The “Magic Happens” parade returned to Disneyland Park on Feb. 24, 2023, during the Disney100 anniversary celebration. Led by Mickey Mouse and his pals, this daytime spectacular celebrates moments of magic from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films as they are brought to life on a grand scale with stunning floats, artistic costumes, and an energetic musical score combined with beloved Disney tunes. Here are some Magic Happens parade fun facts and tips for viewing the parade.
Magic Happens Parade
The parade features nine floats created as pieces of moving art, with their lines and aesthetic design working to tell a story along the parade route. Alongside are more than 90 performers, and more than two dozen of them are Disney and Pixar characters.
Two original songs add to the musical flow of the parade: the main theme, “Magic Happens,” and a special song for the grand finale. 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 the “Wishes” and “Remember… Dreams Come True” fireworks spectaculars.
The parade’s costume design draws inspiration directly from modern runways, making each costume look fashion-forward, yet uniquely Disney.
Featuring a musical score and new songs co-composed by singer-songwriter Todrick Hall, the “Magic Happens” soundtrack and choreography are heavily influenced by today’s pop culture, putting a contemporary spin on classic Disney hits.
The Nine Floats of Magic Happens
#1 Mickey’s Float. Mickey Mouse leads the way, gliding along on glistening swirls of magic emanating from a giant, iridescent magical hat that stands at nearly 15 feet tall and features 300 shimmering LED lights. Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto, and Chip ‘n’ Dale dance alongside eclectic and artsy performers representing aspects of magic.
#2 Moana’s Float. On her voyager canoe, Moana journeys forth on the crest of a towering wave, inspired by beautiful koa wood carvings and inset with animated glimpses into the magic the ocean holds. This is the first full-scale “Moana”-inspired float to be created for a Disney park.
#3 Maui’s Float. Moana’s movie gets a second float since Maui is such a large character. You’re welcome! Along his float you wise see drawings of all animals he turns into during the film. Pua is hanging out with Maui and you can find Hei Hei on his own little mini-float peeking his head out at times.
#4 The Coco Float. Coco’s float is gorgeous! Be sure to look for Miguel’s dog jump into the marigolds as a dog and jump back out as an alebrije spirit animal.
#5 Frozen 2 Float. The large snowflake behind Elsa incorporates the four elemental symbols from the film, representing water, fire, earth, and wind.
#6 Cinderella’s Float. Cinderella is seen inside a grand pumpkin, just as it magically transforms into a glistening carriage to whisk her off to the ball.
#7 The Sword in the Stone Float. I was excited to see this float in the parade. I just love when Disney pays homage to some of their older films that kids may not be familiar with. 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 on the throne.
#8 The Princess and the Frog Float. 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.
#9 Sleeping Beauty Float. The happily-ever-after scene from “Sleeping Beauty” features the three Good Fairies and Prince Phillip dancing with Princess Aurora, whose gown shimmers between hues of pink and blue.
Magic Happens Fun Facts
What float is tallest? The Sleeping Beauty float is the tallest float in the parade, with the top turret reaching approximately 30 feet tall. The happily-ever-after scene from “Sleeping Beauty” features the three Good Fairies and Prince Phillip dancing with Princess Aurora, whose gown shimmers between hues of pink and blue. I am quite obsessed with her dress, it is so pretty!
What float is the longest? At nearly 39 feet long, the “Frozen 2” float is the longest in the parade. From Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2,” Anna and Elsa explore the mysteries of the Enchanted Forest, as their friends Kristoff, Sven and Olaf tag along.
Can you find Nemo? You can Spot Finding Nemo Friends on the Moana Float.
Can you find the Heart of Te Fiti? You can also find the Heart of Te Fiti in the water.
Polynesian Drums. The percussion instruments played on the Kakamora unit that follows the “Moana” float are inspired by traditional Polynesian drums.
1st Disney Float Featuring Coco. In the first Disney Parks parade float inspired by Disney and Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel celebrates the magic that happens when he strums the guitar of Ernesto de la Cruz. This float connects the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead with a vibrant bridge decorated by more than 30,000 marigolds. Fantastical alebrije spirit animals join the procession, along with Miguel’s dog Danté.
Did you see the squirrels? The two squirrels perched on top of The Sword in the Stone float serve as a nod to the sequence in the film where the characters transform into squirrels.
The Lyrics of Magic Happens are Printed on 2 of the Costumes. This detail is meant to represent the magic of music.
Magic Happens Parade Tips
Get a Parade Spot Early. There are typically two Disneyland parades each day. One begins at 3:30 pm and the next starts at 6:30 pm. People will begin securing spots nearly an hour ahead of time especially if they are sitting on Main Street USA.
Know The Parade Route. The early parade leaves from It’s a Small World and finishes on Main Street. The late parade starts on Main Street and travels back to It’s a Small World. This will help you to know when the parade will be coming by you. The Parade may start at 1 pm but it may not reach you until 1:20 pm.
Get a Parade Dining Package. Want to guarantee a great spot to watch the parade without the stress of getting there early? Get the Plaza Inn Dining package that gives you premium seating.
The Best Spots to Watch. I believe the best place to watch the parade at Disneyland is near “it’s a small world.” This viewing location tends to be less crowded than some other spots along the route and you get more character interaction. Other notable spots are on the shady side of Main Street USA (make sure to get a spot super early for this spot) and the Main Street Train Station on the 2nd floor.