"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! (LEAPS NOTE: I suggested Rainbow Connection, but that was too on-the-nose). This parade has been missing from Disneyland Park for 20 years, and it's great to see it back through August 20, 2017. 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 with our guide—Best Viewing of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland
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.
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 THREE to FOUR 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 awhile, 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. ou can jump in place only 15 to 20 minutes before the show. You can access it across from the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction.
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 fireworks are over you can hop onto a curb 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!
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.
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 parade dining packages?
If you do not want to camp out for a parade location, there are two dining options that offer vouchers for preferred parade viewing locations. Reserve up to 60 days in advance through Disney Dining. The Main Street Electrical Parade Dining Package at the Blue Bayou includes a 3-course prix fixe meal plus admission to a viewing location (usually on Main Street). There are also Grab & Go meals from Aladdin’s Oasis that include a voucher for preferred viewing of the parade (usually by “it’s a small world.”) Viewing locations are subject to change. There are no refunds due to the parade being canceled.
Are there disabled guest viewing areas?
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.
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. We've noticed that the Los Angeles area has been getting a lot more rainfall this year than in the past. While the rain is much needed, it can be frustrating when it rains on your parade. 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 5 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 could be affected by heavy winds.
We were so happy to put on our new Main Street Electrical Parade souvenir light-up ears and watch the opening night of the parade. It had been storming all day, but the weather was dry leading up to the parade. The park waited until the last minute to make the official call, and the crowd roared with excitement to learn that our waiting had paid off. We had 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 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, 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.