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Sue Kruse
Disney's Electrical Parade
I’ve typed at least six different introductions for this column. Each one I have erased. I tried clever, informative, reminiscent, cute, well you get the picture. None of them worked. I’m just going to admit it right out. I’m glad the Main Street Electrical Parade is back. I like the thing. It has a fond place in my heart. I don’t care that it’s not at Disneyland or that I now have to call it Disney’s Electrical Parade. I don’t care that it’s in Disney’s California Adventure to boost attendance. I’m just glad I can see it again.

It’s been five years since we last saw the back of the eagle on the flag float "glowing" away here in California. Disneyland was a madhouse during those last days. I don’t think it’s too much of an exaggeration to say that energy was matched Monday night. DCA was positively charged with electricity over the excitement of the return of the parade. Yes, I know, charged with electricity. Horrible pun. That is exactly how it felt though.

In a brief ceremony before the parade, Cynthia Harriss, President of the Disneyland Resort, explained, "We have received endless requests to return Disney’s Electrical Parade back to California. To honor the past and celebrate the future, it’s our pleasure to bring it home to Disney’s California Adventure."

Cynthia then introduced Disney’s special guests for the evening, the 2400 boys and girls from Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles and Orange County. Then she turned over the podium to Paul Pressler, Chairman of the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts who presented a plaque to the Big Brother and Big Sister organization, with the note that Walt Disney helped found Big Brothers in 1954.

With that out of the way, it was time to start the parade. If you’ve been to Disneyland and seen the fireworks, then you’re familiar with that shimmering sound that signals the beginning of the Believe. If you don’t know what I talking about, try and imagine the sound of pixie dust sprinkling down from the sky. That’s the sound we heard next. Then silence. Then...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Disney Proudly presents

And those old familiar and much-missed strains of the Baroque Hoedown started. It was "well-up-with-tears-of-nostalgia time.

Here’s a spoiler warning. Don’t read any further if you want to be surprised when you see Disney’s Electrical Parade for the first time.

Disney’s Electrical Parade is pretty much the same old thing with a little extra pixie dust thrown in. If you loved it before, you’ll still love it. It is missing the Pinocchio float and part of the Snow White section, but that doesn’t seem to matter. As director Denny Newell told me, the decision was made to rearrange a bit. The only physical changes made to the floats themselves, are in a refurbishment vain. They’ve been dressed-up with new coverings made of a sparkly material and of course, there are new (and brighter) lights. They removed the old ones, you may remember.

The words on the drum float now switch back and forth from Disney’s Electrical Parade to A California Classic. When I asked Denny what is his favorite thing about directing the Electrical Parade, he replied, "Getting to work with a classic." He also added that with a choreography background, it was fun for him to be able to add a few dance steps of his own to the parade.

In addition to the brighter lights and new coverings, Denny told me to look for a few surprises that have been added in. They are small, but so delightful. As a child, I loved Dumbo’s friend, Timothy Mouse. He’s been very cleverly placed just the right spot. And, do you remember the clown who would perform "magic" tricks with lighted globes in the circus section? This has been updated with a "tinker bulb" effect that works, well, magically. The clowns have new costumes much nicer than the old and Mr. Smee floats along in a lovely new and much larger boat that while it no longer spins, does interact with the Hook float at one point in the parade.

Alice still chats incessantly from atop her mushroom, the bugs still spin, the millipede still "womp-womps" along, and Elliot, that dear old dragon still snorts clouds of steam as he and Pete make their way down the parade route.

The Electrical Parade is back and I do believe all is now right with the world. But will it pack them in to DCA? "It was awesome," was Evanjelyn Nathan’s comment. Evanjelyn and her niece Kaylah were there as guests of Big Brothers and Sisters. Never having seen the Electrical Parade before, they were impressed and having a wonderful time.

For Judy and Dan Prince of Placentia, the parade was full of nostalgia, "We’ve seen it lots of times at Disneyland and saw part of it tonight. It was a big draw to get us here." When asked if they would come back, Dan replied, "In all honesty, I don’t know is it’s enough to bring us back. We’ve been here since four o’clock and we’ve done everything."

Annual Passholder Gina Turney commented, "I’d rather see it at Disneyland, but it brings excitement that hasn’t been here before."

And what about the merchandise? Everyone always wants "the stuff". I’ll let Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix fill you in on that...

The Electrical Parade, no matter what they're calling it these days, is my all-time favorite bit of Disney entertainment. I have MSEP collectibles all over my house, and quite a collection of logo clothing.

Naturally, I was looking forward to seeing what the merchants came up with for the grand return of the parade to the Disneyland Resort. I had even seen some... samples, shall we say?, of items that had been designed for the return of the parade, created back when the parade was still returning to Disneyland.

I've been asking around the past few weeks, and had learned that there were 57 SKUs, (stock keeping units - item numbers), of Electrical Parade merchandise, and that the merchandise would be available for sale Monday morning. Based on all of that, I was really expecting this to be an expensive shopping trip.

I walked into Greeting from California bright and early Monday, camera in hand and wallet close by, and found.....

Four pins and a tee shirt. Well, to be completely fair, there three colors of adult tee shirts, two colors of kids tee shirts, and a sweatshirt for adults and kids, all with the same logo. But that's it. Everything else on the table was generic, non- logo, nondescript flashing carnival stuff.

WHERE were the other items? No hats? No mugs? No jackets? No ANYTHING? Where was all the cool stuff I had heard about?

Later in the day I was able to talk to Mike Griggs and Carmen Bauza, two of the merchandise honchos for the Disneyland Resort. Mike and Carmen were able to fill me in on the status of the Electrical Parade merchandise. As Carmen explained it, the parade was moved up a few months to a July opening, but much of the merchandise could not be rushed to meet the new deadline.

The soft lines, items like the shirts and sweatshirts, could be produced more quickly. Hard lines, things like mugs and photo frames, will start trickling in over the next month. By the end of September, the entire collection will be available. You can expect to see a fiber-optic hat, plush characters that light up and play music, and even more pins. In fact, there will eventually be a pin for each float or unit in the parade.

For now, though, you've got your choice of pins or shirts. Annual Passholders will be able to buy an exclusive 5th pin this Thursday. As for the 57 SKUs, I found out that Disneyland counts each size and color of a shirt as a different SKU. So, 5 different pins, and the other 52 items are really just more shirts. I can't wait until September! I think one of those hats has my name on it.

Oh, and, by the way - did you happen to notice that all of the logo merchandise says Disneyland Resort, and the tee shirt graphic shows both Grizzly Peak and the Castle? Don't tell me that parade isn't going to find it's way back to Disneyland someday!



Disney’s Electrical Parade 2001 (DEP) Line-up:

Opening Unit

Blue Fairy

2 Royal pages

Train with Goofy driving

Drum Logo with Mickey & Minnie

Alice In Wonderland Unit

Turtle with Glasses

Pink snail

Butterfly Mushroom

Yellow Snail (with White Rabbit walking along side)

Alice on Mushroom

2 Bumblebees

Mushroom with Caterpillar on top

Turtle with Hat


Cinderella Unit

4 Cinderella Mice

Pumpkin Coach (Coachman-driver in front, Cinderella in coach, Fairy Godmother in back)

Canopy #1 (with 6 Canopy Carriers $ 4 Court Couples)

Staircase (with Prince Charming in front, Anastasia & Drizella in back)

Canopy #2 (with 6 Canopy Carriers & 4 Court Couples)

Clock Tower

Peter Pan Unit

Pirate Ship (with Captain Hook & Peter Pan in front and Pirate/driver in back)

Row Boat (with Mr. Smee)

Dumbo Circus Unit


Calliope (with King Lion inside)

Circus A (with Dumbo in front & Magician Clown in back)

Circus Bear

Circus B (with Ball Clown in front & Juggler Clown in back)


Snow White Unit

Snow White (walking)

Mine Train (driven by Dopey)

Doc, Grumpy (walking)

Happy, Sleepy (walking)

Sneezy, Bashful (walking)

Pete’s Dragon Unit

Elliot (with Pete riding)

Finale Unit

Flag and Drum Units (with 10 Finale dancers along side)


2 Wing Tenders walking in back

2 Rope Carriers

DEP Facts

The Electrical Parade made its debuts in the summer of 1972 at Disneyland and ran from June 17 through September 9.

It was originally scheduled for one performance each night, but was so successful that a second nightly performance was added beginning July 29.

It took over 20 designers and 60 craftsmen to create the parade.

During its initial runs, it was performed approximately 3,600 times.

More than 70 million visitors viewed the parade.

Since 1972 approximately 2,600 performers have appeared in the parade.

Over the years, the parade has changed with additions and deletions of floats. Retired floats include, "It’s a Small World", "Briny Deep", and a "Birthday Cake" float.

Today’s floats are more three- dimensional and the light bulbs are smaller and more numerous.

There are over half-a- million light bulbs used in the parade.

A sophisticated sound system coordinates the various musical themes, which are played from speakers along the route and from the floats themselves.

The Clock Tower of the Cinderella section is 23 feet tall.

The To Honor America red, white, and blue flag finale is 108 feet long.

Elliot, the dragon is 40 feet long and 17 feet high.

Each float requires only one driver.

The current edition of the Electrical Parade has 22 drivers, 5 Performer Drivers, and 73 Performers.

Starting Tuesday, July 3, and continuing nightly throughout the summer, Disney’s Electrical Parade will be presented at 8:45 and 10:30 PM at Disney’s California Adventure.

Cynthia Harriss' Electrical Parade dedication (Transcribed by Kevin Yee)

(First, parade route guys hyped up the crowds, specifically the Big Brothers Big Sisters gang [BBBS] - Classic Disney songs are played along the parade route)

Cynthia gets on the speaker:

"Well, good evening everyone, and welcome to Disney’s California Adventure. This evening we honor the past and celebrate the dreams which create our future. After retiring [the parade] we received endless requests: please bring it back. And so that's what we're doing this evening."

(Cynthia then draws a parallel between the tradition of the DEP and the BBBS. Tonight’s guests include over 2000 BBBS guests from all over SoCal. She then introduces Paul Pressler to tell us about BBBS)

Paul says: "We're here to celebrate the tradition of the Electrical Parade, but also to celebrate a different tradition. In 1954, before he opened Disneyland, Walt founded Big Brothers of Los Angeles." (possibly not a perfect exact quote)

(Paul talks more about BBBS than DEP. He announces that Big Brothers and Big Sisters have merged to form BBBS of LA. Paul then introduce two leaders of BBBS - Keith and Carolina. They come on stage with Mickey and Minnie.)

Paul presents Keith and Carolina a special plaque with the words: "Handing down tradition, lighting up lives, thanking you for sharing the magic"

Cynthia then waves off Mickey and Minnie, on stage come two kids to sing The Second Star to the Right (good voices actually)

Cynthia comes back to introduce DEP.

"We invite you now to enjoy the return of the glittering classic that has brightened the hearts of millions."

(Cue music right away – the parade floats have been hiding around the corner – basically at the sun icon – and now come directly into the press / ceremony area in front of the vineyard)

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