The parade is one of the most creatively unusual and innovative ever created by the Walt Disney Company for a host of reasons. For the first time, the Company invited an outside design studio to create the parade. Over the past few years, the Company has been more willing to allow the artistic input of outside agencies to add a new spark of imagination to the concept of the Disney parade.
Puppeteer Michael Curry has become a significant creator of parade product from his first Disney foray with Lion King Celebration at Disneyland, which was followed with Tapestry of Nations, created exclusively for Epcot's Millennium Celebrations and his recent contributions to Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade at Disney's Animal Kingdom. However, in each case, Walt Disney Entertainment has been the driving force behind the conceptualisation with only minor input from outside players. For example, Reed Morgan Jones, an immensely talented Show Director at Entertainment created the simple idea that Mickey and his friends are arriving at Disney's Animal Kingdom on a field expedition with a tribute to their animal friends that became Mickey's Jammin' Jungle parade.
Therefore it was the design of the parade with metal puppets from Michael Curry and the excellent score written by Jones and Dan Stamper (known to many DAK fans for his amazing transformation of Disneyland's The Lion King Celebration into Festival of the Lion King in the former theme land Camp Minnie-Mickey), driving the parade into a more stylised direction than that traditionally ventured into by Disney.
Most are dressed in the traditional movie ushers' uniform with a filmstrip trailing down the front and back of the costume. However, others are encased in a variety of larger-than-life props from clapboards to projectors. Each float is accompanied by a series of Cinema Grooms and for the first, the Grooms are keen to work the camera and start the "shoot".
Each float has its own independent soundtrack coupled in perfect synchrony with the foreground music that was being broadcast from the speakers littered along the parade route. The computers developed for this parade are the most technical ever used by Disney and exceptionally versatile as the parade controllers can change the composition of the parade at a touch of a button. For example, if rain begins to fall during the parade, the computer can switch off the "stop loop" and allow the parade to proceed without interruption along the corridor. The complex 24 track audio recorders ensure faultless digital reproduction of the soundtrack through the parade poles found at regular intervals along the route.
The lens of the first float is focused squarely on the next float, which is an open dressing room feature Minnie preparing herself in front of a giant revolving mirror. This interactivity between parade floats assists the story progression and demonstrates a coherency rarely seen in Disney parades. The pairing of the floats is also highly entertaining for watching guests.
The first float to enter on stage is a giant film camera with Tinker Bell from the 1953 animated film Peter Pan perched on top and a flying Peter Pan hidden inside the camera itself. Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, two giant white Mickey gloves and several Cinema Grooms (entertainment cast members) on rollerskates precede the float itself. The Cinema grooms are an integral part of the parade as they help to set up the different scenes and invite interaction with the guests along the parade route.
Based on the 1940 animated film. The float is quick to follow with the oversized marionette sitting on the front, watching the Puppet and Clock Grooms dancing along the route. The float was designed to pay tribute to the film industry craftsmen and prop makers and also features an oversize clapboard and workshop. Geppetto can be seen working hard repairing some clocks! Earlier, Dragone had explained, "Geppetto represents the passion for excellence that transforms the craftsmen of the movie world into true magicians". Honest John and Gideon both no longer appear in the parade.
Based on the 1994 animated film. The script is presented in a four metre high book and opens intermittently to reveal Rafiki holding Simba aloft on Pride Rock, as well as Timon appears. The giant Lion King script is accompanied by a series of Giraffe and Zebra grooms and if one listens closely, guests can make out the sounds of the jungle coming from the float itself.
Based on the 1961 animated film. More grooms on rollerskates followed, pushing puppies on wheels. The float features a giant film reel that unwinds as the parade progresses through the park. However, this film reel is over run with those Dalmatian puppies! Cruella De Vil and her delightful sidekicks, Jasper and Horace (based on their "Live-Action" occupation) with a large sack, trying to round up the rascally pups.
Based on the 1964 animated- and live-action musical film. Mary Poppins and Bert astride carrousel horses from the "Jolly Holiday" sequence of the movie. The float depicts the characters springing out of a giant reel of film in a burst of song, accompanied by a fleet of Horse Grooms.
Based on a 1940s Broadway-style theatre with the front recreating the marquee of old-time movie palaces, that portrays the 1947 animated film Fun and Fancy Free. As the shooting is now complete, the following Grooms hand out tickets to awaiting guests and one even has a sandwich board suspended from his shoulders, inviting the lucky park guests chosen to join into the movie theaters, similar to Disneyland's former parade, Parade of the Stars, but they all just sit on the float. As the front passes the guests, the rear reveals a movie theatre complete with seated guests, nestled in plush red velvet seats and Mickey about to unveil his newest movie!
As the parade disappears backstage between Flying Carpets Over Agrabah and Animagique Theater, the final float stops just before the gates and all the preceding cast return to wave goodbye to the awaiting guests. The final refrain of the soundtrack invites Mickey to draw the curtains over the movie screen and bid farewell to the audience. This is the creative way to finish a parade, as it treats the guests as the audience who have waited patiently for the finished product.