When Walt Disney World debuted the new Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, guests were wowed by the sheer size and spectacle of the roughly 15-minute show that now runs daily in the park. But while a first viewing allows a good overview of the parade’s many striking visuals and countless characters, multiple visits are absolutely necessary to take in its many details.
Creative director Steve Davison calls the Festival of Fantasy Parade “a grand spectacle” noting that it was the goal of Disney’s Imagineers to develop “the biggest wow we can” with the park’s first new parade in many years. Coming off of the wildly successful Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland, Davison looked to bring equally entertaining floats to Florida but with an even bigger twist.
“Main Street’s so much bigger here than California too, so when we start designing things it’s really about how do we get the biggest impact, how do we get in a sense the biggest smiles and the biggest crowd reactions,” said Davison. Imagineers were tasked with coming up with bold concepts from which Davison and his team chose favorites to be included in the parade.
Festival of Fantasy began development roughly three years ago in 2011, starting with a year of creating those concepts, explained the parade’s executive producer, Imagineer Sayre Wiseman. “I think the most important thing we were aiming for is to tell many stories in the street, to really bring these stories to life,” she said.
One of the most praised elements of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is the score from composer Mark Hammond, whom Davison brought back for Festival of Fantasy. But this fantasy-focused parade needed a different musical direction. “It wants to be regal. It wants to be royal. It wants to be celebratory,” said Davison, adding that trumpets were the key instrument to writing the soundtrack. The Magic Kingdom’s sound system has been upgraded with better equipment and more zones, which Davison describes as being among the best in the world.
But ultimately it’s the visuals that attract the most attention in this new show and Imagineers strived to tell small stories with each of the parade’s units. “As the parade goes by you, you’re only seeing about 2 minutes for each story,” said Wiseman. “But we’ve tried to really bring the stories to life, so not only in the floats themselves, but also in the performers around the floats.”
The assortment of famous characters features many fan favorites, but it’s impossible to fit all of Disney’s heroes, villains, and creatures into one show. Davison noted that “Alice in Wonderland” nearly became a main feature in the parade, but ultimately was cut in favor of better designs. Aurora was also at one time considered to be included in the “Sleeping Beauty” unit, fast asleep, but cut as well. And the “Frozen” characters that do appear in the parade were among the last to be added following the success of the film.
Both Davison and Wiseman are excited to finally see their years of work come to life in the park, though there are already a few tweaks planned. The music will receive some changes to add melodies from “Frozen” and the massive Maleficent dragon will soon breath her fire more frequently to allow all guests to see that “wow” moment.
Video: Full Fire-breathing Maleficent Dragon Battle with Prince Phillip in Festival of Fantasy Parade
And both parade creators encourage guests to return multiple times to take in all of the many details included throughout the parade, as it was designed to keep guests surprised by finding new sights with each visit. “We want it to run for a number of years and we want it to be interesting whether you come the fifth year or the first year or the first day,” said Wiseman.
The highly zoomed photos below snapped on the Festival of Fantasy Parade’s second day aid in taking a closer look at its many details, capturing not only the intricacies of the floats but also the excitement exuding from its energetic performers.
Related Video: Full Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom
More photos from the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World: