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maleficent dragon festival of fantasy parade
Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney Dining

Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade returns, but LOOK WHAT’S MISSING from the experience

Magic Kingdom welcomed back the Guest-favorite Festival of Fantasy Parade on Wednesday, but Guests who were there for the triumphant return of the magical parade immediately noticed several parade elements were missing or very different.

maleficent dragon festival of fantasy parade

Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney Dining

RELATED: Breaking News as Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade removes potentially offensive song from parade soundtrack

Close your eyes for a moment and think back to the last time you experienced Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy Parade. Can you see the brilliant colors of the intricately designed costumes? Can you see Princess Tiana, Belle, Beast, Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, Peter Pan, Wendy, and a myriad of other favorite Disney characters? Can you see into Maleficent’s hauntingly green eyes and feel the heat from the fire she breathes?

Now listen.

Can you hear that? It’s the chorus to the iconic “Festival of Fantasy” song, written just for the parade. Listen to the words, and think back. Surely you remember:

“Away we go!
It’s a Festival of Fantasy!
Beauty and majesty,
Shining magically!
Dreams that glow,
Wondrous, dazzling brilliantly.
So, away we go!
It’s a Festival of Fantasy!”

You’re smiling, aren’t you? If you’re a fan of the truly magical “Festival of Fantasy” Parade experience at Magic Kingdom, you’re smiling because you remember the pageantry and the magic you experienced on any afternoon you visited Disney World’s very first park and reveled in the beauty of the gorgeous parade. And now you’re smiling because you know that the beloved experience returned to Magic Kingdom on March 9, the parade’s 8-year anniversary at Disney World.

festival of fantasy parade

Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney Dining

Disney announced the return of the Festival of Fantasy Parade in Fall 2021, following its extended hiatus in response to the closure of Walt Disney World because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the parks reopened in July 2020, the Festival of Fantasy Parade was not among the available Guest experiences, as crowds and experiences that draw crowds were among the CDC’s list of things to avoid as COVID-19 continued to infect and sicken millions worldwide.

Some Festival of Fantasy fans feared the worst–that the experience would never return. But we should have known better! In May 2018, the Maleficent dragon float caught fire during an afternoon performance of the parade. No one knew for sure what would become of the float that had served as a symbol of the parade since it debuted in 2014. But only a short time later, Maleficent returned, and this time, with a vengeance!

The Maleficent dragon float during the return of the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom. (Spectrum News/Ashley Carter)

Credit: Spectrum NEWS

But when the parade returned yesterday, Guests instantly noticed several changes to the experience, including some missing parade elements.

To begin with, the parade featured a reduced number of Cast Member performers, when compared to what Guests remembered from the parade’s last performances before March 2020. The number of characters that now appear in the Festival of Fantasy Parade has dwindled by about half. This was immediately evident to fans of the parade, as the lead float appeared devoid of princes to accompany the Disney princesses.

festival of fantasy parade cinderella

Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney Dining

In the newest version of the parade unveiled on March 9, the PIXAR Brave-inspired float, featuring Merida, her crown, and an enormous set of bagpipes, was nowhere to be seen. The float has been completely cut from the experience, at least for now. There’s been no word yet about whether the float will be added to the parade later.

brave float festival of fantasy parade

Credit: Kingdom Konsultants

In addition to these changes, the newly-debuted Festival of Fantasy Parade has done away with any part of Disney’s “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah,” as the song comes from the controversial 1946 film, Song of the South.  Beginning with plans to reimagine and retheme the Splash Mountain attraction to an experience inspired by Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, Disney is slowly but surely taking steps to remove potentially offensive elements from films like Song of the South from its parks.
You can watch the entire parade here:

 

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!