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Electrical Parade” unplugged, sent back East as DCA preps for “Disney’s World of Color”

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Electrical Parade” unplugged, sent back East as DCA preps for “Disney’s World of Color”

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It was kind of interesting hearing the reaction yesterday when Meg Crofton, president of The Walt Disney World Resort, revealed that the “Main Street Electrical Parade” would be returning to the Magic Kingdom this summer.

When Ms. Crofton initially made this announcement at WDW’s “What’s New, What’s Next” presentation, a cheer went up in the Milk House at ESPN Wide World of Sports. But then – as all the reporters & bloggers moved over to the Josten Center for a tailgate dinner party – questions began to arise about the wisdom of Disney’s decision to move MSEP from DCA to the Magic Kingdom.

“I don’t get it,” said one unnamed Disney webmaster as he dug into this huge plate of chili cheese fries. “Just last year, Disney teamed with Sylvania to upgrade & improve this parade for California Adventure. They spend all that money. And then – after just one year – they ship this parade off to Disney World. Does that make any sense to you?”

The Seven Dwarfs lead the way in the Main Street Electrical parade in Disney's California Adventure
Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer. Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

No, not really. Perhaps if this were 2011 and the Resort was getting ready to celebrate its 40th anniversary, then it might make sense for WDW to bring back the MSEP. Especially when you take into consideration that the very last time that the “Main Street Electrical Parade” rolled through the Magic Kingdom was April 1, 2001.

But no. That’s not what’s happening here. This classic parade isn’t coming back to Disney World for 2011. The “Main Street Electrical Parade” should be running through the Magic Kingdom again by mid-June. Which just seemed ... Well, a trifle weird to myself and my fellow Disney webmasters.

Which is why -- once I got back to my hotel room -- I made a quick call to a friend out in Anaheim. Someone who’s fairly high up in the food chain at The Happiest Place on Earth. And they then told me the real reason that the Electrical Parade will be spending the next summer or two back East.

Concept art of Pocahontas for Disney's World of Color
Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Long story short: Disneyland Resort officials anticipate that there’s going to be this huge learning curve when it comes to the Operations side of “Disney's World of Color.” Not only for the technicians who have to make sure that all of the underlying technology & infrastructure is working properly so that Steve Davison’s latest extravaganza can then be presented multiple times nightly. But also for those Cast Members who will be handling crowd control. Who now have to invent a procedure for safely moving 9,000 Guests in & out of Paradise Bay’s still-under-construction waterfront viewing area. Not to mention keeping tabs on those 9,000 other DLR visitors who have already queued up for “World of Color” ‘s second show of the night.

And given that many of the very best viewing spots for “Disney’s World of Color” will basically back up against that still-quite-active construction site for DCA’s “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” attraction … The worry in-house was -- to attempt to do all this (i.e. get 9,000 people safely loaded into Paradise Bay’s new waterfront viewing area, run that show, then exit all of those Guests from the official WOC viewing area, while still maintaining control over those 9,000 other Disneyland visitors who are patiently waiting in line elsewhere in the Park to see “World of Color” ‘s second show of the night) PLUS still run “Disney’s Electrical Parade” through the Park on hot summer nights -- was a recipe for disaster. Especially when you take into consideration how narrow so many of DCA’s paths, walkways & entertainment corridors are these days thanks to all those construction fences.

Obviously something had to give. At least on a temporary basis. Which was why a decision was made that -- at least for the first summer of "Disney's World of Color," while Cast Members learned the ropes on this new Steve Davison show -- "Disney's Electrical Parade" would glow away. The only problem was … Given the large amount of money that the Company had just spent on upgrading & improving this classic parade, not to mention installing all of those new LED lights … It just didn’t make sense -- from a fiscal point of view, anyway -- to mothball DEP.

Tinker Bell rides in the Mai Street Electrical Parade in Disney's California Adventure
Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer. Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But then a WDW official supposedly heard about the Disneyland Resort’s predicament. And given that this exec was reportedly privy to DLR attendance figures (More importantly, he had seen the positive impact that last year’s “Summer Nightastic!” promotion had had on this Resort’s bottom line) … He allegedly proposed replicating “Summer Nightastic!” at Walt Disney World. Right down to having Tink lead off the MSEP by riding in her new Disney Fairies-inspired float. Which obviously take its inspiration from Ms. Bell’s balloon-based adventures in that 2009 Disney Home Premiere, “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.”

So now comes the big question: How long will the “Main Street Electrical Parade” linger at WDW’s Magic Kingdom? My understanding is that – should “Disney’s World of Color” actually prove to be the sort of Operational challenge that many DLR vets seem to think it will be – this classic parade could wind up hanging on in the Lake Buena Vista area for at least a year. Maybe two.

Mind you, even when the “Main Street Electrical Parade” eventually does return to Anaheim, that doesn’t automatically mean that this classic parade will continue to roll through DCA. You see, for quite a while now, there’s been talk of the MSEP returning to Disneyland. At one point, this parade’s long-anticipated return to The Happiest Place on Earth was going to be the centerpiece of Disneyland’s 55th anniversary celebration. But now … Well, according to what my guy in the Team Disney Anaheim building has heard, 2015 could be the year that an all-new version of the MSEP starts rolling through that theme park. With many of its more beloved floats being artfully reimagined using the latest innovations in luminescent technologies.

Tinker Bell rides atop her float in the Main Street Electrical Parade in Disney's California Adventure
Photo by Paul Hiffmeyer. Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

So how would you folks feel about that? Disneyland getting a reimagined version of the “Main Street Electrical Parade” just in time for that theme park’s 60th anniversary celebration? Does that seem like a bright idea to you?

Your thoughts?

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  • Ugh. I know, I know, I'm the only person on earth who doesn't like the Electrical Parade.  It's just that SpectroMagic is so much better.  And it gets no love, because EP was the one running in the 70s when everybody was young.  Meh.  

    Call me when they bring SpectroMagic back to the Magic Kingdom.

  • Yay!!!  I'm really excited- I've never seen the MSEP, since I moved to Florida in 2004, and it was gone by then.  I do like Spectromagic very much though- will Spectromagic not be shown the whole time the MSEP is running?

  • I guess that it all makes sense. This seems to be one of those things worked out well with all of the Disney Parks under one management umbrella.

  • I think it sounds great.  They won't need anything else - including an old parade - to bring people into DCA at night after World of Color opens.  

    We saw the MSEP in WDW back in 2000, and it was fun to see it there.  Sorry, Shelley, but I never understood the allure of Spectro.  I just find it annoying and a good time to head for the rides.  MSEP hasn't been to WDW in 10 years, so it sounds good to me to bring it back for a limited run.  And they haven't seen this version yet anyway.  Better to keep it running in front of a new audience than to sit in a warehouse somewhere, and Spectro can probably use a rest anyway.

    And then to upgrade the MSEP and send it back "home" to DL, where it hasn't played in like, 20 years?  I'm sure lots of DL purists will howl about how it was supposed to have "glowed away forever," but having a new upgraded version for a major anniversary sounds like a winning combination to me.  

    I look forward to it all!

    Sue in TX

  • Shelley- I love MSEP, but I too prefer Spectro. As does my entire family. So you're not alone!

  • Count me in as one of the Spectro-fans. It's a beautiful, magical, inspiring parades. Last time I was at WDW I bought a CD of the parade soundtrack. It's really an upper for a down day. As for MSEP, I've actually never seen it. How does it compare?

  • MSEP music is much better, IMO.  The SpectroMagic theme is catchy but it just repeats through the whole parade.  Baroque Hoedown also repeats through the whole MSEP, but it's mixed in with themes appropriate to the passing floats.

    That said, I've not seen the MSEP since well before it left WDW, but as I recall the floats were a bit dated, focusing on Alice in Wonderland and Pete's Dragon of all things.

  • I guess it was too difficult to send the MSEP back to DL? Especially when the MK has Spectromagic? Odd.

  • MSEP's cool, but it's going to the wrong Magic Kingdom. Bring the fool thing back to Disneyland, already - and not in five years!

    Honestly, if Disney really wanted to impress people, they would have figured out a way to bring Dreamlights from Tokyo to Florida; Tokyo's version of the MSEP is longer, and has lighting effects that make the revamped parade from DCA look outdated. But this whole "Summer Nightastic" promotion has the feel of something that was slapped together on the fly so that WDW would have SOMETHING new to encourage people to stay on-property and not run off to Universal to see Potterland.

    Lotsa luck with that, guys.

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