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Disneyland Article
Bringing Back The Main Street Electrical Parade

Main Street Electrical Light Parade
Julie Tremaine
October 27, 2021
November 07, 2021
The optics for the recent developments at Disneyland have not been pretty lately. Sold-out Magic Key annual passes. Parking price hikes. A new, highest-price-ever ticket for the most in-demand days like holidays. At least two more months without parking trams.

And that’s all just this week.

But there’s one bright spot in all of this, literally: The Main Street Electrical Parade appears to be coming back to the park soon. The iconic and much-beloved parade started at Disneyland in 1972, ran through 1996 and features what’s believed to be approximately 500,000 light bulbs on its floats, which depict iconic scenes from movies like “Peter Pan” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

According to Disney blog Allears.net, when it was retired, the parade “had been performed almost 3,600 times for more than 75 million guests.”

Disney hinted at the parade's return on TikTok this morning via a video of a sparkling snail, one of the Electrical Parade floats, headed towards a Disneyland truck, followed by the message “to be continued.” Fan reception on social media has been positive, but many have been wondering whether it’s a move designed to engender goodwill towards the company in the midst of such a prolonged bad news cycle (including an ongoing lawsuit in which 25,000 cast members are suing Disneyland for a living wage).

“There are few guarantees in life,” @MadnessKingdom tweeted, “but Disney trotting out the Main Street Electrical Parade whenever they’re having some sort of trouble at the California parks is one of them.”

The move wouldn’t be without precedent. Disneyland has a history of using this particular parade to smooth over rough patches at the park. When the park retired the parade in 1996, the company used the idea that it was the last chance to see it to create a huge boost in attendance and profits. Then in 2001, it brought the then-retired parade to Disney California Adventure to combat lackluster attendance numbers. There, it became Disney’s Electrical Parade since California Adventure doesn’t have a Main Street.

“Disney’s California Adventure opened in February 2001,” Disneyland history blog Yesterland wrote. “When expected attendance levels failed to materialize, [the park] had to take quick action. It’s not surprising that their first big initiative involved the Main Street Electrical Parade.

“If killing the parade could work such wonders, how about bringing it back from the dead?”

Although the parade was popular enough to keep it around for several years at California Adventure, it didn’t solve the underlying issues with the park. “If the parade was meant to provide an instant fix to the park’s attendance problems, it failed,” Yesterland wrote.

Main Street Electrical Parade also made brief reappearances in Disneyland Park in 2017 and 2019.

Considering the Walt Disney Company’s enormous year-over-year profit and the launch of paid fast passes earlier this month, some Disney fans have noted that this parade — using equipment that’s existed for nearly 50 years and requires no real investment of time or finances that a new show would demand — feels convenient.

“Is this just a new [and] inexpensive way to get a parade going?” one commenter on the TikTok asked.

“Y’all made your customers angry so you gotta drag this out again, huh?” another questioned.

“I’m in the most toxic abusive relationship ever with Disney,” another said. “Raise prices but wait I love you here’s the MSEP.”
Parades Referenced

Main Street Electrical Light Parade

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