‘Magic Happens’ parade returns to Disneyland in February

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

Magic Happens” debuted at Disneyland on Feb. 28, 2020, as the first new daytime parade to make its way down Main Street U.S.A. in nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, the parade (along with the theme parks) closed soon after, but Disneyland announced the parade will return on Feb. 24, 2023 – almost exactly three years after its original debut.

Magic Happens - Mickey Float
Photos by Samantha Davis-Friedman

According to Disney Live Entertainment Show Director Jordan Peterson and Disney Live Creative Director David Duffy, the daytime spectacular was developed to be contemporary, artistic, and whimsical. By combining all these elements, “Magic Happens” was able to provide the nostalgia of beloved characters and stories with an updated twist to engage today’s park-goers.

Let’s take a look at this innovative and imaginative Disneyland daytime parade.

“Magic Happens” floats

The parade features nine floats that convey the parade’s whimsical focus – and since Mickey Mouse is at the center of so many magical moments for Disneyland guests, it’s no surprise that he leads a parade about magical Disney moments.

Magic Happens - Mickey Float
Photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort

Mickey’s lead float illustrates the most iconic representation of Disney magic – a sorcerer’s hat – surrounded by flowing iridescent ribbons of magic. And, of course, following Mickey are Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, and Chip ‘n’ Dale, who greet guests in colorful iridescent costumes.

“Magic Happens” also introduced the first full-scale “Moana”-inspired float featuring Moana’s voyager canoe on a wave of Hawaiian koa wood that combines technology and art through its flexible LED screens that provide animated windows into the ocean.

Magic Happens - Moana Float

Fun Fact: Guests might catch a glimpse of friends from “Finding Nemo” on the screens.

Following Moana is Maui, and because where Maui goes, mischief is usually close at hand, the demigod is accompanied by the Kakamora, who chase Moana’s silly chicken Hei Hei to the rhythm of a Polynesian-inspired drum set on a rickshaw modeled after their floating island in the movie.

“Magic Happens” also marked the first in-park appearance by Miguel from the Disney and Pixar film “Coco” and the “Coco”-themed float was also the first time the movie was depicted in a Disney Parks parade – with the lands of the living and the dead connected by a marigold bridge made of over 30,000 individual flowers.

Magic Happens - Coco Float

Crossing the bridge is Miguel’s pet Dante, who appears in both dog and alebrije forms, and following behind is a puppet of Pepita, the chimera animal from the movie that’s part big cat and part eagle.

In another first, “Magic Happens” marked the first time the “Frozen 2” story appeared in a parade. At nearly 39 feet long, the “Frozen 2” float is the largest in the parade, with Nokk the water horse leading the way, Anna and Olaf journeying through the mysterious enchanted forest on a magical ice canoe, and Elsa watching the scene from the top of Ahtohallan glacier – and no parade about magic would be complete without a magical snowfall courtesy of Queen Elsa.

Magic Happens - Frozen 2 Float

Fun Fact: The “Frozen 2” float for “Magic Happens” was developed alongside the production of the movie.

“Magic Happens” Finale

The parade’s Grand Finale begins with favorite Disney magic makers and the recipients of their magic: Aladdin and the Genie, Pinocchio and the Blue Fairy, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, and Fairy Godmother and Cinderella.

The Magic Makers are followed by four magical Disney moments:

  • The Cinderella float presents the exact moment when the pumpkin turns into a golden carriage.
  • The Sword in the Stone float shows the magical moment when Arthur pulls Excalibur from the stone to become king.
  • The “Princess and the Frog” float represents the moment when Princess Tiana and Naveen are magically transformed back into human form.
  • The “Sleeping Beauty” float features the three good fairies – Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather – magically changing Aurora’s shimmering dress between pink and blue as she waltzes with Prince Phillip.

“Parades have always been an important part of the Disneyland legacy,” Duffy said. “They give guests ways to experience both new and classic Disney stories in fresh, exciting ways. It really adds a magical touch to a day in the park.”

Click here for more information.

Magic Happens Parade Highlights at Disneyland

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