Parades at Disneyland are some of the best entertainment experiences in the entire resort, but there are often misconceptions on the best ways to handle them. Contrary to what you may have heard, you don't necessarily have to devote hours waiting around to get a good seat for a parade. If you know where to go you can find a great spot with a minimal wait. Even if you're not into watching parades, there are also some useful tips on how to navigate the park during a performance so you don't feel stuck in the crowd.
To find out when parades are scheduled simply check the entertainment guide (which you can find next to any map) or, better yet, check the Disneyland mobile app under the "Entertainment" heading. Generally speaking there is a formula to when parades are held.
- DAYTIME PARADES are held between 2.30 and 5.30p, generally, and will usually have two or more performances per day. It's typical for these parades to happen daily or near-daily even in the off-season. The main daytime parade in Disneyland Park right now is Mickey's SoundSational Parade.
- NIGHTTIME PARADES are held after 8 (sometimes earlier in the winter) and will have one to two performances per night. It's not uncommon for some off-season nights to have no parades scheduled. Nighttime parades include Paint the Night! and the Main Street Electrical Parade.
The parade route in Disneyland Park runs from "it's a small world" to the end of Town Square in Main Street, USA. There are plenty of places to be able to see any parade that runs by but certain areas fill up much faster than others requiring an extensive wait. Here are some considerations for each of the major viewing areas:
These rules apply pretty generally to both daytime and nighttime parades, but there are some things you need to consider to not be hindered by passing parades.
- DON'T BE TRAPPED - Tomorrowland essentially gets cut off from the rest of the park when a parade is going. I find it best to check the entertainment schedule early and see when parades will be happening and avoid getting trapped in Tomorrowland. If that does happen, there are certain areas where they will permit guests to cross at specified times so just be on the lookout for those and be patient.
- DON'T GET SARDINED - The walkways along Main Street, USA get overly congested during a parade so it's best not to plan on exiting the park while a parade is going. If you absolutely must, crowds tend to be thinner on the sunny side of the street (east) and you will not have as difficult a time. That will generally involve crossing the parade as well.
- "START TIME" - The listed start time for a parade is the time it will start moving from the beginning of the route, either in Main Street or by "it's a small world". If you're somewhere in the middle or at the far end of the route be aware that it may take up to 15 minutes for the parade to reach you once it's started.
- STAND UP - About 15 - 30 minutes before a parade starts CMs will come around and ask everyone to stand. This is just to open up as much area as possible for other guests to get a viewing spot behind you.