The Main Street Electrical Parade is back at Disneyland Resort to celebrate the parade’s 50th anniversary! The return has been met with a good amount of fanfare and high crowd levels. In this post, we’ll give our best viewing tips on seeing the parade, including when to see it and where to watch it from.
On most nights, the Main Street Electrical Parade runs twice. The showtimes are typically at 8:45 and 10:45, sandwiching a 9:30 showing of Disneyland Forever on the weekends and Mickey’s Mix Magic on the weekdays. Unless there’s a special event going on, the parade does run regardless of the weekday or weekend. There’s some joke here about the floats being 50 years old and them getting too tired to make it through the night but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
The first tip I’ll give is an obvious one, as it works for most applicable shows at Disneyland. The second running of the parade is way less crowded. Now, there are some downsides to seeing the second showing that we’ll get to in a minute but if you want to spend the least amount of time saving a spot while still getting the best spot possible then go to the second showing.
If you’re unfamiliar with Disneyland’s parade route, the floats begin the night by going up the park toward the entrance. They start near Small World, go up the path by the Matterhorn and end up on Main Street. The second showing is the reverse of that. Here’s a little map to show you the parade route and viewing areas.
I’ve outlined 5 general viewing areas with my very professional numbers on this. While it wasn’t my intention, they are mostly how I’d rank the best views of the parade with a few caveats. The first spot on the list is also the most limited and is only my favorite viewing spot for the first parade of the night. When the floats turn up Main Street, with the castle in the background, it’s a view that can’t be beat. The walls of Main Street frame the parade perfectly and this ends up being a perfect place to photograph from.
The problem is that there are very few spots that have this exact view. After those are filled up then the rest of that area is significantly worse. You can get a good view of the floats as they circle around the flag pole but there won’t be much in the background. Long story short, get here very early for a great view of the parade or don’t bother. I don’t like this view nearly as much for the second showing and would actually recommend the third viewing spot for photography purposes on that showing. That way you would be looking up Main Street as the floats come down toward you.
The second seating area I have outlined is just anywhere on Main Street. This is one of the most popular spots but for good reason as the seating and view is great if you get a spot on the curb. Both sides of Main Street are available for viewing, as Cast Members will set up a rope to view the parade. As long as you’re inside of that rope then you’re good. For last minute viewing, there are times when you can find a spot just inside the rope. Be kind and don’t crowd people that have been there for hours waiting, but it can be a viable strategy.
As a whole, Main Street would be my second pick for where to view the parade from, placing just after section 1 for the first showing and section 3 for the second showing. This area has the best atmosphere and will give you a 180 view of the parade as it passes. Depending on the crowd levels, getting a spot here for the second showing after the fireworks is a way to get the best spot and wait the least amount of time.
I’ve already touched on section 3 and there’s a wide array of views here. If you’re going to watch from section 3, I’d recommend a spot looking up Main Street toward the entrance of the park especially on the second show. There’s also a good view facing the castle, in front of Plaza Inn. This section also houses reserved seating that you can gain access to by using a dining package. We plan to review that in the coming weeks.
Moving ahead to section 4, which is the narrowest spot to sit on the parade route. This is also a good section to get a last minute spot, as there’s a bench of sorts to sit on and a place to sit in front of the bench. The downside here is that the view isn’t all that interesting and the floats are right above you so there’s a lot of looking up. On the plus, it’s one of the more intimate spots on the whole route and you’re likely to get some good character interaction.
Finally, that brings us to section 5. In my experience, this section fills up faster than section 4 and doesn’t offer anything better unless you get a view with Small World in the background. There’s some excitement to the section being the first or last viewing spot of the parade. But I still don’t think I’d recommend the spot. There’s nothing especially wrong with the area and you can certainly find a great spot but I like everywhere else on the list a little more.
Hopefully this helps you decide when and where to see the Main Street Electrical Parade. Really, as long as you’re in the front row with a seated spot then it’s hard to mess up the view. You’ll want that view to see Pete and his dragon light up and then disappear!
Where are your favorite parade viewing spots in Disneyland? 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!
Categories: Vacation Tips