The Main Street Electrical Parade is a regularly scheduled parade, created by Bob Jani and project director Ron Miziker, famous for its long run at Disneyland at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World at the Magic Kingdom Park. It features floats and live performers covered in thousands of electronically controlled lights and a synchronized soundtrack triggered by radio control along key areas of the parade route. The parade has also spun off several other versions that ran or continue to run at Disney parks around the world. Currently, an updated version runs at Tokyo Disneyland as the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights. In 2014, Hong Kong Disneyland premiered a spiritual successor to the Main Street Electrical Parade, the Paint the Night Parade, which, like its predecessor, features "Baroque Hoedown" as its theme song. An extended version of Paint the Night premiered at Disneyland on May 22, 2015 as part of the park's 60th anniversary celebration.
The original Disneyland copy of the parade ran at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom as "Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade" from June 5, 2010 to October 9, 2016, when it closed in preparation for a limited-time run at Disneyland in California starting on January 20, 2017, and was intended to run until June 18, 2017, scheduled to end one day after the 45th anniversary of the parade's 1972 debut, but was extended to August 20, 2017 due to popular demand by park guests.
The predecessor to the 1972 Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade is the Electrical Water Pageant, a show made up of fourteen 25-foot-tall (7.6 m) screens with electrical lights placed on them. The screens are placed on a string of seven barges that travel around the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, beginning at 9 p.m. at Disney's Polynesian Resort or immediately after the fireworks if they are scheduled for 9 p.m.
The Electrical Water Pageant still shows today. The Electrical Water Pageant has been showing since October 26, 1971, just weeks after the Walt Disney World Resort opened. In 1972, when the Main Street Electrical Parade debuted, some of the floats were flat screens on rolling platforms similar to the Electrical Water Pageant. The engineers who helped create the parade also created the first show-control program in existence. This allowed the 2000 foot long parade route to contain multiple radio-activated "trigger zones".
Using radio-activated triggers as each float entered a zone, the audience would hear float-specific music through the park's audio system. Each zone was between 70 and 100 feet long, and the zoned system meant that every person watching the parade would experience the same show, no matter where they stood along the parade route. Until 1977, some of the floats like the elephant train and the American flag finale were 2D and had to be pulled or pushed along the parade route. The Blue Fairy float was a 3D float, and ran until closing. The Big Bass Drum pulled by the Casey Jr. Engine, the Cinderella float and canopy, a Chinese dragon (later replaced by Pete's Dragon) and the circus calliope were all 3D.
The original 1972 Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade was designed by Hub Braden, an NBC Burbank Television art director, who had designed projects for Bob Jani, Disneyland Entertainment Division. The original parade units were built by a Chicago, Illinois, display company known for its holiday light displays along Michigan Avenue in Chicago. In 1974, the original parade was retired, to be replaced by the Bicentennial-themed America on Parade from 1975 to 1976. In 1977, a brand-new Electrical Parade was introduced to Disneyland. At the same time, it was also formally introduced to the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort, with the same layout. This new Electrical Parade featured a newly-recorded soundtrack with updated musical arrangements by Don Dorsey and Jack Wagner at United Audio Studios in Santa Ana, California. At Disneyland, this version of the parade ran until 1982, to be replaced by the Flights of Fantasy Parade, which ran from 1983 to 1984, concurrent with the "new" Fantasyland and the 1984 Summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles. Then, in 1985, the Electrical Parade returned for another run at Disneyland.
Meanwhile, the Magic Kingdom's Electrical Parade ran from 1977 to 1991. It was replaced by a similar parade called SpectroMagic, which ran from 1991 to 1999 and then reopened in 2001 and ended on June 4, 2010. In 1992, the electrical parade from the Magic Kingdom went to Parc Disneyland at Disneyland Paris and ran there until 2003.
From 1985 to 1995, Tokyo Disneyland had its own Electrical Parade, known as the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade, since this park does not have a Main Street USA, instead known as World Bazaar, and its parade route traverses the park, not going near World Bazaar. In 1995, it was then replaced by a new parade called Fantillusion, which ran until 2001. Then Tokyo Disneyland received its current night parade, Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights, which was a return to the style of the original with updated new music and floats.
Back in Disneyland, the Main Street Electrical Parade finally closed for good in 1996. Light bulbs certified as having been part of the show were sold to collectors. The replacement show, Light Magic, opened in 1997 and was an immediate failure. Disney quickly cancelled Light Magic but held off in bringing back the popular Main Street Electrical Parade. However, the parade was refurbished and appeared at the Magic Kingdom in May 1999 for a limited engagement, just in time for Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration. The parade ended its run at the Magic Kingdom on April 1, 2001 and SpectroMagic was brought back the following day.
The Main Street Electrical Parade floats were then sent back to California for the parade's return to Disneyland. These plans changed after Team Disney Anaheim saw the poor attendance figures for the spring break season at Disney's California Adventure and feared that the park would fail to attract large crowds during the crucial summer season, unless they had a big draw. So, on April 25, 2001, Disney announced that the popular Main Street Electrical Parade would be coming to Disney California Adventure Park on July 2, 2001, in honor of the first summer of the park.
The name of the show was changed from the Main Street Electrical Parade to Disney's Electrical Parade. Most of the 1996 parade floats returned, except for the Pinocchio Pleasure Island section and Snow White diamond mine float, which were sent to Parc Disneyland at Disneyland Paris in 1997. The parade has been offered during summer periods and selected weekends. It finished a nine-month hiatus during the 2005 off-season at the Disneyland Resort, which allowed replacement of lights on all of the floats and alteration of wording on the drum to "Disney's Electrical Parade, Presented by Sylvania".
On the 2008 Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade special, Disney announced that a Tinker Bell float would be added to Disney's Electrical Parade, which would make it the first new float to be added to the classic parade in 20 years, since the temporary Mickey Mouse's 60th Birthday float in 1988. It was announced at a press conference on April 24, 2009, that the Snow White and Pinocchio units would be returning as well. Disney started testing updated and new units in late May 2009. Most of the major floats have had new LED pixie dust effects added to them. This parade, with the new Tinker Bell float replacing the Blue Fairy, made its formal premiere on June 12, 2009. California's caterpillar received a new digital face in December 2009. One of the original turtle floats from the Main Street Electrical Parade was on display at the "technology section" of the D23 Expo.
Disney's Electrical Parade at California Adventure ended its run on April 18, 2010, and was sent to the Magic Kingdom as part of Walt Disney World's 2010 promotional package "Summer Nightastic!". Though billed as Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade, the title on the drumhead float was not changed from its run at California Adventure, still reading "Disney's Electrical Parade". While initially it was announced the parade would stay just through the summer, Disney has announced that the parade's run would be open-ended. On August 11, 2016, it was announced that the parade would be ending its run at the Magic Kingdom on October 9, 2016, at which time it would head back to Disneyland in 2017 for a limited-time encore performance.
Return to Disneyland
The parade's return to Disneyland is being heavily promoted, with a Main Street Electrical Parade-themed yacht featured in the 2016 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade, with Mickey Mouse as Grand Marshal. During ESPN's broadcast of the 2017 Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017, Disney began airing a 30-second television commercial announcing the parade's return. The commercial focuses on two workers restoring the parade floats in a large hangar filled with defunct Disneyland attractions such as Skull Rock, Skyway, Rocket Jets, Flying Saucers and PeopleMover; and characters and props such as the original Abominable Snowman from the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Captain Rex from the original version of Star Tours, Sam the Eagle from America Sings, the Mighty Microscope from Adventure Thru Inner Space, and the Sea Serpent from Submarine Voyage. The commercial ends with Elliott leading the parade out of the hangar with the tagline "IT'S COMING HOME". The parade premiered at a special ticketed event on January 19, 2017, after regular park hours. The original opening announcement has been restored and uses the same recording as it did during the parade's original run, lowered very slightly in pitch due to the fact that the Dreamlights-style soundtrack currently used in the parade is a slightly lower pitch than the original Baroque Hodeown. The parade is largely identical to its most recent runs at both Disney California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom, including the newer version of the soundtrack first heard in Dreamlights and the streak of pixie dust on the major floats, with the drumhead float updated to reflect the parade's original (and current) name, as the original did. As of the parade's premiere on January 19, Casey Junior has been moved up to the lead float of the parade, with the Tinker Bell float integrated into the Peter Pan sequence (with the balloon replaced with a large flower platform), and one of two floats from the parade's Pinocchio sequence has been omitted. Several weeks into the parade's run, the pixie dust effects added to the parade in 2009 were removed from every float except for the Tinker Bell float.
The Main Street Electrical Parade's underlying theme song is entitled "Baroque Hoedown." The original version was created in 1967 by early synthesizer pioneers Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley and appeared first on the album Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music from Way Out. Originally, the parade's soundtrack had the same themes as the current recording, but was a different arrangement by Jim Christensen and Paul Beaver. In 1977, it was updated and arranged by electronic music artist Don Dorsey and Jack Wagner at Jack Wagner Studio, which was used until January 2009 in Disney's Electrical Parade.
When the parade returned to Disney California Adventure in June 2009, it began using the updated, orchestrated DreamLights soundtrack from Tokyo, but with changes made as certain floats in the California parade are not included in the Tokyo parade. The soundtrack for the current version, the 2009 version of Disney's Electrical Parade, The Main Street Electrical Parade (currently running at Magic Kingdom), as well as Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade DreamLights version were arranged, programmed and performed by Gregory Smith. Smith also arranged the music for Disneyland's Remember... Dreams Come True show (which also contains a snippet of the original Don Dorsey arrangement, which then concludes in a grand orchestral finale arranged by Smith) as well as Magical: Disney's New Nighttime Spectacular of Magical Celebrations fireworks shows.
The soundtrack to the parade has been released numerous times:
Main Street Electrical Parade (1973 soundtrack) (Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort)
Main Street Electrical Parade (1977 soundtrack) (Disneyland and Magic Kingdom)
The Music of Disney: A Legacy in Song (1992) (Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort)
Fantasmic!: Good Clashes with Evil in a Nighttime Spectacular (1992) (Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort)
The Main Street Electrical Parade (1999 CD) (Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World)
Les Parades En Musique (2000 CD) (Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort Paris)
Disney's Electrical Parade (2001 CD)
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights (2001 CD)
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights- Show Mix Edition (2001)
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights ~Christmas~
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights (2011 Renewal Version)
A Musical History of Disneyland (Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort)
Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Disneyland (2015)
Dorsey used 11 synthesizers to create the soundtrack: Moog Model III, Mini-Moog, Steiner-Parker Synthacon, Oberheim 8-voice, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Fender Rhodes Piano, New England Digital Synclavier II, Bode 7702 Vocoder, Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter, Yamaha DX7 and Yamaha TX7.
Wagner provides the synthesized vocoder voice for the intro and outro to the parade. Bill Rogers provided the synthesized vocoder announcement when the Disneyland version of the parade made its first visit to Magic Kingdom in 1999. These same announcements were used when the soundtrack was updated, albeit with a pitch change to reflect the change in the key the soundtrack was in.
While the original soundtrack is played solely on synthesizers, the Tokyo Disneyland version uses an orchestra with adult and youth choirs in addition to harmonies and synthesizers. This version also includes Character voices in both English and Japanese. This version was also orchestrated, programmed, conducted and performed by Gregory Smith. During the Christmas season at Tokyo Disneyland, the Electrical Parade gets a new soundtrack; it is mostly the same soundtrack with added Christmas songs, mixed in with the theme music. For Tokyo Disneyland's 30th anniversary, a show stop was added to the parade, it includes a 2-minute Christmas medley; fireworks from Cinderella Castle are synced during the show stop as well.
The 2009 version of Disney's Electrical Parade at Disney's California Adventure, 2010-2016 version of Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, and the 2017 version at Disneyland utilize much of the soundtrack created for DreamLights, with new loops created for the Cinderella, Pinocchio, and To Honor America units. However, the new soundtrack retains a more electronic sound than that of Tokyo's in that many of the orchestral parts of the DreamLights soundtrack have been replaced by synthesizers in this version. While the Magic Kingdom edition used a newly-recorded vocoder intro instead of either of the versions used in 1977 and 1999, Disneyland's 2017 edition of the parade retained Jack Wagner's original vocoder intro from 1977, albeit pitch-shifted to match the key of the updated soundtrack.
Remixes, samples and parodies
A remix of the Electrical Parade (called the Retro Future Remix) was released on Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix, and contains audio resamplings from the Apollo 8 reading of Genesis.
In Japan, Walt Disney Records released a CD called DJ Digs Main Street Electrical Parade which featured the theme music remixed by Japanese DJs.
The Japan only House☆Disney album, also released by Walt Disney Records, contains a remix of the song by famous Japanese DJ Shinichi Osawa.
The album Eurobeat Disney 3, also only released in Japan, was done by the group A-Beat Power and features a remix of the song in Eurobeat style.
In 1998, a Disney Tribute Album entitled We Love Mickey ~ Happy 70th Anniversary (Walt Disney Records), featuring covers of Disney songs by Japanese artists, included a remake by the Eccentric Opera. The track uses samples from Dorsey's arrangement and Snow White. Lyrics appear to be in German and are from an unknown source.
A "Celtic"-inspired version was heard in the Main Street Electrical Parade's replacement Light Magic. Light Magic ran for one summer, never to return again.
In The Simpsons episode "Selma's Choice" Lisa could be seen dancing in a dazed state in front of the Duff Gardens Light Parade with a musical take off of Main Street Electrical Parade theme and background music.
Opening Announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: the Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Closing Announcement: "Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Opening Announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disney proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: Disney's Electrical Parade!"
Opening Announcement (until 1991): "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Walt Disney World proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: the Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Closing Announcement (until 1991): "Walt Disney World's Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Opening Announcement (from 1999 until 2016): "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the Magic Kingdom proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: the Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Closing Announcement (from 1999 until 2016): "The Magic Kingdom's Main Street Electrical Parade!"
Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade
Park: Tokyo Disneyland
Japanese Name (in Kanji): 東京ディズニーランド・エレクトリカルパレード
Japanese Name (in Romaji): Tokyō Deizunīrando Erekutorikaru Parēdo
Original Run: March 9, 1985- June 21, 1995
Opening Announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Walt Disney proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination, in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: "Tokyo Disneyland's Electrical Parade".
Japanese Name (in Kanji): 東京ディズニーランド・エレクトリカルパレード・ドリームライツ
Japanese Name (in Romaji): Tōkyō Deizunīrando Erekutorikaru Parēdo Dorīmuraitsu
Original Run: June 17, 2001–Present
Opening Announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Tokyo Disneyland proudly presents our most spectacular pageant of night time dreams and fantasy in millions of sparkling lights and brilliant musical sounds."Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: Dreamlights".
Opening Announcement: (1992-1995) "Mesdames et messieurs et vous les enfants, EuroDisneyland est fier de vous présenter son extraordinaire festival de magie nocture et d'enchantement. Dans une féerie de milliers de lumières, sur une musique electro-synthe-magnétique : the Main Street Electrical Parade!"
(1995-2003) "Mesdames et messieurs et vous les enfants, Disneyland Paris est fier de vous présenter son extraordinaire festival de magie nocture et d'enchantement. Dans une féerie de milliers de lumières, sur une musique electro-synthe-magnétique : the Main Street Electrical Parade
Closing Announcement: (1992-1995) "EuroDisneyland Main Street Electrical Parade!"
(1995-2003) "Disneyland Paris Main Street Electrical Parade!"
The Hercules Electrical Parade
On June 14, 1997, a variant of the Main Street Electrical Parade, the "Hercules Electrical Parade", ran on Broadway, Manhattan, New York City for the opening of Disney's New Amsterdam Theater and the film Hercules. Disney arranged for the lights to be all turned off on about 8-blocks of Broadway up to the theater. All businesses complied—with the exception of Disney rival Warner Brothers. It was led by a custom Hercules title unit made for this one time only use. It was shown on national television on a one-hour promotional program featuring the music and making of Hercules.
Opening Announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, inspired by Disney's Hercules opening weekend in New York, the Walt Disney Studios proudly presents, a spectacular of pageant of nighttime magic and imagination. In thousands of sparkling lights, and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds: the Hercules Electrical Parade!"
1978 Orange Bowl
On January 2, 1978, the other outside presentation of the Electrical Parade was presented during the halftime show of the 1978 Orange Bowl college football game.
Opening Announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Orange Bowl honors the most unique event staged in America in 1977: Disneyland and Walt Disney World's incredible spectacular of nighttime pageantry and imagination, in electrical sights and sounds, the "Main Street Electrical Parade"
Closing Announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, the Orange Bowl 1978 Spectacular of Lights!
Note on the changing order of the floats between Alice in Wonderland and It's a Small World:
2001- 2007: Peter Pan, Snow White, Pete's Dragon, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, A Bug's Life, Swan Lake, Cinderella
2007-2011: Snow White, Peter Pan, Monsters' Inc, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, Pete's Dragon, Cinderella, Swan Lake. (Note: Monsters Inc and Pete's Dragon swapped places again in Jan 2010)
2011- July 2015: Pete's Dragon, Snow White, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., Cinderella, Disney Fairies
July 2015-July 2017: Snow White, Pete's Dragon, Peter Pan, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Aladdin, Tangled, Cinderella, Disney Fairies
July 2017-Present: Disney Fairies, Pete's Dragon, Peter Pan, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Aladdin, Tangled, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen
Blue and Pink Mushrooms (They were dismantled and de-bulbed following the first of the two final public performances at Disneyland. They (along with the Train and Drum) were shipped to Walt Disney World for the parade's first return to Florida on May 28, 1999)