Light Magic was a show/parade that ran at Disneyland from May to September 1997. Originally billed as a replacement for the distinguished and beloved Main Street Electrical Parade, Light Magic opened to poor reviews and closed only four short months later. Though Disney officially stated at the time that the show would return in the year 2000, it never again saw the "light" of day. Despite the show's short run, infrastructure improvements made specifically for Light Magic, mainly in Fantasyland are still used in the current day.
Light Magic was a "streetacular", with floats moving into two performance zones, one located at the Small World Mall, the other on Main Street. Upon reaching the performance zones, the floats would stop and the pixie characters, who were the focus of the show, would awaken to perform step-dancing routines for the audience, later being joined by Disney characters (dressed in their pajamas with the idea that this was taking place either after their bedtime or in a shared dream) and audience members.
During the performance segment, a portion of each of the floats would open to reveal a screen upon which images were projected from equipment hidden in the surrounding buildings; this ended up being an issue, as, unless guests were viewing the floats dead-center, they would be viewing that at an awkward angle. As part of the grand finale, the fairies would use their 'magic' to throw pixie dust, confetti falls from the sky, and the buildings light up with a shower of twinkling lights provided by fiber optics embedded in the structures.
Light Magic had a difficult role to fill as The Main Street Electrical Parade had been a favorite at Disneyland for over 20 years. Expectations and apprehensions were both high as Light Magic made its debut at a private event for Disneyland Annual Passholders. The premiere night did not go well as technical problems came up with aligning the floats with the projectors, various cues were missed, and sound equipment failed, as well as the fiber-optic lighting not yet be functional. The initial show was prefaced by then Disneyland President Paul Pressler announcing to the pass holder crowd that the show was to be a dress rehearsal and not the show in its finished form.
The preview was a disaster. The parade's story was unclear, with guests confused as to why the characters were in their pajamas. At one point, a snippet of the soundtrack skipped and repeated itself continuously until it was shut off.
Annual Passholders are known for being both the most ardent supporters of Disneyland, while at the same time being its harshest critics. The response to the poor performance of Light Magic's debut was very negative, with long lines extending from City Hall on Main Street demanding refunds, as pass holders had paid $25 each to attend the special event under the impression, based on all of the information that had been distributed, that they would be the first to see the finished product, not a test audience with which to work out the bugs. Word of mouth reports quickly spread that Light Magic was not worth seeing. Many felt that the pixies came off a bit scary with their fake noses, cheeks, and ears (during previews, they wore star masks, which made them look like, in the words of David Koenig, "burn victims"), and eventually earned the nicknames of Lite Magic (due to coming off as incredibly cheap) or Light Tragic (due to replacing the Main Street Electrical Parade).
Light Magic played for the remainder of the summer season in 1997 with the majority of the response from the public ranging from lackluster to complete dislike. Many fans of the Main Street Electrical Parade regarded Light Magic as an unworthy replacement. Disney announced that Light Magic would be on hiatus until the year 2000, but 2000 came and went without any indication of Light Magic returning.
Light Magic's music was very Celtic-influenced (due to Michael Eisner's desire to incorporate the River Dance fad into the parade; at the time it premiered, River Dance had lost much of its popularity), and the songs in the show included:
- "Dream Our Dreams" (show theme)
- "Little April Shower" (Bambi)
- "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast)
- "Topsy Turvy" (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
- "Step in Time" (Mary Poppins)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star" (Pinocchio)
- "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (Cinderella)
- "Part of Your World" (The Little Mermaid)
- "Beauty and the Beast (song)" (Beauty and the Beast)
- "Baroque Hoedown" (Main Street Electrical Parade)
- A list of the names of the dancing fairies was featured in Cast Member documentation for the show. Names included Dew Drop, Penny Whistle, Glitter Wing, Merry Bella, Huckle Web, Tumble Web, Bumble Drop, Wiggle Wink, Tickle Top, Whipper Snap, Pepper Pop, Katydid, Petal Skipper, Peri Twinkle, Sniggle Bud, and Twinkle Dew.
- Music from the show has been used at Disneyland Paris for St. Patrick's Day fireworks displays.