Everything you need to know about parades at Disneyland including viewing tips, where to sit, when to get a seat, exit strategies and more! What’s a trip to Disneyland without watching a parade! It depends on the time of year you visit which parade you can watch. But no matter which parade is available here are some helpful tips.
There are normally two parades each day. The first parade starts at It’s a Small World and head towards Main Street and ends down in Town Square around by the Mad Hatter. Then the second parade (usually a few hours later) will come back the opposite direction, start in Town Square and end at It’s a Small World. To be sure which direction the parade is going you can always ask a cast member. Remember the direction is subject to change. Below is a photo of the parade route.
Preferred parade viewing spot and tips
I recommend finding a spot at least 45 minutes before the parade begins if you want a great view. It just depends on how crowded the park is on the day you’re there. The earlier the better for the best view. My preferred spot to view the parade is near It’s a Small World. If you’re watching the second parade find a spot right in front of the ride so your back is to the ride. Your view of the parade is perfect as it travels from Main Street down towards you as shown below.
Now rest your feet or take turns doing rides in Toon Town or Fantasyland which are both nearby. If you’re watching the first parade find a spot near It’s a Small World along the street. Tip: find a shady spot so you’re not in the sun waiting or watching the parade. For the afternoon parade sit on the west side to avoid the sun.
When the parade is over you can head to the Toon Town Railroad station and hop on the Disneyland Railroad to get to your next destination and avoid the after parade crowds.
Another great spot for viewing the parade is right in front of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln Building in Town Square. You are near a restroom, food carts, characters and a place to escape to, the large building where kids can get out their wiggles. Then when the parade is over you are close to the exit and can easily hop over to Disney California Adventure. Or you are right by the train station where you can hop on and ride it around to your next destination and avoid the crowds that build up at the end of a parade.
If you want a spot above the crowds and out of the way you could also take the stairs leading up to the train station on Main Street. You can watch the parade from the platform (see photo below).
Now if you want to experience the parade in a reserved seating area (normally in front of the train station) you can book a dining package. This option is not always offered. If available you reserve a time to eat and then you get a voucher to watch the parade from the reserved viewing area. The reserved area is roped off for dining package guests only. But the viewing area is first come first serve, so you still want to arrive 30-45 minutes before the parade starts to get the best spot. The current dining package for “Magic Happens” details can be found here.
The parade is normally shown twice a day. Check the entertainment guide or look in the Disneyland app under entertainment to find the times. And depending upon the time of year the first parade will be in daylight and the second parade showing will be night time. Keep that in mind if you have a preference.
Mobile order while you wait. Once you find your seat hop in the Disneyland app and order some food or snacks. Once you’ve placed your order send just one person from your party to get the food while the others save your spot. Plus picking up food in the mobile order line is fast and easy. Then you can eat while you wait for the parade to begin. For more tips on mobile ordering and the locations that offer this service read here.
My last piece of advice is put your phone down and enjoy the parade. Often we want to record to remember the show or to watch again. But how often do we actually watch it again? You can go online and view them after your trip on YouTube. I suggest that you just watch the show and be in the moment! Capture a few shots for your memory book but soak it all in the moment passes so quickly!
Parade tips with kids
Kids can get restless if they have to sit for too long! Bring a blanket for them to sit on and have snacks/drinks. I like to bring something to entertain them a toy, sticker book etc. Another fun idea for the night time parade is bring your own glow sticks, necklace etc. to keep them occupied.
The everyday parade is shown daily throughout the year. We are so excited that the “Magic Happens” is returning February 24th. This parade will run until the Christmas season begins. Once that starts, usually the second week of November, then you get to watch the Christmas Fantasy parade daily until the first week of January.I hope these tips help you enjoy the magical parade at Disneyland. At this time there are no parades going on at Disney California Adventure. When that changes I will be sure to update this post.
For other entertainment tips like fireworks viewing locations check out my post here. And for details about the show World of Color over in Disney California Adventure check here.