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Magic Kingdom Parades

Nobody does a parade like Disney!

Parades at the Magic Kingdom are truly spectacular. During these daily extravaganzas guests are treated to a combination of floats, dancers and Disney characters all marching to the beat of the latest Disney imagination. The special affects are first rate and the entertainment value is second to none.

Parade Fact: During each parade the second story windows on the buildings along the parade route open and close automatically to reveal speakers, which play music that is synchronized with the floats.

Disney Parades:
Typically there are two parades held daily at the Magic Kingdom. One is commonly referred to as the afternoon parade and is held at 3:00pm. The second parade is referred to as the evening parade and is staged at around 9:00pm. During the less busy times of the year the evening parade will often be omitted during the week days, but generally it will be offered year round on the weekends. If the evening parade is a must see for you and yours, then phone ahead (407) 824-4321 and check for when and if it will be presented during your stay.
The route is the same for each parade and will either set out from Town Square making its way to Frontierland or start at Frontierland and make its way to Town Square. This variation will most likely depend upon the time of day and where the previous parade ended.

When the parade initiates from Town Square it will make its way around Town Square then head down Main Street, travel around the central hub passing in front of Cinderella Castle, before crossing the bridge that leads to Liberty Square. After making its way through Liberty Square it will briefly pass through Frontierland, before disappearing through a large gate and into a staging area behind Splash Mountain.

Where is the best spot?
All along the parade route well before the parade starts guests can be seen standing, sitting and perched from every available piece of real estate that offers a view. The thought for the day here is first come first serve. If you don’t want to be standing 4 or 5 people deep wondering what all the cheering is about, then there is no other choice but to plant yourself somewhere before a family from Ohio does.

Here are our picks for the spots that offer the best view.
Take a tip from the Disney stake your claim early, because the best spots go to those who arrive first. What do we mean by early? Typically the prime viewing locations begin to fill up anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours before parade time. If you pay attention you will sense when the time to pounce has come. As you look around you will at first see a group here and a group there. This will be your cue to head to your first choice, because those small groups will turn into a crowd before you can say Mickey Mouse.

Afternoon parade:
Sleepy Hollow Snack Shop
– This location can be found by crossing the bridge that leads from the central hub to Liberty Square. As soon as you cross the bridge look to your right for this open-air snack bar. Arrive early grab a drink and a snack and position yourself at a table along the railing. This location works best when the parade initiates at Town Square.

Liberty Square – The covered walkway between Liberty Tree Tavern and The Horseshoe Saloon Revue

The Evening Parade
That fact that the sun will have long since gone down opens up a number of other choice viewing locations. Here again you and yours will be required to arrive early.

In addition to those spots listed above as picks for the afternoon parade, which will also serve as prime locations for the evening parade, we have listed some additional choices.

The Main Street Railroad Platform – One of the best advantage points is the upper platform of the Walt Disney World Railroad Station at the Town Square end of Main Street. This is also an excellent advantage point for Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks that often follows the evening parade. The challenge here is that you will have to stake out your spot as much as an hour and a half to two hours in advance of parade time. If this is your choice you will find you are in a good position to exit the park, because as the parade ends you will be competing with literally tens of thousands of people for the exit.

Between Sleepy Hollow Snack Shop and the Castle – In between the Sleepy Hollow Snack Shop and the Castle is a walkway that provides an excellent viewing location when the parade departs from Town Square.

An additional thought or two about the evening parade
During the busier times of the year when the park hours are extended guests maybe treated to not just one but two evening parades. Guests can look for the first parade to be presented at around 8:00pm and a second later in the evening, usually around 11:00pm. It is worth noting here that the earlier parade is often more crowded than the later one.

Disney Tip: If you are touring the Magic Kingdom on one of these bonus nights and plan on being there for the duration consider catching the second of the two evening parades. In doing so you will be able to take advantage of the traffic pattern that will unfold during these special nights. Due to the large number of guests lining the parade route for the first parade many of the attractions will see some of their shortest waits of the day. Take advantage of this and enjoy some of the headline attractions that may have been too crowded earlier.

How do I get there from here?
Traffic patterns are greatly influenced by the daily parades. Once the parade starts to make it’s way through the Magic Kingdom guests will find it impossible to cross from one part of the park to the other. This is due the fact that the parade will literally cut the park into two sections. For example those who find themselves on the Adventureland side will be unable to cross over to Fantasyland or Tomorrowland. So if you do not plan on viewing the parade and want to ride a particular attraction make sure you are where you need to be before the parade starts.

All who leave this happy place
Following the evening parade and fireworks literally tens of thousands of guest will make their way to the exit. Please note that the word exit is singular. All who wish to leave this the “happiest place on earth” will need to pass down Main Street, back under the Main Street railway platform and then through the turnstiles. So, unless you decide to leave this the World Series of vacations in the sixth inning you will need to be prepared to face large crowds of exhausted guests leading herds of tired and cranky kids, as they jockey for a spot on a monorail, bus or ferry like it was the last seat on a lifeboat.

Second thoughts?
Having second thoughts about whether one of the Magic Kingdom parades is worth the hassle? Don’t. We are going to close this subject the way we opened it. Nobody does parades like Disney and they are indeed truly spectacular. With just a little planning you and yours can be treated to this special brand of Disney entertainment that is most certainly worth the effort.

The kids have waited years for this
Here we are going to offer a couple of possible touring plans that will work the evening parade into your itinerary without causing your troops to question the wisdom of their leader. Make sure that the Magic Kingdom will be open late and will be offering an evening parade (407) 824-4321.

Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort considering returning to your hotel early to mid afternoon for a swim and nap.

Arrive early at the Magic Kingdom when the park first opens. Follow your touring plan enjoying as many attractions as you are able until the crowds start to build. Then around 1:00pm break off and head back to your resort for a lunch, swim and a break. You will experience and enjoy more between your 8:30am arrival and 1:00pm departure, than will be gained by those guests who remain to fight the crowds the rest of the day. Around 5:00pm or 6:00pm head back to the Magic Kingdom with the sole intent of enjoying the evening parade. Around an hour and half to two hours prior to the parade pick out your first choice for a viewing location and plant yourself there. You can take turns monitoring the spot or have someone run and get a snack or even a fast food offering to be brought back and shared with everyone. It really can be a relaxing time during which you can people watch and just take in some of the often over looked details that are everywhere.
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