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Every Magical Detail of the Magic Happens Parade at Disneyland

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back!

Our Frog Family digs Disney magic. We get chills from watching fireworks, Fantasmic! and World of Color. Then, our hearts flutter over all of the magical moments in Disney movies when we watch as a family. You know those kinds of moments: A fairy godmother appears and waves her wand to turn rags into a sparkling gown and mice into coachmen. So you can understand our excitement about the Disneyland parade, "Magic Happens," which showcases some of those magical Disney moments in real life! "Magic Happens" returned Feb. 2 for more magical moments in 2024!

This colorful daytime parade was the first new daytime parade in nearly a decade! "Magic Happens" features floats and characters from many classic and modern Disney stories. There are over 90 performers in the parade, and more than two dozen of them are Disney and Pixar characters. The dancers are in colorful costumes, and their enthusiasm is magically mood-lifting! There are also fun tiny details that give us new things to look for on floats each repeat visit.

"Magic Happens" parade usually runs twice a day (usually at 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 or 6:30 p.m., depending on the season). In April in May 2024, the parade has one 3 p.m. showing Monday through Thursday and two showings at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. So definitely check the entertainment schedule. We do not have an end date for this parade, but in 2023 it ended mid-October to make way for A Christmas Fantasy Parade, which runs during Holiday Time.

Also, if you are a parade lover, don't miss Better Together: A Pixar Pals Celebration! at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Disney California Adventure. This parade is part of Pixar Fest, running April 26 through Aug. 4, 2024.

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Dancers Here’s what you need to know about "Magic Happens," including what to expect from this radiant daytime parade, where to get the best viewing location and the whole dish on the dining package. We were hopping up and down on that parade route opening weekend so we've updated some photos for this spectacular parade. We added some to our Instagram stories @ThemeParkFrog! Tad filmed it for our YouTube channel in case you just can’t wait to see it in person.

What to Expect in the Magic Happens Parade

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Mickey on float

Mickey Mouse waves his magic wand from atop an iridescent float to lead the parade of dazzling floats and beautifully costumed characters. Mickey is joined by Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale. The float has a 15-foot-tall sorcerer's hat (whoa!) and is set to a high-energy musical score that was co-composed by former cast member and singer/songwriter Todrick Hall, weaving in classic Disney tunes. Its hip-hop feel and upbeat tempo will have you wishing on a star and dancing along! A second song accompanies the grand finale floats. It combines musical themes from Disneyland's "Remember the Magic" parade and "Wishes" and "Remember ... Dreams Come True" fireworks spectaculars. The result is pure magic!

Magic Happens Parade Floats and Characters

All of the Magical Details of Disneyland Magic Happens Parade - Dancers before Moana

After Mickey Mouse and his pals kick off the parade, you'll be treated to many more floats and characters from various Disney movies, including some that have never been in a Disneyland parade before!

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Moana float

When you see the "Magic Happens" parade, you’ll get to celebrate Disney and Pixar characters in their magical moments from the following movies:

  • “Moana” — Moana journeys by on her boat, riding a towering wave. Dancers in blue make waves to lead the way. The float is artistically inspired by koa wood carvings and has dazzling LED screens to offer animated images of magical ocean-based moments of Disney and Pixar characters. Look for Gramma Tala represented at the top of the float in manta ray form. Maui follows on his own island with Moana’s pet pig, Pua. The percussion instruments that follow the Moana float are inspired by traditional Polynesian drums. Can we talk about the real show-stopper? Keep an eye out for Hei Hei!
  • “Coco” — Miguel makes his debut as a person at the Disneyland Resort (we’ve only experienced a puppet version at Disney California Adventure). Exciting dancers in flowing dresses set the scene. Miguel strums the guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz while joined by Dante and fantastical alebrije spirit animals, bridging the Land of the Living with the Land of the Dead. Watch the top of the bridge for glimpses of Dante magically transforming as he leaps across the bridge. A pair of skeletons perform on a stage, and a dozen singing chihuahuas bring up the rear. The float is decorated with 30,000 vibrant marigolds and is almost 36 feet long! Dancing alebrije animals and a giant puppet come roaring behind. Oh, the colors!

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Frozen float an inside bend in Town Square

  • “Frozen II” — Anna and Elsa head into the unknown to explore the mysteries of an enchanted forest with Olaf. The huge float follows forest dancers in red and white. Let it snow! Can we say that we get all the feels from Kristoff and his cart walking through the falling snow, following his pal Sven (who's on the back of the float)? Nokk, the horse-shaped water spirit, leads the way. The large snowflake behind Elsa incorporates elemental symbols that represent water, fire, earth and wind. The float is so complex that you cannot see all of it at once unless you are seated on a bend. It reveals itself as it passes you.

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Coco float with Dante leaping

Grand Finale Floats

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Merlin and ArthurThe grand finale celebrates many magical characters and moments from classic Disney films such as "Aladdin," "Pinocchio" and "Peter Pan." The Sleeping Beauty float is joined by smaller floats depicting magical moments from "The Princess and the Frog," "Cinderella" and "The Sword in the Stone." (Is it just me, or is anyone else feeling the urge to put on Disney+ to re-watch some old Disney classics?) The following floats are part of the finale:

  • Experience the moment Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother transforms her pumpkin into a carriage to whisk Cinderella off to the ball. Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
  • The Sword from "The Sword in the Stone" — We are in love with the eccentric Merlin. He waves his wand and leads the way for young Arthur, who magically pulls the sword from the stone to claim his place on the throne. Keep an eye out for Archimedes and the two squirrels, who represent the part of the film in which the characters transform into squirrels.
  • The Kiss from "The Princess and the Frog" — See Tiana and Naveen share a kiss among a swirl of flowers during the moment they turn from frog to human form. Ribbit!
  • Once Upon a Dream from "Sleeping Beauty" — Fairy godmothers Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are revolving atop turrets as Aurora's shimmering gown changes colors from pink to blue and back again. This is the tallest float, with the top turret reaching about 30 feet tall! Aurora and Prince Philip dance as this grand finale float is joined by the other smaller floats. When Prince Philip dips Aurora, it just might be the most romantic parade moment we've experienced.

While the Disney characters and floats are, indeed, magical, it's the dancers and their avant-garde wardrobes that give this parade its energy.

How to Get the Best Viewing of the Magic Happens Parade

All of the Magical Details of Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade - Beginning Dancers

Each weekend day has two parades. Parade times are generally 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (but check the schedule for the day you visit!). No matter which parade time you decide to catch, the ticket to good, free viewing is to invest some time. With a new parade, people will be lining the streets to get a good view, which means getting in place a few hours early. Chances are, the longer waits will be for the first parade. We see people starting to get in place two hours early. Keep in mind that the second parade will be in the dark, at least for a short while before the time changes. Check it out if you can because the illuminated floats look so pretty at night!

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Coco Dancers

If you are viewing the second parade, you might find it easier to hop in place as soon as the first parade passes by and the first viewers leave. We like to use this waiting time as rest time. Bring snacks and take a moment to rest your aching flippers! Need some suggestions? These are our favorite Disneyland Snacks! (Is there ever a bad time for food shaped like Mickey? I didn’t think so!) If you want something more substantial, we also have some favorite on-the-go Disneyland foods. Or, you could fill up with the dining package and secure reserved viewing (see below).

Magic Happens Parade Disneyland - Colorful Dancers

It’s important to know the direction of the parade. Why is that, you ask? Because you want the best view with the best angle without distractions. Generally, the first parade begins at “it’s a small world” and runs toward the front of the park. The second parade generally begins at the front of the park and ends at “it’s a small world.” You want to be able to see the parade coming and maybe even see it make a turn so you can see more sides of the dancers and gorgeous floats. We love being on the outside of the circle in the hub to see all of the intricate details of the floats as they make their way around the bends.

All of the Magical Details of Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade - Moana DancerWherever you sit, you do not want to be sitting behind one of the main crossing areas. At intervals, cast members will let large groups of people cross the street, and if you are sitting on the ground, you’ll be missing the approaching floats. It’s so distracting from the magic! You can, however, sit just in front of these crossing areas so that your experience is uninterrupted.

It’s also good to know which direction the parade is traveling because it can help you gauge when it will appear. The parade may start at 3:30 p.m., but you might not see it until about 3:50 p.m. if seated near the end of its route.

The areas around Main Street, U.S.A., tend to fill up quickly — as well as any benches, curbs and shady spots around there. If you walk toward “it’s a small world,” you might have better luck finding a spot.

If you cannot secure front-row seating, go high! This parade has tall floats and some details can be hard to see when seated on the ground right in front of them. You'll want to catch Dante leaping across the bridge in the Coco float and get a closer look at Sleeping Beauty's shimmering dress! There is an elevated area across from “it’s a small world” with great views of the parade. We also enjoy sitting up near the train station by the park entrance. You can see the parade from above there.

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - CinderellaIf you are not sure if a specific roped area is seating for the parade, ask a cast member. We got moved from a corner near the hub so the dancers would have more room to pass. You do not want the disappointment of camping out for an hour, only to find out that you have to move once there are no more spaces left. But sometimes what looks like a non-viewing area is empty and just waiting for you to claim it. So always ask!

Be sure to check the weather. The parades usually do not run in the rain. Let’s hope for some of that sunshine Southern California is so well-known for! Sunshine means hats, sunglasses and sunscreen for comfortable waiting and parade viewing. (That is one of the reasons people fill up the shady spots first!) A small umbrella provides shade while you wait. Put it away before the parade starts so you do not block anyone's view. We always aim to be considerate of others.

Magic Happens Dining Package

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Voucher and lanyard at check-in spot

You can get a Plaza Inn Magic Happens dining package to get a reserved spot to watch the parade. We tried it and here are our thoughts: The food is really good! The parade-viewing spot is fine, however, it's best to arrive an hour before parade time (that's 30 minutes before the voucher recommends that you check in) if you want to sit on the curb. Other guests tend to line up along the curb and there are not enough front-row curb spots for everyone. You'll line up in Town Square between the flag pole and the popcorn cart. The line will wrap around the flag pole.

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Adult meal

This dining package includes an adult or child meal and a voucher for reserved viewing access to the second Magic Happens Parade performance. The viewing area is usually across from the train station in Town Square, near the start of the second parade. Reserve meal pick-up between 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. Reservations are open now up to 60 days in advance.

Disneyland's Magic Happens Parade Is Back! - Tiana float at nightThe adult meal is $55 plus tax and includes tender short rib and fried chicken with pesto mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. It also includes a really cute dessert and a choice of a fountain beverage or Dasani water. (Plant-based options are available.) If you have a Magic Key, you can apply your discount to this package.

The child meal is $28 plus tax. It includes chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables with a dessert and choice of Dasani water or milk. (Plant-based options are available.)

Dining packages are not available during Disney After Dark Events and on holidays.

2024 will be a hoppin' year with the Magic Happens parade, the Season of the Force celebration and Pixar Fest, which brings a daytime parade to Disney California Adventure. Planning to hop to Disneyland to catch all of the magical new fun? Your favorite froggy friends can help you save some green if you need discount multi-day Disneyland Resort tickets and hotel bookings in the Anaheim and Los Angeles area!

Related: The Ins and Outs of Disneyland Dining Reservations

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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May 17, 2023 at 4:52 p.m. abigail melissa morales cermeno Says...

until when will the magic happens parade run i am hoping to visit in July, Magic happens parade is my favorite parade

Reply
May 17, 2023 at 12:57 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Abigail!

Disney hasn't announced an end date for the Magic Happens Parade, but we think it'll still be around in July! Though we'd recommend checking the Entertainment Schedule (which currently only goes out until the end of June and is released about six weeks in advance) as it gets closer to your potential travel dates to confirm.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Apr 25, 2023 at 6:46 p.m. Kawal Says...

Hi is this parade an everyday event now? Planning to visit in late June 2023 and really want to show this to my daughter.

Reply
Apr 26, 2023 at 8:43 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Kawal!

Yes, the Magic Happens Parade usually occurs twice every day (we always recommend double-checking the schedule on the day of your visit to confirm times).

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Mar 19, 2023 at 12:01 a.m. Tammy Pruitt Says...

Hi

We were @Disneyland Thanksgiving week 2017 & 2019. We saw A Christmas Fantasy Parade both trips.

This was years ago & we have been to Dwd in 2021 & 2022. We love both !! But my kiddo wants to go to DLand this coming Dec/holiday season. With the new Toon Town opening after remodeling.... & Mickey & Minnie's Runaway too( we love it at Hollywood Studios)

I'm wondering if the Magic Happens parade will be during the day in addition to the Christmas parade. Or just Christmas parade?

He loves the parades , fireworks & meet & greets. Me too :)

If they will not have it, I'm wondering if maybe around new year's eve or day or 1st week of January.... The Magic Happens parade will start back - if they pause it during Christmas holiday time period.

Thanks so very much!!

Reply
Mar 21, 2023 at 2:19 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tammy!

We have the same questions! Unfortunately, Disneyland has not specified how this holiday season will work with the parades and fireworks yet. As soon as we have the answers, we will update our Disney 100 and holiday guides. You can guarantee there will be some kind of parade and fireworks show. Just which ones remains to be seen, so stay tuned :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Feb 25, 2023 at 4:18 a.m. Elizabeth Says...

How is the reserved viewing from the dining package compared to spot you can get on your own? Is the view a decent one and how early do you have to get in a spot with the package compared to getting one on your own?

Reply
Mar 1, 2023 at 3:22 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Elizabeth!

The reserved area is specifically for the second parade and it's across from the train station since the parade starts near the front of the park. It’s a decent view, but you're facing away from where it's coming instead of being across the street and seeing it make the turn toward you (which is what we prefer!). Otherwise, if you want to find your own spot, just keep an eye on the parade route up to two hours before parade time and choose a bench or curb or area where you could see it well. The first parade starts at "it's a small world" so being in the hub or near the castle with a view of the Matterhorn allows you to see it coming. But for the second parade, you may want to be on Main Street.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
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