After an almost 21 year absence, The Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP), one of the most beloved and iconic parades in Disney history, has returned to Disneyland for a limited engagement. This version will also see the reappearance of the original Main Street Electrical Parade opening float, a whimsical train pulling a giant drum unit that proclaims “Disneyland Presents … Main Street Electrical Parade” in bright lights.In a recent story in the Orange County Register, John Addis, show director at Disneyland said, “It’s coming back for a limited time [through June 18, 2017] because our guests and fans of the electrical parade have been clamoring for it. We want to reintroduce it to a whole new generation of guests who have never seen it.” The Main Street Electrical Parade has been performed more than 3,600 times for more than 75 million guests during its original run in Disneyland Park. In 2001, the parade was also seen for a nine year run at Disney California Adventure Park. Disney had toyed with the idea of modifying the floats by replacing the pin point lights with LED lights, but according to the OC Register, “if we change the lights it’ll feel different,” Addis said. “It has a whole different quality to it.” The Main Street Electrical Parade features almost two dozen floats, 80 costumed performers and 600,000 lights.
Ron Miziker Image: Miziker Entertainment Group / YouTube
Ron Miziker, who is the founder and of Miziker Entertainment Group, was the co-creator and producer of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Ron worked under Bob Jani, Director of Entertainment and eventually VP of Entertainment for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Jani was having production issues with Disney on Parade and asked Ron to take over the planning of entertainment and shows at Walt Disney World – thereby making him the first Director of Entertainment for Walt Disney World.Here is a bit of history behind this fan-favorite spectacular: The Birth of the Parade Shortly after Walt Disney World opened, Card Walker, President of The Walt Disney Company, told Jani and Miziker since the opening of the Florida property very little attention has been paid to Disneyland. He told them to create an event to keep people in Disneyland past the early evening hours. Dick Nunis, Executive VP of Walt Disney World and Disneyland, was against the idea, but Walker overruled him. The Main Street Electrical Parade was inspired by big cities at the turn-of-the-century. While Ron was at the library doing research on show ideas, he discovered that big cities, who were the first to get electricity, would hold parades down their main streets with strings of lighted bulbs. That idea coupled with the popularity of the Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World inspired Ron to take the pageant from the water to the street. Parade Logistics
Jerry Hefferly Image: YouTube
Don Dorsey Photo: Courtesy of Don DorseyIn addition to sourcing the parade music, Jack provided the very famous opening announcement for both the original Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade and Walt Disney World Main Street Electrical Parade. Don Dorsey took over after Wagner passed away in 1995. According to Joseph Pimentel’s January 16, 2017 story in the Orange County Register, “Jack wanted something up-tempo, quirky and fun, something that would fit the twinkling lights,” said Don Dorsey.
Bob Jani Image: YouTubeRon, Jack Wagner, Music Director Jim Christensen and others met in Bob Jani’s office to listen to each sample. They agreed that one piece of music was better than the rest - Baroque Hoedown. The music had been created electronically – something totally new at the time. Pimentel writes, “We had considered all types of music,” Miziker said. “At that time, electronic music was brand new. Not much was available. Once Jack played it, I said, ‘That’s it. That’s absolutely perfect.’... It was the first big exposure for electronic music.” The original version of Baroque Hoedown, created in 1967 by early synthesizer pioneers Jean-Jacques Perrey from France and Gershon Kingsley from Germany, was on the B-side of Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog. The parade’s soundtrack had the same themes as the current recording, but was a different arrangement by Jim Christensen and Paul Beaver. In 1977, it was updated and arranged by electronic music artist Don Dorsey and Jack Wagner and was used until January 2009 When the parade returned to Disney’s California Adventure in June 2009, it used an updated, orchestrated DreamLights soundtrack from Tokyo, but with some changes. According to Don Dorsey’s website, “A quick search of Los Angeles-based musicians turned up synthesizer programmer Paul Beaver. Paul had a small studio and was considered ‘the only guy’ for synth work in Hollywood.” Ron Miziker said that Bob Jani decided to build the entire parade on top of Baroque Hoedown, a technique similar to “it’s a Small World” where one melody is overlaid with multiple synchronized arrangements, however instead of moving the audience through the arrangements, the arrangements would move past the audience. Armed with sketches of the parade floats, Jim began the puzzle-like process of fitting Disney melodies into the harmonic structure and format of Baroque Hoedown.” After the summer of 1974, the original Electrical Parade was retired to make way for a two-year Bicentennial celebration America On Parade. Bob Jani finally got his calliope music. While working on the music for America On Parade, Paul Beaver died suddenly. Jack Wagner contacted the Moog Company, the manufacturer of the synthesizer that Paul had used, to see if they knew any local programmers. They suggested Don Dorsey – a student at Cal State Fullerton. Don went on to create other beloved Disney spectaculars including Sorcery In The Sky, Laserphonic Fantasy, Fantasmic and IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
Don Dorsey and Jack Wagner / Circa 1977 Photo: Reddit.com / brb1006Following his work on America on Parade, Jack hired Don as his full-time audio production assistant. When the MSEP returned to Disneyland in the summer of 1977, a number of changes were made to the parade. Don proposed something very different. Don invented a way to perform automatic synchronized introductions “on demand,” thereby allowing the musical opening to incorporate a fanfare segueing directly into the parade tempo, as well synchronizing light cue to the music. This process, called the “opening window” has been used to start Disney parades ever since. Other changes saw a thorough revision of the parade’s flat screens to three dimension units. It was also the debut of a duplicate version at Walt Disney World. Other changes Don made included composing a new piece of music, the “Electric Fanfare,” and reworking and rearranging many other sections of the parade’s music. Bob Jani called the new music “electro-synthe-magnetic.” In January 1978, Disney had Ron Miziker produce a half-time show for the Orange Bowl using several Electrical Parade floats. Don composed the “Fanfare of Lights” for that parade’s finale and in the summer of that year it was incorporated into the park’s versions. Over the years, Don arranged and performed most of the new musical pieces. Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland have their own versions of the parade. The instant the music starts up every Disney fan knows exactly what parade this music is from. As Don Dorsey told the Orange County Register, “what makes the music so memorable is its ‘perky, peppy tempo. People can’t help but hum the tune.” References: Interview: Ron Miziker Don Dorsey Consulting website Wikipedia Pimentel, J. (2017, January 16). Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade returns with iconic tune. Orange County Register. Retrieved from http://www.ocregister.com . Hirsley, M. (1985, November 17). Let There Be Lights: How A Brilliant Holiday Tradition Was Born On The Magnificent Mile. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http//www.articles.chicagotribune.com Schultz, M.J. (1966, December). Where Even Santa Gets His Ideas. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from http://books.google.com Farras, E.S. (2008). The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Mount Pleasant, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing Moore, D. (2014, April 14). The Making of Disneylands [sic] Main Street Electrical Parade. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/oasi6t6H-GU. Walt Disney Productions (1986)