"Disneyland proudly presents, our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination ..." Those words get my froggy goosebumps going!
I've been feeling toadally nostalgic now that the Main Street Electrical Parade has returned to Disneyland for a limited time, through Sept. 1, 2022. The nightly parade turns 50 in 2022, and to celebrate its big birthday, it has returned to Disneyland Park. It has a new "50" on the side of the first float to celebrate! 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.) We are so hoppy that this nostalgic parade is back!
This year, a new grand finale brings up the end of the parade and celebrates the theme of togetherness. Inspired by Mary Blair's iconic art style from "it's a small world," the new finale represents over a dozen Disney Animation and Pixar stories. You can see the characters as animated dolls. Characters come from classic and new stories such as "Encanto," "Raya and the Last Dragon," "Coco," Mulan," "The Jungle Book," "Aladdin," "Brave," "The Princess and the Frog" and more. The new finale is one of the longest and grandest parts of the parade, stretching 118 feet in length with seven segments. Spoiler alert: If you watch the parade on Main Street U.S.A., projections on the buildings follow the finale float! If you miss the old finale, the float was refurbished to create the new one, so technically it's still there!
In other big news, there are new themed foods, an Elliott Dragon light-up popcorn bucket and a light-up turtle sipper! These items are limited to two per person per purchase. There is also a parade dining package that we will get into later. All of this is available in Disneyland Park throughout the season.
Main Street Electrical Parade Quick Tips
We will go into all of this in detail below, but here are a few quick tips we offer based on our experience on opening night.
- Watch the second parade by hopping in place as the fireworks end.
- Purchase the Plaza Inn dining package 60 days in advance at 6 a.m.
- If you don't have a package and want to watch the first parade, be prepared to be in place by 6:30 p.m. (But be scouting much earlier in the afternoon/early evening as most spots will be gone by 6:30 even though people are not supposed to sit for the parade until 6:30).
- Look for the shortest lines for the sipper and popcorn bucket (move away from Main Street U.S.A.)
- Plan ahead for dinner. Set up your mobile orders for dinner time earlier in the day. If you wait until 6:30 p.m., you'll see the lines and windows are too far out to work for you. If you are in place by 6:30, either bring dinner or snacks with you or have your mobile orders already in place. Send one person to collect it.
- Get a locker early in the day if you plan to buy a lot of merchandise or want to stash clothes for later. You can store coats, hats and any merchandise you buy. Large lockers sell out early.
- Look at the weather and bring warm clothes or layers if needed. We enjoyed having hats and jackets at night. We brought a beach towel to sit on, which was a good move as our curb for the second parade was quite sticky due to someone's earlier soda spill.
- If park hopping, hop to Disneyland a few hours before the parade starts. On opening night, Disneyland Park reached capacity and stopped letting park hoppers in for some time.
- You can buy Main Street Electrical Parade merchandise in both parks (but not buckets and sippers). Check Mobile Order in the morning to see if you can order the sipper or popcorn bucket.
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/projection show. The entertainment calendar is only available up to six weeks in advance. You'll have to check the exact days closer to your visit. Check our Los Angeles Crowd Calendar for parade times, but based on past parades, expect to see the show at about 8:30 p.m. (starting at "it's a small world") and 10:15 p.m. (starting near the Main Street, U.S.A. train station and returning to "it's a small world"). Actual parade times and details may vary.
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 which direction the parade is coming from).
Some viewing areas fill in early — really early. Technically, you are not supposed to camp out and sit for the parade until 6:30 p.m. It's a really tough call on when to hop in place, and demand may vary for each night. Cast members can ask guests to get up and leave before 6:30 p.m. However, by 7:15 p.m., announcements were made that the parade viewing areas were completely full.
In normal times, we've seen people snagging spots about two and a half hours early. Now post-pandemic, excitement for the parade is at an all-time high. We highly recommend hopping on a curb as fireworks end for the second parade and skipping the first parade if you can stay up late. That will allow you to get dinner and go on rides while the rest of the park is fighting for curb space 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, 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. Again, cast members discourage camping out before 6:30 p.m. Here's a tip: Something to watch out for is when cast members start putting the ropes up for pedestrian crossing areas (about 6:30 p.m.). The ropes may narrow the crossing area and slightly increase the size of the viewing areas. People can jump into those spaces or the crowd may shuffle to make a little more room.
We found 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. It provides a good view of the parade above the rest of the crowd. Your photos of taller floats may come out better from being raised up a bit and with a little distance. Projection on the “it’s a small world” façade accompanies the finale floats. You can access it across from the Storybook Land Canal Boats attraction.
Another great high 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. It will be easier to get a good spot for the later parade than the first parade. After the fireworks (or nightly projections show) is over, you can hop onto a curb or bench and get ready for the next parade. You'll have less than an hour wait, which is much better than the wait for the first 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 and relax. As time goes on, you may even find some spots down near the train station (perfect for that post-parade quick park exit) shortly before the second parade starts.
What if I want to see fireworks too?
If you plan to watch the fireworks as well, 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. For ease, do not plan to move about during 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. 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 for fireworks. Be packed up and ready to move at the parade end. The sidewalks then become the walking areas.
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. We like the Main Street, U.S.A. viewing location because of the projections on the buildings. The parade ends and then you hop into the street right away. There are only a few minutes before the fireworks begin so you do not have a lot of time to move anywhere else.
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).
Is there a video so we can see which side of the parade to sit on?
There sure is! Tad filmed the opening night of the parade. He filmed both sides of the finale so you can see all the character dolls in detail! Which side of the parade do you want to sit on? We sat on the same side of the street for both parades so we could catch each side of the new finale.
Are there any dining packages?
If you would rather get a reserved viewing location for the parade, opt for a dining package from Plaza Inn. It's such a time saver! Vegetarian options are typically 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. Reservations are available online and in the Disneyland app, and they tend to book up right away at 6 a.m., 60 days in advance.
Dining times are 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. All guests will receive a voucher for the day’s first performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The viewing area is separate from the dining area. It's located across from the Train Station. Lunch is $40 per adult; $25 per child (ages 3 to 9) – tax and gratuity not included. Magic Key discounts apply to this meal.
What's on the menu? The adult Dining Package menu includes:
- World-famous Plaza Inn fried chicken
- Oven-roasted carrots
- House-made smoked mac and cheese
- Bacon and pickled onion wedge salad served with house-made ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles
- Mickey-shaped sweet honey cornbread
- Decadent berry cheesecake
- Choice of one beverage: 20 oz. fountain beverage or 20 oz. Dasani water
The child Dining Package menu includes:
- World-famous Plaza Inn fried-chicken tenders
- Oven-roasted carrots
- House-made smoked mac and cheese
- Apple sauce
- Mickey-shaped sweet honey cornbread
- Decadent berry cheesecake
- Choice of one beverage: small Dasani water or small low-fat milk
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 p.m. to 3 p.m. receive a voucher for the day’s first performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The voucher says to arrive between 8:15 and 8:45 p.m. for an 8:45 parade start, but you'll want to arrive earlier than that as all the curb spots will be taken by then. Wheelchairs are lined up at the back of the section. You'll need your voucher and credential to get in, and you'll need to wear your credential while in the viewing area.
If you want to watch the second parade, you can hop in place after the fireworks 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 and some fun desserts at Jolly Holiday Bakery Café.
Here's a look at Main Street Electrical Parade foods, treats and beverages:
- Snail float candy apple
- Cheshire cat cake pop
- Fantasia ice cream — a nostalgic blend of cherry, pistachio and banana ice cream featuring chipped pistachios and cherries in a Uni-cone (white chocolate-dipped waffle cone with fantasy sprinkles). This was sold out on our last visit. The cast member was not sure if it would be back.
Refreshment Corner (Our favorite Disneyland secret menu item returns for the parade!)
- Firefly Chips are back! These affordable corn chips topped with chili, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and jalapeños are something we have been asking about ever since the parks reopened. At $4.59 before any discounts, this is a hoppin' deal.
- (New) Electric Relish Dog: All-beef hot dog, bacon, mustard cheese sauce, electric relish and sport peppers served with a choice of a Cuties mandarin orange or small bag of chips
Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe (available on Mobile Order)
- (New) Parade Macaron: Yellow macaron filled with honey buttercream and lemon curd topped with rainbow sprinkles and Main Street Electrical Parade drum decoration
- Mine Cart Brownie: White chocolate-dipped dark chocolate brownie topped with sugar gems
- Linzer Cookie: Citrus shortbread Linzer cookie with strawberry glaze
Hub Churro Cart
- (New) Blueberry Looks Good on You: Blueberry-flavored sugar-dusted churro
- (New) Blueberry Cheesecake Dipping Sauce: Blueberry fruit topping with cream cheese icing
Fantasyland Theatre and Small World Popcorn Carts (hop tip: may have a shorter line)
- (New) Electric Sweet & Salty Popcorn: Colorful sweet kettle corn combined with butter-flavored popcorn
Fantasyland and Small World Churro Carts
- (New) Electric Sprinkle Dip: Citrus buttercream frosting with sprinkles
Plaza Inn (plus parade dining package)
- (New) Parade Confetti Bundt Cake: Confetti cake with blue sopapilla filling, cream cheese glaze and Main Street Electrical Parade chocolate décor
Red Rose Taverne (available on Mobile Order)
- (New) Pineapple Night Light: Fresh pineapple purée and Sprite with a glow cube
Town Square Churro Cart
- (New) Parade Dreams: Colorful sugar-dusted churro with fruit drizzle garnished with rainbow candy
Town Square Popcorn Cart
- (New) Electric Pop: Brightly-colored kettle corn
Parade Route Carts
- Main Street Electrical Parade cotton candy and colorful popcorn
Available at Various Locations throughout Disneyland Park throughout the Summer Season:
- (New) Light-up Turtle Premium Sipper — Sold out on day two but expected to be available again this summer.
- (New) Light-up Elliott Dragon Premium Bucket — Limit two per person, per transaction while supplies last. Availability may vary throughout the season.
- Lightbulb Sipper
OMG, these items are toadally cute! (However, the lines to get them are not so cute.) Speaking of popcorn, there is an Electric Pop-colored kettle corn available at the Town Square popcorn cart. That cart also sells the buckets (and may have a shorter line than carts on Main Street). We also saw the buckets in Frontierland.
Other Parade Merchandise
Other merchandise is available in both parks. If you do not see much out in stores, ask at the registers because they keep some items behind the counter. The Loungefly ears are just as cute in the back as in front. You can get parade pins, Whishables, plushes and light-up necklaces that have a sound mode that lights up to the music.
Some items will arrive in summer. This includes the spirit jersey, fan, shirt, hoodie and T-shirt. You can get a light-up 50th-anniversary balloon ($18) along the parade route.
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 spring and summer months. The parade cannot run in the rain or if the ground is wet. It's possible for Disneyland to cancel or reschedule the parade due to rain. If you are visiting on a rainy day, watch the hourly weather. 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 the 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 that live in water, but the trash bag 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 showtime. We were right in front of the crossing area, which means our view was not obstructed. Tad recorded the parade.
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. Enjoy 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.
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