For many visitors to a Disney park, the parades are a quintessential part of the Disney vacation experience. People go crazy for them, even if they’ve seen the same parade before! In fact, people are ecstatic that the Main Street Electrical parade made its way back to Disneyland after a 5 and a half year run at Walt Disney World! Speaking of which, make sure to head to Get Away Today to book your Disneyland Vacation and get $10 off if you use my code TwoGeeks so you can see this great parade!
While I worked at Walt Disney World, I had the awesome experience of being a Parade Audience Control Cast Member for 5 months. During that time I learned some tips and etiquette that I think are important to truly enjoying the parade if it’s one of your top priorities to do at Disney!
1. Save your spot ahead of time
If having a great front row seat to see the parade is important to you. Take the time to scout out and save your spot ahead of time. Trying to find a great spot for the parade 5 minutes before it starts is hard and you can’t expect to have a front row seat. The area in front of the castle and Main Street is always more busy than areas in the different lands. For Disneyland, try the area by It’s a Small World and for Walt Disney World try Liberty Square or Frontierland. And if you’re not sure where to go, when in doubt, ask a Cast Member! They will know the best areas to grab a spot even if it’s last minute.
2. Don’t push yourself or your family in front of others
Being aware of others is just all around a good idea when visiting a Disney park. But if you see people sitting or standing for a parade, don’t try to wiggle your way in front of them. Chances are they were waiting there for quite some time. Along with that, if someone says your kid can sit in front of them so they can see the parade, that isn’t an invitation for you to move in front too. They are being polite by letting your kid have better visibility so if you’re worried about not being right by them, then politely decline their offer.
3. Leave pathways clear
Cast members work hard to keep pathways clear so guests who aren’t watching the parade can get to their destinations without having to push themselves through the crowd. These pathways are also vitally important in case there is an emergency. You may think you don’t take up much room but the more people who try to squeeze themselves into an already full area, the quicker a pathway fills up. So when a cast member tells you to keep moving, please listen to them. They aren’t trying to be mean but just doing their job by keeping everyone safe.
4. Don’t play with the ropes
Cast members put up ropes to show guests where they can and can’t sit to keep guests and the parade performers safe. If you let your kids or even yourself play with the ropes they can and will break. I remember working a parade one night where we were already short staffed and a kid was playing with the rope by sitting on it and it broke the rope. Having ropes on the ground was a big safety hazard, so I had to hold the rope off the ground the entire time. This prevented me from being able to watch and communicate with my fellow cast members if there were any issues.
5. Don’t use the light on your camcorder
This only applies at night during parades like the Main Street Electrical Parade. Guests LOVE to record things like the shows and parades to help relive those memories when they get home. That’s totally great and not frowned upon! But a lot of people think it’s better to have the light on their camera turned on. Not only does it ruin the effects of the parade, but this is a big hazard for the float drivers who rely on lights on the route to guide them.
6. Don’t stand on trash cans or in planters
It can get hard to see the parade when there’s a crowd so you might think it’s a good idea to get to higher ground by standing up on benches, planters, or trash cans, right? Wrong! While it may seem harmless, it’s a safety hazard for you as a guest. If you want a better viewing spot, ask a cast member where you can go.
7. Don’t run into the parade route
This one is probably the most important one. Please don’t ever try to cross in front of the parade or run into the parade see a character. Nothing is ever worth you playing chicken and running in front of a parade float. They may be going slow but they can’t stop on a dime! If you really need to get across, ask a cast member if there are any parade crossings or for an alternative route. Parade crossings don’t happen during every parade, but during some of the longer parades there will be a specific “break” during the parade where a cast member will allow you to cross and only at specific locations. If there aren’t any crossings for the parade, just wait and enjoy the show.
8. Don’t grab characters when they come over to you to try to hold them for a photo
There is a time and place for photo ops with the characters and parades aren’t one of them. Characters love coming over to say hello but they don’t have time to get a picture with everyone there. Just wave back and cheer for them.
9. Stay for the second parade
This is more of a tip rather than etiquette. Often times during the busier seasons Disney will do two showings of the same parade. The second parade is almost always less crowded, so you can walk up to a front row seat during the middle of the parade and be happy. I would sometimes run into guests later on that I’d told this tip to and they would thank me for it. And bonus tip, you can use the time during the first parade to go on rides that would normally have a long line!
Do you have any tips or etiquette suggestions that I missed? Let me know in the comments!