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Disney unplugs Electrical Parade one more time


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001

Walt Disney World is promoting its April 1 goodbye to the Main Street Electrical Parade, a nightly Magic Kingdom fete, as a major event. But don't get too teary-eyed, fans of twinkle-light spectaculars.

After sitting in a warehouse for a while, the parade is sure to make a comeback with just as much fanfare. This is Disney, after all, which has recycled almost every one of its creations since Steamboat Willie.

In this case, SpectroMagic, a more high-tech parade with 25,000 more lights and three times the battery power, will take over the streets at the Magic Kingdom. The Main Street Electrical Parade will head for the warehouse where the vintage 1991 SpectroMagic sat the past two years.

"We don't know where it's going after that," company spokesman Dave Herbst said.

Disney, which collects parades the way some people collect shoes, has three Main Street Electrical Parades. The first was created for Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., in 1972. The second version was built for Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista in 1977. A third plays at Disneyland Tokyo.

Then it gets confusing. The Electric Parade headed into mothballs at Disney World is the one that made a 25-year run at Disneyland. The Florida model, which has two different floats from the Disneyland version, is roaming the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland Paris.

Disney has mounted a six-week promotion of the parade's departure for a simple reason: The first time the Electrical Parade left Disney World in 1991, crowds were so big Disney stopped admitting more people to the park by midafternoon. "That was in the off-season with no ads," Herbst said.

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