Disney Parks recently teased the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Although they didn’t come right out and say it, it looks like it’s most likely returning to Disneyland, as we saw an iconic electrified snail heading toward a truck labeled “Disneyland Resort.” The video did end saying, “To be continued…,” so perhaps there’s more to the story than it appears. I think it would be more interesting if the truck was loaded at Disneyland because that’s where the parade was last seen, but then the truck headed east toward Walt Disney World to pass it off. After all, the Main Street Electrical Parade slowly crawled down the streets of Disneyland as recently as 2019. But this return once again begs the question: will the Main Street Electrical Parade ever actually be retired?
The answer seems to be “no,” even as I sit here looking at a collectible light bulb from when the parade would “glow” away many years ago. I remember watching this parade in Walt Disney World as a kid in total awe. It was jaw-dropping and certainly memorable, but these days it feels like it’s overstayed its welcome. I’m all for Disney nostalgia, but when something “returns” as often as the Main Street Electrical Parade, does it really feel special anymore? Especially since such a big deal was made about its “retirement.” To me, it feels more like a cheap way to bring a parade to the park.
The whole situation reminds me of a Stephen Sondheim lyric from the musical “Into the Woods”:
Oh, if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one
But if life were only moments
Then you’d never know you had one
The amount of “moments” we’ve had with the Main Street Electrical Parade have been plentiful and it seems to have diminished how special it once was, even allowing some to forget how groundbreaking it was.
I’m not saying that this parade should go away just because it’s old; there are plenty of old attractions in the Disney Parks that I still love and would never want to see go away. But if one of those attractions that I love were to be updated in a major way, I wouldn’t expect the original version to sit alongside it. Let’s take Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress for example: this attraction has been updated numerous times through the years (and I’m hoping for another update soon), but only the latest iteration of the attraction currently exists.
In the case of the Main Street Electrical Parade, I personally consider Paint the Night to be the updated version. Some might even go back to SpectroMagic as a “plussing” of the Main Street Electrical Parade. The new technology used in these more current electric parades sort of makes the original look a bit sad in comparison. I would rather have those memories in my mind of the grandeur I remember, versus the constant reminder of how outdated it truly is — especially since Paint the Night is metaphorically sitting in moth balls at the moment.
Technology aside, the one thing the Main Street Electrical Parade has that I wish some of the more current parades would feature are less-represented franchises like “Pete’s Dragon.” We did get a bit of this when “The Sword in the Stone” got a float in the short-lived (and hopefully returning soon) Magic Happens parade at Disneyland. Oftentimes it feels like we see the same movies and songs represented whether it’s a parade or nighttime spectacular, so some of these more “random” moments feel special.
Overall, the Main Street Electrical Parade holds a very important place in Disney Parks history, but with better options now available and the far-too-common return of the parade, perhaps it really is time for it to finally “glow away.”
I recognize that opinions on this subject matter vary drastically, so I’m very curious to read what you have to say. Leave a comment and let me know. If you are someone who wants the parade to keep returning, I’d love to read about your reasons why aside from the nostalgia of it.
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.