Out of all of the theme parks located in Orlando, no one does a parade quite like Disney World. Since its open in 1965, Walt Disney World Resort’s four parks have seen many different festive processions come and go.
America On Parade (1975 – 1976)
America On Parade began at Magic Kingdom in June 1975 as a temporary replacement for the Main Street Electrical Parade for the United States Bicentennial. It lasted for around a half hour and ran twice per day, once in the early afternoon and again just before the evening fireworks display. The patriotic procession, made up of 50 parade units and 150 character performers, displayed some of the country’s most historic achievements, such as the invention of the automobile, the first airplane flight, and the moon landing.
The parade began with an appearance from Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Donald on a “Spirit of 76” float, which was the only Disney character sighting until the end of the parade. The floats and characters that follow the Spirit of 76 tell the story of American history starring Christopher Columbus, Ben Franklin and other famous figures. Other floats depict the Salem Witch Trials, Betsy Ross working on the American Flag, a stagecoach signifying the Western Expansion, and the joining of the railroads in Utah, along with other notable events of the past. America On Parade’s soundtrack featured popular patriotic anthems like “Yankee Doodle”, “This Land is Your Land”, and “God Bless America”.
Disney Character Hit Parade (1989 – 1991)
Magic Kingdom‘s Disney Character Hit Parade debuted in November 1989. The spectacle included over 100 performers celebrating 14 different moments from Disney films. The Grand Marshall family leads the pack, followed by the Walt Disney World marching band playing an instrumental rendition of Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, which continued to play throughout the parade.
Next came Chip, Dale, and Roger Rabbit aboard the S.S. Mickey Mouse, a Jungle Book float carrying King Louie’s monkeys, Baloo, and Mowgli, teapots rolling down the street leading the way for Alice in Wonderland characters, who sat in a gazebo singing the Unbirthday Song, and The Country Bears riding along with Davy Crockett. Other floats featured characters such as Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, and Pinocchio. The parade’s finale was Mickey Mouse and friends riding by as the Mickey Mouse Club March played.
Mickey Mania Parade (1994 – 1996)
As you could probably guess, the Mickey Mania parade was all about the main mouse. Starting in June 1994 at Magic Kingdom, every float in this parade carried performers and characters representing an element of Mickey Mouse. With more than 100 performers, the procession featured people riding on skateboards and dirt bikes, bouncing along the route on inflatable hop balls, stilt walkers, and dressed up in inflatable Mickey costumes. Character appearances included Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Roger Rabbit, Goofy and Max. The Mickey Mania Parade even had its own original theme song called “Rock the House with the Mouse”. It ended in September 1996 to make way for the Remember the Magic Parade.
Toy Story Parade (1996 – 1998)
Disney’s Holiday Studios had a parade solely dedicated to the Disney-Pixar film Toy Story that ran from 1996 – 1998. Marching green army men led the way for Sarge, who rode on a float and shouted out to the crowd while “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” played. Next came a giant walking Slinky Dog followed by a float made up of old board games like Twister and Operation carrying Mr. Potato Head and Hamm. Rambunctious red monkeys from a Barrel of Monkey caused trouble by occasionally climbing onto the board game float and playing pranks like stealing Mr. Potato Head’s ear. Then Buzz Lightyear made an appearance, riding down the street on his spaceship box accompanied by the little green aliens from Pizza Planet. Other toys from Andy’s room were featured in the lively parade, including Bo Peep and her sheep, the wrestler, the Troll doll, a hot wheels car, and more. The final float carried Woody, Rex, the tape recorder microphone, Lenny the binoculars and the snake puppet.
After the parade ended in 1998, the floats and characters were occasionally brought back out during the park’s short lived Toy Story Weekends, where they would be used in a small show on New York Street called “Operation Toy Story”. Buzz and Woody were later moved to a meet and greet location and the floats were used as photo ops every once in a while. The green army men float ended up being repurposed as the giraffe float for “Festival of the Lion King” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Remember The Magic Parade (1996 – 1998)
The Remember the Magic paraded debuted at Magic Kingdom in October 1996 as part of Walt Disney World Resort’s 25th anniversary celebration. This parade was highly interactive, stopping periodically along its route so guests (previously selected by Cast Members) could join in on the fun with the characters on the floats.
Full of appearances from all the major Disney characters, the first float was led by royal dancers and carried a giant castle filled with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Chip and Dale while the Fairy Godmother followed closely behind. Next, festive fish playing maracas escorted Ariel on The Little Mermaid float, complete with a conga line, Flounder, and an audio-animatronic sea band.
Chefs pushing serving carts introduced a Beauty and the Beast float, complete with spinning dishes, an audio-animatronic Lumiere, and Belle and the Beast dancing together on the back of the float. Other movie references included Aladdin, The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book, and many others.
The parade music changed with every float, matching each movie represented to a popular song from its soundtrack. After the 25th anniversary celebration ended, the parade was renamed “Disney’s Magical Moments Parade.” Most of the floats remained the same, but there were changes made to the parade’s introduction and some newer characters were introduced. The renamed parade ended in 2001 in order to make way for the “Share A Dream Come True Parade”.
Hercules Victory Parade (1997 – 1998)
The Hercules Victory Parade premiered at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on June 27, 1997 as a gospel revival/pep rally/ homecoming procession commentated by “Ridges Philbinylus” and “Appollonia Airheadenese.” The 14-minute parade took place twice daily down Hollywood Boulevard and took viewers back to “The Big Olive” for a retelling of Hercules’ story.
The show on wheels started with an appearance by the previously selected “Theban Family of the Day” riding in a gold chariot dressed in togas and laurel leaf crowns. Then came a series of floats carrying Hercules, Phil, Meg, an angry Hades surrounded by smoke, and the muses dressed as cheerleaders, all accompanied to many of the beloved songs from the Hercules soundtrack.
The Hercules Victory Parade had its last run on April 18, 1998 and was replaced with a Mulan parade.
Tapestry Of Nations Parade (1999 – 2001)
Epcot does not have as much of a parade history as the other parks, but the Tapestry of Nations Parade ran around the World Showcase from October 1999 til September 2001. Unlike the other parades on this list, the theme of Tapestry of Nations was less about the joy and magic of Disney and more themed around unity and peace.
The large puppets on display during the parade were designed by Michael Curry, who was the creative behind the puppets for The Lion King on Broadways and several other Disney shows. The procession was led by the Sage of Time, a stilt walker dressed in an ornate, gold trimmed costume and a headpiece that looked like a sun with a face. Other puppets included a hammer man, a sprite, an angel girl, and several other fantastic characters.
There were three different versions of the Tapestry of Nations parade before it became the “Tapestry of Dreams” parade. The original version had a very serious Sage of Time, but the main character’s tone turned more calm and gentle. Once it became the Tapestry of Dreams, an element representing human dreams and a tribute to Walt Disney were added in to the procession.