Parades, Shows, and Special Events
California Adventure, like Disneyland, offers a wide range of shows, parades, and special entertainment, including one of the most popular Disney parades of all time.
Disney's Electrical Parade
Location: From Paradise Pier near the Maliboomer to Sunshine Plaza
When the sun sets, California Adventure becomes the stage for a classic Disney parade that was a Disneyland staple for decades. Guests of all ages will enjoy this charming presentation featuring classic Disney characters and dozens of parade floats covered in colorful, sparkling lights.
The Main Street Electrical parade ran for more than twenty seasons at Disneyland, between 1972 and 1996. It was so well loved that Disney brought it back, with a new name at California Adventure in 2001. Its theme song is “Baroque Hoedown,” written in 1967 by Gershon Kingsley and Jean-Jaques Perrey.
The twenty-minute parade features floats and live performers, all covered in twinkling lights. You'll see Cinderella and Dumbo, twinkling butterflies, Captain Hook's pirate ship, and the Seven Dwarfs' mine train, among others. The parade ends with Pete's Dragon, followed by “To Honor America,” a patriotic salute in lights. The bouncy, synthesized soundtrack is triggered by radio control so it's synchronized with the passing spectacle. Disney's Electrical Parade creates a truly magical entertainment experience that most people never forget.
Disney parades come and go, but this one continues to be a favorite. It's definitely worth seeing, even if it means leaving the park in the afternoon, taking a nap, and returning after dark for the parade.
For the best viewing location, stake out your spot along the parade route at least thirty minutes before the scheduled parade time. On nights when the parade is presented twice, the later show is always less crowded.
Disney's Electrical Parade is seasonal and does not happen every day. Check with Guest Services, the Disneyland Web site, or the Entertainment Times brochure to find out if it's scheduled during your visit.
Many people try to photograph the Electrical parade, but get disappointing results. If your camera takes movies (and even many pockettype digital cameras do), it's a fun way to record both movement and sound. Just be sure you have plenty of batteries and digital media on hand. Otherwise, try to snap your picture while the parade is stopped, and steady your camera on a nearby object like the top of a trashcan or the side of a pole.
Block Party Bash
Location: From the Hollywood Pictures Backlot gate past Sunshine Plaza to Paradise Pier, with Party Zones near Golden Dreams and at Sunshine Plaza
This bash is really a parade featuring characters from the Disney/Pixar animated films. It lasts about fifty minutes from beginning to end, with an eleven-minute performance stop in the middle. You'll see Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, Mike and Sulley from Monsters, Inc., and Flik and Atta from a bug's life, along with a host of other characters such as the Green Army Men, Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, and more.
The Block Party Bash stops one time. If you want to see the best performances, stand in one of the party zones. The show is intended to be interactive, so if your kids want to join the fun, playing and dancing with the characters, stand in the front of the crowd. If you or your kids have a favorite show or character you'd like to see, ask a cast member where to stand to see them perform.
The performance part of the parade is especially energetic, accompanied by music from every decade from the 1950s through the 1970s. It includes sixty dancers, three trampolines, electric scooters, people on stilts, and flying acrobats.
High School Musical Pep Rally
Location: Sunshine Plaza and near Golden Dreams Based on the Disney Channel television program, this outdoor performance features tunes from the show, cheerleaders, and more on a moving stage that stops at Sunshine Plaza and near the Golden Dreams theater, inviting onlookers to shoot some hoops and dance along.
Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot
You'll find this 2,000-seat theater at the end of the main street in Hollywood Pictures Backlot. It currently features a forty-minute show called Disney's Aladdin — A Musical Spectacular, a stage show based on the popular animated film featuring singers, dancing genies, and soaring carpets. The theater has three levels, and getting to the top two requires climbing stairs, although an elevator is available.
The show runs several times a day, and if you want a front-row seat, get in line about twenty-five minutes early.
Turtle Talk with Crush
Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot
The wisecracking, 152-year-old sea turtle Crush from the film Finding Nemo introduces a new level of technology for bringing animated characters to life. He has unscripted, real-time conversations with the audience. For instance, he might stop in the middle of the show, look out at the audience and say “Hey you — dude in the righteous Hawaiian shirt — what's that on your head?” Introduced for the Disneyland fiftieth anniversary celebration, this attraction is similar to one at Florida's Epcot Center, which has been a huge hit.
“Playhouse Disney — Live on Stage!”
Location: Hollywood Pictures Backlot
The name of this show reveals its format. During the twentyminute musical, members of the audience are invited to go on stage to join performers including Jim Henson's Bear from The Bear in the Big Blue House. The show runs several times a day and is located just inside the Hollywood Pictures Backlot gate.
Walt Disney wanted his theme park always to be growing and changing, and California Adventure continues the tradition. Don't be surprised if the live entertainment you find during your visit is different than what's described here.
A number of other, smaller shows happen daily in California Adventure. They include the following:
Golden Dreams (Golden State): Narrated by actress Whoopi Goldberg, a film of the story of California history
It's Tough to Be a Bug! (“a bug's land”): A 3-D show featuring Flik and the other bugs
Muppet*Vision 3-D (Hollywood Pictures Backlot): A fun show with singing pigs, penguin musicians, and hecklers in the balcony
The Magic of Brother Totem Ceremony (Golden State): Featuring characters and stories from the film Brother Bear
Animation Academy (Hollywood Pictures Backlot): Learn how to draw a Disney cartoon character
Besides all the other events, character greetings happen all day long, and performers and Disney/Pixar characters may show up anywhere, adding to the festivity.
California Adventure Holidays
California Adventure joins Disneyland in celebrating the holidays, although they typically don't go as all-out as their sister park does.
California Adventure at Halloween
During the Halloween celebration in 2006, the California Adventure letters were transformed into giant pieces of candy corn, making a very popular photo backdrop. Inside the park, Golden Dreams temporarily becomes Golden Screams, a place for Disney villains to show their scary stuff, and at the Tower of Terror, hotel staff and guests step out of the fifth dimension to tell stories of the creepy goings-on in the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
A few events happen at the Disneyland Resort every year that involve both Disneyland and California Adventure. See Chapter 5 for more about them, and Chapter 10 to learn about Gay Day and Disney collectors' events.
California Adventure at Christmas
While California Adventure doesn't get as dressed up for the holidays as Disneyland does, it doesn't lose track of the calendar, either. One of the most enjoyable Christmas events is Santa's Beach Blast, when the Jolly Old Elf trades his red suit for surfer shorts and Hawaiian shirt and settles into Sunshine Plaza for a little “R and R.” In this area, you'll also find fun activities such as a Sand Castle Wreath toss or a limbo contest.