This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons We Love the Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade. Making its debut on March 9, 2014, the new “3 o’clock parade” at the Magic Kingdom sets the bar for Walt Disney World daytime parades. With elaborate floats, stunning costumes, and filled with many of our favorite Disney characters, the Festival of Fantasy Parade immediately joins the list of all time great Disney parades including Mickey’s Boo to You!, SpectroMagic, Tapestry of Nations, and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. It is going to be hard to cut the list down, but today we’re presenting six of our favorite things about Festival of Fantasy…
# 6 – Anna and Elsa
Frozen is not just a hit, it’s a certified smash and fresh off huge wins at the Academy Awards for Best Animation Feature and Best Song (for “Let it Go“). The main characters of the film – sisters Anna and Elsa – were added to the Princess Garden Float with their snowman friend Olaf. Disney reacting this fast to a character’s popularity is almost unprecedented but definitely needed after seeing the huge lines Anna and Elsa were drawing to their meet-and-greet at Epcot’s Norway pavilion. In fact, not long after putting Anna and Elsa into the Festival of Fantasy parade, Disney also announced the pair would be relocated to Princess Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom.
# 5 – The Raven
The level of detail in the walk-around characters of Festival of Fantasy needs to be seen to be believed and our favorite character of them all is The Raven. Part of the spectacular Maleficent unit, the ravens are a stark contrast to the normal colorful and cheerful characters we associate with Disney parades but are nonetheless right in line with the steampunk look and design of the incredible dragon float.
There are not enough words to describe how great the overall dancers and walk-around characters are throughout the entire parade. Whether it’s classic Disney characters like Jiminy Cricket and Prince Phillip or new designs such as men dressed as Sea Horses and the “coral girls” in the Little Mermaid unit, the Festival of Fantasy is a visual treat from beginning to end.
# 4 – A Nod to Parades Past and Present
There’s nothing better than when Disney pays homage to its history when it debuts new shows or attractions. For example, there’s small references to Mr. Toad (from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and a hidden Nautilus (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) in the queue for Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid. While small, these nods to the previous attractions help expand the Disney mythology. The Celebrate a Dream Come True parade came to an end earlier in 2014, but there is a small tribute to that parade with the inclusion of Figaro and Cleo.
Also, while Festival of Fantasy is largely comprised of new floats, two of them were brought over from Japan. That’s right, both the Princess Garden Float and the Monstro (Pinocchio) Float were a part of the Jubilation Parade from Tokyo Disneyland.
# 3 – The Tangled Float
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite float, but we’re going to do it anyway. The Tangled float is – in a word – fun. The design itself is spectacular, Rapunzel herself is a hoot, and the ruffians swinging about on the float bring a new level of excitement. This float is also the only place you can see Flynn Rider in the Magic Kingdom outside of special ticketed events.
# 2 – The Dragon!
A fire breathing dragon in the Magic Kingdom. ‘Nuff said.
# 1 – The Sheer Size of it All
What we loved most about the Festival of Fantasy parade is just the overwhelming size of everything. From the amount of performers (nearly 100) to the actual size of the floats (Maleficent stretches over 50 feet, Mickey’s balloon in the finale is 32 feet high) this is one parade that will continue to have you picking your jaw up off the floor. It has pretty much everything you could ever ask for in a parade. Insanely detailed floats. A ton of walk around characters. Great music. And like all great Disney parades it ends with a wonderful appearance by Mickey Mouse himself.
So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love the Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade. See you next weekend for the latest edition of the Saturday Six, where we will look at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival. If you had fun, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles or, for your listening pleasure, check out Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast.