Disney's Festival of Fantasy Parade presents these stories through a spectacle fleet of fantastical floats. The parade reflects the hard, creative work of Parade Designer Richard Improta, Creative Director Steven Davison and Managing Producer Kris Bunner. Many others have contributed to the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. Mark Hammond, whose previous work includes Disney California Adventure’s World of Color and Hong Kong Disneyland’s Flights of Fantasy Parade, designed the musical score. Mirena Rada, who has previously worked on projects for Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, designed the costumes.
On February 10, 2014, Walt Disney World rolled out the red carpet to show off the latest elaborate costume creations for their upcoming Festival of Fantasy parade, debuting next month. With a backdrop of three of the new giant-sized floats, Disney sent parade performers walking the "catwalk" backstage behind the Magic Kingdom to unveil costumes inspired by films.
On May 11, 2018, the Maleficent dragon float burst into flames as it was breathing fire while the parade passed through Liberty Square. The fire was soon put out and there were no injuries, but the float's head was completely destroyed.
The following day, the Gazebo float previously seen in various other parades (like the Rainy Day Cavalcade), featuring Aurora and Prince Phillip, replaced the Maleficent float. The Maleficent float returned to the parade on January 25, 2019, with some new colouring and non-flammable materials.
On March 12, 2020, the parade gave its final performance and Walt Disney World closed temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak's impact on Florida. However, on November 20, 2021, following Walt Disney World's reopening, Magic Kingdom announced that the updated version of the parade would return on March 9, 2022, in honor of its 8th anniversary, and as part of Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration.
Princess Garden: This pageantry of princesses celebrates Disney royalty. Cinderella, Tiana, and Belle accompanied by their respective princes, ride in a garden of topiaries with woodland creatures, birds, and more. Cinderella’s dress playfully twirls like a turntable, while Swan Court couples lead the 50-foot-long majestic float, capped off with a special appearance by Anna and Elsa. This float was recycled from Tokyo Disneyland's former daytime parade, Jubilation!
Tangled Unit: Based on the 2010 animated film. A massive longship on the high seas showcases Flynn Rider and Rapunzel in search of adventure and another Best. Day. Ever! Rapunzel’s iconic tresses weave throughout this 36-foot-long float decked out with swaying pendulums carrying dastardly thugs.
The Little Mermaid Unit: Based on the 1989 animated film. Ariel and her friends sit atop a colorfully kinetic seashell music box that boasts an enchanting musical jubilee. There’s no shortage of whimsy on this Under the Sea float with conga dancing fish kicking up their fins and bubbles galore. Shimmering fabrics and intricately designed costumes for the Lion Fish, Coral Fish, Seashell, and Sea Horse performers are runway-inspired.
Brave Unit: Based on the 2012 Disney and Pixar film. Celtic couples and a vessel shaped like an enormous bagpipe announce the arrival of Merida perched high on her majestic crown. Scottish dancers step to melodies of the Great Highlands in celebration.
Sleeping Beauty Unit: Based on the 1959 animated film. The heroic Prince Phillip battles a steampunk-inspired Maleficent in her dragon form. This float stretches 53 feet in length and 26 feet tall with a prickly spinning wheel dead center of the float. With fiery eyes and glowing effects the spectacular dragon was built on an articulating chassis allowing the float to bend and flex as it moves along the parade route – a first for Disney parades. This float was designed in a partnership with Tony Award-winner Michael Curry. Thorn-inspired stilt performers, dramatic raven dancers, and the three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, glide along the parade route. The dragon float was duplicated for Disneyland Park (Paris)'s daytime parade, Disney Stars on Parade. The float was damaged on May 11, 2018 when it accidentally caught fire due to a technical fault, but was later redesigned and returned to the parade on January 25, 2019. In 2021, following Walt Disney World's reopening, Magic Kingdom announced the Maleficent float would return for a new mini-parade entitled Maleficent's Fiery Prowl, as part of a new Halloween event, Disney After Hours: BOO Bash, in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration.