Magic Happens parade at Disneyland made a brief debut in 2020 and starting next February 24, the spectacle returns to the Happiest Place on Earth. An unforgettable soundtrack, a dazzling array of colorful floats, imaginative costumes, and rare Disney characters lead us back then to call this an obsession-worthy parade.
As we await its return, we’re taking a full look including video, photos, and a load of fun facts. The gorgeous photos featured in this article were taken by Andy Castro.
Enjoy a front-row seat on Main Street, USA to take in the parade!
A Swirl of Magic
Mickey Mouse in an all-new sorcerer-inspired costume leads the way, gliding along on glistening swirls of magic that emerge from a giant, 15-foot tall iridescent magical hat. Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n Dale, are part of the fun along with a group of eclectic and contemporary dancers. The performers, known as “magic makers,” represent stylized aspects of “Disney magic” – from beauty to strength and everything in between. Magic is there any time a pumpkin becomes a carriage, or a sword is plucked from a stone.
- The eclectic and artistic performers who open this stunning parade represent stylized aspects of “Disney magic,” from beauty to strength and everything in between. These “magic makers” – normally invisible to humans – are right there any time a pumpkin becomes a carriage, or a sword is plucked from a stone.
- The lyrics of the opening theme song, “Magic Happens,” are printed on two of the costumes to represent the magic of music.
- Costumes worn by the opening performers are inspired by many sources, including modern fashion runways, with designs that are edgy and fashion forward.
- On the opening float, 300 LED lights shimmer on Mickey’s giant, magical hat.
- Mickey’s magical hat is nearly 15 feet tall and more than 9 feet in diameter. This float is hand painted and textured with custom iridescent colors.
- Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Chip n’ Dale join Mickey as they kick off this magical parade.
A Wave of Magic
On her voyager canoe, Moana journeys forth on the crest of a towering wave, inspired by beautiful koa wood carvings and inset with dazzling, animated glimpses into the magic the ocean holds. Joining Moana on her journey is legendary demigod, Maui, making his Disneyland Resort debut on his own magical island, along with Moana’s adorable pet pig, Pua.
- This is the first full-scale “Moana”-inspired float to be created for a Disney park.
- The sea of performers who lead the “Moana” float represent ocean waves, bringing the magic of the ocean to life.
- On her voyager canoe, Moana journeys forth on the crest of a towering wave. The wave is inspired by beautiful koa wood carvings and inset with LED panels, providing a dazzling glimpse into the magic the ocean holds.
- Guests will want to look closely at the beautiful flow of the ocean, watching for a friendly character cameo (or two) from Disney and Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” The heart of Te Fiti may also be spotted under the water.
- Guests will see Gramma Tala represented at the top of the float in her manta ray form, watching over Moana on her journey.
- The “Moana” float is more than 32 feet long, 22 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
- Joining Moana on her journey is Maui, who travels along on his own magical piece of the islands with Moana’s adorable pet pig, Pua.
- Maui makes his official Disneyland Resort debut in “Magic Happens.”
- The percussion instruments played on the Kakamora unit that follows the “Moana” float are inspired by traditional Polynesian drums.
A Bridge to Magic
Miguel appears in person for the first time, celebrating the magic that happens when he strums the guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz in the Disney and Pixar film, “Coco.” This spectacular float bridges the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead with vibrant marigolds, and fantastical alebrije spirit animals join the procession, along with Miguel’s dog Danté.
- This is the first time the Disney and Pixar film “Coco” has inspired a float for a Disney Parks parade.
- On this float, Miguel appears in person for the first time, celebrating the magic that happens when he strums his guitar.
- This float connects the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead with a vibrant marigold More than 30,000 individual marigolds decorate the bridge on the “Coco” float.
- The performers in front of the “Coco” float represent the beautiful marigold flower petals, as they fall off the bridge, spin, twist and float to the ground.
- The performers wear skirts that have been designed to easily convert into capes, allowing for an easy transition from a costume piece to a prop, and back again. The skirts were created by cast members from Disney Live Entertainment Costuming.
- Miguel’s dog, Dante, can be seen transforming from his dog form into his alebrije form as he crosses the marigold bridge.
- Hector and Imelda, two animated figures, can be seen on the opposite side of the marigold bridge, performing for guests from the Land of the Dead.
- On the back of this float, 12 unique Chihuahuas are part of the singing dog act from the battle of the bands scene in “Coco.”
- The “Coco” float is 11 feet wide, 19 feet tall and almost 36 feet long.
- Whimsically dressed performers adorned in masks and fanciful outfits represent the spirit guides, or alebrijes from “Coco,” who are moved by Miguel’s song and join in the celebration of family and life.
A Magical Forest
Anna and Elsa explore the mysteries of an enchanted forest protected by Nokk, the mystical water spirit, as their friends Kristoff, Sven and Olaf tag along.
- The performers that lead this float are an extension of the Enchanted Forest; the male performers represent the trunks of the Aspen trees and the female performers are the canopy.
- This float shows Anna and Elsa exploring the mysteries of The Enchanted Forest protected by the Nokk, the mystical water spirit, as their friends Kristoff, Sven and Olaf tag along.
- This float is designed to provide a sense of discovery as it passes by; guests will notice more characters and details as the float moves down the parade route.
- Olaf and Sven appear as animated figures on this float.
- The large snowflake behind Elsa incorporates the four elemental symbols from the film, representing water, fire, earth and wind.
- At nearly 39 feet long, the “Frozen 2” float is the longest in the parade.
Guests watch the moment of “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” as Cinderella is seen inside a grand pumpkin, just as it magically transforms into a glistening carriage to whisk her off to the ball.
- The “Cinderella” float captures the moment of “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo,” as Cinderella is seen inside a grand pumpkin, just as it magically transforms into a glistening carriage to whisk her off to the ball.
- Vines begin to take shape as wheels, while leaves stretch into stained glass, creating a translucent jeweled form of a carriage.
- The float reaches 16 feet at the top of Cinderella’s carriage, and it’s approximately 10 feet in diameter.
Merlin wisely leads the way for young Arthur, who finds the magic within himself as he pulls the sword from the stone, claiming his place upon the throne.
- On this float, Merlin wisely leads the way for young Arthur, who finds the magic within himself as he pulls the sword from the stone and claims his place upon the throne.
- Guests will be able to see Archimedes, the educated but irritable owl from the film. Archimedes is an animated figure on the figure on the float, and his neck and eyes move.
- Two squirrels, named Arthur and Hazel, are perched on top of the gothic architecture featured on the float. They serve as a nod to the sequence in the film where the characters transform into squirrels.
- Arthur makes his official Disneyland Resort debut in “Magic Happens.”
- This float is approximately 19 feet tall, 15 feet long and 12 feet wide.
Tiana and Naveen from “The Princess and the Frog” are seen amidst a swirl of golden flowers where they share a kiss, completing their transformation back into human forms.
- Tiana and Naveen are seen amidst a swirl of golden flowers where they share a kiss, completing their transformation back into human forms.
- The flowery swirls surrounding Tiana and Naveen rotate, creating a beautiful and magical movement.
- The tree that stands above Tiana and Naveen is modeled from an actual mangrove tree.
- “The Princess and the Frog” float is 19 feet tall and 11 feet in diameter.
The Once Upon a Dream
The start of the finale brings together a collection of many iconic magical characters, including Genie, Aladdin, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, Blue Fairy, Pinocchio and Fairy Godmother. The the happily-ever-after scene from “Sleeping Beauty” concludes the parade with a trio of fairies and Princess Aurora’s gown shimmering between hues of pink and blue.
- The happily-ever-after scene from “Sleeping Beauty” features the three good fairies – Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather – revolving gracefully atop turrets at the front of the float.
- Princess Aurora is seen dancing with Prince Phillip, and her gown shimmers between hues of pink and blue.
- The flag symbols are all designed in the style of Sleeping Beauty, as if to represent the different kingdoms and banners found in her castle.
- The Sleeping Beauty float is the tallest float in the parade, with the top turret reaching approximately 30 feet tall.
- Each finale performer wears a slightly different costume piece and flag, representing the kingdom they are leading.
- The finale score includes musical nods to past Disney entertainment productions that have special meaning to show director Jordan Peterson, weaving in themes from the “Remember the Magic,” parade as well as “Wishes” and “Remember… Dreams Come True” fireworks spectaculars.
About the Creative Crew
- Jordan Peterson, show director for “Magic Happens,” began his Disney career as a parade performer and appeared in more than 18 parades between Walt Disney World Resort and Tokyo Disney Resort.
- David Duffy, creative director for “Magic Happens,” has been with Disney Live Entertainment for nearly 30 years. He started his career as a performer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida.
- Todrick Hall, a singer-songwriter, co-composed the energetic musical score and new songs for the parade. Hall, who is a former cast member, began his entertainment career at Walt Disney World in Florida as a performer in “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage.”
See it for Yourself
MAGIC HAPPENS parade returns to Disneyland on February 24, 2023.
Typical parade times are 3:30pm and 6:30pm but always check the official website or Disneyland app on the day of your visit for the latest details.
MORE INFO: Check official website for Magic Happens Parade times and availability.