Disneyland Resort has several great parades, especially with the addition of the Paint the Night Parade for the Diamond Celebration. If you love parades like I do, then you’ll want to have a strategy for seeing these popular performances.
Let’s start with the most popular. The Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland Park is a gorgeous nighttime parade with amazing floats from Toy Story, Cars, Monster’s Inc., Peter Pan, and more. The parade premiered last May to big crowds, and has remained extremely popular. Even in less crowded times, it is not unusual to see guests holding spots 3 hours in advance of the first parade.
If you are visiting on a night where there are 2 showings of the Paint the Night Parade, I highly recommend seeing the second showing. It can take a lot less work to find a good spot for the second, less crowded parade. Even so, I recommend searching for a spot at least an hour or so before the second parade. If you are on Main Street or near the castle to see the Disneyland Forever fireworks, grab a parade spot as soon as the fireworks are over, because those spots will go very fast. (You can find more tips about seeing the fireworks here).
No matter which showing you’re going to, the Main Street viewing areas fill the fastest, so you may want to try between the Matterhorn and ‘it’s a small world’ for more viewing areas. You can also stake out the rope that goes up on the castle hub’s street to mark off the parade route – this goes up 1-2 hours before the parade starts, and no one really starts lining up there until the rope is up.
Seeing this parade can take some endurance if you want to get a good spot ahead of time. We took some small cushions with us to sit on and that helped a lot. You may want to bring a blanket to save your spot so that some of your group can go walk around or get snacks while someone else stays on the blanket. The first Paint the Night Parade starts at ‘it’s a small world’ and ends at Town Square, and the second parade goes in the opposite direction. Keep in mind that it will take a while for the parade to get to you if you’re on the opposite end of the route.
Disneyland also has a fantastic daytime parade. Mickey’s Soundsational Parade heads through Disneyland in the afternoon, and is one of my favorite Disney parades. The focus is on music, and has whimsical floats and lots of characters. On some days the parade may have two showings – there’s not a particular advantage to seeing one or the other crowd-wise. Like Paint the Night, there are typically fewer crowds in the viewing areas near ‘it’s a small world’. Arrive 40-60 minutes early to grab a viewing spot.
The Pixar Play Parade at Disney California Adventure features nearly every Pixar film, from the Incredibles to Cars to A Bug’s Life. This parade is actually the easiest one to see of the three because it doesn’t typically draw enormous crowds. The parade starts near the Tower of Terror and heads through Hollywood Land, then up to Paradise Pier. The Paradise Pier viewing areas usually have quite a bit of viewing space available, even shortly before the parade.
Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful family. Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong – but she also realized how good planning can make such a difference for having a fun, relaxing vacation! Elizabeth became her family’s go-to resource for Disney planning. Now she is dedicating her planning skills to helping other families create vacation memories as a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. She will plan your trip as if it were her own. Her blog, planningformagic.com, has tons of advice on how to plan your next Disney trip, including trip planning instructions, sample itineraries, dining tips, and more. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter for more planning tips and theme park news. Contact Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.