Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade has been a theme park classic ever since it launched at the original Disneyland theme park in California in 1972. It’s had on and off runs, with regular updates to make the 70s parade relevant to a modern audience. And this latest update, the Disney Electrical Sky Parade, is clear proof that even a parade made in the 1970s can still be cutting edge.
Disneyland Paris this month created its own version of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade. This one isn’t a parade with floats rolling through the streets though. No, this one is a drone light show. It takes the iconic soundtrack of electro-syntho-magnetic music, remixes it and sets drones to fly in sync with it. The drones take the shapes of some of the original parade’s most iconic floats, including a train and Elliott from the 1977 film “Pete’s Dragon.”
The whole drone show is augmented with projections on the theme park’s centerpiece, “Sleeping Beauty Castle.” It runs about 10 minutes, but you don’t have to travel all the way to France to watch it. Check out the YouTube version of the Electrical Sky Parade below:
How to watch the Disney Electrical Sky Parade
The Disney Electrical Sky Parade debuted on Jan. 8 2024. Though it’s an incredible show, it’s actually a pre-show of sorts, occurring right before the theme park’s nighttime spectacular called Disney Dreams.
The show will run nightly through Sept. 30, 2024 (though there are a few date exceptions, and the show is subject to cancellation for severe weather). As far as the best viewing spot, head in front of the castle. Dronisos recommends viewing its shows from about 300 meters (just under 1,000 feet) away. Though, if it’s a clear night with calm weather, drone light shows have been spotted more than a kilometer (over a half-mile) away.
Come October, Disney will turn over to seasonal entertainment, ending its run to make way for Disney Halloween Festival and later Disney Enchanted Christmas, both of which feature their own parades and nighttime spectaculars.
How Disney Electrical Sky Parade was made
The drone show is a collaboration between the Disneyland Paris Entertainment teams and Dronisos, which is a company that puts on drone shows around the world.
As far as the drones themselves, those are also French. Dronisos has a partnership with French drone maker Parrot (they’re most recognizable with their now-defunct Bebop drone). The partnership allows Dronisos to build upon Parrot’s drone platform to specifically develop performance drone systems for entertainment.
Though these are hardly recognizable as Parrot drones. And though there’s a growing list of companies that make light show drones, it wouldn’t be fair to call Parrot one of them. That’s because Dronisos says it heavily modifies the hardware and software of these drones to make them work for drone light shows.
Dronisos actually bought the licence from Parrot to take the company’s Mambo, Bebop 2 and Anafi 1 drones and remake them. Dronisos has taken the Mambo (which was initially marketed as a toy drone) and renamed it “Helios” as an indoor-only light show drone. The Parrot Bebop 2 has been reworked with a light into the Zephyr drone, and the Anafi is renamed as the Autan. Both the Autan and Zephyr can be used indoors or outdoors, and all three light show drones are built in France.
Dronisos has become the ‘official technology supplier of Disneyland Paris’ and is also the team that powered previous Disneyland Paris drone shows including Disney D-Light and Avengers: Power the Night.
Dronisos has also worked with other theme parks, including the Dollywood Summer 2023 drone show.
And as far as how much the Electrical Sky Parade drone light show costs? Disney won’t disclose it. But for context, Texas-based Verge Aero says its drone shows usually cost between $50,000 to $200,000 for a customized, outdoor drone light show. Luckily, Disney gets the benefit of repeatable, so it’s likely the costs are far, far lower. No matter the mechanism, light shows are hardly cheap in any form. Disney spends an estimated $33,000 per show for its fireworks spectacular at its Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Fla.