Whether you are young or old, parades are one of the best parts of visiting the Disneyland Resort. Disneyland parades are a great way to break up your day. Because Disneyland parades have become so popular, getting to see them can be stressful if you don’t plan ahead and prioritize it in your day. That is where we step in to help with our Disneyland Parades Guide!
Trying to figure out when to line up? The least crowded viewing location? The best parade for your family? Our Disneyland parades guide has info on typical parade times, where to watch, and the current parade.
Scroll down for date of the return of the Magic Happens Disneyland parade.
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Current Disneyland Parade Offered: A Chrismas Fantasy
The parade, which takes place on Main Street, includes many favorite Disney characters as well as an appearance by Santa Claus himself. This whimsical, Christmas themed parade also includes reindeer, snowmen, and other holiday favorites along with festive music.
It is truly one of the most special parades offered at Disneyland. My favorite spot to watch this parade is on Main Street U.S.A. as it’s traveling towards the castle because of the iconic backdrop of the beautiful Christmas tree in the background.
A Christmas Fantasy Parade is the holiday parade running at Disneyland! This classic holiday parade features floats with characters from favorite Disney films in their holiday best. While the parade has been running for years, there have been additions made to feature newer Disney characters like the princesses from Frozen. Top highlights of the parade – the toy soldiers leading off, skating skiers and snowflakes, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their holiday best, and of course Santa Claus capping off the entire parade. The Christmas Fantasy parade is a key Disneyland Christmas celebration.
Though it may be due to nostalgia, A Christmas Fantasy Parade is one of my top Disneyland parades.Parade offerings typically change seasonally, so make sure to check Disney’s official website for current offerings or keep this guide bookmarked to stay on top of all the new things coming to the Disneyland Resort. Here is the current parade running at Disneyland right now!
Disneyland Parade Reserved Seating Dining Packages
The Plaza Inn Dining Package has returned for the Magic Happens parade and reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance – this is the same policy used for all dining and other Disneyland dining packages.
Disneyland reserved seating dining packages are a nice way to guarantee a good parade spot without having to line up too early is to purchase a dining package. This is a great option if you’re already planning on eating at the Plaza Inn. You still should arrive when the viewing area opens if you want to get a front-row seat in the parade viewing area! It’s important to remember that you are paying for a meal at the restaurant and a separate voucher to a reserved viewing area – you don’t view the parade while you’re eating.
Here’s a look at the food included in a recent Disneyland parade dining package.
Space is limited. To make reservations, book online or call (714) 781-DINE. Keep in mind that the parade viewing will be separate from the dining location, you’ll be given a voucher with access for your parade viewing spot.
Disneyland Plaza Inn Dining Package Details
Dining Days and Times
- Dining Time: 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
- Showtime: All Guests will receive a voucher for the day’s first performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
This dining package features a picnic-style meal. You can either eat inside or outside, and then there will be a reserved viewing area along the parade route for you to sit in after you’re finished eating.
Price: $45 for adults 10 and up, $25 for children, and children 2 and under are free
Adult Dining Package Menu
- Short Rib and Fried Chicken
- Pesto Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
- Choice of Fountain Beverage or Dasani Water.
Plant-based options are available.
Child Dining Package Menu
- Chicken Tenders
- Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables
- Choice of Dasani Water or Low-Fat Milk
Disneyland Parades Guide: Best Viewing Locations in Disneyland
Where is the parade route?
The first parade of the day at Disneyland will start at it’s a small world and end at Main Street. For the second parade of the day it will start at Main Street and end at it’s a small world. It can take the parade awhile to make this route so be prepared for a wait if you’re at the opposite ends of the route.
Where should I watch the parade?
Our favorite viewing areas for the parades come from our own personal experience of viewing the parades at all different times of the year.
- Close to It’s a Small World: This viewing location is typically less crowded and offers plenty of kiosks for your kids as they wait. As you make your way towards the ride, you’ll see some shady spots perfect for a sunny day. There is also a raised platform which provides excellent views of the parade. There are restrooms and snack carts nearby making it a great place to save a seat with children.
- On the side of Alice in Wonderland: This is a choice spot because it’s directly in front of drinking fountains and bathrooms. We also love it because at this point in the parade route, there isn’t seating on the other side of the path. This means that performers can spend all their time focusing on your side so you’ll get a great look at all your favorite characters!
- Near the Disneyland Hub: A couple of hours before the parade begins, cast members will put up ropes preventing guests from entering the parade route. These ropes will be taken down about an hour before parade time, so if you stay close to the hub and wait for the ropes to be taken down, you can find a great front-row seat without having to wait two hours. This is a pretty small area, so it isn’t ideal for small children or big parties, but there is a lot to do on Main Street as you’re waiting for the parade to begin.
- Near the Disneyland fire station: Similar to the trick above, if you hover in this location about 20 minutes before the parade starts cast members will rope off the area in front of the fire station making it a great place to grab a last minute front row spot.
Disneyland Parades Guide: When To Get a Spot
If you want to get the best seat for a parade at Disneyland then you should plan ahead to get the best spot! You shouldn’t arrive 20 minutes before it starts and expect to get front row seats. If you want the best viewing I recommend getting a spot at least one hour before the parade starts. If you want that good of a seat on Main Street, U.S.A then you should plan for 90 minutes prior especially during the busier times of year like the holidays.
Typically, guests will not be allowed to reserve seats until two hours before the parade starts. As soon as Cast Members allow this, you’ll start to see families setting up blankets and reserving bench and curb spaces, which always go first.
If you want the best bench/curb space, we recommend getting to the spot 2.5 hours before the parade begins so you can reserve your spot as soon as Cast Members allow.
If you aren’t as picky with your viewing location, you have about 1.5 – 2 hours after this to get a spot, using some of our tips above. Try to be in your spot a half hour before the parade begins. Once you hit this half hour mark, it is pretty rare to get a front-row view of the parade and if you see a spot, we recommend taking it immediately.
In our experience we’ve found that we can manage to get great front row spots over by it’s a small world up to 60 minutes prior to the parade which is what I always recommend for the best experience!
Disneyland Parades Tips and Tricks
Here are some tried and true parade tips and etiquette to help you prepare for the best parade experience possible on your Disneyland vacation.
- Bring a blanket: Some people wouldn’t want to carry this around all day, but it’s a great way to add a little comfort so you aren’t sitting on pavement while you wait. Blankets also naturally reserve a viewing space for you and your family, so you don’t have to worry about other families crowding and losing some of your spots. People will get right in your space if you don’t have it blocked off, we can always tell a huge different whenever we have a blanket vs the times we don’t. You can also get portable blankets that wrap up to fit in your bag online! They won’t serve as much of a cushion but they will help you block off your space.
- Pack a picnic: This requires a little planning ahead, but it’s a great way to pass the time while waiting for a parade to start. If you pack a picnic, you can leave it in a reserved locker until you need it. Or if you’re sitting by one of the parade viewing locations with snack carts you can grab some snacks to enjoy while you wait. This is a great way to kill time with small children and keep them happy while they wait.
- Pick a designated spot-reserver: Once your whole party has picked out a viewing location, you can leave one or two people to reserve the spot while you take the kids on a ride, to get a treat, or to look at the shops, depending on what is nearby. If you have a bigger party, it can be difficult for one person alone to maintain the space you’d like. A blanket could remedy this problem, again we can’t stress enough how helpful a blanket can be in this situation!
- Don’t put kids on shoulders: While shoulder-sitting ensures the best view for your child, it also ensures that someone behind you isn’t getting a good view at all. Instead, just arrive early enough that your kids can see the parade without this or scope out one of our less-crowded area suggestions. You will likely get scolded by a cast member or other guests if you do this.
- Don’t stand in a sitting zone: If everyone around you is sitting, don’t stand! Different locations offer different types of viewing experiences.
- Be polite and patient: During peak times of the year parade watching can be a test of patience when it comes to packing in with other people like sardines for the best parade view. Be patient and understanding to the best of your ability, especially of those with small, wiggly children trying to keep them entertained before it starts. Again, bringing a blanket to mark your space will help you feel like you’re not being closed on by other people.
Disneyland Parades Guide: Best Viewing Locations in Disney’s California Adventure
In California Adventure we recommend asking a Cast Member which direction the parade will be going as you make your plans. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Some spots along the route may seem like a good viewing area, when in all reality, it is a “No View” zone to allow for traffic. Double check so you don’t get to parade time thinking you hit the jackpot, only to be asked to move.
- Near Goofy’s Sky School: We like this viewing location because is one of the last to fill up, meaning that you line up later and still get to enjoy the parade. It still provides a good view of that area of the park, though, so there will be a lot for your children to look at while you wait.
- Any spot with a wall or curb: This is a more generic tip, but spots along the parade route with benches, curbs, or walls to lean against are pretty sparse. If you see an open spot like this regardless of where it is, we recommend you grab it!
- Along Hollywood Land: While this is the best spot for viewing convenience and comfort (lots of curbs and benches), it is also probably the first to fill up. If you don’t mind sitting for a few hours, this is a great spot. But we wouldn’t recommend looking here for a viewing space if it’s only a half hour before the parade.
Carthay Circle Restaurant Dining Packages for California Adventure Parades
Enjoy a full-service, 4-course dinner from the prix fixe menu plus a voucher for guaranteed seating at the reserved parade-viewing area next to the restaurant.
Price: Starts at $99 for adults 10 and up, $45 for children, and children 2 and under are free
Menu: Adults will enjoy an appetizer of Sautéed Delta Asparagus and Blue Crab, Lemon-Tarragon Gribiche, a second course of Moroccan Spiced Tomato Soup and Coriander Grilled Chicken and Minted Yogurt, a choice of fish or steak for the main entree, and a Velvet Dark Chocolate Mousse with Hazelnut Creme Anglaise for dessert. Children will enjoy a chopped salad, tomato soup, and a choice of either pasta, salmon, chicken tacos, or a beef filet for their main entree. A fun painter’s palette is served for dessert.
These dining packages will not be offered unless a parade is taking place at California Adventure, we will update this guide with new information as it happens.
Wine Country Trattoria Dining Packages for California Adventure Parades
Enjoy California- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes with this dining package. You’ll experience a 3-course lunch or dinner from the prix fixe menu plus a spot in the reserved viewing space.
Price: Lunch starts at $38 for adults 10 and up, $21 for children, and children 2 and under are free. Dinner starts at $49 for adults 10 and up, $25 for children, and again, children 2 and under are free. Wine is also available at an additional cost.
Lunch Menu: Adults can choose from either Italian Insalata or Chef’s Soup Selection for an appetizer, they’ll choose from a variety of salads, pasta dishes, fish, and chicken for their main entree, and pick from either Tiramisu or Chocolate Panna Cotta for dessert. Children can choose between fish, chicken, pasta, or pizza. Their meal will be served with fruit and vegetables and a drink.
Dinner Menu: The dinner menu is fairly similar to the lunch menu, with the additions of some heavier main entrees for adults like Rib-Eye Steak and Chicken Parmesan.
These dining packages will not be offered unless a parade is taking place at California Adventure, we will update this guide with new information as it happens.
Disneyland Seasonal Parades
There are two parades that accompany both the Holiday season at the Disneyland Resort and the Halloween Season. Make sure to read our full guides to both seasons to get an idea of what to expect if you’re visiting during this time!
With a new song written by Todrick Hall and performed by Jordan Fisher, the Magic Happens parade is incredible. The parade features a mixture of floats of classic and new Disney characters making it a great combination of Disney favorites.
Todrick Hall is a singer-songwriter, and the co-composer of Magic Happens. He shares, “co-composing the music for ‘Magic Happens’ was a full circle moment for me. I learned how to dance from watching Disney parades, so the fact that I got to create the music that these iconic Disney characters perform to is pretty much the most epic thing that has happened to me in my life!” Hall began his entertainment career at Walt Disney World Resort as a performer in “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
And here’s a look at the Moana Magic Happens Disneyland float.
Concept art for the parade was shared that included floats based on Coco, Moana, and the classic princesses. The concept art doesn’t do the real parade justice.
Each performance of the parade is put on by over 90 performers, including over two dozen Disney characters. The parade has nine unique floats and is performed to two original songs.
The parade showcases characters from more recent Disney-Pixar releases like Moana, Coco, and Frozen II. In the grand finale, guests witness dreams coming true through scenes from more classic Disney films, including Sleeping Beauty, The Sword and the Stone, and Cinderella. While the nine floats in Magic Happens are moving works of art, the standout among parade viewers has been the original music.
Disney announced that Magic Happens would return to Disneyland Park again as a part of a major Disney milestone – Disney’s 100th Anniversary celebration. Disney100 began at Disneyland Resort on January 27, 2023, with a new attraction, new nighttime spectaculars, specialty treats, and more limited-time offerings. The return of Magic Happens adds another layer of excitement to this centennial celebration for the Walt Disney Company.
Frightfully Fun Parade
This well-loved parade is featured every year around Halloween during the ticketed Halloween party. This spooky parade is led by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow followed by Mickey and Minnie leading a cavalcade of characters and Disney villains. Recently, the Disneyland Halloween party has moved over to Disney California Adventure and is called the Ooogie Boogie Bash.
Disneyland Parades Offered in the Past
It is common for the parade schedule to shift and change throughout the year. Below are parades that have run at Disneyland in the past and could potentially make a return.
Main Street Electrical Parade
Paint the Night Parade
This special nighttime parade dazzles with a million sparkling lights and favorite Disney characters including Ariel, Belle, Tinkerbell, Woody and Buzz, Mike and Sulley, Peter Pan, and Rapunzel. It now also includes a new Incredibles float that celebrated the release of the new Incredibles 2 movie in theaters.
Check out our experience and strategy for seeing Paint the Night here.
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
This popular parade was updated in 2019 in honor of Mickey’s Get Your Ears On Celebration- with a new float added to the mix! Goofy leads the way while towing his larger-than-life pull-toy gift, followed by Chip, Dale and a giant cake baked especially for the celebration! This high energy parade comes with a great music set featuring well loved Disney favorites like Minnie, Pluto, Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid.
Pixar Play Parade
The Pixar Play Parade celebrates Pixar’s stories of friendship and features beloved characters from all your favorite Pixar movies including Toy Story, Up, The Incredibles, and more! This is a special water parade, so you may get wet!
Check out our experience with getting seating (without a dining package) for the Pixar Play Parade here.
Start Planning Your Disneyland Vacation!
Don’t want to miss out on all the fun parade offerings this summer? Now is the perfect time to start planning your vacation! The best way to get started is by subscribing to our FREE deals newsletter here. Subscribers receive helpful planning tips, Disney deals exclusive to our readers, and access to the lowest-priced park tickets around. Check out our other helpful resources for planning your trip:
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Thanks for joining us for our Disneyland Parades Guide! Enjoy the show!
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