Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade is held daily at Magic Kingdom. This article discusses specifics for experiencing the parade, its route, and the best places to watch it. We’ll also look at photos of each of the floats and performers.
If I only had the opportunity to tell you one thing about the Festival of Fantasy Parade, it would be: Don’t miss it! This celebratory parade debuted at Magic Kingdom a decade ago.
The parade is held daily, and we consider it one of the highlights of a Walt Disney World vacation. It’s that fabulous. After all this time, we still stop regularly to see it. From stunning floats to a cast of dazzling performers, it’s one of our favorite entertainment offerings.
Festival of Fantasy Parade Times
Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade steps off daily in Frontierland at 3:00 p.m. However, the parade’s schedule changes from time to time. Occasionally, the parade is held twice. As of this update, the schedule appears to be rotating from once-daily performances to twice-daily offerings.
When offered twice, the first parade begins at noon, and the second is at 3:00 p.m. You’ll want to check the exact times for the parade in the My Disney Experience app on your visit. Or you can check the parade schedule on Disney.com.
To confirm the parade time, open the app and select the pin drop at the bottom of the screen. Then, at the top, choose “entertainment” from the dropdown menu.
You can filter Magic Kingdom on the top left side to narrow your results. Then select “show list” (on the top right side) for easier viewing. You’ll see the Festival of Fantasy Parade listed with the time.
Most days, the afternoon parade is listed at 3:00 p.m. However, during the holiday season, the parade is often held at 2:00 p.m. (The holiday season typically means mid-August through late December for Halloween and Christmas.) During the week of Christmas, the Festival of Fantasy Parade is usually replaced by Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
Over Easter weekend (Saturday and Sunday), a special pre-parade heads up the Festival of Fantasy Parade. The parade usually runs on a different schedule for those days.
Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade Route
If you pick up a Magic Kingdom map on the day of your visit, you’ll see a dotted line showing the parade’s footprint. Here is a look at the online version. A dark blue line highlights the parade route.
It begins between Adventureland and Frontierland on the left side of the map. The parade turns at Liberty Square, crosses the bridge, and continues into the hub of Cinderella Castle. After partially circling the hub, it straightens and heads down Main Street, U.S.A.
Toward the end of the route, the parade circles Town Square in front of the train station. Then, it retreats through a gate behind the Emporium.
This same route is used for all the parades and cavalcades at Walt Disney World.
Where is the Best Place to Watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade?
Given the route length, guests can watch the parade from several spots. Each of those locations tends to have positives and negatives.
For instance, the Festival of Fantasy parade steps off in Frontierland. So, if you were to see it here from the beginning, you would be among the first to finish viewing it.
We have found two significant benefits to watching it from this location. First, if you get to this area early enough, a few shaded areas are available on the left side of the walkway.
Secondly, the walkway to Adventureland gets cut off when the parade travels through this area. So after the parade passes, you can usually walk straight into Adventureland and experience Pirates of the Caribbean or Jungle Cruise with minimal waits.
We usually like to pick up a Dole Whip and find a spot in Frontierland approximately 30 minutes before the parade starts. You’ll likely want to find a spot with enough room for your children to sit on the front row and where you can stand behind them.
Often, the walking characters in the parade interact with the guests. Therefore, the parade provides an excellent opportunity for children to see many of their favorite Disney characters in one location.
Below is a view of the Festival of Fantasy Parade from Liberty Square. I’m standing across the walkway from the Hall of Presidents in the picture below.
This location is good if you intend to follow the parade into the hub. This small strip between Cinderella Castle and Liberty Square is one of the most accessible places to walk up and get a decent last-minute spot.
However, this area gets exceptionally crowded the moment the parade passes. That’s because the walkway from Fantasyland will immediately re-open, and by that time, a crowd will have formed.
If you end up in this crowd, I suggest waiting a few minutes for everyone to clear out or heading in the opposite direction toward Adventureland. You won’t get anywhere faster trying to fight the traffic.
Cinderella Castle Hub
The hub around Cinderella Castle is an excellent location for watching the Festival of Fantasy Parade. You might find a spot along the ropes in the interior or exterior of the hub. However, a portion of the interior circle around the castle hub is roped off for guests using a Lightning Lane with Genie+.
It’s truly magical to see the floats as they pass the castle. However, note this area is entirely in direct sunlight. You’ll also want to secure a spot early so the heat can intensify while you wait.
Main Street U.S.A.
Additionally, you can view the parade from Main St U.S.A. as it comes from Cinderella Castle. This is my preferred viewing area for all the parades. One of the pros of viewing the parade from this point in the route is that you can see Cinderella Castle in the distance. Similar to the area inside the hub, it’s a surreal experience.
However, this is one of the most congested areas. Therefore, you must find a decent spot well before the parade. Unfortunately, most of this area is in direct sunlight and the time investment can cut into your day.
If you decide to view the parade from Main Street, in most cases, you will want to find a spot on the curb at least 45 minutes to an hour before the parade begins. You could walk up and snag a last-minute spot, depending on crowd levels. But I wouldn’t necessarily leave that up to chance.
Lastly, you can view the Festival of Fantasy Parade from the center of Town Square. A few years ago, this area was often reserved for those who purchased a Festival of Fantasy dining package that included a meal at Tony’s Town Square. However, that option is not available as of this update.
If the interior area is roped off, you can still view the parade from the exterior parameter of Town Square. If you don’t feel the need to be close to the parade, you might find an empty rocking chair on the front porch of Town Square Theater. It won’t be the best view. But it will be pleasant and relaxed.
If you view the parade from Town Square, you can meet the characters at Town Square Theater immediately afterward. When the parade concludes, wait times have usually dropped for Mickey Mouse.
Related: Meet Mickey Mouse at Magic Kingdom
*Guests on VIP Tours are usually offered a special viewing area from the balcony of Main Street Train Station.
Festival of Fantasy Parade Floats
Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade has some of the most eye-catching floats, and the performer’s costumes are exquisite. Below, we’ll preview each float and take a closer look at some of the cast members who make this magical parade come to life daily.
As the parade approaches, you’ll hear the background music in the area shift to an announcement that the parade is near. Soon, you’ll hear the catchy tune, “Away we go! It’s the festival of fantasy.” The musical score was written by Mark Hammond of Disney fame.
A pair of Grand Marshals lead the parade.
They are followed by the Magic Kingdom family of the day. I’m unsure how a family gets selected to ride in the parade. But in the past, it was often offered to the first family to arrive at Magic Kingdom each morning.
Update: Not all floats and units (dancers, performers, characters) are in the parade as of late.
Princess Garden Float
After the family of the day passes, it usually takes a couple of minutes for the rest of the parade to come into sight. The Princess Garden Float, carrying Disney royalty, kicks off the parade.
Formerly, this float had a swan court of dancers ahead of it. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen those performers in a long time. Belle and Beast from Beauty and the Beast sit center stage at the front.
Toward the middle, birds and mice are busy making Cinderella’s dress for the ball—this portion of the float spins. On the opposite side, you’ll see Cinderella with Prince Charming.
At the back of the float, another set of spinning scenes reveals Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.
Prince Naveen almost always accompanies her.
On the opposite side, we see Frozen sisters Anna and Elsa.
Here is the back of the float.
Next, we see the Snuggly Duckling float from Tangled. Ulf, the mime, is joined by a few performers wearing vibrant costumes.
This unit is hard to admire closely because it passes so quickly. But it’s an elaborate float with fun moving elements. Rapunzel stands at the front of the float with her iconic braid, waving to guests.
Flynn Rider and Maximus swing back and forth from pendulums with a few other Ruffians!
The Little Mermaid Unit
The next float features The Little Mermaid. This unit consists of various dancers representing sea life. The entire troupe is bright and cheerful!
This performer is dressed as a seashell. Her costume is gorgeous. Speaking of costumes, designer Mirena Rada created the costumes for the parade. It is said that the seashell costume took 30 yards of fabric to make.
Life is the bubbles!
Ariel rides atop a clamshell bedazzled with pearls. Sea horse performers used to walk behind the float. But unfortunately, we haven’t seen them as of late.
Sebastian leads the procession.
Ariel waves to the crowd as she sails through.
Peter Pan Unit
Peter Pan’s unit begins with a base of Skull Rock. A rainbow extends from the rock, lifting the pirate ship into the air.
The Lost Boys head up this float as they dance and entertain the crowd.
These guys are styled perfectly!
Wendy is on the ground with The Lost Boys or sometimes on the ship with Peter.
Peter Pan waves to guests from above.
Related: Meet Peter Pan at Disney World
Captain Hook is suspended from a swinging anchor.
Tinker Bell rides on the back of the float, sprinkling pixie dust.
Mr. Smee can usually be seen wandering along behind.
Here is a view of the back of the float as it continues along the route.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Brave unit may have been retired. It’s been quite some time since we saw the float in the parade. Hopefully, it will eventually return. Here are a few older photos.
One of the things the Festival of Fantasy Parade is most known for is the Sleeping Beauty unit featuring the Maleficent dragon float. This unit starts with the three fairy godmothers, Fauna, Flora, and Merryweather. They zoom through on motorized devices that make their movements appear flawless.
With them is Prince Phillip, who is preparing to battle with the dragon.
A few stilt walkers make up part of the unit.
Here is the steampunk-inspired mechanical dragon making her way down Main Street. This float is truly a sight to behold.
Maleficent’s fire-breathing dragon towers above the crowd as a dominating presence.
Her mechanisms move as her head tilts toward the sky every few moments to release a breath of fire.
Walking Characters in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
In addition to the floats, you’ll have the opportunity to see a few characters without dedicated meet-and-greets.
For instance, if you want to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, this is your chance! Unfortunately, the only other time to meet the Seven Dwarfs throughout the year is during the seasonal parties.
They do a little dance number as they interact with the crowd.
We used to often see the White Rabbit and Alice from Alice in Wonderland. But lately, it’s only Alice.
And the Mad Hatter.
Jiminy Cricket is also usually part of the parade.
Pluto walks some days, and we see him riding one of the final floats on other days.
Before the finale, the next to last float combines classic movies Fantasia, Dumbo, and Pinocchio. Pinocchio is riding on the whale that swallowed him!
Dumbo sits perched on the back of the whale’s tail.
An elephant is performing a balancing act. Two performers are suspended from swings on each side of the pole.
Classic characters are dressed as circus performers.
We see Daisy Duck, Chip and Dale, and Donald Duck here.
Related: Meet Chip and Dale at Disney World
Goofy is usually not far behind.
Mickey’s Airship is the grand finale and the tallest float in the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ride in the giant hot air balloon. They wave and blow kisses to the crowd as they pass.
A few hippos help hold things down.
He is adorable.
Video of the Festival of Fantasy Parade
Preview the Festival of Fantasy Parade below, or watch the entire video on our YouTube channel.
Final Thoughts on the Festival of Fantasy Parade
Hopefully, this photo post helped solidify your decision to make the Festival of Fantasy Parade a must-do on your Walt Disney World vacation. We’ll close with a nod to the cast members.
The people who pull this event off daily are genuinely exceptional. I always marvel at their effort in this parade, especially during the hot temperatures combined with their costumes and performances. They strive to make each experience memorable for guests.
If you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation, you might like to check out some of our resources, like the list of Walt Disney World Resorts.
For planning dining reservations, we have a list of Disney restaurant reviews. Usually, we recommend planning at least one Disney World character dining meal, a Disney signature dining reservation, and a meal at Disney Springs. We have a list of the best restaurants at Disney Springs.
For more characters, you’ll want to check our guide to meeting characters at Disney World. It contains a list of every character meet-and-greet in the theme parks.
In the Comments
What is your favorite float unit in the Festival of Fantasy Parade? Where do you plan to see the parade while visiting Magic Kingdom?