Exactly eight years after its first debut, the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” made its much-anticipated return to the Magic Kingdom today. Thousands of guests packed the parade route for the popular parade’s first step-off in almost two years during its 11:30 am premiere.
Anticipating the popularity of today, many arrived well before the parade’s launch with hundreds securing their curbside seats hours before the parade’s scheduled arrival. Beginning in Frontierland, it takes about 25 minutes for the parade’s opening scenes to reach Cinderella Castle and Main Street USA, locations that often gather the largest crowds.
For today’s first performance, the Grand Marshals of the “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” included Walt Disney World Ambassadors Raevon Redding and Ali Manion accompanied by a number of equally cheerful cast members.
The selection celebrated the remarkable role that cast members play each day in creating memorable experiences for guests during the “World’s Most Magical Celebration,” which marks the resort’s 50th anniversary.
Redding and Manion began their tenure as ambassadors as the 50th anniversary celebration began. They will serve in the roles throughout the 2022-2023 season in a tradition that began 57 years ago at Disneyland Resort.
A Festival of Disney Fun
As the clouds rolled in and a light drizzle began, the parade stepped off just behind the Grand Marshals to thousands of relieved guests. Luckily for everyone, Mother Nature held off just long enough for today’s exciting occasion. In fact, the blue sky even broke through as the parade rounded the curve in front of Cinderella Castle.
“Hear ye! Hear ye! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the Magic Kingdom. You are warmly invited to join Mickey Mouse and his Fantasyland friends for a magical celebration in the streets!” a regal announcer excitedly proclaimed prior to the parade’s arrival.
“Dreams will come true, hearts will soar, and you will become a part of the magica. For the time has come to take your places, and prepare to welcome the woundrous and wonderful Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade!” he as concluded Belle rounded the corner in perfect timing.
Featuring an abundance of Disney characters, the parade began with a nod to the royal side of Disney stories. Belle began the spectacle with Cinderella following close behind. Tiana joined Elsa and Olaf to greet guests at the end of the sequence.
Colorful village dancers and a collection of Pub Thugs accompanied Rapunzel on her enormous float.
Of course, Flynn Rider and Maximus also gallantly swung from the interactive vessel.
The music switched to a more island theme as Ariel approached. Surrounded by some of the most vibrant costuming in the parade, Ariel sat perched in a clam shell high above a mountain of coral.
The sequence for The Little Mermaid offers such an abundance of bright shades in comparison to the muted greens, browns and oranges of the opening to the “Peter Pan” segment that follows.
Parade Takes on Daring Turn
What a joy to see Peter, Captain Hook, Smee and Tinker Bell yet again bring their dramatic storyline to the streets of the Magic Kingdom. Of course, Tick-Tock always adds to the whimsy too. Wendy even joined the Lost Boys!
Notably missing from the route following the Peter Pan Sequence was the vibrant “Brave” set. Merida currently features in the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade though.
Returning again, Steampunk Malificent finally found herself back in her narrative during today’s parade as well. The incredible float made its return to Main Street months ago during Disney After Hours Boo Bash, a special Halloween event.
The “Sleeping Beauty” sequence really stands out as the penultimate scene of “The Festival of Fantasy Parade.” Prince Phillip must fight through thick vines and malevolent birds on stilts to defeat the evil fire-breathing dragon.
Luckily, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather accompanied him to assist in his heroics.
In yet another juxtaposition of color, the finale of the parade quickly switched from the intensity of Phillip’s fight to a familiar tune dedicated to our “favorite leader of the club.”
Packed with an abundance of classic Disney favorites, “The Festival of Fantasy Parade” conclusion kicks off with Alice, the Mad Hatter, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Jiminy Cricket happily frolicking down the path.
Pinocchio, Donald Duck, Pluto, and a number of playful characters join the celebration next in a burst of carnival-themed hues. Chip, Dale, and Goofy danced behind them leading to the grand finale with Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck also walking together.
The man himself, Mickey Mouse, closed today’s parade alone on his air balloon.
Aside from changes to the arrangement of the characters within the parade, the closing segment also debuted some notable changes to the parade’s catchy tune. Themes from the choruses to both “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “When I See an Elephant Fly” were removed from the parade due to cultural sensitivity.
Catching the parade
Today’s parade certainly had some notable changes, including the absence of a number of characters and the majority of dancers in each scene. With continuing casting, we hope to see these spirited performers and beloved personalities return soon.
For those hoping to be swept up in the whimsy and wonder of “The Festival of Fantasy Parade,” the Magic Kingdom will present a spectacular surprise for Spring Break guests. The 3 o’clock parade now runs twice! Beginning today, the parade will step off in Frontierland at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm That schedule remains until Saturday. Beginning Sunday, the parade will change its schedule slightly with showtimes beginning at 12:00 pm and the traditional 3:00 pm