Join us as we journey into the amazing history of the Disneyland parades. This episode is jam packed with rare audio and Disney history that will take you back to the joy that you have felt watching Disneyland parades on Main Street.
During this part one episode we walk through the beginning of the timeline of the Disneyland parades ending just before the Main Street Electrical Parade.
This week's Disneyland secret features the skeleton named bones inside of the Indiana Jones Adventure. Once you know about this cute little addition, you'll be on the look out forever.
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The information below is all based off of the podcast audio. Be sure to listen for the full experience.
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That is just part one of the Audio History of Disneyland Parades. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes for the next episode in a couple of weeks. Subscribe here.
More Specifically, Here's the Timeline of the Disneyland Parades
Below is the full timeline of Disneyland parades as created by Chris Lyndon. In the first episode, we discuss every parade all the way up to the Main Street Electrical Parade.
1 – Opening Day Parade – July 17th 1955 – Special one time only event held to commemorate the grand opening of Disneyland. Featured guest stars and a segment to represent each themed area in the park.
2 – Mickey Mouse Club Circus Parade – 1955 – This was held daily November 1955 – December 1955. Featured antique circus wagons, and the animals and circus performers also featured in the Mickey Mouse Club Circus
3 – Antique Automobile Parade – 1956-1957 – These were special one time events held during special occasions. Featured a procession of antique automobiles driven by invited members of various local auto restoration clubs wearing authentic 1900 era costumes. Held as one time events including a special Easter parade version.
4 – Parade of Many Lands/Christmas in Many Lands – 1957-1964 – These were held for many years beginning in the Christmas season of 1957. The parades were special one time only events featuring invited civic organizations representing cultures of other nations. They were often presented during Christmas, but were often also combined with other special parades during other times of the year. These other parades will be noted below.
5 – Zorro Days Parade – 1958-1959 – This parade was held as part of the occasional special promotional events featuring Guy Williams, (TV’s Zorro). It was a one time only event, only held on the special days when the Zorro events were held. The parade often featured other Disney stars, and a segment featuring Disney Characters.
6 – Columbia Grand Opening Day Parade – 1958 – This was a special one time parade held on July 4th 1958 to commemorate the opening of the Sailing Ship Columbia, and featured Circus performers and Disney Characters.
7 – Disneyland ‘59 Parade – 1959 – Special one time only parade to commemorate the opening of the new attractions Matterhorn Bobsleds, Monorail, and Submarine Voyage. Included Parade of many lands, and a special Disney section featuring floats representing many of Disneyland’s attractions and themed areas.
8 – Parade of Toys – 1960-1964 – This can be considered the first daily scheduled regular Disneyland parade, and was staged during the holiday season, beginning in mid December. It included the large props used in the 1961 live action Disney musical Babes in Toyland. The parade preceded the film by one year. The Parade of Many Lands was combined with this parade for an extended version during a few of the performances, closer to Christmas, as a special event variation. It also included a Christmas segment with silly reindeer, dancing Christmas trees and Santa Claus.
9 – Mickey at the Movies Parade – 1960-1964 – This parade was held during the same time period as Parade of Toys when it was not Christmas time, and used many of the same large scale toy elements, but was a non holiday themed. The Christmas sections were omitted, and extra Disney themed sections were added in their place. This parade also was the first appearance of the famous Big Bass Drum, which became of parade tradition for years to follow. This parade was also combined with other holiday events, such as Easter, and the Forth of July.
10 – Tencennial Parade – 1965 – This was held throughout 1965. It was basically the same as the Mickey at the Movies parade, with a few 10th anniversary special elements added in.
11 – Fantasy on Parade – 1965 – 1976 – This was first staged during the Christmas season of 1965, and would continue as the holiday time parade until 1976 – The first half of the parade featured floats representing different family classics in the Disney cannon, which were not holiday themed, and then ended with a special holiday segment. It was a more elaborate evolution of the 1960-1964 Parade of Toys, but did not include the Parade of Many Lands.
12 – It’s a Small World Grand Opening Parade – 1966 – This was an encore and final staging of the Parade of Many Lands, with a special segment to honor It’s a Small World. This would be the last of these type of parades staged in the park.
Note – Beginning in 1966 – Parades were not held as often, the Fantasy on Parade, unlike the Mickey at the Movies Parade, was only held at Christmas time. There were no other daily parades until the 1970’s except for special one time events held for specific holiday and promotional events…
Here are some of those special one time only event parades held during this period…
13. Easter Parade – 1967 – first held in 1967, this parade has come back on a semi regular, semi annual basis throughout the years.
In 1968 there were three other holiday oriented parades.
14. Valentines Day Parade
15. St Patrick’s Day Parade
16. El Cinco De Mayo Parade
…The above three were not held again. Only the Easter Parade would make a few return performances in the years to follow.
17. The Love Bug Parade – 1969 – This featured many Volkswagen Beatles decorated by park guests. A contest was held to choose the best design. It was staged to promote the film, and featured Dean Jones as the Grand Marshall.
18. Character Parades – 1970?-1975 / 1975-1978 – The return of the daily regularly scheduled parades during non Christmas time periods began in the early 1970’s – these less elaborate parades featured basic flat bed floats and several costumed characters. Generic in theme, they were often just referred to as the Character Parade. This practice would continue until about 1978, however it would take a hiatus from 1975-1976 for the bicentennial parade. These parades are also notable for being among the first to include a recorded soundtrack, rather than live music.
19. Main Street Electrical Parade – 1972-1975 – Held during high attendance periods when the park was open late, excluding Christmas – and put on hiatus in 1975 for the Bicentennial. The original version used mostly flat non dimensional floats. But did include a dimensional dragon. The original dragon was a Chinese dragon, with no connection to a Disney film.
20. The Love Bug Parade (second edition) – 1974 – encore one time performance in 1974, held to promote the sequel.
21. America on Parade – 1975-1976 – Daily parade featuring stylized tableaus of great moments and traditions of American History, with the “people of American” represented in elaborately costumed dancers with large stylized, cartoon like heads. The parade was led by Mickey Goofy and Donald in Revolutionary War costumes and concluded with a segment featuring many Disney characters.
22. Pooh for President Parade – 1976 – brief/small special parade spoofing the 1976 Presidential election, as a mock Presidential Campaign for Winnie the Pooh.
23. Main Street Electrical Parade (2.0) – 1977-1983 / 1985-1996 – Return of the Electrical Parade with all dimensional floats, and Elliot from Pete’s Dragon replacing the Chinese Dragon. In 1980 a special 25th anniversary float was added temporarily. In 1981 a special Fox and the Hound segment was added temporarily to promote the film, and again in 1985 a Return to Oz section was added temporarily to promote that film.
This first episode of the Disney Dose podcast covers all the way to here. In three weeks, join us for part two of the Disneyland Parades audio history. In the meantime subscribe on iTunes to not miss a show.
24. Very Merry Christmas Parade – 1977-1979 – The first half of this parade was nearly identical to the running Fantasy on Parade, which it replaced, but had a new recorded soundtrack and a longer and more elaborate Christmas section.
25. Festival Japan Parade – 1977-1982 – This parade with live music was held one weekend only, annually for six years as part of a park wide festival to celebrate the culture of Japan.
26. Festival Mexico Parade – 1977-? – This parade with live music was held one weekend only, annually as part of a park wide festival to celebrate the culture of Mexico. Little information exists to confirm how many years this event returned, but it was first held in 1977.
27. Mickey’s 50th Birthday Parade – 1978 – Parade to Celebrate Mickey’s 50th – Replaced the aforementioned daytime character parades, and used similar basic floats, specially decorated with Birthday décor. The Mouseketeers from the 1955 TV show, as well as the New 1970’s Mouseketeers often made guest appearances.
28. Dumbo Circus Parade – 1979 – Circus themed parade featuring the same basic “Character Parade” floats, specially decorated with circus décor. Parade also featured several live animals and a special Dumbo float replicating the clown fire scene from the film.
29. 25th Anniversary Parade – 1980 – Parade was a more elaborate staging of the original 1955 opening day parade, featuring a section to represent each themed area in the park. This version had a recorded soundtrack and was expanded to also include Bear Country and New Orleans Square, along with opening and closing floats to tribute the 25th anniversary.
30. Fantasy on Parade (2.0) – 1980-1986 – The Very Merry Christmas Parade was changed in name only back to its original title of Fantasy on Parade. There were very few differences to “Very Merry” other than the name.
31. Family Reunion Parade – 1981 – Continuation of the 25th Anniversary Parade. The name was changed and all 25th Anniversary references removed, otherwise this was the same parade.
32. It’s a Small World Parade – 1981 – This differed from the “Parade of Many Lands” held in decades past in that it did not feature any authentic civic organizations, and was a daily character style parade. It featured Disney characters dressed in costumed representing world nations, with basic floats decorated in multinational flags.
33. Flights of Fantasy Parade – 1983-1984 – All new lavish floats with air inflated elements as well as several air inflated large scale walk around character costumes produced to celebrate the grand reopening of Fantasyland.
34. Donald Duck’s 50th Birthday Parade – 1984 – Donald Duck stared in this basic character parade with basic floats – also included live ducks marching along the parade route.
35. American Gazette Parade – 1984-1985 – Featured all live music, performed by many of Disneyland’s in-house musical groups. May have been created for the 1984 Olympics, in anticipation of the many foreign visitors. (that is a guess) The parade had sections representing different eras in American Popular, along with lavish costumes music starting from the 1900’s to the 1980’s. It ran off and on between showings of the Donald Duck Parade in 1984, and the 30th anniversary parade in 1985.
36. Disneyland 30th Anniversary Parade – 1985 – Year long parade to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Disneyland. This was in the same vein of earlier Character parades, with basic floats decorated in special anniversary colored flags signs and banners.
37. Disney Family Cavalcade – 1985 – Special one time event featuring Disneyland cast members who were featured in a special parade to honor their service as part of the Disneyland 30th anniversary celebration.
38. Totally Minnie Parade – 1986 – Parade featuring Minnie Mouse in modern 80’s dress, and a pop 80’s soundtrack. This parade tied in with a Children’s album of the same name, and included special shows and events throughout the park all year. 1986 was declared the “Year of Minnie”
39. Circus on Parade – 1986-1988 – Circus Fantasy was a seasonal special event, the first of several of these type of events, held to boost park attendance through the promotion of specially themed shows and live in park entertainment offerings staged throughout the park daily. This Circus themed event included a lavish Circus parade, with live animals, circus performers, and Disney Characters. The event returned in 1987 and again in 1988.
40. Snow White Golden Anniversary Parade – 1987 – Special parade featuring characters from Snow White, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the film.
41. Generic Cavalcades – 1987? to present – the Disneyland definition of a CAVALCADE is a very small parade with one or two floats, often used during the off season, when the weather is inclimate, or as a special promotion. Many times when dignitaries visit the park, a special cavalcade will be held to honor them. War time heroes and sports champions are often featured in these as well. The use of cavalcades began at around this point (1987ish) Any specially themed cavalcades that are not basic variety will be notated below. Otherwise they are all grouped into this section
42. Main Street USA Parade – 1987? – Unsure of the date of this parade, but have narrowed it down to sometime between 1985- 1988. This was likely staged off season when other seasonal offerings were not being offered. The parade was very basic. Not as small as a cavalcade but not as large as the normal parade. It featured the song Walking Right Down the Middle, and has the characters dressed in Main Street themed costumes. It may have been the inspiration for a segment featured in a 1990’s Sing-A-Long home video called “Disneyland Fun”
43. Come to the Fair Parade – 1987-1988 – This was the parade held during the Disneyland State Fair, the second of the park wide promotional events, this one held for two years, once in ‘87 and again in ’88. The parade was themed to the traditional small town state fairs of the late 18th early 19th century, with themes such as livestock, produce and blue ribbon winning pies.
44. Very Merry Christmas Parade (2.0) – 1987-1993 – In 1987 the Fantasy on Parade was permanently retired, and the replacement name from the 1977 holiday parade was reinstated. The new version was basically the same as Fantasy on Parade, but a slow evolution began year by year. Each year more of the non holiday elements based on Disney films were omitted and the Christmas sections were further expanded. By the end of this parade’s run in 1993, the entire parade has become a holiday themed, with no movie segments remaining.
45. Blast to the Past Parade – 1988-1989 – Blast to the Past was the third and final of the themed promotions held park wide. It was a celebration of all things 1950’s. The original 1988 parade was replaced in 1989 with an entirely different version. This may be in part due to copyright issues caused by the inclusion of many TV theme songs and actors dressed as classic TV characters. The 1989 version removed this TV segment, and new theme song was added.
46. Main Street Hop – 1988 – This was held in conjunction with the first year’s Blast to the Past Parade between showings of the full scale traditional parade. It is what is oft called a street party, and not a traditional parade. At several points along the parade route, a series of floats would park, and a dance routine commenced. This type of Street Party has since become a staple of many future parades. If a parade listed further down this timeline features these type of elements, they will heretofore be referred to as a Street Party. The street party did not return for the 1989 season.
47. Mickey’s 60th Birthday Parade – 1988 – Parade for Mickey’s 60th Birthday featuring themes that are often reflected in Mickey’s classic cartoon, with stylized mice performers atop elaborate floats and campy costumes with mouse and Mickey Mouse related themes.
48. Mickey’s 60th Birthday Bash – 1988 – Another street party, held between parade times. This featured a review of Mickey’s career with classic Disney songs and dance numbers.
49. Pre Parades – Dates unspecified – Pre Parades are very small, one float cavalcades held a few minutes before a full scale parade is ready to begin. These are most often used as promotional tie-ins to feature films that are presently in theaters. (There are acceptations to this, and they will be separately listed) The Pre Parade probably began in the 1970’s to promote the re-release of classic animated features and new features. They became more regular in the Michael Eisner era, who was all about using the parks to promote other Disney projects. A concept he called “Synergy” The films that had Pre Parades or may have had pre parades are as follows.
The Rescuers 1977 – I am not 100% sure of this but the original theatrical premiere of the Rescuers in 1977 may have had a pre parade. I have seen some images on the internet that support this. I have no confirmation, and this is only a guess.
Pinocchio 1978 or 1984 – a pre parade video exists on Youtube, to promote a re-release of this classic. However it is a Disney World, Florida video. However, it is likely that this same pre parade would have been presented in Disneyland as well, but I cannot confirm this. I can no longer locate this video, but it would have either been for the 1978 re-release, or the 1984 re-release.
The following four Pre Parades can be considered confirmed and definite:
Oliver and Company 1988 (Original Release)
The Little Mermaid 1989 (Original Release)
Peter Pan 1989 (ReRelease)
Jungle Book 1990 (Re-release)
50. Hooray For Disney Stars Parade – 1989 – Featured a section with Disney characters dressed in early Hollywood attire, with marquee styled floats. Followed by segments representing the syndicated cartoon series Disney was producing at the time, including DuckTales, Gummi Bears, TaleSpin and Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers.
51. Party Gras Parade – 1990 – This parade was in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Disneyland. It featured towering inflated floats. The theme was a Brazilian Carnivale, mixed with Mardi Gras elements. Also unique with the combination of a traditional parade along with a street party, all blended into one. The parade would stop at three points and a dance party would be staged. This time audience members were invited into the street to participate and form Conga lines.
52. Celebration USA Parade 1991 – This was a campy take on what it meant to be a contemporary 1990’s American featuring an odd blending of the mundane and the over the top. Such as people dressed in business suits with briefcases, singing about working. Much of the music was adapted from top 40 recognizable pop standards.
53. Disney Afternoon Cavalcade – 1991 – This small scale parade had two variations, and was held in conjunction with the Disney Afternoon promotion being presented along the Small World mall. It featured the stars of the Disney Afternoon block of syndicated cartoon series. This was much less elaborate than the Hooray for Disney Stars parade held two years before. It may have been presented between showings of the Celebration USA Parade, or may have been a Pre Parade.
54. The World According to Goofy Parade – 1992 – Held in Honor of Goofy’s 50th birthday, featuring campy stylized historical landmarks and spoofs on historical events as if the world was all run by the decedents of The Goof.
55. Aladdin’s Royal Caravan – 1993-1994 – This was the first in a series of parades that tied into the latest animated Walt Disney theatrical releases. This comical parade reenacted the parade of Prince Ali featured in the film Aladdin.
56. Lion King Celebration Parade – 1994-1997 – Second theatrical feature based parade, featuring characters from the Lion King. By popular demand, this parade far surpassed the other parades of the previous 15-20 years, by running unchanged over a period of several years. This trend would become more common the years to follow.
57. Christmas Fantasy Parade – 1994 to Present – The current Holiday season Parade is an all Holiday themed show, with no non holiday movie themed segments. This parade was similar to its predecessor, but included all new floats, and an original theme song. This parade has changed little since it was first presented.
58. Hunchback of Notre Dame Topsy Turvy Cavalcade – 1996-1997 – This was a promotional tie in to the film, reenacting the Festival of Fools segment from the movie. It continued to run of and on for a couple years after the film left theaters to promote the Hunchback live stage show being presented in the back area of Frontierland.
59. Cruisin’ the Kingdom Parade – 1997-1998 – This parade was featured on weekdays in place of the regular parade. This was likely done as an economic measure, as it was far less elaborate than a full scale parade. It featured several Disney Characters, all driving customized hot rod automobiles.
60. Hercules Victory Parade – 1997-1998 – Another movie based parade tie in. Less popular than its predecessors, it lasted only one season.
61. Light Magic – 1997 – This nighttime procession was more of a street parade. The floats would stop along the parade route and dancers dressed as pixies, mixed with Disney Characters dressed in their bedtime clothes – a.k.a. pajamas. The floats were covered in fiber optic light. The entire parade route was redesigned to accommodate this parade, and special lighting was installed from Town Square all the way down to the Small World mall. Special tiered viewing areas were also built into the Small World mall area in anticipation of large crowds. However, the parade lasted only a few months, as it was very unpopular with guest, negating much negative feedback.
62. Mulan Parade – 1998-1999 – Last of the movie tie in Parades. Generally a popular event, it lasted two seasons. It also replaced light magic with special nighttitme performances, enhanced by all the special new lighting that had been installed. It featured traditional elements found in Chinese parades, with a stylized Disney look.
63. 45 Years of Magic Parade – 2000 – Held in honor of Disneyland’s 45th anniversary. The original soundtrack was the graduation march, Pomp and Circumstance, likely inspired by the use of this piece of music in the full length animated feature “Fantasia 2000” – However, guests feedback negated them replacing the soundtrack with music that was more upbeat, so a Disney medley replaced this shortly after its premiere. Guests were randomly chosen to participate in the parade.
64. Rainy Day Cavalcades – 2000 – Present – The music used in these small parades has varied over time, but it mainly the covered Main Street motor vehicles including the horseless carriages and Omnibus, filled with Disney Characters. These are held when the weather will not permit the regular parade to be presented. This practice began in 2000, and continues today.
65. Parade of the Stars 2001 – 2004 – This was a continuation of the 45 Years of Magic Parade after the anniversary ended. The parade changed in name only.
The following three very short lived cavalcades where staged off and on throughout 2004 as the Parade of Stars was near retirement and staged only on busy days, but before the 50th Anniversary Parade premiered…
66. Mickey’s Shining Star Cavalcade – Disneyland Band followed by assorted characters, some riding the Main Street Fire Wagon.
67. Sleeping Beauty’s Royal Celebration – Assorted Disney Princesses aboard horses or riding a horse drawn carriage, along with Royal Knights and Troubadour Marchers.
68. Mickey’s Magic Kingdom Celebration – Very similar to the Shining Star Cavlacade, with a name update.
69. 50th Anniversary Parade of Dreams – 2005-2008 – Parade in honor of Disneyland’s 50th birthday. Repurposed the song “Welcome” from the animated feature “Brother Bear” as the theme for the parade. Floats all had a Gold Tone, to tie in with the Golden Anniversary.
70. Year of a Million Dreams Grand Marshall Cavalcade 2007 – Cavalcade and often a pre parade presented when Disneyland celebrated what was called “A Year of a Million Dreams,” a promotional campaign granting park guests an array of prizes, from free vacations to overnight stays inside the park. Each day one lucky family was chosen to be honorary grand marshals and road a special customized car down the parade route.
70. Celebrate! A Street Party – 2009-2010 – This street Party included a series of different popular dances, and guests were encouraged to dance along. The music, floats and costumes were very contemporary in feel. The intro to the parade would often change based on what the current holiday was, as this was promoted as a way to celebrate a special event. When there was no holiday, they would reference possible anniversaries, birthdays or family reunions as the reason to celebrate.
71. Mickey’s Soundsational Parade – 2011-Present – Most recent parade, designed by freelance artists Jody Daily and Kevin Kidney, with a stylized retro look very inspired by the art of the late Mary Blair. The parade features a series of segments, each themed to a different genre of music, as they tie into Disney’s classic films.
This Week's Disneyland Secret:
In this episode I give a special Disneyland secret from our new eBook, Disneyland Secrets: A Guide to Disneyland's Hidden Details.
Bonus: If you listen to the episode, you'll get a discount for the book.
Disneyland nighttime custodial Cast Members are known to play tricks and slightly alter attractions when cleaning.
Inside of the Indiana Jones Attraction, look for a skeleton wearing a pair of Disneyland Mickey Mouse Ears. The name written on the ears is “Bones.”
Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode:
- Disney Chris– A fantastic website with so much audio, you'll never want to leave.
- Mousetalgia Interview With Glenn Barker– Great interview with an Imagineer who runs the sound mixing for the Disney Parks.
- The Disneyland Story By Sam Gennawey– A fantastic book about the history of Disneyland, but it is missing one topic…Disneyland parades.
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