Ask a Disney Question: Best Parade Viewing Locations.
This question comes from Elliot, who asks “Where is the best place to see various parades at WDW?
Elliot, thanks for your question and for reading Chip and Co.
In general, you’ll have a good view of the parades all along the routes they travel, but there are some locations that are more advantageous than others. In general, crowds are going to be the heaviest closest to the exit for nighttime parades. Crowds also tend to bottleneck in areas that don’t have good flow (such as in front of dead end pathways) or that also get a lot of thru-traffic. If you’ll be taking a lot of photographs, think about what kind of background you’ll want in your pictures.
For example, a view looking toward the castle at the beginning of Main Street USA, just before you get to the hub, is desirable for pictures, but it’s also going to be more crowded. For busier areas, you’ll want to stake out your spot much earlier than you might otherwise.
In the Magic Kingdom, the parade route stretches from Frontierland, through Liberty Square, around the hub in front of the castle, and down Main Street. If you get there early, the second story of the train station in Town Square is an ideal location, but you’ll have to camp out at least an hour or two ahead of time. Your view will be different–from above rather than at street level–but you’ll likely be rewarded with a less obstructed view. You can also watch the parade from the outdoor dining area of Tony’s Town Square restaurant. We have some tips for making your dining reservations to maximize your chances for getting a table at this time.
Another less crowded location is outside of the Emporium, in front of the fire house, which gives you a great angle for watching the floats and also a quick escape if you happen to be leaving after the parade. Avoid the bottleneck near the exits and at the beginning of Main Street (outside of Casey’s Corner and the ice cream shop), where you’ll encounter traffic coming from three sides. Finally, I’ve had luck getting a spot in Liberty Square, just as you leave Frontierland. I’ve rarely seen it more than four to five people deep, often less. There are also some low walls near the buildings where you can stand and see over people in front of you. I’m sure it’s not encouraged, but I’ve never seen a cast member ask someone to move.
In Animal Kingdom, Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade starts at the Tusker House Gate at Harambe Village, then winds around Discovery Island and returns back to the Tusker House Gate. Best viewing areas are the bridge to Camp Minnie-Mickey and the bridge to Africa and the path between Africa and Asia. Given a choice, I’d pick the latter as it seems less crowded and is one of the prettier larger walkways in the park.
In Disney Hollywood Studios, the parades start next to Star Tours and wind down Hollywood Boulevard before exiting the park at Crossroads. You’ll find good viewing areas all along Hollywood Boulevard, although it will likely be the least crowded near Star Tours. We’ve also heard it’s less crowded in front of Indiana Jones. If you want to read further about the Pixar Pals Parade, check out this article on Studios Central, one of the best sites around for information on all things Hollywood Studios.
For all parades but especially the ones in the Magic Kingdom, claim your spot about an hour before the parade begins. During busier times of the year, you’ll see people doing this even earlier. If you’re not the type to wait (and frankly, I never have), it’s still possible to get an “okay” view of the parade even with a dozen or so people in front of you since the floats are rather tall.
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