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The History of Disney’s Fantillusion Parade

In 1992 a new show debuted in Disneyland in Anaheim, CA called Fantasmic that tells the story of good clashing with evil in Mickey’s imagination. Disney wanted to take this story to Tokyo Disneyland but decided to export the show to Tokyo in parade format. So the same creative team that was behind Fantasmic created a new nighttime electrical parade called Disney’s Fantillusion Parade.

Comprised of three acts (the Enchanted Garden, The Evil Villains, and Happy Ending), Fantillusion’s thiry floats or parade units took over 38 minutes to pass any single spot on the parade route from start to finish. By comparison Main Street Electrical parade took approximately 25 minutes and Paint the Night takes about 17 minutes.

The parade required over 160 performers each night and incorporated 290 different types of fabrics and ten different types of lighting including mini lights and fiber optics.

The Fantillusion Parade debuted at Tokyo Disneyland on July 21, 1995 and ran for six years ending its run on May 17, 2001 at the end of its appropriately titled last season, “Sayonara Disney’s Fantillusion!”

However that last season didn’t spell the end of Fantillusion. Disneyland Paris, which had been running the Main Street Electrical Parade since its opening in 1992 decided to purchase the used parade from Tokyo to offer a new nighttime electrical parade to its guests.

However due to financial limitations, the Parisian park only purchased 15 of the 30 original floats and of those only 13 ended up being used in the actual parade. The European version also only featured 50 performers due to the shortened length of the parade.

The purchase of the parade was also marred by unexpected difficulties. The first being that the costumes for the parade were found to be too small for the cast members when they arrived in Paris as they had originally been designed to fit the generally smaller stature of their Japanese counterparts. Further the driving compartments of the parade units were also too small to fit the generally taller height of the Parisian drivers thus requiring them to be enlarged.

Additional physical work had to be done on the parade units because they were originally engineered for the standard asian electrical currents that were incompatible with European electrical standards. The parade units also required exhaustive refurbishment upon arrival after having sustained damage during transit.

Originally meant to debut to Disneyland Paris guests in 2002, the parade didn’t open until June 28, 2003 due to these extensive delays.

The show ran from 2002 until the summer of 2012 when it was announced that Fantillusion would go on a temporary hiatus from which it still has not returned.

The theme to Disney’s Fantillusion was composed by Bruce Healey and was available for sale on CD at both Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris during its respective runs in each park.

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