The parade hadn't been away from the resort for all that time — it ran across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure from 2001 through 2010 — but it hadn't performed at the original Disneyland since it "glowed away forever" in 1996. Since its close at California Adventure, the parade had been running at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, where it wrapped its run last fall.
The Main Street Electrical Parade will run through June 18 — filling in this year for its thematic successor, Paint the Night, which is getting an extended refurbishment. For older fans, the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade provides another one of those nostalgic moments that Disney crafts so well. For younger fans, seeing the parade on its original route gives them the chance to learn why all those older fans were wiping their eyes when those chords from "Baroque Hoedown" played again during Paint the Night.
Those same misty eyes and hearty cheers were back tonight, as the lights dimmed and the familiar music played again, this time not as a sample, but in full. This is the show that established what a night-time theme park spectacular could be. From the Main Street Electrical Parade, we got Fantasmic!, IllumiNations, World of Color, and Paint the Night. (We also got Light Magic, but let's all continue to pretend that never happened, shall we?) The parade's grown since its 1972 debut, now running 22 floats instead of the original 12. The show features six Disney franchises — Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Pete’s Dragon — sandwiched between its iconic opening locomotive and its "To Honor America" grand finale. Sure, a few units have fallen aside along the way (miss you, Blue Fairy), but the sum of the experience always has been greater than any of its individual elements.
Heck, the aura of this spectacle outweighs even the performance itself, at this point. Next to the high-tech imagery of Paint the Night, some elements of the Main Street Electrical Parade now look more like a brilliant student's warehouse project than a top-funded Disney production. But the MSEP is a big deal because of what it was, what it spawned and how its referenced, as much as for what it is today. If Disney was replacing Paint the Night permanently with the MSEP, that'd be a frustrating downgrade. But for a limited time run? It's watching a Millennial listen to Fetty Wap, then dropping the Psychedelic Furs on them. Time to discover the classics behind the samples, kids.
In addition to tonight's Main Street Electrical Parade return, Disney dropped this year's Lunar New Year celebrations at Disney California Adventure for the first time. One of the entertainment highlights is "Hurry Home," a six-minute preshow feature that will run in front of World of Color each night through Feb. 5. The original animated show follows Little Lantern as it journeys home for the new year celebration, set to music by Oscar winner Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
DCA's Lunar New Year celebration also will include Mulan's Lunar New Year Procession and three Asian-inspired food stands plus a special menu at the Paradise Garden Grill. They also run through Feb. 5.
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