50 Years of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade

50 Years of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade

This summer marks the 50th year of the premiere of Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. I saw it that first summer it came out and I’ve been spellbound ever since. With a timeline, we’ll look at the entire history of this parade experience. The Main Street Electrical Parade is a technological pioneer and has created innovations we see in Disney parades today. We’ll look at its predecessors and the other nighttime spectacular parades that have travelled the Disney theme parks the world over. From SpectroMagic to FantIllusion; From DreamLights to Light Magic and to the newest parade, Paint the Night. We’ll look at all of it and its contribution to the Disney theme park experience. And we’ll talk about why it may never come back to the Magic Kingdom.

Below is an outline of the history plus videos and links. But the podcast goes into details you won’t want to miss. The podcast is available on PodbeaniTunesSpotify,  and ListenNotes. Please subscribe to the podcast and to this website so you can be notified of upcoming posts and podcasts! 


The following shows the progression of the Electrical Parade and its antecedents, SpectroMagic, LightMagic, Fantillusion, DreamLights and Paint the Night. The Disneyland Resort column shows how parades toggled back and forth between Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure. The Magic Kingdom column shows just that, and the International column includes night time parades in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. Shanghai Disneyland is the only resort that has not had a night time parade.


The genesis of the Main Street Electrical Parade comes from two different sources. The first, more familiar because it is still around today is the Electrical Water Pageant. The concept of floats with small lights comes from there, and its most current form is shown below.

But the idea of adding Disney characters and lighting them up comes from Disney on Parade, a stage show back in the late 1960’s, early 70’s. You see this play out in the Cinderella scene below.

Main Street Electrical Parade

A July 1978 video shows not just the Briny Sea floats but the original Small World floats. Below is the most current version of the parade as shown on the streets of Disneyland.

Parade Variations


Light Magic


Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dream Lights

Paint the Night

Here is Paint the Night at Disneyland. Following this is the Incredibles float when it moved over to Disney California Adventure.

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