Parades are a staple of the Disney Parks. Kids and adults, alike, are drawn to the parades for a number of reasons. You are exposed to a barrage of famed Disney characters – you will see more in the span of 15 minutes than anywhere else. The characters also frequently ride in on large, creative floats. Then, there is the music that accompanies the parade, a main theme playing alongside music associated with each set of characters. Parades appeal to our inner child (and/or our nostalgic side), reminding us of the sense of wonder we experienced when we first watched these characters on screen. For Pixar Fest, the Pixar Play Parade made its triumphant return to Disneyland, and it came with lovely new additions.
The Pixar Play Parade was originally designed to roll through Disney California Adventure. It made its debut in 2008 at the park. Now, 10 years later, it has made its way across the Esplanade, and is traversing Disneyland for the first time. There are three major additions to the parade, all of which help round out the experience and help it feel more complete.
The parade has been given a brand new opening, fittingly, with the Pixar lamp, Luxo, Jr., leading the way. It stands 14-feet tall and is accompanied by the red, yellow, and blue ball that it bounces on in the short film in which it made its debut. These two objects have become synonymous with Pixar, with the lamp opening every film the studio produces and the ball appearing as an easter egg in so many of the animation studio’s films. By the way, the ball in the parade, is larger-than-life, at four feet wide.
The other new floats feature Inside Out and Up characters. These are two of my favorite films (Pete Docter is my favorite director at Pixar). To see them acknowledged in grand style is wonderful. The Inside Out float features Joy and Sadness1, as well as Bing Bong. The latter is one of my all-time favorite Pixar characters. He has a heart-breaking arc in the film and I loved seeing him on the float, waving to the crowd. The float itself is made up of many “memory orbs” (almost 280, as a matter of fact) that glow as it passes you by. Additionally, the rocket wagon that Joy and Bing Bong take flight in is there as well. This time, though, Joy and Sadness are taking a ride on it.
Last, we have the clan from Up. Carl stands perched on his float, along with Dug the talking dog. The house from the film is attached to balloons and is elevated high above the crowd, an astounding 17 feet high. I love the film, whose opening 15 minutes is one of the best sequences in film history – it establishes an emotional weight that is carried through the rest of the film. I was reminded of the film’s emotional moments when Carl arrives, accompanied by the house that meant so much to him. The house flies above Carl, using forced perspective to make it appear as if it is flying higher than it actually is.
Ahead of this float walks Kevin the snipe, with Russell riding on top of him. Kevin is a puppet that stands almost 12 feet(!) high. She is impressive, in person, and one of my favorite new sights in the parade. Watching her stroll in with Russell, I was reminded of the endearing relationship between the two characters. In the film, Russell fights to include her during times that Carl wants to send her away. It makes sense that these two would ride in together. Did I mention how tall she is? It’s a sight I don’t think I can ever forget.
Each of these additions to the parade would have been great on their own. However, they’re all being added at the same time, giving you a strong reason to see this parade, even if you have seen it many times when it was at Disney California Adventure. It begs to be seen just from the standpoint that it is showing in a vastly different park. With the narrower streets of Disneyland, the parade feels more intimate, especially on Main Street. At first, seeing the parade at Disneyland evokes a feeling that it is out of place. Immerse yourself into the parade, though, and you realize that, just like the other Disneyland parades, this is a celebration of memorable characters. Let that feeling wash over you and your inner child could be clamoring for more.
I hope Disney continues to add floats as new Pixar films are released. That is uncertain at this time, though. All we know right now is that the parade will be at Disneyland for the length of Pixar Fest, and after that it enters the great unknown. Pixar Fest is running now through September 3rd.
Update (4/23/18): I have now posted a video interview, where we get a peek at some of the cool elements of the show, up-close.
- I wish we could see all five of the emotions characters. Although Joy and Sadness are the pivotal emotions in the film, Anger, Fear, and Disgust would fill out this group and better represent the film it bases its float on. Maybe, one day! ↩