Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Disneyland - Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls...

The words "electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds" once gave me goosebumps nightly on Main Street U.S.A.

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Disneyland proudly presents our spectacular festival pageant of nighttime magic and imagination...in thousands of sparkling lights...
and electro-synthe-magnetic musical sounds.
...Main Street

It was with great sadness that I saw the parade end its run at Disneyland.

Now, alas, it has even left California Adventure, ending its run there this past April.

If you wish to see it, you can still catch it though.

In Florida.

It is at the Magic Kingdom for an extended stay. Thankfully, it has returned to Main Street, where it belongs! It is too bad Disneylanders now have to book a flight to Orlando in order to catch it.

That said, the Electrical Parade beats the complete tar out of "Spectro Magic," a parade that I could never stomach. Ack. It was like watching an inept cover band try to sound like the "real thing" at a Holiday Inn Hospitality Lounge somewhere in the mid-west. Perhaps worse.

Again, I digress.

I have long missed the warm summer nights as the crowd built along the Hub and down Main Street. Cast Members would banter and chat with guests as they jostled for positions along the curb. The throng would fill the sidewalks several people deep.

There was a festival spirit in the air. Kids sat wide-eyed with anticipation---even the 40+ year-old ones. A long day at the Park was about to close out in spectacular fashion---a brilliant light parade with bouncy, joyous music and beloved characters followed by the "Fantasy In The Sky" fireworks extravaganza. The crowd knew it and sensed it.
It almost hummed with anticipation.
People would finally sit for a while after running around the Park all day.
Some would sit for two hours or more to get the best seats!

Working guest control along the parade route in 1987, still ranks as one of my favorite Park experiences as a Cast Member. We would walk up and down and make sure that ropes were up, people were seated in the right places ("Uh, sir, I'm going to need you to step out of the planter, the viewing area is inside the ropes. Thank you!), strollers were collapsed (so there was more room and everyone could see), and guests were having a good time.

Often I worked Parade shifts in my Jungle costume, so guests would instantly start joking with me.
"Are you lost, skipper? Adventureland is over there!"
"Hey, where's your boat?"
"Where's your gun?"
"You aren't from around here, are you?"


Believe me, I gave it right back to them, spieling and playing and goofing around---all the while getting paid for it (I could never get over that part!).

The anticipation grew steadily.
Teaser announcements would help build the drama, letting everyone know the Parade would soon be coming.
When the night settled in and the street lights went down, section by section, along the parade route, the robotic, techno-sounding musical intro announcement would surround the waiting horde:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls..."
The crowd literally would go wild.
Kids cheering!
Adults cheering!
Everyone clapping in rhythmic unison.
In those moments, Disneyland along the Parade route truly was the Happiest Place on Earth.
Then the Blue Fairy would come into view and the Parade was on!
If you never saw the Electrical Parade on Main Street in Disneyland, I am sorry.
If you get a chance, book a flight to Orlando and catch it at the Magic Kingdom.
Perhaps, of course, it may someday return to its rightful spot in Disneyland.

For now, this is Mike, wishing you all a fabulous rest of your day or evening, wherever you may be!

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