Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SpectroMagic from Around the Magic Kingdom

Our favorite parade in Walt Disney World is Spectromagic. We've seen it from many places in the park and are totaly enthralled by it.
Here is the official Disney description:
"SpectroMagic" Parade is a dazzling nighttime procession filled with brilliantly lit Disney Characters and floats at Magic Kingdom theme park. Your heart will glow along with the brilliant lights and joyous music of this gleaming parade that celebrates scenes from Disney films. Disney Characters are magically transformed into living ornaments of light in this magical, glittering spectacle.
Half a million lights and miles of fiber optics cables light up the night during the "SpectroMagic" Parade to create miles of smiles for Guests of all ages.
I can’t agree more. My heart glows every time I even hear the music, let alone attend in person. We have seen this parade many times from many different places. I’d like to go over some of those places in the hopes that you’ll try somewhere new next time you have a chance for viewing Spectromagic. I also have a couple tips and facts about the parade.
I don’t want to be-labor the history and creation of the parade or even the photos. When your done here you can go over to LaughingPlace.com. They have a great article on Spectromagic and a bunch of pictures of the entire parade.

Just as an FYI, the parade starts on the circle on Main Street near the Fire Station and ends at the junction of AdventureLand and FrontierLand right underneath Splash Mountain.
The first four or five times we have seen this parade we have watched it from various place
s on Main Street. We did not know any better yet. Usually the place was dictated by the crowds and when we got there to wait for the parade to start. Main Street seems to have more activities run by the cast members as you wait for the parade. My son's first pin trading was done waiting for the parade. We’ve watched from in front of City Hall, in front of the Candy Store, half-way down Main, in Front of the Plaza Ice Cream place and on the Tomorrowland side of the hub. Without a doubt the best experience was sitting half-way down Main Street. We found our spots and camped out maybe 30 minutes until the parade started. The kids and wife played games on the street as I guarded our seats. The Parade was great as always. You get close to the Parade on Main Street but there is some pushing. A new spot we discovered had a back-drop that we did not fully appreciate until
we had gotten home and watched the videos. Cinderella's Castle in the background changing colors added just a little more magic. You can see the bridge to the right. This was a small pathway that takes you from the Crystal Palace right to Liberty Square. You can see how close we were and there was not much of a crowd. The next place that we found to be a very good place to sit is in Frontierland, right across the pathway from Pecos Bills. There is not a lot of room for depth which keeps it pretty free of crowds.

This is about 100 yards from where the parade goes off stage and was a great viewing spot. It also let us get onto Splash Mountain pretty quick and we were able to see parts of the Wishes fireworks show as we went in and out of the mountain and then down the big hill, very cool.
  • If you want to sit on Main Street get there 45-60 minutes before the parade. I would also bring a blanket or towel to put down on your spot on the curb. People setting up for Main Street can get brutal. We usually plan to do our shopping in the Main Street stores as we wait. We take turns reminding people that we were there first and getting our food for the parade and fireworks.
  • Check the times when you check in to your hotel, they can change.
  • If you have a choice always see the second parade if offered that night. Ride attractions while the first parade is going on.
  • If you want your kids (or yourself) to feel part of the parade, bring glow sticks and necklaces with you for the parade.
One last item. Last year I went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour. It was a great tour and I was amazed at what we were shown and where we were taken. One stop was the SpectroMagic storage warehouses where the parade floats are stored and repaired during the day. Very cool seeing where a lot of the 'cockpits' were for most of the floats. One final bit of info. The parade was originally led by handlers around the parade route who manually kept track of where the parade is and when to start music and such. They had switched to a computer run system that used sensors buried in the parade route. You can see the brass colored circles about 2-3 inches across still today. I say still today, because they are back to the human handlers directing the parade. The sensors, it seems, could not keep up.

If you have not seen SpectroMagic, it is a must. If you have but have not left Main Street, try to watch it from somewhere else next time, you will not be disappointed.

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