Each week through the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary, we will be taking a look back at various parades, entertainment, and nighttime spectaculars throughout the history of the resort. Walt Disney World has seen so many different things come and go throughout its 50 year history. So, let’s take a look back at what people remember dearly or forgot quickly.
In our first Making Memories look back, we are taking a look back at the parades of the 1970s at Magic Kingdom. Parades have been a synonymous piece of the Disney Parks since Disneyland first opened in 1955. Over time they have gotten grander, more advanced, and as we will see taken over the night sky.
When the Magic Kingdom opened in October of 1971 it did not have an official parade to start. There was of course a parade to kick off the grand opening of the park. That took place on October 25th, 1971.
However, moving forward from 1971 through 1975 and at points after, the “Character Parade” or “Cavalcade of Characters” made its way down Main Street USA as a way for guests to see their favorite Disney characters. These various parades did not have the large floats and extravagant sets we are used to today with Disney parades. Mickey Mouse was featured with the Walt Disney World band, along with characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Minnie Mouse, the Dapper Dans, and more.
The first major parade for the Magic Kingdom was the “America on Parade” which debuted in June of 1975. This parade was all about celebrating the bicentennial of the United States of America which would take place in 1976. This parade was huge even for Disney standards. More than 150 performers along with 50 different floats representing different achievements throughout American history. The parade lasted over 30 minutes. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy led the parade on the Spirit of ’76 float. The finale included the Celebration of Independence float which included Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam. The parade song, “The Glorious Fourth” was written by the Disney favorite Sherman Brothers. This parade not only was at the Magic Kingdom but also Disneyland.
The “Mickey Mouse Club Parade” debuted after America On Parade in September of 1976. The beloved TV show, Mickey Mouse Club, was the inspiration for this next parade. It ran through June 1977 and featured favorite Disney characters marching along to the “Mickey Mouse Club March.” Outside of the fab five, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Big Bad Wolf, and the Three Little Pigs. The parade also had large Mickey Mouse ear hat floats that traveled down the parade route. Mickey Mouse was featured atop the finale float in the parade which was a huge drum.
In 1978, it was time to celebrate Mickey’s 50th Birthday! This birthday celebration had to be big for the big cheese. “Mickey’s 50th Birthday Parade” kicked off in November 1978, and started with the Main Street Philharmonic along with banners celebrating Mickey’s birthday. Floats were themed after gift boxes, candles, cupcakes and balloons. Mickey wore a birthday hat on his float at the finale of the parade. Characters from Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, and even new faces from The Rescuers made appearances in the parade. Both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom featured this parade just like America On Parade.
The last big parade rounding out the 1970s at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was “Dumbo’s Circus Parade.” This parade ran from January 2nd, 1979 through December 21st, 1979. The circus came to the Magic Kingdom with “exotic camels, colorful clowns, Dumbo and more.” Casey Jr. headed up the parade route carrying Disney characters like Winnie the Pooh in the caboose. Disney characters took up circus roles in this one of a kind parade. Mickey Mouse was the ring master of course, Donald a snake charmer, and Goofy a circus weightlifter. The parade ended with clowns, and an Engine House float. Aspects of this parade were recycled from others and many aspects were continued to be used for parades to come.
And that does it for this first edition of Making Memories! Stay tuned as next week we look at another piece(s) of Walt Disney World history as we gear up for the 50th anniversary.
- Step In Time: Bringing Dumbo’s Circus to the Parade Route at Magic Kingdom Park
- Step In Time: ‘Mickey’s Birthday Parade’ Marks 50 Years For the Mouse at Magic Kingdom Park
- Step In Time: A ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ Parade Marches On at Magic Kingdom Park
- Step In Time: America Goes on Parade at Magic Kingdom Park
- Step In Time: The First ‘Character Parades’ at Magic Kingdom Park
- Step in Time: A Grand Opening (Parade) For Magic Kingdom Park, 1971
- Walt Disney World Chronicles: Walt Disney World Parades