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The return of the Main Street Electrical Parade…again – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

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?

main street electrical parade
Photo courtesy of Disneyland

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.

Full "Paint The Night" parade at Disneyland Park

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.

Magic Happens Parade Highlights at Disneyland

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

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.comDePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.

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8 comments

Ella Harmeyer November 12, 2021 - 11:16 pm

I loved the Main Street Electrical Parade and I would LOVE to see it return. Maybe only for a year or so, but it would be great ti see it again. And I always loved the music.

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Jeff DePaoli November 15, 2021 - 5:54 pm

The music certainly is memorable. It’s nice how Paint the Night pays tribute to the music from Main Street Electrical Parade.

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LouiB November 14, 2021 - 7:57 pm

The Main Street Electrical Parade is always wonderful to see. My complaint would be though that nothing new is added or things changed other then to reduce what was there. I remember when I got to the the Main Street Electrical Parade in Tokyo with more floats and larger floats and it was wonderful. The problem with brining it back to Disneyland is probably more of it will be missing, or how many less people can we do it with and that is a shame. It should be lets bring it back, but lets add this and this to it and make it’s return really special.

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Jeff DePaoli November 15, 2021 - 5:56 pm

It was interesting when they added Tinker Bell to the front of the parade at Disney California Adventure and had her Pixie Dust sprinkled from float to float.

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Randy Senna December 27, 2021 - 8:57 am

The idea that old should be replaced is why society has gone down the drain.

New is never as good as what was replaced simply because it lacks the memories and tradition which grew in people’s hearts through prior experiences.

While something new is exciting to see, and over time will also develop memories and traditions, it should never come at the cost of the taking away of something else; it should only be something added as additional experience.

Once you break traditions, it will require many to attempt to establish New traditions.

Those who make these decisions must do so from the heart rather than project expense budgets.

In the long run, profit margin is far greater, when you understand Guest loyalty, and the reasons why guests keep returning.

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Tuz December 27, 2021 - 12:35 pm

If you are going to either US Disney location repeatedly, yes, you might be bored with the MSEP. If you’re a child going for the first time the magic of this parade is undeniable despite “old” technology. I can watch it every time I’m there and enjoy it 100%. Carousel of Progress and Small World were ground breaking exhibits at the New York World’s fair of the mid 1960’s, fine Disney achievements! I appreciate Walt Disney and the visionary he was. I still marvel at his contributions to progress. If you want all super new latest technology thrill rides, why not go to a six flags or similar park? Walt and his visions from the past are timeless an I for one appreciate and love them. Keep Disney unique and allow new generations to see old standards with a new eye!

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Brian Foley December 27, 2021 - 1:37 pm

I wish the Main Street Electrical Parade would never go away. Why not offer it as one of two parades at night time? To me, it should be a staple item. Or just keep moving it between Disneyworld and Disneyland. Every time I go to the parks and it is not there, I am disappointed.

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Amy Laskey December 27, 2021 - 10:46 pm

I think the direction Disneyland has taken as a whole is sad. From rising costs, to retiring the absolute Magic that was nostalgic Disney. This includes Main Street Electric Light Parade. As a 34 yr old mother, seeing the wonder and amazement of taking my kiddo to Disney to catch the PTN parade brought tears to mine and my mother’s eyes remembering the MSELP. Personally, I think it needs to be brought back 3x a week as a reminder of nostalgic Disney, a tribute to Walt, and the legacy of why Disney is so huge to begin with. It was built on generations prior to. Kids now can’t even have fun without electronics involved. Long live nostalgic Disney I hope they bring it back, and keep it!

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