Definitely one should plan on seeing the nighttime parade in the Magic Kingdom. My suggestion is to pick your spot early. This March was the first year we did NOT plan to see the parade. In the past, we would be ready for a break from all the walking of the day at about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the parade would start. Surveying the parade route I knew we wanted to be near Cinderella's Castle. After the parade there are fireworks which are very Disney-ish; I love fireworks too! (Disney-ish defined by me = perfect, over the top, little details attended to, the icing on the cake, etc.).
When we wait for the parade, usually we camp out for a bit on the edge of the sidewalk. One parent goes to get dinner for the rest of us, brings it back and then we eat in our spot. Vendor's do come by, but only with snack foods and colorful trinkets.
This year we were able to take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours offered by Disney. Extra Magic Hours are a few hours either before the park officially opens or closes that allow guests staying on site extra access. On this particular day we used our Park Hopper Passes and started the day at Animal Kingdom, went to Epcot for our dinner reservations and then met up with some friends at the Magic Kingdom at about 9 pm. Thank goodness for caffeine and teenagers who can run on little sleep when necessary. Magic Kingdom normally closed this time of the year at 11 pm. The Extra Magic Hours kept the park open until 2 am! That morning we returned to our resort at about 3:15 am! :)
When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom the parade had just started. I tried to capture a bit of the color and sounds with my camera. The first two pictures are good examples of just how dark the parade route can get. Each float can change from white lights only to bursting with loads of color!
Look closely above. Can you see Cinderella's pumpkin carriage outlined in white lights? The blurry picture below was the best example I could snap of the color transformation.
Each Disney film is highlighted by a float or two during the parade. Below is a video with a tiny bit from The Little Mermaid, Night on Bald Mountain (from Fantasia) and looking down Main Street towards the castle. Try to imagine being on Splash Mountain as I described in my last posting as you watch this video!
~Your Disney World Connoisseur, Hootie