I know we’re all tired of reading about the pandemic at this point, but there’s no denying it has changed the world even as we see a light at the end of the tunnel. In the theme park world, it required a lot of changes in order to ensure a safe visit for guests and employees. But were all of those changes a bad thing? In my mind, not necessarily. It’s often said that the way to be more creative isn’t by a bigger budget or having anything you want at your disposal. It’s by having limitations and boundaries which often allows creativity to shine.
When theme parks reopened, live entertainment was hit the hardest. For a place like the Disney parks where live entertainment is as iconic as the rides, they knew they had to do something to make up for the loss. It was no longer safe to have large groups of guests waiting along a parade route for the typical Disney parade. What they decided to do instead was develop new character cavalcades. These are essentially like mini-parades but performed “randomly” throughout the day.
The cavalcades allowed for guests to see their favorite characters and even some parade floats from a safe distance as they rolled down the theme park streets. By not having a set schedule for the cavalcades nobody was standing around simply waiting for them, allowing guests to stay socially distanced. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the cavalcades. Mostly, I was concerned that without a set schedule I would miss them all. To my pleasant surprise they glided through the parks more consistently than I ever imagined. I saw more cavalcades than I would have if I had planned it into my schedule.
With the full-scale parades returning to the parks, one might think there is no longer a need for cavalcades. I personally would like to see them stick around as I feel they were a great addition to the parks born out of a bad circumstance. I certainly don’t want them to replace the standard parades, but to have them exist alongside would be a nice addition.
As of now, it seems as though Disney might have the same mindset. We recently saw the launch of Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade in Magic Kingdom. We also have the recent return of the Festival of Fantasy Parade to Magic Kingdom. Assuming the new cavalcade remains, perhaps the future of the theme parks will include both parades and cavalcades on a regular basis.
Another nice addition that came to the parks as a result of the unfortunate state of the world was the character “moments.” Study after study shows that one of the main highlights of a Disney vacation is meeting your favorite characters. When it became unsafe for meet and greets, they knew they had to keep the character interactions alive in order for it to be a proper Disney experience. That’s when guests began to see “random” character moments in the parks.
One of my favorites would have to be Winnie the Pooh catching butterflies in the grasses of Epcot. It’s such a sweet and innocent activity that is so fitting for a character like Pooh. Moments like these feel more natural than a standard meet and greet photo op. But I do hope the more traditional meet and greet opportunities without barriers eventually return as that bit of magic isn’t fully back yet. Once again, I would love for these surprise character appearances performing various activities to live alongside the traditional meet and greets.
Overall, the artists at Disney may have created these offerings out of a bad situation, but they also may have developed new entertainment that will become a staple of the Disney parks moving forward. I would certainly love to see some of it stick around.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.