By Charly SHELTON
“Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination, in thousands of sparkling lights and electro-syntha-magnetic musical sounds … The Main Street Electrical Parade!”
That intro has not been heard echoing across Main Street, USA since Nov. 25, 1996. Not, at least, until now. Guests from around the country are swarming the park to see the triumphant return of The Main Street Electrical Parade to Disneyland park. Disneyland is currently in its off season, which typically means smaller crowds and shorter lines. Not so this year. The park is packed and, while the attraction wait times rival those of an easy spring day, the wait for the parade is immense. Personally, I was able to barely squeeze in to find a seat for two on Main Street, just over two hours before the parade arrived. And then as it inched closer to showtime, desperate groups of teenagers tried to push their way in between those who had waited, some for almost four hours. But all that faded away when the first electro-syntha-magnetic note sounded out across the Street. I am man enough to admit that I cried like a little boy when I heard “Disneyland proudly presents” and “The Main Street Electrical Parade.” Just bawled.
The parade originally opened in 1972 and ran through 1996, with a few years off for other special event nighttime parades like “America On Parade,” which celebrated the bicentennial, running from 1975 to 1977. Other than that, the Main Street Electrical Parade was a staple of nighttime at Disneyland as much as the fireworks or, later, Fantasmic!
Then it was officially closed in 1996, with a whole “Farewell Season” event that summer, running until its closing in November. After that, it travelled to Walt Disney World in Florida for a year-and-a-half to celebrate the millennium in 1999-01 before being brought back to the West Coast, this time at Disney’s California Adventure and rebranded “Disney’s Electrical Parade.”
It ran there until 2010, when it was sent back to Florida until 2016. The parade has travelled back and forth across the country many times but it is finally home, at Disneyland.
Not for long, though. The parade runs now through June 18 when it will turn its lights off once again to make way for the incumbent electrical parade which debuted for Disneyland’s 60th anniversary in 2015 – “Paint the Night.”
For any children of the ’80s and ’90s who remember this parade fondly, as I do, it is worth the price of admission to see this beloved nighttime spectacular again in Disneyland. The DCA run just wasn’t the same. The route was all wonky, the viewing was terrible and it just isn’t the Main Street Electrical Parade if it isn’t coming down Main Street, USA. This is like the return of Captain EO in 2010. It’s the same attraction you always remembered, but somehow through an adult’s eyes, the lights are a little brighter and more rose-tinted. That’s what nostalgia does to you.
Be prepared to wait several hours on the sidewalk for a good seat, but it will be completely worth it. Most attractions we remember that, once they are gone, never come back. Take this opportunity while you can.
Nightly, now through June 18.