By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

The Great Disney World Controversies: Afternoon Nap or Afternoon Parade?

By Dave Shute

(This is the first entry in a new series on Disney World Controversies.)


Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Teal. Enjoy the ride as we delve into the great Disney controversies, large and small.

I’m working on revising my itineraries, for a couple of reasons:

While doing so, I’m going back to and testing first principles.  The itineraries are designed to show “all the best” of Walt Disney World in one eight night trip.

So what’s not the best?  What can be left out?  Can I leave out the afternoon parades?

The afternoon parades are a much-loved part of first family visits to Walt Disney World, and a tradition on return visits for many.

On the other hand, they absorb a lot of time that could be spent seeing other stuff–usually less crowded during the periods before and during the parades–or taking naps, swimming or otherwise relaxing without lines or schedules.

Moreover…the Disney World afternoon parades are kind of lame.


There’s currently three afternoon parades at Disney World

Because of their timing–and the fact that on busier days you ought to get a viewing spot early–these parades mess with one of the best ways to tour Disney World–show up before the parks open, tour in the morning before the peak crowds build, avoid the heat and lines by taking the afternoon off, and returning in the cool of the evening.

Moreover, they just aren’t that great.  The parade at the Hollywood Studios was wonderful until its best bits were cut a year or so ago.  The Animal Kingdom parade is a favorite of some, but the near-identity of many of its rickshaw floats makes it dull to others.  The parade at the Magic Kingdom is ok, but not as good as some past versions.

So what to do?  Wait in a good spot, and watch the parades? Or skip the parades, and either

  • Hop on some rides that will be less crowded because so many people are waiting for or viewing the parades? Or
  • Take the afternoon off?

Repeat visitors who have seen the parades have it easy, as they can plan their afternoons with full knowledge of what they’ll be missing if they skip the parades.

It’s trickier for first-timers who may never return.  To see the best of Disney World, do you have to see these afternoon parades?

I’ll be noodling over this issue while re-working the itineraries

The Magic Kingdom parade will almost certainly stay in, since, though it’s just OK, it’s a key part of the park’s pageantry and family memories.

I’m not so sure about the other two, however.  I’m not gonna take them out entirely, but they may go on the list of rides that can be skipped, and be treated in the itineraries as optional…

What do you think?  Are all these afternoon parades an essential part of the best of Walt Disney World, or are some of them skippable?


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney FAITHful.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:



1 Melissa @ Disney on Wheels { 03.27.12 at 1:33 pm }

As much as I love the parades, they are mostly skipable. I think if every minute of your time there is important there are lots of other great things to see and do. I’m looking forward to seeing your revised plans. 🙂

2 Dave { 03.27.12 at 1:36 pm }

Hi Melissa, thanks for the feedback!

3 Kathy Kelly { 03.27.12 at 5:53 pm }

Now that our kids are teenagers, we usually do skip afternoon parades. That said, because they are teens I usually plan one “sleep -in” day in the middle of our trip (otherwise there would be a revolt!) We’ll sometimes catch part of an afternoon parade on that day!

The most important thing for a first-timer to remember, I think, is that you simply can’t see it all! Once you’ve accepted that fact it will be much less stressful!

4 Steve from { 03.27.12 at 10:35 pm }

My vote is for a nap and perhaps a dip in the pool, especially in the hot summer months with long park hours. You’ll head back refreshed and dry after a change of clothes!

5 Dave { 03.28.12 at 5:49 am }

Thanks Kathy!

6 Dave { 03.28.12 at 5:50 am }

Thanks Steve!

7 kim { 03.29.12 at 9:05 am }

My question is, just having a short disney trip for Easter. I am traveling with 2 teenagers & have a 1 day park hopper ticket. What do you suggest so we can get the most of the experience. We have visited Disney before @ Christmas. Also I am moble but disabled. Can’t find any help from disney to help me due that I can’t stand long. Thankyou. I want to make sure my children have a special day:-)

8 Dave { 03.29.12 at 12:48 pm }

Hi Kim, you can use a wheelchair or scooter. They are for rent at the parks, but may sell out quickly since youa re going at one of the busiest times of the year.

Given how crowded it will be, it’ll be hard ot have a really special day. Suggest you start at Disney’s Hollywood Studios–a very teenager-pleasing park– (arrive before it opens) and then head to the Magic Kingdom once you’ve seen enough…

9 kim { 03.29.12 at 1:26 pm }

Thankyou very much. Just having a short stay due to not only being disabled I am fighting cancer. Will be returning to orlando for 12 days in july to have more fun & see my kids smile & laugh. Thankyou & I didn’t know about the park you recommended.

10 Dave { 03.29.12 at 2:11 pm }

Kim, good luck and god bless.

11 Kacie { 02.27.14 at 9:53 am }

This is really helpful. I think the new MK parade sounds really fun (whenever it st arts, which is soon, I think?) But the time slot, oy! I think our group will need to be at our hotel instead. :/ Perhaps when they’re older, we’ll give it a try 🙂

12 Dave { 02.28.14 at 6:59 am }

Yeah, Kacie–it starts March 9th! With little kids, it can be either the last event of your day, or the first event of your “late day”…FastPass+ makes a fun late day much easier…

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