Last week, I talked about a few tips to get the most out of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights over at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
This week, I wanted to discuss some tips for best experiencing the ultra-popular Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP).
This parade is one of the best you will see at Walt Disney World all year, and it's well worth watching. The hitch is, everyone else knows it's a great parade as well, especially on Main Street, so the crowds tend to congregate along Main Street.
So, how do you best experience the parade during MVMCP? It depends on your schedule and what's most important to you.
If you can stay late (at least 11 p.m.):
Catch the second parade. Most people tend to flock to Main Street to see the first parade, which usually runs around 8:15 p.m. The crowds stay around Main Street to watch Holiday Wishes at 9:30 p.m. and then make a beeline for the exit. The end result? Far fewer people to watch the second parade at around 10:30 p.m. You'll stand a much better chance to get a great vantage point, perhaps even the highly sought after view down Main Street (see image above). I took this shot during the second parade during a 2008 MVMCP.
If you can't stay late:
Your options get a little more limited, because time is more limited. If seeing the parade is a high priority, then find a spot at least 35-45 minutes ahead of time, especially for spots along Main Street. If you don't have that much time (or don't want to devote that much time to waiting), consider some alternate parade viewing locations, like Frontierland. The crowds tend to be a bit lighter in Frontierland where the parade starts.
Either way, find a spot early, especially for prime viewing. Even if you're planning to catch the second parade, if you want some of the prime viewing spots, you'll need to get your spot at least 30 minutes in advance for the second parade.
Be prepared to sit a while, and have the right gear:
The Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is long!! It runs around 20-25 minutes. If you're planning to record the parade (it's well worth it!!), be sure you have plenty of tape or hard drive space to capture the entire parade. It's also a VERY good idea to bring a tripod. The lighting is darker that you might suspect and having a tripod, even a small one, will help make your video look better.
As for still photography, the darker lighting makes shooting the parade especially challenging. Most point-and-shoot cameras don't have the flash strength to properly illuminate the floats, even if you're at the rope line. I suggest learning how to use your camera's manual settings and use a longer shutter time. With some practice, you can take a fairly steady shot at 1/30th of a second or faster. Using a tripod for your still shots can produce some outstanding shots, as you can really use a slow shutter speed.
So there you go, a few ways you can me the most of the holiday parade.
If you see Santa (he's the guest of honor!), be sure to tell him I said hi!