What were you doing in 1980? Were you hanging out at Disneyland for the holidays? 39 years ago on December 21, 1980 Disneyland held a special presentation of its Christmas parade for guests and assembled VIPs. The parade is quite different than the ones we’re used to seeing today and a fantastic look back Walt’s park at the young age of 25.
I loved this parade, a similar version of which (with a few more floats) was still running in the early 90s when I made my way south from Portland for good.
The quality of this video tape is pretty good considering its age. We discovered it posted by Disney author Bill Cotter on a Vintage Disneyland group. There are some great gems in there, including a rare Song of the South unit at around the 20 minute mark. I loved that Mary Poppins rooftop unit and how the characters moved from on it to the street for their dancing.
Unlike the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Disneyland had no backstage route for the parade floats. So floats were driven from Fantasyland to Main Street in the first parade and back the other way in the days second parade. During the interim hours, the floats were all stored behind the Opera House in a very tight little circle. Tended to limit the size and number of floats too.
Equestrian units, however, were able to go back to the Circle D Ranch (then located behind Frontierland) for a rest. So if you timed your trip on the Disneyland railroad right, you could see the equestrian units lined up on the narrow road between the berm and Harbor Blvd waiting for the 2nd parade to begin.
Our nostalgia for the early years of any Disney theme park is strong. Is there any particular time period you’d like to see more video from?