Summer Magic-Summer Nightastic! Magic

by Jeff Kober, contributing writer

"Summer magic...that wonderful magic"
 —Richard M. & Robert B. Sherman

Growing up in Disneyland, there was something special about summer. With late night hours, it was when the fireworks were out, new attractions premiered, and parades came both day and night. Cool ocean breezes blew in to offset the warm, sunny afternoons, and entertainment came out from everywhere. There was something special about Disneyland at night during the summer. As Walt Disney would say:

"It's difficult for me to choose my favorite time of day to be at Disneyland...naturally, I enjoy them all. But one time which has a special attraction for me is Disneyland-after-dark."

So enter "Summer Nightastic!" a kid sister to last year's evening excitement at Disneyland. And leading the parade of offerings this summer is just that—a parade—The Main Street Electrical Parade (and here in Florida we use the words "Main Street")! Direct from Disney's California Adventure, this parade is set to replace the ready-to-move-on (California maybe?) SpectroMagic parade.

The Main Street Electrical Parade has already had several runs in the past at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. It ran from 1977 to 1991, then again for a couple of years around the turn of the millennium. That parade unit then headed off to Disneyland Paris where it ran there until 2003.

It's not only a "grand old flag'" it's a big and bright one, too. MousePlanet file photo.

For those on the East Coast who haven't seen the parade in a few years, many of the familiar elements are there, such as Goofy driving Casey Jr., Cinderella and her procession, and, my personal favorite, Elliot the dragon from Pete's Dragon. But there are some new elements as well. In lieu of the Blue Fairy, Tinkerbell now leads the processional. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are featured along with Pinocchio on Pleasure Island. If the floats seem brighter than ever, it's because most of the major floats have had new LED "pixie dust" effects added to them. For those who recall earlier years of the parade, you'll want to return this summer, when it's set to premiere in June.

A new Tinker Bell float will join the Main Street Electrical Parade when it returns to the Magic Kingdom for this summer. Photo © Disney.

But there's more this summer. Magic Kingdom will treat guests to a "special summer fireworks spectacular." There doesn't seem to be any name given to it, but they are suggesting that the offering is something different than Wishes.

Summer nights and castle fireworks. MousePlanet file photo.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will add new lighting effects and a new drop sequence as part of Summer Nightastic! Hopefully more evenings of Fantasmic! will be a part of the offering, but no formal mention was made during the press conference.

Sunset and twilight falls on Sunset Boulevard and the Twilight Zone Hollywood Tower Hotel. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Epcot will bring back the "Sounds Like Summer" concert series to Epcot. This might be a perfect date night for locals in the area. Disney's Animal Kingdom will extend evening hours several times a week as well. Even Chester and Hester's Dinorama looks better when it's nighttime.

Now the critic in me wants to suggest that all of this seems like an afterthought. It doesn't seem as splashy as last year's Summer Nightastic! at Disneyland. After all, I don't see, other than Elliot, any dragon or other change coming our way to save Fantasmic! We don't even have a band playing at the Tomorrowland Terrace at night.

But you have to understand, Summer is everything at Disneyland. At Walt Disney World, it doesn't carry the weight that it does out West. Years ago it did, when moms and dads drove their kids in the back of the station wagon. But now traffic is throughout the year with conventions in the spring and fall, not to mention the almighty spring break. Plus summer is hot and humid here in a way you'll never experience in Anaheim. And don't forget hurricane season.

That said, you probably won't see a hurricane—more likely a heavy afternoon rain. But don't worry, there's something wonderful about Walt Disney World after those summer storms when the heat and humidity finally break. Beyond the other mentions, there are a host of ways to enjoy Walt Disney World in ways far more than you can ever know at Disneyland.

There's the Spirit of Aloha show at Disney's Polynesian Resort.

Female dancers with twirly things. MousePlanet file photo by Mark Fendrick.
Reminiscent of Tahitian Terrace days at Disneyland. MousePlanet file photo by Mark Fendrick

Twilight swims at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort:

Worries melt away along the bay at Old Port Royale. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Formal dinner and an evening stroll through the gardens of Disney's Grand Floridian.

Enjoy the peaceful, quiet moments. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

A night flight with Characters-in-Flight, enjoying Ghiradelli's ice cream or late night shopping at Downtown Disney, and if you time it right, you might see fireworks in the distance.

Or my personal favorite, a beach side view of Disney's Electrical Water Pageant (coincidentally, the forerunner of the Main Street Electrical Parade).

Though the fireworks are seldom this dramatic, summer doesn't get any better than this. MousePlanet file photo by Don Sullivan.

So pack your bags this summer, find the station wagon and head on down for some summer magic, summer Nightastic Magic!

"Summer magic...that wonderful magic"

 —Richard M. & Robert B. Sherman