Mommy Frog's Note: Hi ho! The Main Street Electrical Parade has returned to Disneyland for a limited time. You can catch nightly performances Aug. 2 through Sept. 30, 2019!
"Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination..." Those words get my frog goosebumps going!
I've been feeling toadally nostalgic with the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. I remember seeing it for the first time, eyes alight with joy, as a young froglet. Leap and I were introduced at our wedding reception to the music of the parade’s signature song, “Baroque Hoedown” — true story! (LEAP'S NOTE: I suggested Rainbow Connection, but that was too on-the-nose). It's great to see it back through Sept. 30, 2019. I'm pretty sure that we're not the only ones hopping to see it. If you're making your way to Anaheim, find a great viewing area for the parade with our handy-dandy guide.
Best Viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland
When does the parade run?
As it says in the opening narration, this festival pageant of nighttime magic only runs in the evening. Performances are held either once or twice a night, usually running before and/or after the fireworks show or sometimes earlier on nights without scheduled fireworks. Check our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar for parade times, but expect to see the show about 8:45 (starting at "it's a a small world") and 10:45 (starting near the Main Street, U.S.A. train station and returning to "it's a a small world").
Where is the best viewing spot?
The best viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade has to do with several factors — crowds, fireworks, parade direction, your patience level and whether you are seeing fireworks before or after the parade. If you want to watch fireworks from a specific location, see the next section below for our advice on managing both. The parade usually runs from “it’s a small world” toward the entrance to the park. If there is a second parade, it runs in the opposite direction. It is good to know where the parade is coming from because you’ll want to view it coming down the road and make sure you are not directly behind a pedestrian crossing point. Those people crossing the street right in front of you can really affect your photos or videos and interrupt your magic. (Let’s just say we learned that the hard way when watching Paint the Night once.) Now we make a point to be far away from or in front of the crossing areas for an uninterrupted view (and that means knowing what direction the parade is coming from).
Some viewing areas fill in early — really early. We've seen people snagging spots about two and a half hours early! Front row curb locations go first, especially on Main Street, U.S.A. and near Sleeping Beauty Castle. Then the curb locations near “it’s a small world” get snatched up. Many families put out blankets and towels or tablecloths to secure a spot and either rest for a while, have a picnic or have one person save the spot with the rest of the family returning 30 minutes before the show. If you do not wish to camp out, you can stand behind people. What we found was that the raised area to the right as you are walking toward “it’s a small world” from the Matterhorn is a great last-minute spot that gives a good view of the parade above the rest of the crowd. You can jump in place only 20 to 30 minutes before the show. You can access it across from the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction. Another great spot is the railing in front of the Main Street, U.S.A. train station. You are raised up above the crowd for an unobstructed view. You can stand within roped areas and may even score a bench! We enjoy the side closer to City Hall for the first parade and the other side for the later parade.
If there is a second parade, the crowds will be much thinner, and it will be easier to get a good spot than it is for the first parade. After the fireworks are over, you can hop onto a curb or bench and get ready for the next parade. It’s late, your frog legs are tired, and you will enjoy the rest at that point. Send a runner for snacks or hot drinks and kick back. Starbucks run! You can sometimes even find some spots down near the train station (perfect for that post-parade quick park exit) even minutes before the second parade starts.
What if I want to see fireworks, too?
If you plan to also watch the fireworks, it is easiest to watch the parade near your preferred fireworks location. In the evening, before and after the fireworks, the crowds are thick and slow-moving, so it is easiest if you do not plan to move about in that time. If you want to watch the first parade and get that iconic castle view of the fireworks, you are going to need to camp out. Start assessing the crowds about two to three hours before the first parade (depending on the crowd level). If you see people sitting on curbs and benches, it is time to claim your spot.
Some areas are designated walkways, such as the Partners statue in the hub. Others might be VIP areas, so be sure to check with a cast member if you are not sure. The parade runs on the Tomorrowland side of the traffic circle around the statue, so being on the curb of the Frontierland side of the traffic circle won’t give you a front row view, or even a good view (which is why that side of the castle fills in much later). Once the first parade ends, guests throughout Main Street, U.S.A. can file into the street (be packed up and ready to move at parade end) for fireworks, and the sidewalks then become the walking areas. You’ll want to choose a location that is not directly behind trees. You’ll want to see the sky above the castle. As mentioned, if you can wait for the second parade, you can hop onto a curb after fireworks and have a great parade viewing location.
On a recent trip, we watched the first parade on the raised area in front of the train station and then hopped down Main Street, U.S.A. to watch the fireworks near our favorite spot near Gibson Girl. We had no problem getting a spot. We do recommend walking on the City Hall side of the street because it take some time for the parade to clear the street on the other side of the circle and that may delay you getting in place.
If you enjoy seeing the fireworks but aren’t worried about getting that perfect castle view, we recommend watching the parade and fireworks near “it’s a small world.” You will have more elbow room for both shows, and you will actually be closer to where the fireworks are launched (behind Mickey's Toontown).
Are there any Dining Packages?
If you would rather get a reserved viewing location for the parade, you can purchase a dining package from Plaza Inn. Adults can feast on a lunch of fried chicken breast, pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, corn cobette, watermelon and corn bread with a New York cheesecake dessert. The kid’s meal includes chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, watermelon, corn cobette and corn bread served with New York cheesecake. Vegetarian options are available upon request.
Each Plaza Inn Dining Package includes one lunch entrée and one drink per person, one voucher that provides access to the parade’s reserved viewing area and one Plaza Inn credential.
Once you collect your food, you may dine at any of the available restaurant tables. Later that evening, you'll head to the special reserved viewing area for the parade, which is across from the Main Street U.S.A. train station (subject to change). Reservations made between 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM receive a voucher for the day’s first performance of Main Street Electrical Parade. Honestly, if you want to watch the second parade, you can hop in place a few minutes before the parade without investing any more time or money.
Are there designed viewing areas for guests with disabilities?
Guests using wheelchairs can watch the parade from any viewing location, but there are also some first-come, first served parade viewing areas for guests with disabilities. If you want a parade viewing location that is also good for watching fireworks, check with City Hall earlier in the day about reserving a wheelchair accessible space for fireworks because space is limited in that location.
Are there themed treats to enjoy during the parade?
We are so hoppy you asked! Yes, there are some special treats that are available along the parade route during the parade run. You can find some sweet treats at Candy Palace, a colorful cake at Plaza Inn, and some fun desserts at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. Refreshment Corner has revealed some of our favorite Disneyland secret menu items that have stuck around (but aren't on the main menu) from the last run of the parade: Firefly Chips, Chili Mac Bread Bowl and Firefly HotDog. At Carnation Café, the spicy chicken sandwich has returned and you can order a raspberry lemonade shake. Gibson Girl has brought back Fantasia ice cream — a nostalgic blend of cherry, pistachio, and banana ice cream featuring chipped pistachios and cherries — and the colorful Fantasia Waffle Bowl Sundae. You can enjoy these treats day or night though Sept. 30.
What if it rains?
It Never Rains In Southern California. While it's a popular myth (and semi-known song) that SoCal doesn't get rain, the winter months can bring some rainfall. Luckily, this parade run is during the driest summer months. The parade cannot run in the rain or if the ground is wet, so it is possible for Disneyland to cancel or reschedule the parade due to rain. If you are visiting on a rainy day, watch the hourly weather and check with cast members for the latest updates. If the parade is going to be canceled, the park will make announcements about five minutes before scheduled parade time. An alternate nighttime show that isn’t hurt by a little water is the World of Color show at Disney California Adventure. Both World of Color and fireworks can be affected by heavy winds.
Once when we saw the parade on a rainy day, we brought trash bags to sit on, protecting us from the wet ground — definitely a smart move. Yes, we're amphibians than live in water, but the trash bags is more a "method touring" thing that we do for you. Even though the park was the emptiest we had ever seen it — thanks, SoCal rain — we hopped into one of the last remaining front-row curb spots on Main Street, U.S.A. about 75 minutes before show time. We were right in front of the crossing area, which means our view was not obstructed. Tad recorded the first parade, which you can watch right here.
After the first parade, we park-hopped over to catch World of Color and then hopped right back for the second Main Street Electrical Parade. We were lucky to get a front row spot again last minute (and just in front of the pedestrian crosswalk). If you really don’t like to wait around or feel packed in, the second parade (if offered) is the way to go. Here’s to making hoppy memories with your family while taking a step back to a simpler time by viewing the Main Street Electrical Parade together!
Do you have tips on the best viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade? How many times have you seen the Main Street Electrical Parade? Have you seen it at Disneyland, Walt Disney World or even in Toyko? We'd love to know about your memories of this classic parade, so share them in the comments below.