Interview: How Disneyland is Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Main Street Electrical Parade

Last night, Disneyland guests were surprised by a special sneak-peek performance of the latest iteration of the park’s classic Main Street Electrical Parade.

I also had the opportunity to speak with a Disneyland Resort representative about the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade, its new float and intro, and the additional return of the Nighttime Spectaculars “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure and the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks above Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Mike Celestino, Laughing Place:  First of all, what are you folks at the Disneyland Resort most excited about regarding the return of the “Spectaculars” this week?

Mirna, Disneyland Resort:  Well, I think the most exciting part is that they're back, right? Starting April 22nd, our Nighttime Spectaculars are returning. And that means that over at Disney California Adventure Park, guests will once again be able to fall in love with “World of Color,” which I'm sure you're familiar with. [It’s a] beautiful sweeping show filled with dancing fountains, lighting effects, incredible score, scenes from our favorite films… and it harkens back to Walt Disney himself, so [it was an] instant classic.

At Disneyland [Park], we're so excited to have “Disneyland Forever” return. That's one of those literally “street to sky” celebrations, because the projections completely surround you and take you from the humble beginnings of this orange grove, to Disneyland, [and] now to some of our favorite Disney Animation and Pixar Animation films. When you think about the perfect goodnight kiss for Disneyland, you can't go wrong with fireworks. I think that's what's entertained our guests for so many years, and that's why we're so excited. And speaking of many, many years, I'm sure you know that the Main Street Electrical Parade is celebrating [its 50th anniversary] this year. How can we not be excited about that?

LP:  Let’s zoom in on the Main Street Electrical Parade. This is not the first time it's come back, even in recent years The 50th anniversary is a great reason to revive it again, but beyond that, how does Disneyland Resort decide when it's the right time to bring back a tried and true Spectacular like the Main Street Electrical Parade?

Mirna:  I think when we look at what resonates with our guests and what continues to delight our guests, something as nostalgic and as truly iconic as the Main Street Electrical Parade is just the right fit to bring back as we welcome back our Nighttime Spectaculars. For 50 years, the parade has been delighting audiences of all ages, and as we look to now celebrate its 50th anniversary, our Disney Live entertainment team really has pulled out all the stops with this brand new grand finale float to mark this milestone. This new float celebrates the theme of unity. It's inspired by the classic floats of the Main Street Electrical Parade, but also Mary Blair's iconic art style. If you think of “it’s a small world,” you know Mary Blair's art style, and that's what you're going to see reflected in this float. [It’s] made up of about seven different units within it, which makes it about 118 feet long, and it's one of the largest and longest floats in the parade's entire history.

LP:  Speaking of that finale float, you said a lot of influence came from Mary Blair and “it’s a small world.” There was a “small world” float in the Main Street Electrical Parade previously, was any inspiration taken from that original float?

Mirna:  The inspiration 's a combination of the classic floats and Mary Blair's art style. We always love to nod to things, so while we keep to that true Walt Disney vision of plussing things up, we also still love to harken back to the original and the classic. When our guests see it now, they'll be able to see and discover over a dozen familiar classic and contemporary stories. Depending on what side of the parade route you're on, you'll discover different characters from films like Aladdin, Raya and the Last Dragon and Coco. There's so many things to discover and fall in love with. I think it's the perfect way to touch that nostalgia for those people that remember growing up with this parade and then bring it to a new generation of fans.

LP:  The parade will now be performed without the iconic “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” intro, and I believe that change has been made to be more inclusive to the guests in the park. Can you talk about that decision?

Mirna:  You think about Walt's opening day speech: "To all who come to this happy place, welcome." And we really welcome dreamers of all ages from around the world, so it's a perfect invitation for everyone to just join us and dream and continue celebrating the Disneyland Resort.

The Main Street Electrical Parade, “Disneyland Forever” Fireworks, and “World of Color” all return tomorrow evening, Friday April 22nd, at the Disneyland Resort. For additional information be sure to visit the official Disneyland website.

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Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.