As a tour guide, the most important part of my job is helping my guests save time while enjoying the parks. Primarily, the focus is on minimizing their wait times at the attractions. However, something that can’t be overlooked is the time spent waiting for shows and parades to start. Today, I’m going to share with you the best possible way to enjoy the Magic Kingdom parades with the least amount of waiting.
When it comes to parades, there is very much a “follow the crowd” mentality. It is common to see guests lining the streets of Main Street almost two hours before the scheduled start time. When other guests see this, many of them think that they better grab their “front row” spots quickly, before they are all gone. Before you know it, there are people lined up 3 or 4 rows deep, and it still isn’t close to parade time yet. A similar scene is playing out near the hub, as well as in Frontierland, although it may not be quite as packed as Main Street.
It is amazing to me how many guests just follow the crowd, where they could find much better parade spots with just a little research. With the exception of a few very busy weeks, the Magic Kingdom parade is always at 3:00. This means that most of the guests who watch from Main Street have already been in the park for a while, and are coming from one of the other lands. They get to the Main Street area and seem to grab the best available spot. The only reasonable explanation for standing behind other guests at this point is that they don’t know the actual parade route.
The afternoon parade starts in Frontierland, makes it way through Liberty Square and the hub, and heads down Main Street toward the train station. People must think that once the parade hits Town Square, the ground opens up and swallows all of the performers and floats, and the parade just ends instantly. Well, in reality the route heads around Town Square in a clockwise motion and exits between the fire station and the Harmony Barber Shop. This “exit area” is where you should be looking for the best spots to enjoy the parade.
In most cases, you don’t even have to get to this spot until 3:00 for the 3:00 parade! Since it starts in Frontierland, it doesn’t get to Town Square until about 3:20. You can literally get a front row spot, when most front row guests have waited upwards of 90 minutes. As crazy as this may sound, it is quite simple if you follow these specific directions. You should walk down the west side of Main Street (along the Emporium) as you approach Town Square. When you get to the Emporium, you bear to the right and you are just about there. At this point, there may or may not be a rope stretching from the center of Town Square to the sidewalk near the Emporium. Sometimes there is masking tape marking the area prior to the rope going up.
This whole area is typically used as a walkway for those exiting the park prior to the parade. So, most guests have no idea that it is quickly going to become one of the best viewing areas along the entire route. If you stand anywhere along this rope or tape, you will see the parade coming directly at you, before it makes the slight left turn to exit the park. In all of the years I’ve been coming to the Magic Kingdom, I’ve yet to find a better view.
Sometimes, there is a section along the rope that is “taped off” for the Disney VIP tour groups, but there is still usually plenty of room for other guests who get there by 3:00. If you arrive to the area and don’t see a “front row” spot, there is one other trick that I’m going to share. If the ropes are up, you will still find an opening that is being used as a walkway until right before the parade arrives. I recommend standing right next to this walkway, directly behind any front row guests that may be there. When the front of the parade gets close, they will rope off the walkway, and you can walk right up to it, giving yourself a front row spot. Again, you are talking about a minimal wait for an incredible parade view!
This is a great spot for both the daytime and nighttime parades. The Main Street Electrical Parade typically starts in Town Square and finishes in Frontierland. Again, you can arrive here about 20 minutes before it starts, and still expect to get a good spot. Now, I only hope that if you utilize this tip and take some of these great spots, you’ll make a little room for me and my tour groups if you see me approaching on a day you are there!
I hope you enjoy “Tour Guide Tuesday.” If you want additional tips while you’re in the parks, WDW Guided Tours is happy to help!