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Behind the Scenes – Main Street Electrical Parade

I’ve been a Disney theme park fan pretty much my whole life and as long as I can remember the Main Street Electrical Parade has been my favorite night time parade. It was a bitter-sweet parting back in 1996 when the MSEP supposedly glowed away forever, the floats were showing their age, and if they weren’t going to invest in upkeep of the parade, it was better that they just put it out of its misery. Alas, we knew it couldn’t last and soon there were versions both at Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World. The Disney World version eventually returned to California Adventure where it’s been performing the last few years.

Now with World of Color on the way, DCA just can’t handle a night parade logistically. As it worked out, Disney World was looking for something that would help it compete for guest’s attention in what is sure to be a busy summer, so MSEP slotted in to its idea of a Summer Nightastic! promotion perfectly.

It’s a big production to move a parade from the west coast to the east coast. It took 28 trucks (two trucks just for the costumes) and 5 days to pack everything up. It was then carefully driven across the country and reassembled in Florida. In all there are 23 floats, over 500,000 lights, and over 5 miles of wire.

Rehearsals are already underway for the 90 to 100 performers who make up the show each night. The parade will preview June 5th at a special passholder mix-in event. Then on June 6th Summer Nightastic! debuts with the MSEP as its star.

Today the media was invited in for a special ‘sneak peek’ at the improved MSEP. It’s returning from California with some upgrades. There is a new lead-off float featuring Tinker Bell, it’s to help promote the new Tinker Bell movies. Sorry Blue Fairy fans, perhaps she should lobby for her own DVD series. The Pinocchio floats made the journey east for the first time; new battery technology means it can now perform two full lengths of the parade route without losing its luster. Many new fiber optic lights have been added, most are part of a new ‘swirl’ effect that ties the floats together using Tink’s pixie dust as a motif.

The parade also has a new mix version of the sound track. They call it a ‘best of’ track. I found it to be more melodious than I remembered the Disneyland version. The good news is that the show producers found some original recordings of Jack Wagner announcing the parade. With the help of some careful sound editing guests will once again hear Jack’s synthesized voice proudly announcing the Main Street Electrical Parade. That should send chills up the backs of many guests who have seen the parade in its previous incarnations.

Here’s a video I’ve put together of my morning in the parade warehouse. I’ve added some audio interviews of the Show Producer and Costume Production Manager to give you some additional background for the parade.

There’s definitely more to come from this special sneak peek. Keep an eye out here on the blog over the next few days for some more treats.