When Walt Disney World first announced the Festival of Fantasy Parade, I felt a mixture of hope and excitement, tempered by a bit of cynicism. After all, it’s just a parade. What can they really do with that? Disney parades are fun, but as a local I typically see them once, then hit the Magic Kingdom at parade time so I can do my favorite rides with shorter lines while the tourists are busy fighting over prime viewing spots.
Still, my appetite was whetted when I got a chance to preview some of the costumes and floats. From the dark and dangerous ravens and thorn bushes to accompany the steampunk Maleficent dragon to the twirling stained glass-style sea horses for the Little Mermaid float, I’ll admit that I was intrigued. The parade made its debut on March 9, and I saw it the very next day. As someone who can be quite cynical when Disney makes a misfire (cough cough…Journey into Imagination reboot…cough), I can wholeheartedly say that Festival of Fantasy is full of old-school Disney showmanship that rises to the next level and beyond.
Yes, the star of the parade is Maleficent, especially if you’re in one of the spots where she breathes real fire as she battles Prince Phillip (hint: castle hub near the Fastpass+ viewing). I was just as awed by that float as I expected to be, but I also loved the hard-core action and creative touches on the other floats and the high energy of the accompanying performers.
For example, you have to see the Rapunzel float, with Flynn and the thugs literally swinging out over the sides. The Peter Pan float is preceded by a contingent of Lost Boys who perform Newsies-inspired dance moves. The ravens and thorns with Maleficent are properly menacing, and the colorful costumes of the Little Mermaid contingent are a true ocular delight.
As a local, I’m lucky enough to be able to see the parade as much as I wish, limited only my patience for staking out a spot (see my tip at the end of this article to ease that process). If you don’t have that luxury and you won’t be down to Orlando for a while, enjoy the full video of the parade below. Yes, I did manage to capture the fire!
Full 20-Minute Festival of Fantasy parade at the Magic Kingdom – use this link if video doesn’t appear below: http://youtu.be/wL7VKMYn9c8
Everyone wants to see the parade in the castle hub or along Main Street. Yes, that’s the traditional spot, but if you head over to Frontierland, you’ll often be able to get a great viewing spot even close to kick-off time. That depends on the overall crowd, of course, but it’s never as crazy as Main Street.
As a bonus, the parade route starts at the far end of Frontierland, so the 3 o’clock parade really will start at 3 o’clock, vs. the 15 or 20 additional minutes it takes to reach the end of the line.
Follow me on Twitter via @themeparkwriter and stay tuned for more tips, observations, comments, and rants from someone who lives close enough to Walt Disney World to hear the fireworks from her house every night. I literally write my blog In the Shadow of the Mouse. Email comments and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.