Disney World Comes to Chicago Once a Year!

in Disney, Walt Disney World

Left: Mickey & Minnie in holiday outfits, smiling on top of a blue float next to a cardboard green Christmas tree. Right: A bus advertising EPCOT, with a Mickey wreath on the hood and Chip and Dale waving at fans from on top.

Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

We all know Walt Disney World Resort for its home in sunny Central Florida. But did you know it brings its magic up to the chilly north just once per year?

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year, the Disney Parks’ own Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are the Grand Marshals of the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Parade in Downtown Chicago. Moreover, Mickey and Minnie use their magic to light the trees along Michigan Avenue and officially kick off the holiday season!

Mickey and Minnie atop a festive, lit up float.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

We attended the parade on Saturday, November 19. But if you missed out, don’t worry! We’re here to share the magic with you, and you can watch along on your local ABC channel throughout the holiday season!

Of course, the parade is headlined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. On each block, the pair ask the crowd to count down from five as they light over a million gleaming bulbs on the trees that line the Magnificent Mile – a historical and legendary shopping district in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.

Mickey Mouse shaped candy canes shoot off golden fireworks as Mickey & Minnie wave to a crowd during the parade.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

As the lights come on, Mickey and Minnie’s festive float shoots off majestic fireworks that have the whole crowd cheering! The parade continues with towering holiday balloons and high school marching bands from around the country. But the Disney Park fun isn’t done yet!

Next up are Goofy and Pluto, riding a double-decker bus advertising EPCOT alongside Disney Cast Members waving their giant white gloves and sporting peppermint Minnie Mouse ear headbands. Goofy dresses as Santa Clause, and Pluto wears reindeer ears!

Pluto and Goofy in holiday outfits riding a bus decorated with Spaceship Earth and "happy holidays" signs.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

It’s time to talk about Bruno! While he didn’t attend the Festival of Lights, his niece Mirabel Madrigal did. Riding in a horse-drawn carriage, the beloved Encanto (2021) heroine waves to fans wearing brand-new blue mittens, perfect on a 17-degree day in Chicago.

Mirabel’s sparkling white carriage is decorated with signs advertising the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, which started in 2021 and ends in March 2023.

Mirabel riding in a white carriage driven by a brown horse.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

Last but not least, Chip and Dale ride atop another impressive double-decker bus full of even more Disney Cast Members! As the chipmunks wave to the crowd, the bus advertises Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Again, the bus reminds Disney fans to enjoy Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th Anniversary Celebration as the end approaches in just five months!

A bus decorated with all four disney parks, a Mickey wreath, and lights. Chip and Dale ride on top.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

No Christmas parade is complete without a visit from Santa Clause. While it’s not the sun-kissed Santa from Walt Disney World Resort, the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights Parade ends with the big man himself atop his sleigh, who is joined by his reindeer, wishing all a good night!

Santa Clause waves from his sleigh, which is driven by eight (plastic) reindeer.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

Check your local ABC station schedule to watch Mickey and Minnie Mouse headline the Festival of Lights Parade. Or plan a trip to Chicago next November!

Will you be watching the Magnificent Mile Lights Parade on TV? 

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