Trip Reports

Disneyland Days: The Nighttime Shows Return

This weekend brought the return of Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever and World of Color back to Disneyland Resort. We were there for the returns and did we manage to see all three in a night? Yes, yes we did. I wouldn’t be doing my friendly, neighborhood Disney blogger duties if I didn’t! In this post, we’ll cover the night’s events, offering some commentary and photos along the way.

MSEP Captain Hook DL

I’ve been blessed over the last few years to be at some monumental Disney days including Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary and the Disneyland debuts of Rise of the Resistance and Magic Happens. With each debut, or in this case a return, the anticipation and excitement is half the fun. I likely wouldn’t recommend going on an opening day to someone who isn’t a diehard theme park or Disney fan because of the crowd levels. But for those that do fit into that diehard box, these experiences promise something that we’ve all desperately missed over the last couple of years – community.

As crowds gather for shows, there is a certain buzz similar to what happens before a big sporting event or 5 minutes before your favorite band takes the stage. Seeing something live is an entirely different experience than on video because you have all of your senses but also because you’re joined by thousands of others who are there to do the exact same thing as you. Yes, that can be a little frustrating when racing to get the best possible spot to view that experience. In the broader sense though, being surrounded by thousands of others who are just as excited as you, and showing it in different ways, is beautiful.

MSEP Tinkerbell DL

The Disneyland community, filled with locals who treat the park as a second home and theme park lovers who think of the park as mecca, is diverse and eclectic. Filled with different cultures, orientations, and backgrounds, there’s a couple of things that we can all agree on. One of them being a love for the place that can be voiced through our different personalities. Another thing we all seem to love is nostalgia. That brought us to Main Street, on a windy Friday night in April of 2022.

MSEP Seven Dwarfs Train DL

If you’re unaware, Main Street Electrical Parade debuted 50 years ago. There’s some critique that no parade should run for 50 years that I do agree with, but that’s a post for another day. Outside of the Christmas Parade’s brief stint over the holidays, Disneyland hasn’t brought back a parade of any sort since reopening last year. In a romantic and completely nostalgic way, a nighttime parade that so many Disneyland fans grew up with being the first one back on the route after a 2 year hiatus is lovely.

Frankly, it’s a little hard to understand why Magic Happens hasn’t returned. The new parade was warmly received and felt like a breath of fresh air to the park. Excusing its absence may also be jumping into naivety, as operating costs stand as one of the few viable reasons why it hasn’t run. In its place is a tired parade with a reworked finale. Moreover, both of these parades could run on the same day as Magic Happens is a daytime affair and the Electrical Parade is at nighttime. These are regular talking points and frustrations that can be heard among the Disneyland faithful, but on that night it didn’t matter.

MSEP Fairy Godmother DL

We walked into the park, after having a meal at Lamplight Lounge, about an hour and a half before the Main Street Electrical Parade was set to make its first run. Melissa and I looked for spots, as our friends from out of town (hi Dana and Ty!) went off to enjoy a few other attractions. We searched the whole route and it was completely packed. We ended up about 6 rows deep, standing in front of some garbage cans as the parade would make the turn down Main Street. For being so full, we really lucked into the spot. For some reason, people don’t like to stand right by garbage cans? Who knew? It was easily the busiest I’ve seen the park since Rise of the Resistance opening day in 2020.

Eventually the parade came down the street. I’ll admit that the Main Street Electrical Parade is far from my favorite at this point but the soundtrack still works all of these years later. The tag they’ve added to the opening is heartfelt and well done, then that is followed by the familiar opening notes of the Baroque Hoedown. Nostalgia at its finest.

MSEP train DL

The opening float crept closer and then slowly made the turn down Main Street. With the turn came my favorite moment of the night. From our vantage point, we could see the floats coming from quite a ways out. Those further down Main Street really couldn’t though. So, as the train float made that turn you could hear the crowd erupt with cheering as they saw the familiar sight headed towards them. It was the loudest cheer of the night and something I’ll not soon forget.

As far as how the parade looked, I thought it was in decent shape. The first few floats were well maintained and brighter than I remembered. The crowd favorites like the Pete’s Dragon float and the spinning turtle and snail were fun and no worse for the wear. It does show its age in parts but, for a limited stint, I don’t think anyone will be disappointed in the parade’s condition.

MSEP Mirabel DL

The new finale float, taking the place of the flag, is interesting. There are a lot of details to it, especially in the bottom half of the lighting. It’s well done and pretty. There are a number of characters on top, taking the form of large dolls from it’s a small world. A few of them looked very good, notably Mirabel (Encanto) and Miguel (Coco), while others left something to be desired. In talking to Melissa and Michaela about the float, we seemed in agreement that the faces on the dolls were a bit strange and we wish those characters weren’t so stagnant.

MSEP new float Merida DL

I also think that redecorating an existing float lends itself to overdoing it and that may have happened here as there is so much to look at. As a finale float, I find the whole thing slightly underwhelming and actually prefer the old eagle. That said, parts of the detailing were the most modern thing about the whole parade and it was nice to see the amount of diversity in the characters chosen to be on that particular float.

MSEP Tiana new float DL

After the parade passed, we loped down Main Street and settled towards the end of it to watch Disneyland Forever. Wanting to exit quickly to make it over for the late showing of World of Color is why we picked the back of Main Street but it is a fun place to watch the show from with all of the projections on the buildings.

As I held the spot for our group, everyone around me started talking. The guy behind me told us he was here for the first time the Main Street Electrical Parade said goodbye in 1996. We all shared a laugh about us being there 26 years later for the opening of another stint. Everyone was in good spirits and friendly to one another.

Disneyland Forever castle DL

Before long Disneyland Forever started and ran about half the show with pyro. As I mentioned, it was a windy night and something must have happened to where they couldn’t complete the rest of the fireworks. It likely just got too windy. I’d never seen them stop doing pyro in the middle of the show and that was interesting. Disneyland Forever did roll on as the projections are enough to carry the show, at least for a while. I don’t love Disneyland Forever quite as much as some but it’s a massive upgrade over Mickey’s Mix Magic and I’m hoping it has a long run at the park.

Finally, we made our way over to California Adventure for the 10:15 showing of World of Color. We easily got a spot in the virtual queue at noon and had no trouble making it between parks. If you want to do all three shows in a night it’s certainly possible. If you’re at the resort for more than a day, I’m not sure I’d recommend it but we honestly didn’t have any trouble making it over, getting to our spot in California Adventure at least 5 minutes before they even started loading the viewing areas.

World of Color blue purple DCA

I will forever recommend standing in the splash zone to watch World of Color. There is so much space and the view is unmatched. Yes, you will get hit with some mist and I have seen rogue fountains come out of nowhere and drench people. But more often than not, you won’t get very wet at all and will have a better view than everyone else, even if you are arrive a little later. I often break out a poncho to wear, largely to cover my camera equipment in case that aforementioned rogue fountain decides to target me.

The anticipation for World of Color wasn’t nearly as high as the Disneyland counterparts. Some of that may have been because we saw the second showing of it. I did stand by a few people who were so excited and could seemingly recite every word of the show if they so pleased. It was a great viewing experience and, as excited as people are about the other two, World of Color might be the best nighttime show at Disneyland Resort until Fantasmic’s return.

World of Color fountains DCA

Disneyland and California Adventure Cast Members deserve a lot of recognition for their efforts on the day (and every day). The crowd levels were higher than they’ve been since reopening and there were new systems implemented. With all of those things come frustrated guests, but the CM’s handled it gracefully and with smiles on their faces. Thank you to all of them for a memorable night.

Out of all of the shows, the Main Street Electrical Parade definitely generated the most buzz. People were camped out for spots all day and the cheering for different floats was unmatched by anything else we heard that night. I absolutely adore nighttime shows and think they are part of the heartbeat of a Disney Park. But when I look back on this particular night I’m not going to remember the shows. Instead, I’ll remember the Disneyland community all gathered together for one night to celebrate not only a return, but everyone being back together again.

MSEP Pete's Dragon DL

Did you get to experience the nighttime shows returning to Disneyland Resort? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our Planning Guide here. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

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