Disneyland’s Paint the Night Parade

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Disneyland’s Paint the Night Parade returns to Disneyland Resort April 13, 2018.

Paint the Night Parade debuted in May 2015 and returns to Disneyland Resort in 2018. Read why it is now my favorite nighttime entertainment at the Disneyland Resort and see how you can get reserved seats.

Disneyland | Disneyland Parades | Disneyland Tips

Updated for Pixar Fest 2018

Paint the Night ended its official run on September 5, 2016 and returns to Disneyland Resort, but this time at California Adventure on April 13, 2018.

I grew up watching the Main Street Electrical Parade. In my little mind it was the most dazzling, beautiful thing I had ever seen. Snuggled up in my dad’s lap along Main Street I had it all. It was Disneyland and growing up in Southern California that has spoiled me with the Rose Parade and so much more (see how Disneyland has ruined me here). Today little hometown parades with pick up trucks and a banner as floats pale in comparison when Disneyland is your norm.

Bonus Disneyland Tip: Get discount Disneyland tickets here from our trusted partner, Get Away Today. 

Paint the Night Parade Review

The highlight of any Disneyland visit for me, is by far watching Paint the Night. Floats, costumes, music, makeup and more makes Paint the Night the best night time entertainment I have ever seen from Disneyland Resort.

Watching the parade brought me pure joy and that long missed carefree feeling straight from childhood. I was completely immersed in the experience and in awe of the more than 1.5 million LED lights on display. You will see familiar Disney and Pixar characters like Mickey, Minnie, Belle, Mike and Sulley, Lightening McQueen and more showcased on incredible floats. Another thing I loved about this parade is some characters, like the Disney Princesses, have microphones and interact with the audience on a whole new level. It is simply NOT to be missed.

Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade seating guide and viewing tips.

The nighttime parade that once graced Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland Park will now be featured at California Adventure Park during Pixar Fest (ends September 3, 2018).

For those of us familiar with the Main Street Electrical Parade, you’ll notice a bit of the catchy tune “remixed” into the opening song for Paint the Night as well as a makeover for the iconic Main Street Electrical Parade drum, now featured in Paint the Night.

 

Paint the Night has a fabulous soundtrack, with one of our family favorites— Owl City’s “When Can I See You Again?” The playful, upbeat song appropriately asks during the parade, “When can we do this again?” And by the end of the parade, you’ll be asking yourself the same thing.

Paint the Night Parade Seating

The parade route at California Adventure is much longer and wider than at neighboring Disneyland Park. My top tips for viewing Paint the Night at California adventure is to get reserved seats! Read all about reserved seating for Paint the Night Parade here.

Your Paint the Night Parade Seating Plan

If you want to see Paint the Night, and trust me you do, you have 3 options described below, plus options for reserved seating with a dining package.

Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.

1. Paint the Night Dining with Reserved Seating

Reserved dining for Paint the Night Parade 2018 is now open!

Don’t camp out for a minute longer than you need to! Beginning April 13, 2018, you can get a reserved seating area with a Paint the Night Parade Dining Package. Dine at various locations throughout California Adventure Park and return later to a premier viewing location with a fabulous view of the amazing floats. I recommend arriving at your reserved seating area at least 30 minutes before the parade begins for the best seating selection within that reserved space.

See all the reserved seating details for Disneyland Resort parades and shows here. 

2.  Hold a spot along the route at 6:00 pm.

This option is great for a medium to large size group with children and at least 2 adults or teens. Bring a towel, blanket, sheet or other item to mark off your spot along the parade route. You must remain with your things! You can’t just drop off a blanket and leave it there. If you have any concerns about your spot selection, ask a cast member if this is an ok place to view the parade. You don’t want to reserve a spot only to be kicked out later.

Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.

One adult or responsible teen needs to remain with your things the entire time. If you leave your blanket unattended, it will be removed. This is a good time to people watch, read a book or just relax. Adults can trade off during the waiting period. I’ll let you decide which place you’d rather be—taking the rest of the crew on rides or chilling out on your blanket.
Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.
6:00 pm sounds way early for a night parade, and it is but many people will start saving seats after dinner. You on the other hand, already have your seat and can send someone else in the group to grab dinner and bring it back picnic style.
Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.

 3. Walk Up Spots at 8:00 pm or 9:30 pm

This option is great for a group of 2 or 3, especially an adults only group because it is highly unlikely you will be very close to the action. Be on the look out for any gaps along the parade route where you can stand. Keep an eye open for elevated background spots which will still allow you to see the large floats on display.
Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.
Since you likely won’t be sitting or holding a spot, you won’t need to trade off or bring any extra gear to mark your territory.

More Paint the Night Tips

 Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.
1. Above all, stay calm. When I went to grab seats for me and my 3 kids (the rest of our group had already called it a day) about 6:00 pm, almost everything was taken. I was determined to find something that would work for us and when I found a teeny vacant spot with room just big enough for a stroller, I wedged it in there and asked that wonderful mom I spoke about earlier if she wouldn’t mind claiming the stroller as her own so I could take my kids on a few more rides. I also offered her unlimited access to the sealed drinks and snacks we had stored in the stroller, she agreed and we were on our way.
unnamed-2Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.
2. Be kind. Everyone is visiting Disneyland to make wonderful memories with their family and friends, to escape real life for a few moments and remember what it feels like to be a kid. If you have space to spare, share. If you’re bored because you’ve been sitting there for hours, strike up a conversation, you never know who you might meet.
3. And this tip, while controversial, helped us a bit on our trip. I gave my kids soda—with caffeine. Mind you my oldest was 11 and youngest was 5. This was the first time they’ve had a coke to drink, so judge if you must but keep it to yourself ;). They each were allowed a few ounces of “Mom’s drink” (soda people, SODA!) that evening so I wouldn’t be carrying 3 sleeping children out of the park that night. Worked like a charm and now the only thing we’re thinking as we look back on our Paint the Night experience is . . . “When can we do this again?”
Disneyland's Paint the Night Parade with seating guide and viewing tips.
What was your seating strategy for Paint the Night? Did you love it as much as I did? Tell us about it!

Disneyland expert who also loves the beach, flip flops and pink nail polish.

47 Comments

  • Rosanne

    Hi,
    I have a question regarding the Paint the Night DiningPackage- I booked one for Carthay Circle with the reserved viewing area seating. I want to know if it’s possible to watch the fireworks after the parade, since there won’t be any time to relocate, as the fireworks will start almost right after. Pls advise, thnx!

    • Hi Rosanne, you can see a limited view of fireworks from that area. You can actually catch the fireworks from almost everywhere in the Disneyland Resort with some slight adjustments. As you go to your reserved space for the parade, ask the Cast Member there as well for their tips. I hope you enjoy the parade and dinner!

  • Katelyn

    Hello – I am confused about some of the posted hours and maybe you can help. We are going the first week of Pixar fest. On Wednesday April 18th the Entertainment schedule lists Paint the Night at 845 pm…. but California Adventure park hours until 8:00 pm…. how it that possible?

    Thanks
    Katie

    • Hi Katelyn, yes California Adventure often does night entertainment after the park has officially closed. So you simply stay in the park and get settled for the parade, you just won’t be able to ride attractions during the parade. 🙂

    • Hi Shari, I am so glad you asked! The best solution for this could serve 2 purposes. I absolutely recommend doing the Aladdin’s Oasis to-go dining package which will give you reserved seats for the parade. A couple things to note: Paint the Night is not playing right now. Currently running is Main Street Electrical Parade, but that may change depending on your visit dates. The other thing is you likely won’t be able to book 30 people to eat at one time (but Aladdin’s Oasis certainly can fit that many people, so a call to Disneyland dining is something you may try). My suggestion is to get those reservations made at the 60 days out mark if possible and stagger the times. Break up the students into groups for eating, others can experience nearby attractions like Indiana Jones and Enchanted Tiki Room. Then you can all enjoy the parade together in one reserved area. The cost is decent and well worth it for a group this size. I’d love to talk more details with you via email, so look out for a message from me soon. And you deserve a churro (or two!) for taking on such an endeavor! Way to go Shari!

  • Diana G

    Hello!
    I´m planning my visit to Disneyland on July 4th, so I want to make sure I have a great view of the parade and fireworks. However, the Aladdin´s Oasis (which is the menu that most likely my kids will eat) only has reservations at 6:15. Does that mean that I have to stay there for 430 hours before the parade begins? Or can I go out and eat and ride, and then come back for the parade? Thank you so much for your advice!

    • Hi Diana! I am so glad you were able to get a reservation even on the 4th of July. The grab and go at Aladdin’s Oasis is just that! You grab your meal, eat it there or wherever you please. Then you return to the parade seating area about an hour before the parade begins. No need to sit around for hours! Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you plan your visit.

  • Lisa

    This may be a silly question….but if we get the Paint the night grab and go package….we can get the food earlier in the evening then still have our spots for later, yes? I can’t wait until 8 to eat!

    • Lisa, yes you have it right! Grab and go means you pick it up at the time of your selected reservation. You eat it where ever you’d like and then head to the reserved seating area later. Let me know if you decide on it. 🙂

  • Merrissa

    Hi Jessica, great post. I hope you are still answering questions. My first visit to Disneyland was 19 years ago when I was a senior in high school. I’m excited to be visiting again in July. I live in Florida so I get to visit Disney World several times a year. I’m excited to experience Paint the Night and made a reservation for myself and boyfriend at Blue Bayou. Our reservation is at 6:30pm, would that allow us to watch the 8:50 parade? And if so what time should we be at the preferred seating area to get a seat? Also I wanted to know if you have taken part in Take a Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour, if so what are your views? Also I’m a huge Dopey fan is he out for pictures if so where?
    Thanks Merrissa

    • Hey Merrissa! I’m so excited for your first visit in such a long time! I think a 6:30 reservation is the latest I’d do to still make the parade. I would stop by Blue Bayou about 30 minutes early and check in (and ask for a table by the water).

      Once you’re done with dinner, head over to your reserved seating area (be there by 8) to get as close to the front as possible. The entire reserved area is fabulous, but the first couple rows of people will sit and the rest stand.

      Walt’s Footsteps Tour is on my list of things to do. In looking at recent reviews, it seems that you will not see Walt’s apartment over Main St. but see the Dream Suite instead. I’ve heard the historical audio that plays along with the tour is very powerful in transporting you back in time. I’d love to interview you afterward if you decide to take the tour.

      As far as Dopey, I’ve never seen him at Disneyland before! So sad! Be sure to download the Disneyland app and play with it before to get an idea of when/where characters roam the park.

      Don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions. I’ll also be around a few times in July so be sure to say hi if you see me!

      • Merrissa, I’ve just updated the post with some info that might be important for your July visit. It seems that reservations after 4pm will be given seating to the later parade. Double check your reservations so you’re eating at the time you want and still seeing which parade you’re hoping for. 🙂

  • Venessa

    Hi, thank you for a great post. We are travelling to LA from Sydney and visiting Disneyland in July. If we book Blue Bayou to get the preferred seating for the parade would we be able to stay in that spot and still get a good view of the fireworks? or would we need to move? also does the cost of Blue Bayou vs Aladinn’s Oasis indicate a better view of the parade/ fireworks?

    • Vanessa, thank you for writing. I am so excited you’re coming to enjoy Disneyland from Australia. The Blue Bayou dining package is priced higher for a few of reasons:
      1. Blue Bayou is Disneyland park’s finest restaurant.
      2. The location and ambiance can’t be beat. It’s a special dining experience many people enjoy nestled inside the Pirates attraction.
      3. You’ll find that the cost of a regular meal there vs. the cost of Paint the Night dining isn’t much different, which makes it an even better value.
      4. The reserved spot for Paint the Night with Blue Bayou is one of the most coveted spots along the route, and even more popular for fireworks viewing. You can remain right where you are to view the fireworks and projections on Main Street, the only difference is most people stand for the fireworks and move a bit to the center of Main Street.

      Firework viewing (read more about all the fireworks locations here) from that spot will be incredible and unforgettable. It’s a great choice! Please let me know if I can be of any more help. Enjoy!

      • Venessa

        Thank you for your reply, we are still 52 days away from our travel to the US but all very excited!
        I have booked the Blue Bayou package for one of our evenings. It is a little costly but given this trip isn’t one we will be taking again for a long time if at all we want to make the most of it.

  • Jamie

    Hello! I’m not sure if you’re still answering questions here but we are going in a few weeks and were wondering if you buy the on-the-go option, where is the preferred seating located? Thank you!

    • Hi Jamie, yes absolutely! Always answering questions and updating posts so you’ll get current information on our site even if the post was published way back! On-the-go option is from Aladdin’s Oasis. You can eat your food anywhere you’d like or take it to your preferred viewing area which is right by “it’s a small world”. You will love this spot for the parade viewing and also for the Disneyland Forever Fireworks that show afterward. I will also update the post to make this detail more clear. Please let me know if you have any other questions and enjoy!

      • Jamie

        Thank you so much for your reply! We are excited to take our 2 kids for their 1st visit here in a couple of weeks. 🙂

        • First visits are so exciting! Be sure to grab a first visit pin when you arrive (you can find them at City Hall and sometimes other shops and guest services will have them on hand.)

  • Sara Holt

    Great info! Thanks so much! I have a question, I was possibly going to do the reserve seating dining packages for the world of color and the parade but I will have a 1 year old and a 2 year old with us and was wondering if you knew if they charge full price for that age? Thanks so much!
    Sara

    • Sara, such an important question! Thanks for asking. Kids ages 2 and under are free with any dining reservations but need to be included in the party number due to fire codes. This assumes that the children will share dinner with a parent, but you are welcome to order something for them off the children’s menu, in which case you will pay for their meal. In short, with Paint the Night and World of Color, you will not be required to pay the full fee for kids 2 and under. I hope you enjoy your meals and your Disneyland vacation.

      • Sara Holt

        Thanks so much for your info! I really appreciate it! We are surprising my 8 year old and are going to tell her in the car on the way. She is gonna flip out! So excited!

        • I can’t resist surprising my kids either! But they’ve gotten pretty good at playing detective. So now I have surprise elements to the trips instead. I’d love to hear how it goes and what you think of the dining packages. Have fun!

  • Jill

    Thanks for all the tips (especially the coke tip!) I’m considering the grab and go reserved seating for the paint the night parade. We’re going on a Thursday in May do you think it’s necessary since it’s not a peak day? It’ll just be me and my 5 year old and I want to avoid being trapped on a blanket for hours since there won’t be anyone to swap out with.

    • Hey Jill! It’s certainly more do-able to squeeze in any spot you can find if it’s just the two of you. I tend to get nervous once I see lots and lots of people saving spots though. You could also bring a small towel and put it by someone and kindly ask them if they don’t mind claiming it while you and your son get something to eat (or ride some rides!). For last minute spots to actually sit down I think you’ll have better success if you avoid Main Street. Start near “it’s a small world” and work your way toward Main Street. If you haven’t found anything by then, the elevated areas near the fire station or train station could work in a pinch. I hope your son enjoys his coca-cola ;).

  • Jen

    Thank you for this post. We just booked our paint the night dinner package with the Blue Bayou for our early May trip. I see you suggest arriving to the seating area a full hour before the parade starts. This will be my son’s first trip to Disneyland for his 5th birthday. My husband and I are the only ones taking him. Is there a good curb area in the preferred seating area for my kiddo? I’m excited to see this parade after your review. I also grew up sitting on the curb and watching the Electric Light Parade. Very special memories. Really looking forward to our trip…it’s been almost 20 years since my last visit. 🙁 A little anxious about navigating all the changes and trying to remember to just have fun. 🙂

    • Hey Jen, so exciting that you’re taking your 5 year old for the first time! The Paint the Night reserved seating with Blue Bayou covers the curbed and sidewalk area on Main Street. Basically, whoever arrives first will get those curb seats. Generally, the row behind them will sit and after that it’s standing room. It’s smart to bring a small towel or jacket to mark off your space even in the reserved area. There are tons of shops nearby on Main Street so you can always wander the shops with your son while one of you keeps your space in the reserved area. Enjoy your visit and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.

  • Sylvia White

    Looking foward to updated tips once the Dining packages are available. We’re going in March and are definitely considering at least once to make sure we get a good spot but don’t have to camp out all day.

        • Hi MaryAnn, thanks for reminding me to update this post. I have now added menu pricing and details. I hope you find this helpful for planning your trip. Feel free to email me with any questions. I am always happy to help out my readers. Let me know what you decide; I’d love to hear about your experience.

          • MaryAnn Rogers

            Thanks so much for the update! Another question… If you have a dinner reservation at the carnation cafe during the parade, would you be able to see the parade well? Do you know?

          • This is not an ideal viewing spot for a few reasons. There is indoor and outdoor seating at Carnation Cafe; inside you won’t be able to see at all as the dining room is tucked in the back. With outdoor seating you will be seated in a narrow section with potentially more diners in your view. Plus, there is a small path in between the restaurant and reserved parade seating where people will be walking, blocking your view. Then beyond that is the section for Blue Bayou reserved seating. The first couple rows of those people will sit, but behind that they will stand. So basically, even if you get the best seat at Carnation Cafe (stop by about an hour before your reservation and ask), you will only be able to view the very top of the floats. They are large, but I would only recommend this if you have seen the parade at least once before and just want to experience the ambiance. If it’s an adult only group, you’ll be much less disappointed with this viewing option. Pros? You will definitely hear the music with a nice place to actually sit in a chair with some good food, and after you’re done dining you can head right out on Main Street for fireworks.

        • I just realized that I forgot to thank you for the info you took the time to give me on Carnation Cafe during the parade. We have reservations for next week for Paint the Night on-the-go dinner. I am so glad that I stumbled onto your blog from Pinterest, because I had never even heard about this and had never seen it on the disney website! It seems like a lot of money to pay for a mediocre meal (there are 7 of us!), but my husband and I keep telling ourselves that we aren’t paying for the food. We are paying to be able to see the parade without having to spend hours apart while someone saves our spot! Thank you so much for the time that you take to write such great info. I will let you know how it all goes!

          • Anytime MaryAnn! I am glad you decided on the on-the-go package. I have heard great things about it. And yes, that’s how I like to look at it too- paying for the reserved space. If the food happens to be great, then even better! I hope it all goes well and look forward to hearing about it. If you take any pictures of your viewing area, I’d love to include them on this post. Enjoy your Disneyland vacation!

  • Jessica

    Hi there, we’re planning to be in the park 12/20-12/22 and this will be our first time seeing this parade. The new show times will be 5:45pm and 10:45pm, and the Holiday parade is at 1pm and 3:15pm. Any suggestions for seating? I’m thinking to grab seats as soon as the 1pm people leave and stay there through both parades? Do you have a certain viewing area that you prefer? I know it will be VERY crowded but we are going to make the most of it 🙂

    • You’ve already got the right idea . . . make the most of it! :). I agree that grabbing some seats about 1:45pm-2:00pm is a great plan, take turns standing guard of your spot for the 5:45 showing of Paint the Night.

      Favorite viewing spot is definitely the area just across from Pixie Hollow on the side of the castle, all the way to Matterhorn. In this area you can find benches or a short wall to sit on or lean against, with a small brick area in front.

      I love this spot because it gives adults a place to actually sit, and then the kids can sit on the ground. It’s also nice because it’s a very narrow area so no one can try to sneak in behind you. Simply block off your space with a blanket or sheet for as wide as you need it. A stroller on one side or the other also helps to set boundaries. Believe me, people will be wall to wall, there will be no wiggle room so block off the space you want.

      I am adding a photo to the post with this location along with 2 other alternatives. As you walk by this area throughout the day, take note on where you’d like to set up shop when the time comes. Enjoy your Holiday vacation at Disneyland and send us some pictures when you get back :).

    • Hi Stephanie, I'm glad you found it helpful. Please send me an email if there's anything I can do to help in your planning process and be sure to check back as your trip gets closer for any updates.

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