Pixar Play Parade has become somewhat a staple for Disney California Adventure. This parade performs in the early evening commonly and travels from Hollywoodland to Paradise Pier. It may seem like the only parade that has ever appeared in the park, but it was not the first (nor likely the last).
Disney’s Eureka! A California Parade
When the park first opened, as Disney’s California Adventure, Eureka was a parade that embodied the spirit of California and the park itself. Capturing some of the culture and heritage of California, the original floats brought a unique theme and decoration to a Disney parade.
The parade featured an original soundtrack. Cultural influences could be heard in the appropriate segments of the parade. In fact, the parade was divided into these types of segments to showcase the diversity of the state. The most interesting feature of the parade were the large figures that were on the front of the floats. Other than that, the floats were colorful and had elements of puppets and costumes seen in other parades.
Overall, it was a parade that fit the park, but wasn’t as Disney as others, like the Play Parade. Lasting only a year, it was something that helped open the park and mark its character. It also celebrated the uniqueness of California itself. Some found the parade charming, but others were a little confused by the large figures and lack of Disney characters.
Disney’s Electrical Parade
One of the interesting things to hit the park was the revamp of Disney’s Electrical Parade. Yes, it was at Disneyland for many years. But, it had a farewell season there in 1996. As the supposed story goes, they couldn’t have the parade appear in Disneyland anymore because of the farewell season, so it ends up at DCA. Another reason was having a draw for the first year of the park. And the 9 years after too. The reason for calling it Disney’s Electrical Parade and not the Main Street one is that there is no Main Street in California Adventure.
In the 2010 season, some newly designed floats were brought to the parade, as well as some slightly new music. The music was a cue from the Tokyo Disneyland version of the parade called Dreamlights. Tinkerbell’s float replaced the Blue Fairy as the start of the parade. Her pixie dust enchants the floats following, which were added elements to all of them. Having debuted at DCA in this form it was transported over to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World the following year.
Disney’s Electrical Parade did help to draw some crowds at night. In the 9 years it ran, there was no consistent nighttime entertainment there (other than the parade). Having a nostalgic, but always enchanting light parade was a good answer.
Before World of Color there was Disney’s Luminaria! Luminaria ran for one season in the Paradise Bay. It’s main draw and feature was that it would display Christmas greeting cards made by guests throughout the day. The holiday show featured projected images on Christmas present shaped screens. A giant tree in the middle of the water also shot off fireworks for the finale. With some rather haunting melodic music, this spectacular wasn’t quite the spectacle that was hoped as it only lasted for 2001-2002 holiday season. What is interesting is that elements from the show are now in World of Color. Fountains were stationed around the bay as they danced with the music. Lights on the Sun Wheel (as it was called then) and California Screamin’ were precursors to the much more sophisticated ones used in World of Color. It may not have been a hit, but I think it helped bring about the hit show we know of now.
Though more experimentation for some of the early parades and shows, these definitely helped California Adventure grow from being a newborn park to its full fledged version we know now. We remember these, and will remember all the current street and water entertainment that is around now when it evolves and becomes something else.