In just a few short weeks, the Main Street Electrical Parade will make its way up Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom for the last time: on October 9, 2016, before heading to Disneyland to be retired forever sometime next year. Though it will be sad to see this long-running parade pack up and leave for the west coast, it is fitting that The Main Street Electrical Parade will be taking its final trip down the same streets where it first made its first debut almost half a century ago.
However, putting nostalgia aside for a moment, the loss of this parade presents some unique, practical challenges for the Magic Kingdom as the park heads into 2017. While the Magic Kingdom has gone without a nighttime parade for brief periods in the past, the loss of a nighttime parade yet again in just a few short weeks will cause some interesting side effects at this park, some of which will be felt sooner than others.
1. A new(ish) dining package to debut soon at Tony's Town Square
Earlier this year, Tony’s Town Square table service restaurant introduced a new dining option that allowed guests to enjoy a meal (lunch or dinner) that came with reserved seating for the Main Street Electrical Parade. However, beginning October 10, the day after this parade concludes, this dining experience will be changing in a very predictable way. And you'll probably see where this is going with this experience's new name...
The newly-christened Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package will now be offered at Tony’s Town Square as a replacement experience, and similarly to the previous package, guests who book this dining experience will be able to partake in a prix fixe lunch (including appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage) at Tony's Town Square Restaurant that will come with reserved viewing (near the flagpole on Main Street USA) for the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade instead of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
Pricing for the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package is exactly the same price as the previous Main Street Electrical Parade package, costing $45 for adults and $17 for ages 3-9. Reservations can be made now for this new(ish) experience.
2. A change in schedule will bring congestion to the Magic Kingdom in 2017
One of the benefits of this parade retiring from the Magic Kingdom during the fall season is that guests at this park won’t exactly feel this loss immediately. The Main Street Electrical Parade has historically only run on a handful of nights from September to December, and with Mickey’s Boo to You Parade and Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade happening on event party nights from now until the end of the year, it probably won't be missed very much at first.
However, once 2017 kicks off, that’s when guests will really begin feeling this loss, as the only nighttime entertainment at the Magic Kingdom will be the Wishes Spectacular as well as Celebrate the Magic. This is not only a bummer for those who enjoy entertainment after dark at Walt Disney World, but it will also create a headache for Cast Members at the end of the night as well, as the newfound lack of a nighttime parade could drastically alter guest flow at the park in the evening.
Currently, the biggest outflow of guests on most nights happens directly after the Wishes nighttime spectacular. However, though there are always big lines at the front of the park after the conclusion of this nightly fireworks display, historically Disney has used a second Main Street Electrical parade on busy days to try and stagger crowds a little and keep things running smoothly at closing time.
However, with only Wishes and Celebrate the Magic running back to back, there will likely be much larger amounts of guests trying to leave at one time, which could cause some serious jam-ups at park closing early next year. And while Disney may alter the times and showings of Wishes and Celebrate the Magic to try and stagger guests’ exit in a similar way, without a second parade on busy park days, we can imagine that leaving the Magic Kingdom at the end of the night is about to get a lot harder.