderella, Elena of Avalor, the Fairy Godmother, Jasmine, Merida, Rapunzel, Snow White and Tiana
Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade – Aladdin, Alice, Gaston, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh
Tinker Bell & the Lost Treasure – Tinker Bell
Hundred Acre Wood Cavalcade – Eeyore, Piglet and Rabbit
Character Cruises & Flotillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
If it’s short-but-sweet character sightings you’re after, then you can’t beat Animal Kingdom. This wild park offers six different aquatic character cavalcades—AKA flotillas or Discovery River cruises (and yes, we also find the two different names a little confusing)—which float lazily down the Discovery River.
Adventure Flotilla – Disney Ducks
See two feathered Disney friends from DuckTales as they cruise around Discovery Island in search of their next big adventure.
Adventure Flotilla characters include (subject to change): Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack
Just like Walt Disney and his wife Lillian, Mickey and Minnie love a good adventure, especially when accompanied by their best pal Pluto. Give them a hug at Adventurers Outpost, then watch them cruise by on their flotilla.
Mickey and Friends Flotilla characters include (subject to change): Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Pluto
Animal Kingdom Flotilla and Discovery River Character Cruise Route
As you can probably tell from the name, Discovery River character cruises and flotillas encircle Discovery Island. As a result, you’re able to see these on-the-water cavalcades meander past from any of the bridges, one of the waterfront dining pavilions for Flame Tree BBQ or the grandstands that formerly overlooked Rivers of Light.
Previous Animal Kingdom Character Cruises and Flotillas
Like the rest of Walt Disney World, character meet-and-greets have returned to Animal Kingdom. So, not only can you watch Mickey and Minnie sail by on their flotilla, but you can also meet them at their official meet-and-greet location at Adventurers Outpost. Looking for Donald Duck and Daisy Duck or Chip ‘n’ Dale? Head over to DinoLand USA for Donald’s Dino-Bash!
Past Animal Kingdom flotillas and their characters include:
Donald’s Dino-Boat Bash – Donald, Daisy and Launchpad McQuack
Goofy & Pals Set Sail – Goofy, Chip and Dale
Character Promenades at Epcot
Previously, Epcot was home to three different character cavalcades, or promenades, as they were known at this edu-taining park. Each of the lively processions traveled around World Showcase, making for an animated addition to your day of drinking and eating around the world.
However, as character greetings have returned, you can now find characters like Disney Princesses at their respective World Showcase pavilions, such as Snow White in Germany, or meet Mickey in the Imagination Pavilion near the Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival. Alternatively, you can also dine with your favorites at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall or Garden Grill Restaurant. Refer to the My Disney Experience app for current character meet-and-greet times and locations.
Past Epcot promenades and their characters include:
Princess Promenade – Aurora, Belle, Jasmine and Snow White
Frozen Promenade – Anna and Elsa
Mickey and Friends World Tour – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy
Character Motorcades at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Like Epcot, you can unfortunately no longer see your favorite Disney friends roll down Hollywood Boulevard during a character motorcade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Instead, you can mingle with them at their designated meet-and-greet locations, including Mickey and Minnie at Red Carpet Dreams on Commissary Lane and Disney Junior pals in the Animation Courtyard.
Toy Story Land is a hotspot for Pixar characters like Woody and Jessie, as well as the iconic Green Army Men, who star in their very own mini-parade: the Green Army Drum Corps. And while they didn’t have a motorcade, you can even spot some Star Wars characters like First Order stormtroopers and Resistance members like Rey and Chewbacca as they roam about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge greeting guests.
Of course, you also won’t want to miss Fantasmic, which also made its return in 2022. Although this incredibly popular stage show doesn’t offer any up-close character interactions, the thrilling production features a star-studded cast of characters and is the perfect way to conclude your day in the park.
Past Hollywood Studios motorcades and their characters include:
Mickey and Friends Motorcade – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip and Dale
Pixar Pals Motorcade – Buzz Lightyear, Edna Mode, Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Green Army Men, Woody, Jessie and Sulley
Disney Junior Stars Motorcade – Doc McStuffins, Fancy Nancy and Vampirina
Holiday and Weather-Related Character Cavalcades
But, that’s not all! You can even see some special character cavalcades when the weather is bad or during holidays like Christmas and Earth Day. In fact, although there are many new character cavalcades at Disney World, these miniature parades aren’t a new phenomenon. Disney has long used an abbreviated parade as a stand-in for their full-length displays when it’s raining.
Holiday and weather-specific cavalcades include:
Rainy Day Cavalcade at Magic Kingdom
Santa Claus Merry Motorcade at Hollywood Studios
Koda and Kenai from Brother Bear for Earth Day at Animal Kingdom
Santa Claus Festive Flotilla at Animal Kingdom
Well, that wraps up our guide to Disney World cavalcades. Which one is your favorite? Which canceled cavalcade do you miss the most? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how to stretch your travel budget with our Disney World discount tickets.