How Early Should You Grab Your Spot for Disney Parades?

Parades in the Magic Kingdom are a staple of any Walt Disney World vacation! With the daily Festival of Fantasy Parade, the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade, and seasonal parades for both Halloween and Christmas, there are lots of parades to take in at Disney World’s flagship part.

Getting the most out of a parade could take some extra planning, especially if you are visiting the park during a busy time of the year when crowds could make finding a viewing location difficult. Whether you want to ensure little ones will have a space in the front, or you simply are not sure when to start waiting for the parade, we’ve got you covered!

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade

A good rule of thumb for ensuring you’ll have a spot for any show or parade at Walt Disney World is to arrive one hour before. If you do not want to spend that time waiting for the parade, we have some ideas for where you can generally find good last-minute spots, but if the parade is a top priority that you do not want to miss, plan to arrive an hour prior to its start-time.

Remember, the parade’s “start-time” might vary based on where you are watching it from. Disney Cast Members often joke about Guests asking, “What time is the 3:00 parade?” but this is actually a serious question Guests have that actually means something more like, “What time will the 3:00 parade get to where I’m standing?”

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade

Every parade in the Magic Kingdom kicks off in Frontierland and continues through Liberty Square, around the hub in front of Cinderella Castle and down Main Street U.S.A. The most popular locations to watch from where you will want to arrive about an hour early would be along Main Street, especially in locations that offer views of the Castle.

Liberty Square and Frontierland tend to fill in after Main Street starts becoming more crowded, so if you are not up for that hour-long wait, we recommend heading further back onto the parade route. (Being closer to the start of the parade also means that you’ll “beat” the other Guests to attractions that may have slightly shorter lines while most people are watching the parade.)

Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade is a memorable experience as the parade is a true celebration through the park with favorite characters like Belle and the Beast, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen, Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook, along with Ariel, and of course, Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the Fab Five, just to name a few.

Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Festival of Fantasy is also available as a selection with Disney Genie+, so if the parade is a top priority and you purchase this ticket add-on, you may want to secure your spot this way.

The costumes and iconic music of the Festival of Fantasy Parade can also make it a must-see for Guests of all ages. If you are short on time, though, and just looking to quickly see some characters. Keep your eye out for the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade. You do not need to line up for the cavalcades as you do for the parades, and this one is not to be missed!

An hour is a great starting point, but there are some exceptions. Christmas week is one of the busiest times of the year at Walt Disney World, and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will take place during regular park hours. With the park likely filled to capacity then, you may actually need more than an hour to secure your spot, especially if you are hoping to watch from Main Street.

Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade

During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Guests can see Mickey’s Boo-to-You Parade which runs twice over the course of the evening. The first parade is generally crowded and you may need to line up early to get a spot in your favorite viewing location. The second Halloween parade of the night, however, is usually far less crowded, so you should be able to find a spot, especially in Frontierland or Liberty Square rather last-minute.

Whichever parade you see next, you are sure to find an excellent spot for the whole family to watch from with just a little bit of extra planning. Have a magical time at the parade!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."