Disney is very hit-or-miss when it comes to parades, they’re basically always either amazing or crushingly mediocre. For every Pixar Play Parade, there’s a Block Party Bash/Pixar Pals: Countdown to Fun. Luckily for Disneyland (and it’s thousands of parade-goers), the exceptionally quirky Mickey’s SoundSational Parade is definitely the former.
One of the things that makes people favour Disneyland over Walt Disney World is the inclusion of live music. There are numerous bands (like the Dapper Dans, Hook and Ladder Company, Strawhatters, Royal Street Bachelors, and the Bootstrappers) around the Disneyland park that will play multiple shows a day, they do swing dancing lessons with a full big band, there is the Disneyland All-American College Band which collects some of the best college musicians from around the country, and there is of course the Disneyland Band. Mickey’s SoundSational Parade takes this history of live music and adds it to a parade for the first time in the history of a Disney park that isn’t just having the Disneyland Band or High School/College marching bands being part of the parade. The show doesn’t use the live music as much as I hoped it would, but it starts with a drum line and Mickey Mouse actually playing the drums (and playing them rather well) and a number of the floats have musical aspects to them like cymbals or simple drums for the characters to bang.
The parade takes the Disney standard route of taking a number of Disney films and making floats based around them, but the stylization of the parade is what really makes it special. The floats were designed by the amazing Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily (who also designed the Pixar Play Parade) and were designed to look like classic pop-up books. The muted colors of the floats give the parade a more retro look and the range of colour makes everything look very happy and childlike. The look works perfectly for the parade and seeing classic Disney films rendered in the style is a wonder to behold. Paper models of each of the parades were made by Kidney and Daily to get the exact look that Disney wanted for the parade along with being able to figure out how to have all of these very flat elements constructed in a way that they are dynamic and actually have depth. The parade has a very high level of whimsy with various fantastical structures flowing out of the floats and parts that move and spin, making a pleasant and kinetic experience. A number of the floats take the basic design of a drum and individualize them to fit the movie they are supposed to represent. Normally, I would think that this is a very lazy way of adding more floats to a parade, but they are actually very distinctive from each other and are followed by smaller floats that easily make up for the same base float being repeated.
The floats are great, but there real star of the show is the music (some might say it’s soundtrack is soundsational). The audio for the show combines a number of different songs from each featured movie that were re-recorded to flow together with each other along with the main theme without being too jaring. The main theme for the parade is very catchy (in a good way) and really gets you pumped up and in the mood for the rest of the parade, but is exceptionally variable. Throughout the parade, it’s arranged in different ways to reflect the style of music featured in each float, it starts in it’s normal form at the beginning with the Mickey Mouse float, but becomes more arabic sounding for Aladdin or jazzy for the Princess and the Frog float.
The parade starts with a drum line and the “Mickey Strikes up the Band” float and then goes through a number of floats representing different films (that all have very silly names), starting with the Aladdin’s Magical Cymbal Celebration, Sebastians Calypso Carnival, Donald’s Fiesta Fantastico (the Three Caballeros appearing for what is probably one of the first times in a parade), Royal Princesses Romantic Melodies (the design of the float is based almost entirely on Tangled, but Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, and Snow White also appear on the float), Simba’s Beastly Beats (which also features the Jungle Book and Tarzan), Peter Pan’s Neverland Buccaneer Blast, Mary Poppins’ Spoonful of Rhythm, and Tiana’s New Orleans Jazzy Jamboree. In a very different change of pace, I actually took video of the parade on my very mediocre camera. I’m going to include it here (but I would honestly suggest you watch a better quality one)
Disney should really look at what makes this parade special (such as it’s whimsical art style and it’s fantastic soundtrack) and apply it to whatever parades come in the future. They should also bring a version of it to the Magic Kingdom. Just saying.