Yesterland

Party Gras Parade

Celebrating “35 Years of Magic”
Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Get ready to party to the beat of salsa and calypso with over 150 singers, dancers, and stiltwalkers. Be sure to ask where the parade stops along the route, and you’ll be treated to a spectacular street show by the talented cast… and a chance to join the show!


Prepare to catch a string of beads or a Party Gras coin, tossed into the crowd by the entertainers. Better yet, accept a rhythmic instrument and become part of the performance. Or just let your feet dance as you watch the parade (but try not to step on anyone who’s sitting on the curb).

Crane your neck to see the tops of the six big inflated floats. They feature Minnie Mouse, Roger Rabbit, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse. They’re all dressed to party, except for Mickey who’s wearing his sorcerer robe and cap from Fantasia. (Maybe Mickey thinks it’s a costume party.)

Each balloon is around 45 feet tall, about the height of a four story building. And when passing down Main Street, with its reduced scale upper stories, the balloons look even taller.

There are plenty of smaller floats and characters from Disney movies who liven up the party even more.

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Balloons as tall as the tallest buildings

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Sorcerer Mickey

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Jumbo-sized Donald

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Backsides on parade

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Goofy above crowd

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Ariel, one of Disney’s newest stars in 1990, with the aquatic unit

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Pluto, a very big pup

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

The base of each balloon float serving as a rolling stage

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Don O’Neil, 1990

Join the party!

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Minnie Mouse taking a fashion cue from Carmen Miranda

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Roger Rabbit sneaking up on Minnie

Party Gras Parade at Disneyland

Photo by Chris Bales, 1990

Roger Rabbit, looking dapper but not tropical

Join the Conga line! It’s “Hot, Hot, Hot!”


At Disneyland, Party Gras Parade ran from January 11, 1990, to November 18, 1990. It was the centerpiece of Disneyland’s “35 Years of Magic” celebration.

The Los Angeles Times described the parade’s opening and its creative inspiration (“New Party Gras biggest parade in Disneyland History,” Jan. 19, 1990):

Giant, inflatable Disney Character balloons and Caribbean rhythms are featured in Disneyland’s new Party Gras Parade created in celebration of the Magic Kingdom’s 35th Anniversary.

Party Gras stepped on Main Street on Jan. 11 before an audience filled with celebrities and dignitaries including former President Ronald Reagan and thousands of other Disneyland guests.

Not only was Reagan there, but so were Art Linkletter and Bob Cummings—reuniting the three hosts of ABC’s live broadcast from Disneyland’s International Press Preview on July 17, 1955, one day prior to the public opening of Disneyland. Now, almost 35 years later, they participated in a rededication of Disneyland with Disney CEO Michael Eisner for the assembled media.

The article continued:

But to pull off the entertainment event in time for Disneyland’s 35th year required months of hard work by hundreds of Disney Cast Members.

In coming up with a new parade theme, Michael Maines, Disneyland’s senior show director, was inspired by his visit to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The excitement generated by performers and pulsating music left him and the rest of the audience wanting more.

When Maines returned to Southern California, he and fellow Disney entertainment staff members conceived a parade event featuring the best of all parties from Carnival to Mardi Gras.

Like last year’s Main Street Hop, Party Gras is accessible to guests, who are urged to clap, chant and dance by costumed revelers who warm up the audience for the party.

“I want guests to walk away with wonderful memories of the parade. Maybe they’ll even say, ‘Hey, I danced in a Disneyland show!’” said Maines.

Michael Maines was completely successful. It was arguably one of the best Disneyland daytime parades ever.

1990 Disneyland Souvenir Guide

scanned image © Disney

1990 Disneyland Souvenir Guide

If Party Gras was such a good parade, why did it last only until the beginning of that year’s Christmas season? Why was it replaced in 1991 by a completely different parade, Celebration USA? It’s because back in the 1980s and 1990s, Disneyland had a new daytime parade almost every year. Some were tied in to the animated movie release that year, while others were built around a Disney character or a nostalgic theme.


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Updated May 18, 2018.