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Disneyland Article
Almost No One Has Seen This Attraction And It Is Finally Coming Back
Julie Tremaine
Disneyland fans — at least the ones who pride themselves on their knowledge of the park and its history — each have a list of rides and attractions they wish they could have seen back in the day. For some, it’s Museum of the Weird, the never-was expansion of the Haunted Mansion led by Rolly Crump and Yale Gracey. For others, it’s the Conestoga Wagons (and the much-missed Conestoga Fries) that left the little Old West village behind when Big Thunder Mountain Railroad took over.

For many, many people, their could-have-been attraction was a parade that appeared in the park for only two weeks. Lucky for them, it’s about to make its return on February 24, 2023, as part of the Disney100 celebration, which will include the opening of a new ride and the refurbishment of a major park land.

Disneyland’s Magic Happens parade was the best attraction — with the absolute worst timing. When it debuted as part of Disneyland’s 65th anniversary celebration, it got immediate rave reviews.

That was February 27, 2020.

You can see what the problem might have been.

Disneyland’s pandemic closure started on March 13, 2020, and lasted through April 2021. The parade’s last performance was on March 12. When the park reopened, the parade didn’t come back. For a long time, due to crowd restrictions and staffing issues, no parades happened at all. Instead, there were random “cavalcades,” when characters would sporadically roll down Main Street, U.S.A., on a single float at unannounced times.

While other parades have happened, like the Main Street Electrical Parade and the Frightfully Fun parade at Oogie Boogie Bash, Magic Happens never returned. In the short time it ran, however, it made enough of an impression that the parade won something that’s the equivalent of a theme park Academy Award: the 2021 IAAPA Brass Ring Award for best atmospheric street show performance.

“That’s high praise for a parade that measured its brief run in days rather than years,” Brady MacDonald wrote for the Orange County Register when the award was announced. He also noted that the parade was curiously slow to return. “Disneyland has taken a slow and cautious approach to bringing back large-scale live entertainment amid the phased reopening of its Anaheim theme park resort,” he wrote.

Part of what makes Magic Happen so exciting is that it incorporates modern Disney movies and has a real looking-to-the-future vibe in its aesthetics and technologies.

In short, the parade is next-level. The music is upbeat and really, really catchy. The costumes are a high-fashion fever dream of purple and green. When the first float — a giant illuminated sorcerer’s hat — rolls down Main Street, U.S.A., Sorcerer Mickey sets the tone for a level of energy and excitement that just ramps up from there.

Next is a “Moana” float with bioluminescent effects and a whole series of characters, including a larger-than-life Maui. It’s followed by a vividly colorful float featuring Miguel from “Coco” and then a huge puppet version of Pepita. Then comes an illuminated ice palace featuring Anna and Elsa, specifically from “Frozen 2.”

A wave of classic and new classic characters comes next, including Tinker Bell throwing pixie dust, Genie, Cinderella’s fairy godmother and Pinocchio’s blue fairy. Cinderella brings up the rear on a glowing golden pumpkin carriage, wearing the most beautiful iteration of her dress Disney has ever made. A “Sword in the Stone” float with Merlin and Wart follows, where you see the magical moment happen in person. Then, the lady of the hour, Tiana, under trees strung with lights, accompanied by Prince Naveen, makes her appearance. The finale is a “Sleeping Beauty” float so excellent that I’m not even going to tell you about it.

Just watch it yourself. And starting in February, you’ll be able to.

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