I tend to describe my Disney trips as giving a thirsty man a fire hose. We feel the need to justify the expense of the trip taking in as much as possible, going until we drop, resting a bit, and going again. I changed my mantra for this trip. In fact, I had two mantras. (1) We are here to be with family. (2) We will come back again some day. Keeping those in mind, I relaxed and did things at a more reasonable pace.
Our first day was spent at the Magic Kingdom. With a group of 15 people ranging in age from 2 to over 70, I felt as if I was part of an amoeba. Sometimes we would all ride together, and sometimes we split off into smaller blobs. We had broken apart to ride separate attractions when I got a text that part of the family was planning to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade. They staked out a wonderful spot right in front of the Hall of Presidents. We could watch the parade turn the corner from Frontierland, pass through Liberty Square, and enter the hub in front of the castle.
Getting a spot 45 minutes before the parade would normally make me itchy and impatient. I’m sure there were several things we could have done in that time, but I stuck to the mantras and was rewarded for my patience. While we held the spot, each person could take a turn running to get a snack. Taking the time to eat a Mickey ice cream bar is never wasted time. Disney knows people get antsy and provides distractions while waiting for the main event. Two high school bands marched the route before the parade. We cheered wildly. Closer to the parade, Disney’s own marching band entertained us.
One of the people in our group, Will, spotted something curious not too far from us. Two Disney cast members set up cameras near where the parade turns into Liberty Square. They looked like a cube of six GoPro type cameras mounted on a pole. The cast members were wearing official Disney clothing, but later changed into plain t-shirts to blend in with the crowd. I assume that Disney’s eyes are upon us most moments in the park, but this was something different. I wonder what they were doing.
When the Festival of Fantasy parade was introduced in March 2014, I heard it had a steampunk bent. It’s true, but only if you’re aware of the style. The floats have a lot of fantastical whimsy and movement. One float spins so you see Elsa & Anna on one side and Tiana & Naveen on the other. On the Tangled float, Flynn Ryder and the brutes from the Snuggly Duckling pose and wave from their perches upon swinging axes.
The most dramatic part of the parade is the Sleeping Beauty segment. A very dashing Prince Phillip battles with his sword and shield against the thorns that keep blocking his path. Beyond the vines, the prince would face an elaborate, steampunk dragon. This dragon actually breathes fire, though I didn’t get to see it myself.
As I said, my family rarely stops for parades and shows. It’s not an efficient use of the limited time we have. Thanks to my trip mantras, I learned that I was missing something special by skipping them. Lesson learned, I saw the Main Street Electrical Parade twice this trip, but that’s another story.