Main Street Electrical Parade to end run at Walt Disney World; return to Disneylandby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Through a pair of Disney Parks Blogs postings Wednesday evening, Disney made a big announcement regarding the Main Street Electrical Parade. The two posts—one aimed at the Walt Disney World visitor, the other at the Disneyland fan—have subtle differences, but combined, do very little to quell the endless speculation over the long-term fate of two popular nighttime spectaculars.
The announcement out of Walt Disney World shares that the Main Street Electrical Parade will end its most recent run at the Magic Kingdom on October 9, 2016. The current version of the parade has been in Florida since 2010, where it was shipped for a "limited engagement."
The Disneyland announcement provided the additional details that the Main Street Electrical Parade would return to Disneyland park (not Disney California Adventure), for a "limited-time encore engagement" in 2017. Prior to that, the Paint the Night parade, which Disney had previously announced would end its 60th Anniversary engagement on September 5, will return on select nights during the holiday season. There has been rampant online speculation that Paint the Night would be shipped to Walt Disney World, but in response to a reader question, Disneyland's Erin Glover said, "Future plans have not yet been determined, but at this time there are no plans to bring 'Paint the Night' to Walt Disney World Resort."
So what we now know is that the Main Street Electrical Parade is leaving Walt Disney World and returning to Disneyland for an as-yet-unspecified encore engagement in 2017. Paint the Night is not heading to Florida next month, and will still be on Disneyland property through the end of 2016. After that, future plans are a mystery.
This news is a real mixed bag for Disney fans on both coasts. For Walt Disney World visitors, it means the end of nighttime parades in the Magic Kingdom for the announced future. True, there are still the Halloween and Christmas parades offered during the added-cost holiday parties, but nothing for visitors who don't shell out the extra money to attend those events.
For Disneyland fans, it means swapping, for some unknown period of time, the still-new Paint the Night parade for a parade that's definitely showing its age. Twitter commentator @westcoasternet said, "Ever hear a Tesla owner say 'I'm gonna trade this in and get a 1986 Hyundai'? Didn't think so, but that's what DL just got."
Ever hear a Tesla owner say "I'm gonna trade this in and get a 1986 Hyundai"? Didn't think so, but that's what DL just got.— Jim Disney (@westcoasternet) August 11, 2016
I'd say this is more like trading in a Tesla for a DeLorean. The DeLorean was a groundbreaking vehicle when it debuted, and will forever have a place in automotive history. But if you were to offer me the keys to my choice of those two vehicles for my everyday use, I'm taking the Tesla.
Based on the reaction on social media, there are thousands upon thousands of MSEP fans who are giddy about this news. I truly wish I could join them in their glee. The Main Street Electrical Parade plays a very prominent role in my Disneyland memories—both my very first, as well as my most treasured. When the parade famously had its "farewell season" at Disneyland in 1996, I was there for most of that summer and fall to watch the final performances. I joined the throng of people who followed the last float to the parade gates after the final public performance, and collected the lightbulbs Disney later packaged and sold to collectors. MSEP is the parade of my childhood, and I treasure it.
However, the parade will be 40 years old when it returns to Main Street, U.S.A. Its technology is painfully dated when compared to more recent parades like Paint the Night, SpectroMagic, Dreamlights, and—dare I say it—even Light Magic.
But maybe this is all part of the plan. It may be that the only way Disney could permanently retire MSEP is to bring it back home, let the fans say farewell one last time, and finally give it the Ol' Yeller treatment. Disneyland gets a marketing hook and attendance hook during an otherwise slow season, fans get a chance to say goodbye, and everyone feels better when it's all over.
Still, what of Paint the Night? I'd argue that this parade truly is the heir to the Main Street Electrical Parade, and belongs at Disneyland. Walt Disney World has a poor history of returning things "borrowed" from Disneyland (MSEP, Walt's office, the Lion King Celebration floats), so I'd like to keep Paint the Night in California, thankyouverymuch. Of course, I do wonder how much storage room the parade barns really have—is there room for Paint the Night, A Christmas Fantasy Parade, Mickey's Soundsational Parade, and the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland? Will one of those parades go to Disney California Adventure to share a room with the Pixar Play Parade? The logistics of all of this fascinate me.
But, back to Walt Disney World. The Florida resort deserves a shiny new night parade, too. WDW fans have long pined for the return of SpectroMagic, that park's classic nighttime parade. The parade went on hiatus in 2010 when the Main Street Electrical Parade began its current run, and was confirmed by Disney to be "retired" in 2013 after reports surfaced of the destruction of the parade floats. Just as Paint the Night was created to be the new Electrical Parade for Disneyland, Disney needs to design a new-and-improved SpectroMagic for the Magic Kingdom.
Just, hands off our parade, OK, Florida? Or at least send us something to hold as collateral for the timely return of Paint the Night. I'm sure DCA could put the Festival of Dreams parade to good use.