OP ED: Welcomed Changes From 2020 Reopening of Walt Disney World – Cavalcades and Flotillas

I don’t think I need to state that 2020 was a challenging year on a number of fronts, nor do I want to list the myriad of reasons why. Alternatively, I want to talk about some of the good things that came out of 2020 in regards to Walt Disney World Resort after reopening in July 2020.

Disney Parades

Disney Parades are a huge part of many guest experiences. The large parades, such as Festival of Fantasy, which had run at 2:00PM (and sometimes 3:00 PM) everyday since premiering on March 9, 2014. This parade along with many of the other, including after hours events, are huge crowd gatherers, requiring Cast Members to tape off areas for guests to stand and not stand. Due to the level of crows traditional parades attract, Walt Disney World needed to make some changes in this current environment. Parades at Walt Disney World bring much joy and excitement to guests of all ages and is a great way to see all of your favorite characters at once. As great as they are, there are a couple things that I do not enjoy.

Many guests choose to stake out their spot well in advance to the start of the parade, in order to get the best view possible. This can be used as some well needed downtime to sit and relax, and even enjoy a snack or two. While I do have a few reasons surrounding the parades that I do not enjoy, this is not one of them, although this is part of one of my reasons.

With that being said, one reason surrounding the parades do not enjoy is the tension it can bring to guests. After staking out your spot for an hour, someone will eventually try and sneak in front of you at the last moment. I have personally seen this bring out the worst in people. These parades begin at 2:00 PM which can be 6 hours or so into someone’s day, resulting in being a bit stressed or even a bit “hangry.” This can result in arguments and really puts a damper on the experience, and is one of the main things I don’t enjoy about the one big parade each day.

Secondly, for guests who are not interested in viewing the parade, it can have a huge impact for them while trying to navigate the parks. If you are not prepared, you can be cut off and not able to navigate easily around the park. For example, if you are in Tomorrowland, getting off of Space Mountain and you have a late lunch at Skipper’s Canteen, you won’t be able to cut across the hub if the parade is on its way. As a result, you will have to walk around through Fantasyland, Liberty Square and hopefully be able to cut through into Adventureland, if the parade has already passed. While it is not the end of the world, at the moment to some, it can be a huge hindrance especially for the the reasons above about being tired and hangry.

Cavalcades and Flotillas

In 2020, Walt Disney World introduced Cavalcades and Flotillas as a way to continue to provide guest with character interactions they would be losing by not having the full parades and character meet & greets, due to COVID-19 precautions of social distancing. Specifically at Magic Kingdom, these Cavalcades are more frequent, shortened parades throughout the day. There are no specific times and they happen almost spontaneously and create a lot of surprise and delight. They don’t require guest to stake out a spot to wait for an hour and don’t have as much of an impact on the park flow. It’s a quick pass by with plenty of downtime between the sections of the cavalcades.

In EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, both of these parks did not have anything for parades and haven’t for some time. Hollywood Studios had the March of the First Order, which ended in July 2019, leading up to the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Now, both of these two parks have similar cavalcades, throughout the day, creating a similar feeling of spontaneity and surprise & delight.

Over at Animal Kingdom, there hasn’t been a traditional parade since June 2014. Using the underutilized Discover River, surrounding Discovery Island, Walt Disney World introduced Flotillas. These Flotillas consist of pontoon boats with Disney Characters and Animal Kingdom Performers playing music and entertaining guests as they pass by.

Photo: Disney

Hope for Cavalcades and Flotillas to Stay

Personally, I hope that the Cavalcades and Flotillas are here to stay. While they are not a single extravagant parade, as stated, they provide a feeling of spontaneity and surprise & delight, which I think has been missing in the parks for a while. Parades and Meet & Greets are great, but when they have to be scheduled or Require a fast pass, I feel it loses just a bit of magic. This is by no means a knock on them as a whole. There is just something about rounding the corner and hearing the music building and seeing something you weren’t expecting to see.

I want to know what you think! Let us know how you feel about the Cavalcades and Flotillas in the comments below.