Pete’s Dragon roars above Disneyland castle
Electrical Sky Parade debuts in Paris
When the Main Street Electrical Parade first debuted in 1972 at Disneyland in California, the nighttime procession was heralded for its brightly illuminated floats and its catchy “Baroque Hoedown” soundtrack that featured synthesizers, which were still something of a novelty. Once groundbreaking, the beloved, 52-year-old parade now inspires joyous nostalgia among the Disney faithful. But in the everything-old-is-new-again department, the Mouse has reimagined the classic presentation as–of all things–a multimedia drone show.
Since its launch, the Main Street Electrical Parade has rolled down many Disney parks (even getting its plug permanently pulled only to get re-lit on a few occasions). It had an eleven-year run at Disneyland Paris, where it debuted when the park opened and wrapped up in 2003. The European park recently kicked off Disney Electrical Sky Parade, its latest nighttime spectacular. Staged at Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), the presentation features projected media, lasers, lights, colorful fountains, and synchronized drones.
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Disney Electrical Sky Parade includes over 500 drones that are programmed to take the forms of the original parade’s bass drum, Elliott of “Pete’s Dragon” fame, Peter Pan, Cinderella’s coach, and other signature float elements. While the concept might sound a bit daffy, it actually makes sense. The individual drones resemble the glowing bulbs that outlined the floats and characters of the ground-based parade.
This isn’t the first time that Disneyland Paris has featured drones for a nighttime spectacular. Last year, Walt Disney Studios Park offered Avengers: Power the Night, which used the The Hollywood Tower Hotel as a backdrop. The adjacent Disneyland Park, which is the site of Disney Electrical Sky Parade, hosted the Disney D-Light show starting in 2022. The new drone extravaganza is scheduled to continue nightly through September 30.
Disney Electrical Sky Parade is part of the Paris resort’s Disney Symphony of Colours celebration. Beginning February 10, the forecourt of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant will be filled with songs and spectacle when Disneyland Park presents A Million Splashes of Colour. The daytime show will include Disney and Pixar characters performing classic and more recent tunes from the studios’ films.
Also kicking off on February 10, the park’s Main Street, U.S.A. will be decked out in flowers, topiaries, and other plantings for Blooming in Colours. The displays will incorporate Disney princesses and other characters. According to Disneyland Paris, Tinkerbell and her sister Perriwinkle will sprinkle pixie dust over Main Street, U.S.A. to bring Blooming in Colours to life.
With the success of the drone shows in Paris, might the U.S. parks be getting similar nighttime spectaculars? Count on it.
“Drones are the next thing,” said Steven Davison, Disney live entertainment parades and spectaculars executive (how’s that for a title?) at a panel discussion in October, 2023. “They’re kind of a new thing. We’re doing a lot of work in that. So all I’m going to say is, ‘There’s more to come.’ ”
The FAA and other authorities would seem to be more strict about allowing drone shows in the U.S. versus regulators in France and other locations. But that appears to be changing. I saw a limited-time drone show that Walt Disney World presented in 2016 at Disney Springs. Dronisos, the company that is producing Disney Electrical Sky Parade, developed a drone presentation for Dollywood’s Christmas event, which I caught during a recent visit. It seems only a matter of time before Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World light up their skies with drones.
What do you think about using the Main Street Electrical Parade as the inspiration for a drone show? Have you seen a drone show in person? Are you hoping to see drone shows at theme parks?