Over the past year, we’ve seen many changes take place in the Walt Disney World theme parks. With so many restrictions upon the reopening of the parks, some of our favorite entertainment options are still yet to return. One of the biggest changes in the parks has been the introduction of cavalcades, which appear to be replacing the popular parades of the past. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about catching these fun character appearances and whether they are here to stay for the future.
What is a Cavalcade?
If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World recently, let us explain what a cavalcade is. Instead of the long parades of the past, such as the Festival of Fantasy, a cavalcade is simply a mini parade. They usually feature a few vehicles or floats and a selection of characters. Disney always had cavalcades in the past, but of course, the parades were getting a lot more attention due to their length and extravagance. They were often used on rainy days, where getting all of the parade floats out would be considered dangerous.
Why Has Disney Replaced Parades with Cavalcades?
When Walt Disney World reopened last year, many changes took place with safety in mind. One of these was avoiding large gatherings of crowds, such as parades and fireworks. Of course, Disney knew that families would still love to see the characters on their upcoming trips, and so they created these pop-up cavalcades in the parks. These were generally unscheduled, so crowds wouldn’t form on Main Street, U.S.A. They would pop up a few times a day and surprise guests with fun character interactions from a distance.
Another consideration is that character meet and greets have yet to return in their traditional manner. Cavalcades are another great way to enjoy a socially distanced character meet in all of the parks. In fact, while parades have only recently been taking place in the Magic Kingdom, cavalcades were being used in some form in all of the parks. Disney’s Animal Kingdom park even took to the rivers and started water-based cavalcades that guests could admire while exploring from a distance.
The Benefits of Disney Cavalcades
While many of us certainly miss the parades each day, there are a few great things about the cavalcades. Instead of having to stand around in the hot Florida sun in the middle of the afternoon for twenty minutes, you’ll be able to see the whole of the cavalcade in under a minute. You also won’t need to spend up to an hour beforehand sitting in place to reserve a good spot, as the cavalcades arrive unannounced throughout the day. You’ll find general windows for the cavalcades listed in the app but no specific time of their arrival.
The great thing about Disney’s cavalcades is that there are more opportunities to see the characters throughout the day. Instead of just the Festival of Fantasy in the Magic Kingdom, each park now has a few different cavalcades for you to enjoy. They have various characters out in each of the cavalcades, so throughout the day, you’ll likely see more characters than ever before.
The Current Selection of Cavalcades at Walt Disney World
For anyone planning their upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, you’ll want to try and catch some of the 15 current cavalcades. Magic Kingdom has the most of these short parades, with five new cavalcades, and Epcot has three cavalcades. Animal Kingdom has four to look out for, and finally, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has three cavalcades. For Disney fans, it’s great to see these interactive character appearances return to all of the theme parks once again. Come Halloween, look out for four Halloween cavalcades, which replace a few of the regular ones in the Magic Kingdom. Last Christmas, the Magic Kingdom also enjoyed a few festive cavalcades with the toy soldiers and reindeer. The other parks also welcomed holiday-themed cavalcades featuring many of your favorite characters.
Where Can I See the Daily Cavalcades?
Each park has a set route for the daily cavalcades, so it’s worth keeping an eye on these areas if you are particularly keen to see the characters in this way. They may change slightly if there are other events taking place in the park, but this is where you can expect to see them usually.
- Magic Kingdom – Following the previous parade route, the cavalcades begin in Frontierland, travel through Liberty Square into the hub, and then travel down Main Street, U.S.A. A few of the cavalcades just go along Main Street, U.S.A. for a shorter route.
- Epcot – The World Showcase is traveled during the cavalcades in Epcot, and they usually go in a clockwise direction. They’ll pass by all of the countries in the World Showcase, and there’s plenty of space here for everyone to enjoy these character interactions from a distance.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The route starts close to the entrance of the park and then travels up Hollywood Boulevard before heading towards Star Tours.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s cavalcades actually take place on the park’s Discovery River. You can view them from any of the bridges or from the theater that was previously home to Rivers of Light. It’s a really fun way to view the characters and a great addition to the park.
What Characters Can You See in Each of the Parks?
Each of the parks has different themed cavalcades. If you are looking out for specific characters, take note of the cavalcade themes in each of the parks:
- Magic Kingdom – The Royal Princess Processional, Fantasyland Friends Cavalcade, Mickey & Friends Cavalcade, A Goofy Cavalcade, and Tinker Bell & The Lost Treasure.
- Epcot – Princess Promenade, Frozen Promenade, and the Mickey & Friends World Tour.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Mickey & Friends Motorcade, Disney Junior Stars Motorcade, and the Pixar Motorcade.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Discovery Island Drummers, Discovery River Character Cruise, Donald’s Dino Boat Bash, and Mickey & Friends Flotilla.
Are Cavalcades Here to Stay at Walt Disney World?
Of course, many guests are wondering if cavalcades are here to stay and if we’ll ever see the Festival of Fantasy return to the Magic Kingdom. With the recent announcement about Disney’s Boo Bash, it certainly seems they will be around for the rest of the year. The entertainment line-up for this after-hours party included Halloween cavalcades, so it looks like parades aren’t coming back just yet. However, at some point, we’re sure Disney will reassess the cost of these cavalcades versus the parade, as their attendance is much more limited.
Until the crowds increase to their full capacity in the parks, we don’t expect the parade to return just yet. We are also yet to see more traditional character meet and greets return, so until that time, it’s unlikely parades may return, as the character interaction was a huge part of this entertainment offering. With the recent announcement of the fireworks returning, it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and we look forward to seeing what happens with the cavalcades in the next few months.
While we do miss the Festival of Fantasy at the Magic Kingdom, it’s been great to see cavalcades in all four of the Walt Disney World theme parks since its reopening. For anyone looking to see more characters on their next trip, make sure you hang around on the parade routes we shared above during your visit. You’ll find this to be one of the best ways for everyone to see their favorite characters on their next trip to the parks.