Parades! I love parades. For a lazy person such as myself they are a thing of beauty. YOU sit still, and THEY walk past you. I always feel like a debauched Roman lord when I watch a parade. “Yes, yes, go by with your instruments and dancers and entertain me en route. I shall sit here and wave if so inclined.” Since the Disney people have all the money ever in the world they put on a helluva parade, I can tell you. The first one I saw was the 3:00 Festival of Fantasy parade. I got there early and staked out a good spot on the curb. First the Grand Marshalls went by. It was a family and a newlywed couple riding in an oldey-timey car.
And then there were dancers with Belle and the Beast behind them. I have to say, the picking of the floats and what’s on them got weirder and more arbitrary as they went on, almost as if the parade organizers had walked into an enormous warehouse and cobbled together floats from pre-existing bits of other floats. You’ll see what I mean. So first, Beauty and the Beast.
On the same float was Cinderella, the sisters from Frozen and the two main characters from The Princess and The Frog.
Following that was an elaborate float for Tangled, the Rapunzel movie. Which doesn’t make any sense. Tangled came out four years ago and earned $600 million. Frozen came out last year and brought in 1.2 BILLION. People are obsessed with it. I hear that damn “Let It Go” song everywhere I go (really, Korean Grocery Store? Twice? Is that necessary?). Frozen is just a part of a float shared by four movies and Tangled gets its own entire float. And to make a float for Frozen is easy as hell. It’s all about snow and ice which is nice and non-specific. Take a pre-existing float, paint it blue with snowflakes, hang icicles from every horizontal surface and have it blow powdery stuff that resembles snow. I mean, I’m not implying that any float Disney would build would be easy, but that is infinitely less complicated than most.
So, the Tangled float. Loved it. Men were riding giant swinging axes:
And on the back was an animatronic goat chewing its cud and turning its head from side to side. He was my favorite.
Right behind that was The Little Mermaid float which was unbelievable. Each float was preceded by dancing people in costumes and the ones for The Little Mermaid looked like they came directly from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (a movie about Australian drag queens). I loved these costumes.
And then the float itself. Wowsers. Everything on it moved – the fish doing conga lines, the starfish, the guy at top, Sebastian. The rear of the float blew bubbles. I was so impressed.
After that came the Peter Pan float which I was not too blown away by, but I’ve never seen the movie so I imagine it was more impactful to someone who has reference. Loved the glittery rainbow though. I want that in my house. Riding behind Tinkerbell was a huge mechanized crocodile making a loud ticking noise. I thought that was due to faulty construction, but Snorth informed me when I got home that the crocodile swallows a clock in the movie and it’s supposed to tick. Good to know.
I saw the float coming up next and was like, why is the girl from Brave riding a giant plaid cannon? I was wrong. She’s riding a giant plaid BAGPIPE. New goal in life: ride a giant plaid bagpipe. But not while wearing a full-length crushed velvet dress and twenty pound wig in 90-degree weather. Skip that part. Keep the riding-the-bagpipe part only.
Then there was the Sleeping Beauty float. Wisely, since the movie with Angelina Jolie just came into theaters, the focus was on Maleficent. I didn’t even see the woman dressed at Sleeping Beauty walk by. It was led by the three fairies. Here’s something I can’t figure out. They were wearing hoop skirts and gliding along on some kind of wheeled platform hidden under their skirts, but you could see their hands, so how did they control it? Was it like a Segway and they used their feet? Or was it being remote-controlled by someone off-site? If you know the answer to this I would greatly appreciate it. Chasing the fairies were men dressed like extras from a Cirque du Soleil production walking on stilts and flapping big purple wings.
The Maleficient float was actually a giant fire-breathing dragon. It looked like something directly from Burning Man. You could see the man controlling it (he’s sitting in the neck area) and there were all these visible cogs and cranks. It definitely was a (pleasant) departure from the other, more polished floats.
Here’s where things start to get weird. The Pinocchio float comes by with the bubble ribbon dancers. Okay. Haven’t seen that film in over twenty years so maybe bubbles and ribbons play a big role.
The finish to the parade is Mickey and Minnie being led by the Katy Perry Dancers! That’s what I called them anyway.
Seriously. Look at these pictures of Katy Perry. Its spot-on.
The Mouse Couple was riding on a float covered in the ballet-dancing hippos from Fantasia. But no other references to Fantasia, just the hippos (and maybe an ostrich from the same scene). This was the float that felt especially like “Quick, make a float for Mickey! Hippos! Great! That’ll work!”
Since I figured I would most likely never return to the Magic Kingdom I wanted to stick around for the Electric Parade and the fireworks, but I didn’t know what to do with myself for most of the day. I went to Belle’s castle and did the interactive tour which was clearly meant for little kids, but I tried to not resemble a creeper as much as is possible when you’re in the midst of a group of five-year-olds alone with no children in tow. I stood in line for what I thought was a boat ride through Ariel the mermaid’s cave dwelling but it ended up being for pictures with Ariel, so I quickly snuck out of there, but not before getting some pics of the glass nudibranch light fixtures.
I eventually wandered back in Adventureland and opted to go to The Enchanted Tiki Room. Holy Moses. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in the 1960s, fret no more, it can be achieved in The Enchanted Tiki Room. The second it ended I walked back around to the front to go again. The second time around I imagined myself holding a sweaty glass filled with Midori and pineapple juice and dressed like a character in Mad Men. It totally worked. It really does transport you. I highly recommend it but a warning: this was the least culturally-sensitive thing I saw while I was there. I flinched numerous times during the experience. Just something to be aware of. RAY. CIST.
As I sauntered back through Frontierland to get to Main Street where the Electric Parade happened, I saw the moochie egret again. It was like four hours later and he was still there, moochin’.
The Electric Parade was super-cool. Not only did I feel like a Roman emperor, because of all the cool lights I felt like a futuristic Roman emperor. The kids around me went absolutely crazy, screaming and pointing and dancing wildly. Normally I’m quite the curmudgeon and I would have been all GET OFF MY LAWN about it, but it was so sweet to see and this is their special place, not mine, so I let them accidentally kick and step on my fingers. This was the only remotely good picture I got because darkness and movement is not my camera’s strong suit, but there are a million and one videos of the actual parade for you to watch on youtube if you want to see the whole thing.
The fireworks were meh. I realized that they can’t have a fourth of July-style show every night, but I left about five minutes in and headed back to the hotel. I craved the embrace of air conditioning. I feel like I got a sense of the place. If I go back to Orlando I will go to Epcot or the Kennedy Space Center. Momma needs more mental stimulation in her theme parks.
Other cool stuff I saw at the Magic Kingdom:
A lampworked clear glass model of Cinderella’s castle.
Gaston’s restaurant. I sing bits of Gaston’s song from Beauty and the Beast all the time (“I USE ANTLERS IN ALL OF MY DECORATING!!!”) and it made me happy to see he had a restaurant. (Also, “AND EV’RY LAST INCH OF ME’S COVERED WITH HAIR!!!”)
The mosaics in Cinderella’s castle telling her story. They are spectacular.
The Crystal Pavilion in Frontierland. It was an expensive eating establishment so I didn’t go in, but it looked gorgeous from the outside.
And of course, I saw two beasties and got very excited. One, a lizard with a red flap on his chin. He waved it at me.
And a big white ibis that was walking around the waterways.