Yesterland 45 Years of Magic Parade
There’s “Magic in the Stars”
45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland


What will you celebrate? Celebrate the park’s 45th anniversary with the 45 Years of Magic Parade.

The year is 2000. There’s “Magic in the Stars” at the park this year. Some of the magic began last year when Tarzan moved into the former Swiss Family Treehouse in Adventureland and Sheriff Woody took over the Golden Horseshoe Saloon in Frontierland as the TV studio for The All New Woody’s Roundup. In summer 2000, the completely overhauled Autopia opens, combining the tracks of the former Fantasyland Autopia and Tomorrowland Autopia. And an amazing new fireworks show, Believe...There’s Magic in the Stars, celebrates the park’s 45th anniversary in the nighttime sky.

Hey, the park really needed to do spectacular things to draw guests this year. In early 2001, Disney’s California Adventure will open where the parking lot used to be. The fear is that out-of-town guests will postpone their trips until after the new park opens unless there are enough reasons to visit this year.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Cinderella, Aurora, and Snow White ride on a mighty swan.

The 45 Years of Magic Parade begins with a float featuring the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. It’s a nod to the opening float of the Main Street Electrical Parade, which had to “glow away forever” in 1996.

Another float features three Disney princesses on a swan. At first glance, the swan appears to be floating on choppy surf. But that’s not surf. It’s a cloud. You’ll see that clouds are a recurring theme in this parade.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Park guest (left) and parade performer (right)

This parade is a cross between a Fantasia 2000 parade, a Disney character parade, and a “see park guests look silly” parade.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Two park guests walk in the parade as rhinoceroses.

At each performance, 70 lucky park guests are chosen to join the parade. Donning tutus and animal hats, these “guest stars” provide a bit of comic relief down the entire parade route.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Hippos follow the rhinos.
45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Get your camera ready.

Maybe the “lucky guests” aren’t so lucky after all.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
More spectacular than park guests wearing tutus!

Golden giraffes pull young Simba from The Lion King through the clouds in a golden chariot. Another float features Tarzan sitting on his elephant companion Tantor. Poor Tantor has been painted gold and is kneeling on a cloud.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
Did you see the whales soaring through the sky in Fantasia 2000?

One of the chapters of Fantasia 2000 is Respighi’s The Pines of Rome. Whales fly effortlessly through clouds in the sky, as though swimming in water. Ah ha! Now we know where the clouds are from. At least the whales aren’t golden.

45 Yesrs of Magic Parade at Disneyland
The parade ends with Mickey and his pals on a golden cloud.

There’s already been a lot of gold in this parade. Now even the cloud is gold.

There you have it...the 45 Years of Magic Parade. But if you think about it, this parade really has nothing to do with the first 45 years of the park.

The 45 Years of Magic Parade premiered at Disneyland on Wednesday, February 16, 2000.

Initially the music for the parade was “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar, just like in the Noah’s Ark chapter of Fantasia 2000. Not everyone knows the name of the piece and composer, but everyone instantly recognizes it as the traditional music at school graduations.

So why in the world would this slow, somber, “important” music be used for a Disney park parade?

The boss liked it.

In his 1998 book Work in Progress, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner wrote about his son Eric’s college graduation from Dartmouth:

The moment that the senior procession began and I heard the band play the first chords of “Pomp and Circumstance” I felt just as choked up as I had at my own graduation from Denison, my sister’s from Smith, Breck’s from Georgetown, and Anders’s from junior high school. It was after hearing “Pomp and Circumstance” at Eric’s graduation from high school four years earlier that I went to Roy Disney and set out to convince him that few musical pieces are more powerful reminders of emotional moments in people’s lives. I suggested we use it in our new Fantasia. Eventually “Pomp and Circumstance” would become the music that accompanied a wonderful Noah’s Ark segment during which Donald Duck helps to bring all of the world’s animals onto the Ark and then rushes off to find Daisy at the last moment.

Disneyland Entertainment apparently knew that “Pomp and Circumstance” might not go over with guests. According to an article by E. Scott Recard in the Los Angeles Times on February 16, 2000, Disneyland was working through the night to improve the parade, just days before its public premiere:

Sources earlier said the park has a more up-tempo backup music in reserve should “Pomp” prove too pompous for a theme park. There was no immediate move to switch, however: The reworking was described more as an attempt to refocus the timing with the existing music.

Using “Pomp and Circumstance” as the soundtrack for the parade might have scored points with Eisner, but not with most Disneyland guests. After just two months, “Pomp” was out, replaced by a medley of Disney music.

The creative director for the 45 Years of Magic Parade was Jean-Luc Choplin, who had been Managing Director of the Paris Opera Ballet and then Vice President of Entertainment for Disneyland Paris before coming to California in 1995 as Disney’s Vice President, Creative Development. A Disneyland press release from February 2, 2000, quoted Choplin:

“To find inspiration for this special parade, we literally searched the stars,” noted Creative Director Jean Luc Choplin. “We looked to the stars of our most loved films.” In the 1500s, Choplin explains, artistic and scientific visionaries saw the stars as constellations that appeared in the shape of “magical animals.” “We’ve taken that classical image of magic in the stars, and combined it with our own magical characters for a parade of unique contrast and beauty,” he added. Every day, dozens of lucky Disneyland guests will join this special procession, donning hats, masks and other props as they fill guest starring roles in the “45 Years of Magic Parade.”

In 2001, Choplin left Disney. The following year, Choplin returned to Europe as Chief Executive of Britain’s prestigious Sadler’s Wells Theatre. In 2006, he became General Manager of Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

When Disneyland’s 45th anniversary celebration ended in 2001, the 45 Years of Magic Parade was renamed the Parade of Stars. It continued to be Disneyland’s main parade until another major Disneyland anniversary. On May 5, 2005, the new Walt Disney’s Parade of Dreams premiered as part of Happiest Homecoming on Earth, the 18-month celebration of the 50th anniversary of Disneyland.

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© 2013 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated January 18, 2013.

Photographs of 45 Years of Magic Parade: 2000, by Werner Weiss.