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New Disneyland parade mixes unique new look with tributes to great theme park parades of the past

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New Disneyland parade mixes unique new look with tributes to great theme park parades of the past

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As you watch Mickey's Soundsational Parade roll through Disneyland Park, this feeling of Disney déjà-vu is bound to come over you.

By that I mean: While this is obviously a brand-new parade with a look, style and sound all its own, there are just enough elements here that harken back to great Disney theme park parades of the past (EX: "America on Parade," which was this stylized celebration of the country's bicentennial that ran at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 1975 & 1976) that watching a performance of Mickey's Soundsational Parade has a pseudo-nostalgic feel.

Original paper model for the lead float in "America on Parade." Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Which - believe it or not - is just the feel that Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily were going for when they initially took on this assignment back during the Summer of 2009. Speaking earlier this month at the Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention, Kevin walked event attendees through their design process. As these two tackled their biggest project to date.

"Steve Davison (i.e. Vice President for Parades and Spectaculars at Walt Disney Imagineering) came to Jody & I and told us that he had this idea for a parade based on Disney music. He wanted something that could effortlessly blend the old & the new, the music of 'Snow White' with songs from Disney's more contemporary films like 'The Princess and The Frog' and 'Tangled,' " Kevin explained. "Plus he wanted something that - while it referenced the classic Disneyland parades of the past - wasn't the usual collection of giant fiber glass floats rolling by."

The Disney Princess unit in Mickey's Soundsational Parade
features Snow White, Briar Rose from "Sleeping Beauty,"
Cinderella, Belle from "Beauty & the Beast" as well as
the newest Disney Princess, Rapunzel from
"Tangled."  Photo by Shelly Valladolid

"And why did Davison reach out to Kidney & Daily?," you ask. Well, it wasn't just because Kevin had been a float designer on Disneyland's Party Gras parade, The Lion King Celebration, The World According to Goofy parade, The Hercules Victory parade and the Mulan parade. Or because Jody had recently designed the Pixar Play Parade for Disney California Adventure theme park. But - rather - because of Kevin's talent with paper sculpture.

"This is something that I started doing when I was back in high school, back when I was designing sets for the school plays and had no money," Kidney recalled. "Steve loved the paper sculptures that I do. And since he wanted something lighter, more lyrical for Disneyland's new parade ... Well, we looked at some of the parades of the past, took Steve's paper sculpture idea and then came up with a look for Soundsational."

Walt Disney and Mary Blair in the model shop at WED in early 1964. Please note
the sculpted paper model of a set from "it's a small world" on that worktable
directly behind Walt & Mary. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Just so you know, though: Paper sculptures / paper models have played a crucial role in the development of new rides, shows and attractions for the Disney Parks & Resorts for nearly six decades now. And in some cases (EX: Mary Blair's distinctive design work on "it's a small world"), the paper model was thought to be so charming & evocative that this cut-out-of-paper look then heavily influenced the final art direction of that particular attraction.

Anyway ... Getting back to Mickey's Soundsational Parade now ... Getting the balance of elements just right here - deciding which parts of the floats should be done dimensionally while determining which characters & elements lent themselves to 2D treatment (more importantly, how would these two dimensional characters would then move) - meant months of hard work / trial and error for Kevin & Jody. When Kidney often putting in long hours at his kitchen table, using Exacto knives and really strong glue to create detailed paper models of proposed floats for Mickey's Soundsational Parade.

Some of the paper sculptures that Kevin Kidney built while developing the look of
Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

One of the very first models that Kevin built for this parade was the Mickey Mouse drum. That was one of those elements that Steve insisted be in Soundsational. That - as a callback to all of those Disneyland parades from the 1960s where Mickey rolled through the Park, beating on a 10 ½ foot-tall base drum - that Soundsational had to feature a Mickey Mouse drum unit. Only this time around, Mickey was going to be traveling with a drumline. More importantly, that - for his appearance in Mickey's Soundsational Parade - that this parade character really had to be able to play the drums.

Well, Kevin & Jody figured out how to make that concept work. Also taking into account the number of times that Southern California residents will be returning to Disneyland over the projected three-year-run of Mickey's Soundsational Parade, they created highly-detailed parade floats which had all sorts of cool design elements. So that - depending on which side of the street you were standing on - you could then see something new each time you watched Soundsational.

The Canary Sisters from Disney's 1953 "Adventures in Music" animated short, "Toot,
Plunk, Whistle and Boom." Photo by Shelly Valladolid

"We've placed all sorts of obscure Disney characters on these floats. Professor Owl and the Canary Sisters from 'Toot, Plunk, Whistle and Boom,' Evinrude from 'The Rescuers '  and the Aracuan Bird from "The Three Caballeros,' " Kidney continued. "And speaking of 'Three Caballeros,' we've got José Carioca and Panchito back in a Disneyland parade for the first time since 1990. Which is when these characters appeared in the Party Gras parade. So that was a huge win for us."

And speaking of huge ... from Rapunzel's 31-foot-tall tower in the middle of the Disney Princess float to that enormous Penn-Farthing bicycle that the Fox Hunter from "Mary Poppins" is pedaling out in front of this parade's finale unit, Kevin & Jody have never worked on anything as large as Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Though that may soon change, given that their next assignment appears to be Tokyo Disneyland's 30th anniversary parade.

Photo by Shelly Valladolid

"That's actually why Jody couldn't be here today. He's in Japan having meetings with the Tokyo Disneyland people about this new parade for 2013," Kidney explained. "We're actually kind of freaking out right now because those meetings have been going so well. So far, they've said 'Yes' to everything that we've proposed. So we've now got to figure out how we're actually going to build this thing."

And if going straight from the debut of Mickey's Soundsational Parade back in May to designing a brand-new parade for Tokyo Disneyland weren't keeping these two busy enough, Kevin & Jody also have their Disney-themed collectibles business. In fact, they'll be down at Walt Disney World on October 1st to unveil some new items that Kidney & Daily have just created to commemorate that Resort's 40th anniversary.

Kevin Kidney holds up a prototype of that Mary Blair / Contemporary Resort ceramic-tile-
mural vase which he and Jody Daily designed, which will go on sale at the Disneyana
Shop in WDW's Disneyana Shop on October 1st. Photo by Paul Schnebelen

"We'll be doing a signing at the Disneyana Shop on Main Street, U.S.A. We've got a ceramic vase which recreates that tile mural that Mary Blair designed for the Contemporary Hotel," Kevin continued. "We've also done some dinnerware, four plates that feature artwork from the old Preview Center guide map, a set of tin signs that duplicate those silk-screened poster for the Tropical Serenade, The Haunted Mansion and the Monorail plus a ceramic recreation of a WDW beverage cup from the 1970s."

But all of that stuff was off in the future somewhere. As Kidney wrapped up his Mickey's Soundsational Parade presentation for this year's Disneyana Fan Club's annual convention, he was asked what his favorite memory of this particular project was.

Photo by Shelly Valladolid

"I think that that would be the day that the Bert-and-Mary-Poppins carousel horse bicycles arrived from Michael Curry's studio up in Oregon. Once we took the bubble wrap off of those things and the bikes we so beautiful ... Well, you had to ride them," Kevin remembered. "Everyone who worked on this project took turns riding them around backstage. For a while there, those Mary Poppins carousel horse bicycles were the most popular rides at Disneyland."

Special thanks to Paul Schnebelen & Bob Welbaum of the Disneyana Fan Club for providing much of the material necessary to complete today's JHM article.

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  • this would of been great article say when the parade debuted a couple months ago. Way 2 stay updated Jim

  • I didn't mind the wait at all and was fascinated to learn that Kevin had done work on other classic parades.  Had no idea!

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