May 2015 – present
Fantasyland & Main Street USA – The parade starts in Fantasyland, at the plaza in front of It’s A Small World. From there, it winds down past the Mad Tea Party and the Matterhorn, along the right side of the castle, and down Main Street USA. The Paint the Night Parade ends at the corner of Main Street, next to Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln.
The Paint the Night Parade stems from a previous Disneyland parade: The Main Street Electrical Parade. This former show was the first park parade to include electronically controlled lights on its floats and performers, and the popular attraction ran in the park for nearly 25 years. Over time, the floats became outdated, and the Main Street Electrical Parade closed in favor of a parade with new performers and vehicles.
When Hong Kong’s Disneyland park began plans to develop a brand new parade, Imagineers drew inspiration from the Main Street Electrical Parade. They designed a brand new show, Paint the Night, which brought the original concept of the electrical parade into the 21st century with thousands of LED lights connected to each float. The new show opened in 2014, and was an instant success. So when Disneyland wanted to bring a revamped parade to Anaheim as part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration, the Paint the Night Parade made its way to California. Paint the Night debuted in Disneyland in May 2015, and has been a crowd favorite ever since.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – 17:00
When the Paint the Night Parade begins, all of the lights in the park dim, leaving Main Street USA in darkness. Projectors rise from the rooftops of the shops, and suddenly the walls of Main Street and the castle come to life. One by one dancers and floats emerge, flooding the street with color and light.
The show begins with a song, When Can I See You Again?, which plays between floats and at the start and end of the parade. Each float plays a remixed version of a song from its film, and most of the floats include live performers and/or characters. As each float passes through Main Street, the projections on the castle and shops change to match the passing film. The procession is as follows:
- Peter Pan (with drum line)
- Monsters, Inc.
- The Little Mermaid
- Finding Nemo
- Toy Story
- Princesses (Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella)
Paint the Night ends with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy dancing to a reprise of When Can I See You Again?. After the song ends, the projections fade away, but the street lights stay dim for the fireworks, which start immediately after the parade.
MY RATING: ★★★★★
I’ve never been a person that cared much for parades, especially given the massive crowds they draw in the park. In my experience, unless you’re in the front row (which you have to stake out way ahead of time) you can’t see anything. Not this parade, though. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it; I felt as amazed as the little kid standing next to me. The floats are truly incredible; and each one is just inundated with lights. But the best part for me was that I didn’t have to stake out a spot ahead of time; I wandered onto Main Street at the last minute, and because the floats are both tall and really bright, I could see everything.
Even if you’re not a parade person, give the Paint the Night Parade a chance. You might be surprised by how exciting the parade is, and the projections on the street make the experience truly unique.
There is only one show time for the parade, so I can’t say much about when to visit. If you want a curbside seat, you’ll have to park yourself on Main Street well in advance – sometimes 1-2 hours ahead of time, depending on how busy the park is on the day of your visit. If you just want to see it and don’t care where you stand, try heading toward the Fantasyland end. There are some places by the Matterhorn and Alice in Wonderland where you can see pretty much everything without losing a lot of your evening waiting around.
Disneyland’s version of the Paint the Night Parade is a continuously moving parade. But the Hong Kong version is a bit like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; it stops periodically for performances.
The theme song for the parade is an arrangement of When Can I See You Again? by Owl City. The band’s singer, Adam Young, provides the vocals in the parade arrangement.