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The History of the Main Street Electrical Parade

Discussion in 'WDW Parks General Discussion' started by mastromjm, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. mastromjm

    mastromjm Member

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    Hey everyone! I posted this on another fan site as well as a Disney entertainment blog I write for. It's a long read but I hope you enjoy!

    The Main Street Electrical Parade has glistened its way through the streets of almost every Magic Kingdom across the nation and brightened the hearts of millions worldwide. It was inspired by the Electrical Water Pageant, created by Bob Jani, which floats over the Seven Seas Lagoon and features both real and mythical sea creatures presented upon lighted barges. At the end of the show, the creatures would turn into American flags and stars and present a tribute. The song that accompanied the barges while in “sea creature” mode was Baroque Hoedown, written by experimental artists Jean Jacques-Perrey and Gershon Kingsley. The song was not meant for the parade.

    Bob Jani was not satisfied, however, and he wanted an electrical parade on land for Disneyland. With the interest of electronic musicians Paul Beaver and Jim Christensen, along with the “voice of Disneyland” Jack Wagner, the parade was titled the Main Street Electrical Parade. The duo of Beaver and Christensen rewrote Perrey and Kingsley's piece for the parade, adding a bass line among other new lines, and added Disney themes to the mix.

    The parade debuted at Disneyland on June 17, 1972, to raving reviews and constantly returning audiences. During the rehearsal period, the parade was plagued with issues, such as horses falling under electrical weight, or one lightbulb going out and powering down the rest of the parade's lighting. The original floats were the Blue Fairy, Casey Junior Circus Train, Alice In Wonderland, Chinese Dragon, Dumbo's Circus, Cinderella's Ball, It's A Small World, and the American Finale. In 1973, the Chinese Dragon became the Sleeping Beauty Dragon, based very loosely on Maleficent. For the most part, the floats were two-dimensional, but some of them had three-dimensional elements or were completely 3-D.

    The parade was, like other parades of the time, only meant to last the summer of 1972, but ended up with two more years running, through 1974. In 1975, America on Parade, a giant tribute to the Bicentennial of the United States, premiered, featuring a record fifty floats and new characters with huge heads representing the American people. This parade ran both day and night through the end of 1976.

    Of course, complaints began to set in about the Electrical Parade and in 1977 the parade returned. However, all of the old floats were replaced with new, entirely three-dimensional floats. The Blue Fairy was finally proportionally correct, and the train and drum were relighted and alternated between saying “Disneyland Presents” “Main Street Electrical Parade”. Alice's Wonderland was filled with oversized mushrooms, insects, and of course Alice herself and the White Rabbit. Cinderella's Ball featured a pumpkin coach with the lovely princess, a ballroom, the clock tower, and a staircase featuring Prince Charming. Dumbo's Circus still did not feature Dumbo, but King Leonidas continued to play the calliope in a float seemingly pulled by a hippo, while a bear with a honey pot on his head (not Pooh) and an elephant showering herself (not Dumbo!) followed. Also in tow were the Seven Dwarfs. A unit known as the Briny Deep featured an undersea paradise and a terrible fish band playing their laughable “music” within the mouth of Monstro the Whale (from Pinocchio).

    Only supposed to last one year, Elliott, the dragon from the 1977 film Pete's Dragon also appeared in the parade, along with the titular owner, Pete. Though Pete's Dragon flopped at the box office, the float was remarkable for its size and the fact that Elliott would completely disappear on command. It remains in the parade to this day. Also in the 1977 run was a tribute to “it's a small world” featuring Mary Blair's dolls and floats representing the South Seas and European countries. Completing the parade was a menagerie of swirling mirrors featuring neon-lit Disney characters.

    Don Dorsey, an up-and-coming electronic artist, rewrote the score of the parade, fitting it with an opening fanfare, rerecording Baroque Hoedown and adding more instruments and lines, and recording music for “Alice in Wonderland” “Pete's Dragon” “Briny Deep” “it's a small world” and “Disney Neon Finale” units. For Cinderella's Ball and Dumbo's Circus, Beaver and Christensen's music remained.

    Also premiering in 1977 at Walt Disney World was their clone of the Main Street Electrical Parade. For the most part, it featured the same floats as Disneyland, except they were made wider as to better fit the larger parade route.

    In 1979, both Disneyland and Walt Disney World discarded their Neon Finales and replaced them with yet another tribute to America, known by its title “To Honor America”. It was a huge American flag that spread over large drums and ran up to a golden bald eagle at the end of the float, whose wings were flapped by cast members. Fireworks blasted over the float, which used the original American Finale music by Beaver and Christensen.

    1980 brought multiple changes to Disneyland's parade alone. Disneyland added a special 25th Anniversary float that was a replica of Sleeping Beauty Castle. It featured an arrangement of the 25th Anniversary theme by Dorsey. Also added for one year only was a Fox and the Hound unit, featuring small cars based on those seen in the movie and puppet versions of the characters of the film. The characters that drove these units were exposed, and were reused from America on Parade's “giant head” characters.

    Also in 1980, both parks converted their Briny Deep units to Pinocchio Underwater, featuring a rearranged score. Pinocchio was placed among the undersea paradise of the first float, and Geppetto was appropriately placed on a raft inside of Monstro's mouth. These two floats were retired after the 1983 run for both parks.

    In 1983, Disneyland again retired their parade in favor of Flights of Fantasy, a parade featuring the characters of the New Fantasyland and giant inflatables of characters such as Maleficent's dragon form. However, in 1985, the parade returned, because once again the visitors missed the Electrical Parade.

    1985 at Disneyland brought major changes to the parade, featuring a lineup that would become near-standard. Added to the parade after Cinderella's Ball was Peter Pan's Pirate Ship, featuring Peter Pan battling Captain Hook upon it, and Mr. Smee's rowboat which followed along and sometimes came up right next to the ship. Dumbo's Circus was enhanced with two new floats featuring a four ring circus, one coming before the bear and one after. They featured clowns doing “tricks” and Dumbo himself on the first float. Following Dumbo was Dopey's Mine Train, and the Seven Dwarfs working in the diamond mine. After Elliott pased, Pinocchio was given two new floats featuring Pleasure Island, with Pinocchio himself and his “friend” Lampwick appearing on the second. Return to Oz appeared for one year only, featuring a replica of the Emerald City. Also added in 1985 was the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, appearing atop one of the Mushrooms, and a new ballroom float that was placed between the two canopies.

    1985 also brought a new incarnation of the Electrical Parade: the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade, renamed because there is no Main Street U.S.A. at Tokyo Disneyland. It featured the same floats as Disneyland's did in 1985, without Return to Oz, Smee's Rowboat, Pinocchio on Pleasure Island, Dopey's Mine Train, and obviously To Honor America. Some float designs changed, and many unique floats were added, such as the Knights of Light that followed the Blue Fairy, a small mushroom with two butterflies for the Alice in Wonderland unit and unique Japanese designs for the fireflies and centipede, an all-new giant ballroom float featuring Prince Charming in the center, and a redesigned clock tower; a new, more film-accurate version of Elliott the dragon, and a largely enhanced version of the “it's a small world” unit, featuring a ferris wheel.

    1986 brought a 30th Anniversary float for Walt Disney World, which did not have unique music but a unique design.

    In 1988, Disneyland retired the “it's a small world” unit of the Electrical Parade, and added a special float for Mickey's 60th Birthday following the train and drum, and with its own unique music.

    In September of 1990, the Magic Kingdom played the Main Street Electrical Parade for the last time and then shipped the floats to Euro Disneyland (except obviously the American float) where they played the Main Street Electrical Parade. For the first year, the floats were set in a very weird, incorrect order, only getting right the fact that the titular unit was first. They were replaced in a normal order in 1993, but after that season, because of money issues, the “it's a small world” unit was cut. During the holiday season, the parade had holiday music added to it, arranged by Vasile Sirli, resident Euro Disneyland composer.

    At the same time, the Magic Kingdom premiered a new parade called SpectroMagic, centered on the idea that Mickey Mouse and the SpectroMen created the light energy to run the parade. With more unique units such as a band conducted by Roger Rabbit and a beautiful garden featuring the fairies of Sleeping Beauty, and also film-centric units such as Fantasia and The Little Mermaid, the parade was good enough to keep people from begging for the Electrical Parade at that point. The parade concluded with a beautiful unit based on multiple Disney films and featuring a giant carousel in the center, that changed from colorful hues to black and white at particular times in the music. The parade barely changed over the years and never added or removed floats. The parade was directed by Ron Logan, one of his last hurrahs at Disney, and the score was composed by Steve Skorija and John Debney. At one point, when Don Dorsey was on the project, the Baroque Hoedown was to be kept in the parade, but once this suggestion was vetoed, he left.

    In 1995, Tokyo Disneyland ran a “Sayonara” season for the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade, featuring a huge new float reading “Sayonara Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade”. The parade was removed and very quickly replaced by an amazing parade/show called Disney's Fantillusion, also in 1995. Fantillusion was loosely based on the show Fantasmic! which premiered in Disneyland in 1992, and featured a show stop for each section. The first unit was the Enchanted Fairy Garden, featuring Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell, and the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty, along with famous Disney characters that only appeared at the show stop. The second unit was the Evil Villains, featuring the transformations of Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, and the Evil Queen into the dragon, sea queen, snake, and old hag, respectively, during the show stop. The third unit featured the Disney Princesses Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine, Belle, and Snow White, along with their respective princes and Minnie Mouse. The score was arranged and written by Bruce Healey, who was also the composer of Fantasmic! The mushroom with two butterflies was reused in Fantillusion from the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade, but nearly every other float was demolished.

    Even with the huge success of 1992's Fantasmic!, the Main Street Electrical Parade continued to run at Disneyland through 1996. The 1996 season brought patriotic female dancers to the sides of To Honor America. On October 15, 1996, the parade gave its last performances, but returned in November for three encore nights. The permanent loss (or so they said) of the Main Street Electrical Parade broke the hearts of thousands of fans, and the sparkling lights last appeared on the streets of Disneyland on November 15, 1996.

    But Disneyland had new plans up their sleeves...a fantastic streetacular known as Light Magic. Like SpectroMagic, this new-age spectacle was powered by luminescent life forms, in this case fairies. The “floats” were rolled out from Small World Mall and stopped in Main Street, where the show was put on. Though it was a fairly good show, it was blasted for being known as the “permanent successor” of the Main Street Electrical Parade and was from then on known as Light Tragic. Though the Main Street Electrical Parade played for twenty years, not including breaks, “Light Tragic” could barely last twenty weeks! As was the standard at this time, Light Magic was shuttered for “retooling” and would reopen in the year 2000, similar to how Rocket Rods was going to “reopen in Spring 2001” and that the Submarine Voyage would “return in 2003”. However, this was all a big lie, and all of these things never happened. When the Mulan Parade premiered in 1998, it ran day and night, thus resetting the years-old standard of a parade running twice a day. There would never again be an electrical parade of any kind to play on the Disneyland streets.

    Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade was boxed and shipped out to New York City for a spectacular evening, featuring all of the classic 1996 run floats (except the train and drum and the blue and pink Alice mushrooms) and three new floats celebrating the premiere of Hercules! This was the first of Disney's three huge movie premieres, and the biggest one of them all. The floats included a Greek Temple with the title of the parade, a large float featuring Hercules and Megara on Pegasus, whose wings flapped, and Pain and Panic standing on the bottom of an oversized Hades, whose palm exploded with fire on occasion. Though it was a difficult parade to handle, only one float actually ended up having issues, the second Pinocchio float, which mostly blacked out along the route. Mickey and Minnie were relocated to atop the America float.

    With only one lonely Main Street Electrical Parade running now, the newly-renamed Disneyland Paris finally got an upgrade in 1997 with the addition of the one Tokyo Disneyland float kept in stable condition, the Swan Lake unit. 1998 brought more additions to the parade in the form of the Diamond Mine and Pinocchio floats from Disneyland, and the retooled parade was given a promotional name of “More Lights! More Magic!” After the 1998 season, however, the parade would never be the same, as huge entertainment cutbacks forced dance units to be almost entirely removed and floats would switch in and out.

    With enough complaints annoying the customer service department and a promotional reason to bring the parade back, Disneyland's floats were sent over to Walt Disney World (minus the Diamond Mine and Pinocchio floats which were sent to Paris) and the Main Street Electrical Parade ran from 1999-2001. A few SpectroMagic performers were mixed into the parade during this limited engagement, and the American Finale featured Disney characters rather than high-kicking dancers.

    In the summer of 2000, Disneyland decided privately that they would bring back the Main Street Electrical Parade. They were horribly worried that Disney's California Adventure would overshadow Disneyland, and guests had been begging for its return, so park officials decided it would be best to use a marketing ploy saying that the parade was back for a special engagement, then held over from that engagement, and then back by popular demand. However, Disney's California Adventure completely flopped, so Disneyland decided to bring the parade to that park immediately, rather than spend time upgrading it to new-age standards, and it did temporarily improve attendance as “Disney's Electrical Parade”, otherwise the same parade as in the Magic Kingdom, except with the replacement of the finale dancers. Gone were the ideas for upgrading the parade, as they were too expensive, and also gone was the idea for a special Christmas version based on Disneyland Paris'.

    Tokyo Disneyland, being sponsored entirely by the huge Oriental Land Company and making use of the Disney funds also, had a lot of money to spend, so they decided that $25 million would be spent on a brand new incarnation of the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade. The classic electronic sound was replaced by new-wave instruments and slowly transitioned to fully orchestral. It featured all of the original units found in the original Tokyo Disneyland parade (with the exception of Dumbo's Circus) with brand new, gigantic floats, and new units based on Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, a bug's life, and Winnie the Pooh. Though the finale kept the music of “it's a small world” The parade music was scored by Gregory Smith, and the parade was a huge hit. In 2004, the parade was given a holiday version, featuring specially rearranged music, and wreaths and holiday decorations on certain floats.

    In March 2003, Disneyland Paris ran the Main Street Electrical Parade for the last time. The final performance was a great sendoff, featuring every unit and every character and dancer possible (except “it's a small world”, which was supposedly demolished) That same year, Disneyland Paris purchased 15 out of 30 of the Fantillusion floats from Tokyo Disneyland, only half because of their financial condition, and premiered the shortened parade in July. There were less show stops, yes, and the parade had been severely cut down, to 13 floats and then down to 12 in 2005, but the parade was still acclaimed and loved. The float that was used initially but removed later, the Dark Forest, was brought back at Halloween 2008 and every Halloween since and used for Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The parade still runs today.

    For Hong Kong Disneyland's opening, Walt Disney World/Disneyland Paris' Main Street Electrical Parade's floats were sent to them, but they had enough of a struggle with the day parade and could not keep up with the Electrical Parade, which still sits in crates in the production warehouse at Hong Kong Disneyland.

    In 2007, DreamLights at Tokyo Disneyland received new floats. A Monsters Inc. and a Finding Nemo unit replaced the Bug's Life unit, and a new Cinderella float was introduced to replace existing floats with a technology allowing Cinderella's dress to change from many different colors.

    Summer 2009 and the “Summer Nightastic” promotion brought updates to Disney's Electrical Parade at Disney's California Adventure, with a huge new Tinker Bell float replacing the Blue Fairy and the return of missing Snow White and Pinocchio units, which were shipped to them from Hong Kong. Also many unadvertised changes were made to existing floats, however the large Dumbo's Circus unit was retired. When the parade returned at Christmas 2009, a new Caterpillar was added to his float, finally correctly colored blue and with a new, projected mouth that could lip sync to his audio.

    In 2010, the slightly renamed Disney California Adventure had the last run of Disney's Electrical Parade in April and sent their parade over to the Magic Kingdom once again, where it ran with all of the enhancements. In a similar marketing ploy to the one that was going to be set for Disneyland in 2000, the parade was marketed as only being around for the “Summer Nightastic” promotion, but ended up staying indefinitely.

    In 2011, Tokyo Disneyland will again add floats to their parade, those being based on Aladdin, Disney Fairies, and a brand new Toy Story float. These will replace Beauty and the Beast, Swan Lake, and the existing Toy Story floats.

    Though rumors were swirling that SpectroMagic would be updated and return in late 2011to the Magic Kingdom, newer rumors suggest that Disneyland Paris will receive SpectroMagic and Fantillusion will be rejoined with its three missing floats that weren't demolished and sent somewhere else...perhaps Disney California Adventure or Disneyland will receive this night spectacular?
     
    mnelson3 likes this.
  2. Keyblade Jedi

    Keyblade Jedi Active Member

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    That's Good to Knew that Hong Kong Disneyland Still have the Floats from the Electrical Parade (Orlando and Paris Versions). Still They Should Shipped Back to the U.S.A (to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA) as Backups.
     
    KentB3 and mnelson3 like this.
  3. Panda WDW

    Panda WDW Active Member

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    Wow you dug up 7 year old post lol. I did enjoy the read thou good information l!
     
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  4. mnelson3

    mnelson3 Well-Known Member

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    Seems to be some light parade mysteries regarding WDWs original MSEP floats and Fantillusion. Are WDWs MSEP floats still sitting in crates backstage in Hong Kong and Fantillusion at Paris?
     
    KentB3 likes this.
  5. Keyblade Jedi

    Keyblade Jedi Active Member

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    Matter of Fact, They are. Disneyland in California Should Get the Walt Disney World's Original Copy of Main Street Electrical Parade Floats Back from Hong Kong.
     
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  6. KentB3

    KentB3 Well-Known Member

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    Has this been confirmed or not?
     
  7. Keyblade Jedi

    Keyblade Jedi Active Member

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    Well, Hong Kong has Already Removed Diamond Mine and Pleasure Units Back to California.
     
    KentB3 likes this.
  8. AshaNeOmah

    AshaNeOmah Active Member

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    I've wondered since 2001 where the original MSEP I fell in love with ended up. When watching the 'returned' MSEP in Florida, I knew it was the California version.

    Is there any way to confirm the parade still exists? I've read another source saying it was dropped into Hong Kong Bay and is lost forever.

    http://w d w n t.com/blog/2016/10/complete-history-magic-kingdoms-main-street-electrical-parade/
     
  9. Surfin' Tuna

    Surfin' Tuna Member

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    We need to get someone on a Disney bus so we can get the answer to this mystery. Those drivers know everything.
     
  10. AshaNeOmah

    AshaNeOmah Active Member

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    I didn't realize this was a seven year old thread that had been revived when I posted my question.

    Oh well.
     
  11. Keyblade Jedi

    Keyblade Jedi Active Member

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    It's Impossible. Because Hong Kong Removed the Pinocchio Pleasure Island and Snow White Diamond Mine to Shipped It Back to Anaheim.
     
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