Walt Disney World just announced 2022 return and debut dates for several major Magic Kingdom live entertainment productions, including the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Here are dates, details on the new additions and returning fan favorites.
Disney is promoting these as enhancements for the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration, which also included the debut of the Disney Enchantment fireworks and Mickey’s Celebration Cavalcade at Magic Kingdom, as well as the Harmonious nighttime spectacular at Epcot. (No mention of KiteTails, womp womp.)
The company also reiterated that the reimagined Finding Nemo: the Musical is coming to Theater in the Wild at Animal Kingdom and a refreshed Fantasmic! will return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios later this year. We had full coverage of both in earlier announcements: “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!” and New & Returning Entertainment Coming to Walt Disney World in 2022. For now, here’s what you need to know about Magic Kingdom entertainment in Spring 2022…
Let’s start with the new “Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade!” debuting on February 11, 2022.
“Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade” stars nearly 30 of Disney and Pixar characters, and is being billed by Walt Disney World as a “super-sized” cavalcade. It features Nick and Judy from “Zootopia,” Baloo and King Louie from “The Jungle Book,” José Carioca and Panchito from “The Three Caballeros,” plus Merida, Moana, The Incredibles, and more – including the Magic Kingdom debut of Miguel from “Coco” in his mariachi best.
During a previous presentation, Walt Disney World’s entertainment leadership noted that the cavalcades that debuted when Magic Kingdom reopened have been incredibly popular with guests. Accordingly, those will continue to be part of the park entertainment experience into the future.
While statements like this are sometimes fluff, I’ve heard this sentiment expressed several times and it seems like the kind of thing they probably have survey data to corroborate. As much as I enjoy full parades, I have to admit that there’s something to be said for not spending an hour-plus in the Florida heat and humidity waiting for and watching them. I suspect that’s common guest sentiment.
On that same date (February 11, 2022), Frontierland Hoedown Happening is returning to Magic Kingdom. I know what you’re thinking–that I buried the lede as this is the most exciting news of all!
This under-the-radar interactive dance party or flashdance kind of thing (I’m not hip and thus unsure of terminology…it’s when a bunch of people spontaneously start dancing) occurs in front of Country Bear Jamboree (so you’ve obviously seen it while camped out there awaiting the next show) and features a bunch of characters that call Frontierland home, including the Country Bears. Yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds.
Next, “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” will make its debut on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage February 25, 2022. This stage show will be presented multiple times per day in Magic Kingdom.
This will incorporate popular scenes from the previous version of the show–Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire–with sequences inspired by “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “The Princess and the Frog” – plus a new opening and a new finale with Mickey Mouse and all his friends in their sparkling, EARidescent fashions. “Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire” will also include an all-new, original song entitled “Where the Magic Feels Like Home.”
Finally, Festival of Fantasy Parade returns to Magic Kingdom beginning March 9, 2022. That’s the anniversary of the debut of the parade way back in 2014.
Festival of Fantasy Parade features beloved characters from “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled,” “Peter Pan” and more bringing their stories to life on enchanting floats that look as though the characters themselves had a hand in crafting them.
Although it should be expected, Walt Disney World has confirmed that looming 26 feet above the parade route and 35 feet in length, the fire-breathing Maleficent Dragon float returns just as menacing as ever. Disney is “delighted to have this show-stopping beauty be a part of our glittering assemblage.”
This is notable because there were credible rumors that Festival of Fantasy would not feature the Maleficent Dragon float upon return, with it instead being “held back” for hard ticket events. We heard this rumor as something that was being debated internally, and we weren’t the only ones–it was reported elsewhere, as well. (This isn’t the only recent rumor of internal friction with regard to entertainment–that’s likely how Disney Very Merriest After Hours ended up with entertainment added after its original announcement.)
Separately, we also heard that the number of performers in Festival of Fantasy Parade would be reduced. It’s been a while since then, but it’s not exactly a far-fetched rumor.
Disney reducing the number of performers in a production would hardly be unprecedented. Just look at the version of Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade presented last year versus the normal one. It was scaled back by almost 100 performers, which could be a matter of support staffing, cost-cutting, or a mix of the two.
Regardless of the reason, entertainment had reduced around Walt Disney World even pre-closure, so it’s not like this is anything new. The company has tried to reduce labor costs where it can, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Festival of Fantasy Parade is another instance of this. There’s also the practical reality that most performers for the parade were likely in the Christmas parade.
Since Walt Disney World was silent as to whether there would be a refresh to Festival of the Fantasy Parade or new floats added, it’s safe to say there won’t be. Parades tend to stick around Magic Kingdom much longer than other castle parks, and Festival of Fantasy probably has another decade or so left in its lifecycle.
Ultimately, we’re still really excited for the return of entertainment in Magic Kingdom. It’s the heart and soul of Walt Disney World, making the park feel vibrant and full of life–even when you don’t stop to watch performances. With that said, we’re not going to overdo the praise here. Universal has had its full slate of entertainment back for roughly one year, and Disney has continued charging full (actually, higher) prices for a diminished guest experience.
Walt Disney World has noted throughout all of this that more entertainment is on the way, adding to new experiences that debuted with the launch of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration. Here’s hoping that Paint the Night Parade is included among the “and more” experiences, and that wasn’t just (yet another) rumor about that night parade that’s been sitting in a California warehouse, collecting dust, for the last three-plus years. We’ll keep you posted!
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What do you think about Walt Disney World’s entertainment announcements? Excited for another cavalcade or the return of Festival of Fantasy Parade? What about the sorta new Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire? Disappointed that more entertainment hasn’t returned already despite the crowds and prices? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!