From the Vault: SpectroMagic

Lead-step

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

By: Amy Kawa

Now, I know that in order for this site to work, we need to get to know each other.  If you learn anything about me when reading these posts, let it be this: SpectroMagic was my favorite thing – attraction, show, nighttime extravaganza, experience, etc. – in the HISTORY of Walt Disney World.

I can remember so vividly waiting for SpectroMagic to make its way from Main Street to Frontierland, while my family and I watched from an area just in front of the Frontierland Shooting Arcade.  We would always stay for the second parade of the night because it was less crowded. My cousins would pull out their fudge they bought from the Confectionary and share it with my sister and I.  We would all sit around this one planter with my parents, grandma and grandpa, and aunt and uncle and wait for the lights to go out and the music to be piped in.  Then, like a beacon of hope, we heard Jiminy Cricket speak to all of Frontierland, letting us know that SpectroMagic was coming our way!

The music swelled, and I saw those creepy guys with the colored masks on their spinning balls coming down the bridge from Liberty Square.  Now, these guys were seriously disturbing, but when I saw that giant sign that flashed: “Walt Disney World presents: SpectroMagic,” everything seemed right with the world.  I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  When I was younger, we would always start our trips with a day at the Magic Kingdom and end that day watching SpectroMagic.  I always thought, if this was the way the trip started, what else could this place possibly have in store?!

I loved the fishy floats that went from one side of the route to the other with their googly eyes.  I loved how you always had to guess if Chernabog would be in the parade or if he was malfunctioning that night.  I love how the Big Bad Wolf, the Seven Dwarfs, Brear Bear, and Gepetto would wander the route and shake hands with the kiddos.  I LIVED for the chance to shake a character’s hand during that parade.  It was like you were at the biggest rock concert ever.  I loved closing my eyes and soaking in who I was with, what I was experiencing, and letting that music fill me with joy.

In case you couldn’t tell, I miss SpectroMagic. To ease that pain, here’s a video of the full SpectroMagic performance from Attractions Magazine.

Summary:

SpectroMagic debuted at the Magic Kingdom in 1991 and ran through 1999, taking a hiatus for the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade.  SpectroMagic then returned in 2001, taking its nightly journey down Main Street to Frontierland until 2010.  It was supposed to, again, just take another brief hiatus for a special return engagement of the Electrical Parade.  Disney, apparently, had other plans.  Rumor has it that while the SpectroMagic floats were not in use, they were not stored properly, leaving them susceptible to the weather and other harmful factors.  The once beautiful SpectroMagical floats, cloaked in a million points of light, were now dark forever, falling into disrepair.  The floats have since been scrapped and some parts were used in a limited-edition pin set a few years back.

During its heyday, SpectroMagic featured floats from the Silly Symphonies, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Fantasia, and an entire cavalcade of classic Disney characters, including conductor Genie with Goofy on the drums and a pair of chipmunks rocking out on the piano (MY FAVORITE FLOAT).  The mesmerizing lights would change from vibrant color to pure white in time with the music cues.  While the floats were fantastic, it is the amazing soundtrack that has stuck with me for the past 24 years.  It is true Disney magic.  There is nothing better than that music:

“On this magic night,
A million stars will play beside us,
Cast a spell of light,
Glimmering, shimmering, carousel-ling
‘Round the world tonight,
A symphony in SpectroMagic.
Pure enchantment lights our way!”

Just. Stop. It.  I mean come on!

I will say that I may be a little biased in my deep love for SpectroMagic because the narrator just so happens to be my favorite Disney character of all time and now finds himself out of a job in the Disney parks.  Jiminy Cricket led the parade and, for me, brought the Magic Kingdom to life at night.  His gentle tone always led me to believe that everything – both in and out of Disney World – was going to be alright.  He was the perfect tone setter for the magic that followed.  Nothing makes me sadder than the realization that Jiminy doesn’t have a role in any of the parks anymore.

What Took Its Place:

Now, I understand that the love that I have for SpectroMagic is also felt by lovers of the Main Street Electrical Parade.  It is the O.G. nighttime parade, and I have to give it credit for that.  However, Disney took the Electrical Parade back to where it began – Disneyland – in 2016 for its 60th anniversary celebration.  Since that day, Magic Kingdom has been left without a nighttime parade.  How is that even possible?  It just baffles me.  Something as tride and true as baseball and Cracker Jacks is Disney World and parades.

It seems as though Disney may be waiting until its 50th anniversary celebration in 2021 to unveil a new parade.  2021 is a long time away!  Disney has never let me down in any capacity before.  This SpectroMagic snafu is the first time where I have really thought a mistake was made.  How could they let something so beautiful fall into disrepair by their own hands and have absolutely no plan to replace it?  That is definitely not the Disney way.

Disney debuted Paint the Night at California Adventure in 2016, pairing it with the Main Street Electrical Parade in Disneyland, giving the California parks two nighttime parades to Disney World’s zero.  Paint the Night is remarkable, with all of the pizzaz and magic of Spectromagic, even if SpectroMagic still has the superior soundtrack.  It is my hope that Disney will be able to recreate something like Paint the Night in Magic Kingdom, but really at this point, I am open to anything.

In future posts in this series, you will see most former attractions have been replaced with new things.  These new things can never replace the attractions we loved, but Disney is always evolving, and at least Disney follows Walt’s wishes in that way.  However, when it comes to SpectroMagic, something went wrong.  There is nothing new, nothing more innovative to replace it.  There is no music, no parade of lights marching through Main Street twice a night.  Until that day returns, I will always feel there’s something missing from my nights at Magic Kingdom.

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