Don’t Meet Me on Main Street: Alternate Parade Viewing Spots

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One of my oldest memories of Walt Disney World was being traumatized and terrified at age five by giant critters in the Main Street Electrical Parade. We were up close and they were coming right at me. I am certain my family barely escaped with our lives. While my five-year-old self might throw a hissy fit at the idea of having an up-close view of the Main Street Electrical Parade, my adult self loves the idea of getting up close for interaction with the parade and being engulfed in the magic of its lights and sounds.

This image from the second parade in Frontierland shows that you can have almost a private parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
This image from the second parade in Frontierland shows that you can have almost a private parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

And because the name is the MAIN STREET Electrical Parade, the assumption by many people is that the only or best place to watch the parade is on Main Street, or possibly at the Hub. For years, however, I’ve told anyone who would listen about the secret to watching the Main Street Electrical Parade—get off Main Street.

Unlike Celebrate the Magic, which you can only see from Main Street or the Hub area, or Wishes, which is designed with some effects being best visible from Main Street or the Hub, the Main Street Electrical Parade is the same parade on Main Street as it is in Frontierland. The same, but with a major exception—fewer people blocking your view.

Here are my main reasons (pun intended) for viewing the Main Street Electrical Parade from Frontierland.

 

Snagging Good Last-Minute Seats

Last Saturday night, my family did a last-minute trip to the Magic Kingdom, and on a whim, decided to catch the Main Street Electrical Parade. We left It’s a Small World at 9:01 PM (around the time the parade was starting on Main Street) and were able to have prime viewing in Frontierland, including a place for the three of us to sit, with plenty of time to spare. Not having to camp out for two hours ahead of time is an absolute must with a five-year-old child who lives by the phrase “How much longer?”

This screen shot from a Periscope broadcast I did for TouringPlans shows how good a seat you can get 15 minutes before the parade on a Saturday night. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
This screen shot from a Periscope broadcast I did for TouringPlans shows how good a seat you can get 15 minutes before the parade on a Saturday night. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Smaller Crowds

I’m incredibly short—on a good day, I can say that I’m five feet tall. Basically that means that unless a toddler is in front of me, odds are good that anyone in front of me will block my view if they opt to stand up. There are many sections in Frontierland on the left side (if you are facing up towards Liberty Square and Fantasyland) where the parade viewing area is so tight that only a single row of people can fit in. This means no one behind you—or in front of you.

Lots of Seats

I don’t mind sitting on the sidewalk to watch a parade, but benches, walls, and seats are certainly preferable. Frontierland has a lot of options for seats other than a patch of sidewalk. From raised platforms that can hold an entire family to short walls to seats at Pecos Bill’s and even rocking chairs (although you will likely have people in front of you if you sit in the rocking chairs), there are plenty of places to find a decent seat, even a few minutes before the parade arrives.

The stone walls like the ones shown here provide great locations to sit and watch the parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
The stone walls like the ones shown here provide great locations to sit and watch the parade. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Access to Foods

There’s a lot of snack options in Frontierland to help with the pre-parade munchies. Not only will you be able to find turkey legs, popcorn, and churro carts, but there’s roasted corn and baked potatoes near Liberty Square, or an easy cut-through takes you to the new location of Aloha Isle for a Dole Whip. Let’s face it, nothing is more Disney to me than a Dole Whip and the Main Street Electrical Parade!

As a bonus, you can also see Wishes from Frontierland, again with smaller crowds.

In general, crowd levels are always lower for the second showing of the parade, so if you can wait around for that one, you’ll have a better view no matter where you decide to watch. One place to avoid, regardless of the land you watch in, is any place where there will be a crosswalk. If you are in a designated crosswalk, you will be asked to move before the parade starts. If you are next to a crosswalk, you’ll have large numbers of people crowding around you, waiting for an opening when they can cross.

The crowds may look like they're watching the parade, but they're actually waiting at a parade crosswalk. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
The crowds may look like they’re watching the parade, but they’re actually waiting at a parade crosswalk near Splash Mountain. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

So are you a Main Street purist or do you brave the Frontier(land) for your Main Street Electrical Parade viewing, and what is your number one must-have for the ideal parade viewing location?

 

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

8 thoughts on “Don’t Meet Me on Main Street: Alternate Parade Viewing Spots

  • August 23, 2015 at 9:08 am
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    Great ideas! We caught FoF from the Hub (FP+, not the best use by the way). We caught MSEP from the flag pole and MNSSHP parade from Frontierland, by far the best choice for location! With the exception of the timing of the dragon breathing fire, the parades are exactly the same no matter where you see them! Get off the beaten path and enjoy a little space! Thanks for the hints.

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  • August 23, 2015 at 9:44 am
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    The wife and I always watched the parades from Main Street. We got tired of staking out a spot well before the parade, only to have people try to get in front of you right before the parade starts. Two years ago we decided to watch MVMCP from Frontierland, where the parade begins. For the reasons already mentioned we’ll probably never watch another parade from Main Street again. I cannot recommend to anyone enough to watch the parades from Frontierland you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation.

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    • August 23, 2015 at 2:16 pm
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      How far in advance did you need to get to frontierland for a curb side view of MVMCP parade?

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      • August 23, 2015 at 2:19 pm
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        I should add we’re going on a Tuesday, I think predicted to be second least crowded party. Have to see first parade, young kids, want minimal time waiting for parade but also want them to be able to see.

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      • August 26, 2015 at 10:16 am
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        We got there between 20 to 30 minutes before the parade began. Another upside when parades start on this side you don’t have to wait until they make their way across the other lands to reach Main Street.

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  • August 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm
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    we had a late dinner on our arrival day at Liberty Tree Tavern, walked outside the restaurant when finished and sat on the little steps while waiting for parade. Most relaxing parade viewing ever!

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  • August 25, 2015 at 7:17 am
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    We have been watching the parades from frontier land for 3 years now. Such a great place. Less crowds and the kids don’t need to sit there for hours

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  • August 26, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    First timer here. How does it work if you want to see wishes–the projections on the castle and the fireworks. We’ll be wanting to watch on a weekday in late September. I had been reading that Main Street was kind of a one spot wonder (albeit a busy one) for the Electrical Parade at 8 and then the rest at 9. I was planning to find a spot along Main Street around 7 for the parade. Is that too late? This will probably be our only trip to Disney, so I wanted a good view of the projections on the castle too. Thanks for any tips!! 🙂 Love your blog. Been working hard on the planning!

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