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The Main Street Electrical Parade returns to Disneyland

January 20, 2017, 12:04 AM · Disneyland tonight welcomed back its Main Street Electrical Parade, which ran on its original route for the first time in 21 years.

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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Replies (13)

January 20, 2017 at 12:41 AM · Wish I was there.
January 20, 2017 at 11:31 AM · Looking forward to seeing the parade on January 26th!
January 20, 2017 at 12:04 PM · These all look like great additions. And when it was being built, who would have thought that the Paradise Garden Grill was going to make such a beautiful setting for the park too hold mini-celebrations?
January 21, 2017 at 10:09 AM · That music instantly brings a tear to my eyes that recalls a long lost innocence and a world I can never get back. This is really Disney at its best.
January 21, 2017 at 1:47 PM · We loved it at Magic Kingdom. So how come Disneyland now has TWO nighttime parades, and WDW has NONE?
January 21, 2017 at 2:12 PM · My understanding is that "Paint the Night" is temporarily off the schedule while the "Main Street Electrical Parade" makes it's final run at Disneyland, where it begun back in the 70's. I think everyone is convinced that MSEP will be "retired" for good after this. It brings back childhood memories for sure.

I would imagine that Florida will be getting a new nighttime parade similar to Paint the Night soon but I have no proof of this.

January 21, 2017 at 3:58 PM · I would have thought that Paint the Night would have gone to WDW.

Either way, Disneyland owes WDW a new parade after they ruined the Spectromagic Floats in a rain storm.

And it is worth repeating...Paint the Night Parade IS the MSEP. It is basically the same parade. Am I the only one missing this?

One thing that always amazes me is how much DL fans shun nostalgia. You guys are the original park! WDW would kill for that nostalgia. You got rid of the Carousel of Progress for god sakes!

January 22, 2017 at 2:36 PM · Disneyland fans shun nostalgia? That's a good one!

How do you figure Disneyland ruined the SpectroMagic floats? They were stored in Florida not California.

As for the Carousel of Progress at Disneyland goes, General Electric sponsored the attraction and because it had lost it's popularity at Disneyland GE asked Disney to move the show to the new park in Florida so they could promote their company to a new audience.

January 22, 2017 at 2:39 PM · Paint the Night is NOT the MSEP. Basically, the same...no way. How can you say that a parade from 2015, with today's technology, is the same as one designed and built in 1972?

Paint the Night is not going to Walt Disney World. It was a capital expenditure on Disneyland's budget and they're not parting ways with it anytime soon. Paint the Night will resume in June 2017.

Most people are unaware of the fact that the Disneyland Resort has warehouse parking on property for 5 different parades (2 at California Adventure, 3 at Disneyland Park). Spectromagic was destroyed in Florida.

Carousel of Progress disparately needs to be retired too.

January 22, 2017 at 2:44 PM · SpectroMagic was left outside while the Main Street Parade was carefully stored inside. They had enough room for one parade, not two. Guess which parade was left outside for 3 years to rot.
January 22, 2017 at 3:34 PM · I'll refrain from watching the video as I'm planning to go see the parade next month, but I'm glad that the Main Street Electrical Parade is back at its original home. Unfortunately, its had a rainy debut weekend, but hopefully that won't put a damper on the entire run.

As for what will happen next, I believe a lot depends on the reception of the electrical parade. From what little I've heard, there are no plans to send it to another Disney park, but there has also been no decision made about whether to make this the final run or to keep it as an off-season parade (it is much cheaper to perform than Paint the Night). Either way, Paint the Night is staying at Disneyland as the peak season parade and Magic Kingdom is supposed to be getting a new nighttime parade exclusive to the park, but that may be several years out (possibly not even until the 50th anniversary).

January 23, 2017 at 11:22 PM · Anthony, have you seen PTN, or videos of it? The floats are completely different, and the technology is leagues ahead of MSEP. They are both nighttime parades, but they are not the same, by any stretch of the imagination.

And yes, rumor has it that MK will be getting another nighttime parade...eventually. In the meantime, DL will be juggling two parades. And WDW only has ONE daily parade for the entire resort. That's crappy.

January 24, 2017 at 2:36 PM · Why is there so much false information reported in the comments?

Main Street Electrical Parade was on loan to Walt Disney World. The parade has now been returned. Its assets of the Disneyland Resort.

There are no plans, at this time, to extend this limited time promotional performance or bring it back again in the off season. The only plan after June 17 is to put the MSEP in storage at Disney California Adventure. What that means is anyone's guess.

Paint The Night is here to stay and Entertainment department plans to have it perform on an extended seasonal schedule, similar to way MSEP was scheduled at Disneyland in the 80s and 90s. That means nightly during the summer and spring break, weekends in the spring and they've added the period between Thanksgiving and New Years (MSEP was traditionally dark from Labor Day to Spring break).

Just to set the record straight MSEP is not cheaper to perform than Paint the Night. Labor costs are nearly identical when it comes to entertainment techs, management, performers, and park ops. The LED lighting draws far less electricity than the old incandescent bulbs, but the electric bill isn't something that is measured for budgeting purposes within the Entertainment department. It's all about labor. If anything, the age of MSEP floats require more work and result in additional labor costs for maintenance.

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