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Not your father's parade

So the big news at the Studios is the launch of the Block Party Bash parade at the Studios and when anything new of consequence arrives at any Walt Disney World theme park, there's a certain level of excitement that comes with it. I've seen the parade twice now, once at a Cast Member preview after park hours and then again this past Sunday, which was the first day the parade was shown in the Studios to the general public and wanted to share some thoughts on the parade.

Once Block Party Bash was announced last year as coming to the Studios, I hear a lot of negative feedback about the parade from folks who have seen it at Disney's California Adventure. When something is new, I like to avoid anything resembling a spoiler, such as a video or description. So when I saw the parade at the Studios, it was the first time I had seen it or heard the music. I also tried to discount what people thought of the parade because I wanted to be as blank a slate as I could be.

Overall, I really liked the parade primarily because it isn't the typical afternoon parade we're accustomed to. I really dislike afternoon parades because I find them boring and a waste of time. I never found them entertaining enough to warrant waiting around for and seeing. The characters you see in the parade can be found elsewhere in the park for meet-n-greet and otherwise the premise just is uninteresting to me. Block Party Bash is a different animal all together. It's like Disney took the blueprints for your typical afternoon parade and tossed it out the window. Someone else who saw the parade described it as a show more than a parade and I think it's a valid statement.

What makes Block Party Bash so enjoyable is the amount of energy in it. Traditional parades just have you watch as floats go by and you wave. Bo-ring! Block Party Bash stops at select locations and then unloads and expands into a full fledged musical, acrobatic and character extravaganza. You can't help but feel a connection to the wonderful performance and sing along to the musical selection. It's very inviting and engaging and I think adults as well as children can enjoy the parade quite a bit. The high energy spills over into the audience because it's hard not to feed off the performers who really do give it their all.

The real downside of the parade is it's nearly impossible to see the entire parade in one day. Basically how the parade works is it goes to a spot, sets up shop and does its show and then moves to a new spot and repeats. The problem is you only see the show where you're standing. Of the three themed sections of the parade (Toy Story, Monster's Inc and A Bugs Life), each is unique and offers a different show so you can spend one parade time seeing just one float section and have to come back and see it all. This is fine for me, because I love to see the different shows and take it all in but I imagine most families can only come to the Studios perhaps once per trip and only be able to see part of the parade. In California Adventure, they set up signs along the parade route to let guests know which section will be where to so guests can see their favorite film's characters but that has not been brought to the Studios yet (the parade doesn't officially open until March 14th so perhaps in time that will be brought over as well) and I could sense some frustration from guests who wanted to see it all.

I've done some research into the matter and found a way to see two out of the three floats in one parade but it does require some good running legs. The parade flows from Hollywood Boulevard to the Sorcerer's Hat and then along Echo Lake before exiting by Star Tours. See the first stop of the parade between Keystone Clothiers and Mickey's of Hollywood. When the parade starts to wrap things up (you can tell because the performers will start putting a lot of stuff back, namely the trampolines) run (don't walk) past Hollywood & Vine, past 50's Prime Time Cafe, past Indiana Jones and grab a spot near Sounds Dangerous to catch the parade again as it swings around for another stop. Keep following the parade as it leaves this stop because just as it looks to be complete as it exits Star Tours, the last float stops and the performers conduct one more dance scene for those who have followed the parade. It's the best way I've found to see as much of the parade as you can in one showing.

I can't emphasize enough the difference Block Party Bash has from all the other afternoon parades we've seen in the past. I think that gives it such a unique difference to make it worth checking out. Like me, you may have written off afternoon parades but I encourage you to try it out because it's so different and has all that energy with the show. This is the sort of experience that makes the parade uniquely Disney because Disney has taken a regular idea that's everywhere these days (a parade) and made it into something you just can't find anywhere else. This isn't your father's parade, kid.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 by