5 Electrifying Facts About Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade



On June 17, 1972, Disneyland introduced one of its most beloved events—the Main Street Electrical Parade. It ran for 24 years before it was replaced with "Light Magic," which just didn't inspire the same love people felt for the original. "Light Magic" closed after just four months, and the Main Street Electrical Parade, renamed "Disney's Electrical Parade," was brought back to Anaheim in 2001 to help bring traffic to the new California Adventure Park. To celebrate the original anniversary of the groundbreaking parade, here are five electric facts about it..

1. It was inspired by a water parade at Walt Disney World.

To entertain guests at its hotels, the folks at Walt Disney World created a nightly display that makes its way around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Every evening, two strings of seven barges haul 25-foot light displays past the hotels, depicting everything from King Triton to the stars and stripes. Execs at Disneyland had been looking for something to keep guests at the park past sundown, and when they saw the success of the Electrical Water Pageant, they decided to adapt the idea for Anaheim.

2. It takes more than 600,000 lights to power the parade.

Between the 500+ miles of lights, the audio, and the float movement, it takes more than 27 tons of batteries to present the parade every night. That energy could power 32 homes. 

3. That catchy song is called “Baroque Hoedown.”

Written in 1967 by Moog synthesizer inventors Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, the electronically-created “Baroque Hoedown” was a genre people had never heard before. Show creators and music directors agreed that the new type of music was perfect for the cutting-edge parade. Perrey and Kingsley had licensed the song for commercial use, but didn’t realize that Disney had based an entire parade around it until Perrey happened to visit the park in 1980 and heard it being played.

4. The parade is occasionally presented outside of the parks

Disney has moved the parade outside of the parks at least twice: As the halftime entertainment at the Orange Bowl in 1978 and to promote the Broadway show Hercules in 1997. For the latter, Disney managed to talk other theaters and retailers on Broadway into shutting down their neon marquees and signs in order to give the parade the maximum effect. Only one place refused: the Warner Bros. retail store at 42nd and Broadway.

5. The parade inspired a whole new show control system.

Rather than just steering the parade down the streets of Disneyland and blasting music from the floats, Disney pioneered a whole new show control system. They broke the parade route into distinct zones, and when each float hit a new zone, speakers were triggered to play specific sections of the music. This allowed guests to experience the same "show" with each float, no matter where they stood on the parade route.