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Under-rated Disney World: Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade

There are two kinds of people in the world; those who watch parades at Disney World and those who don’t.  I can definitely understand the argument for skipping the parades.  Lines for attractions are generally shorter while the parade is running.  If you want a decent viewing spot for the parade, you need to scope it out in advance.  Doing so eats up precious park time.

I don’t go too far out of my way to watch the parades.  But I do consider them to be part of the Disney experience.  Ideally, I like to take in at least one per trip.  Of the day-time parades currently running, my favorite has to be Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “must see”, but I do think it is definitely an under-rated Disney experience.

I can’t really have an intelligent discussion about a Disney World parade without first discussing the sorry state of parades these days.  Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade debuted in 2001.  The current day-time parade at the Magic Kingdom, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, debuted in 2009.  But really it has been tweaked and renamed several times.  In reality, the floats also date back to 2001.  Epcot and Hollywood Studios no longer have daytime parades.  The Countdown to Fun parade that was running at Hollywood Studios had its budget cut until it was embarrassingly bad.

It is also worth discussing why Animal Kingdom needs a day-time parade.  Animal Kingdom (along with Hollywood Studios) is considered by many Disney fans to be a half-day park.  While it is easy to spend an entire day at Animal Kingdom without running out of things to do, the “half-day park” criticism has some merit. 

Animal Kingdom is a hybrid between a theme park and a zoo.  But a lot of guests have very nice zoos within driving distance of their homes.  They aren’t as richly themed as Animal Kingdom.  But they can easily and cheaply scratch their itch to see animal exhibits.  This renders half the park redundant for a lot of guests.

If you go to Animal Kingdom for the rides, it’s a relatively paltry line-up.  Kilimanjaro Safaris is worth doing.  Expedition Everest which was designed to climax with an impressive animatronic that hasn’t worked for years.  Dinosaur is a bouncy dark ride through the dark.  Some of that darkness was by design, but the ride has gotten darker as effects broke or were turned off.  Kali River Rapids should be a fun raft ride, but it’s too short and too likely to drench guests to the point of discomfort.  Other than those three, there are a couple of cheap carnival-type rides in DinoLand.

Fortunately, Animal Kingdom has more going for it than just rides.  There are the aforementioned animal exhibits, a 3-D movie with in-house effects (as there is in every park), and several good shows.  Festival of the Lion King is arguably the best show on property.  But shows lack the repeatability of rides.  Which leaves repeat guests at Animal Kingdom feeling like there’s not enough for them to do.

Adding to the problem is the fact that Animal Kingdom lacks any kind of night-time event.  All of the other parks have some kind of fireworks show.  But fireworks would upset the live animals.  So Disney would need to come up with something else for Animal Kingdom.  To date, they have not.

The point I am getting at is that more than any other park at Disney World, Animal Kingdom needs a day-time parade to round out its offerings.  Fortunately, Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade is a good one.

 

The parade consists of several eye-catching elements.  There are five safari vehicles.  Each one is themed to on of the “Fab Five” Disney characters who rides atop the vehicle and waves to the crowd.  There are also four drum sculptures, three rickshaw taxis and eight elaborate animal puppets designed by Michael Curry Designs, the team responsible for the puppets in the Lion King show on Broadway.

The parade includes 16 Disney characters – all animals, ten stiltwalkers in elaborate animal costumes, and what Disney calls “party patrol”.  The party patrol interacts with the crowd encourage call-and-response and sing-alongs.  The characters on foot and stilt-walkers also interact with the crowd as they go.

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Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade isn’t a make-or-break experience.  If you’re not a parade person, it’s best to avoid it as it tends to block traffic for its 15-minute runtime.  But in the middle of a hot Florida afternoon (in a park known for being brutally hot) it’s a great way to unwind.

More importantly, it helps pad out a full day at a park that comes up a little short in the attractions department.

More Disney World

More Under-Rated Disney

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Posted on April 18, 2013, in Animal Kingdom, theme parks, Under-rated Orlando, Walt Disney World and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yeah, you know which kind of person I am.
    I made sure we were safely seated at a showing of The Festival of the Lion King specifically during the parade.
    It’s not that I hate parades all that much, it’s just that If you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time you don’t have any choice about whether you’re going to watch the parade or not. You know why ride lines are short during parades? Because gobs of people are trapped somewhere along the parade route and can’t get to the ride they’d like to.
    Seated at a meal is another good option.
    The Halloween parade did appeal to me, but I’m not sure I would tolerate repeated viewings.
    Not with rides nearby and the hours slipping away.
    tic toc tic toc

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    • I wouldn’t classify myself as a “parade person”, but I have stopped and watched my share of parades. More than once, it was because the parade blocked our path. The first time I saw MJJP, we were actually trying to leave the park and it prevented us from doing so. But we enjoyed it all the same.

      We accidentally walked into the Stars and Motorcars parade at Hollywood Studios back in 2003. If that parade were still around today, it would have been my choice. For whatever reason, a lot of people were critical of it. I always heard people describing it as “not Disney”. But I thought it was extremely cool.

      The night-time parades are on another level. I would put them on the same level as the best shows on property. Unfortunately, watching them can be a bit of a pain due to all the crowding.

      However, I definitely hear that ticking clock. So I don’t carve out a lot of time for parades. I came for the attractions first and foremost. The parades are there to cleanse the pallet. A good time to unwind, maybe have a snack, recharge and then hit the rides again.

      Before kids, I never prioritized parades. We only watched them when they were convenient or we had no choice. But with kids, I think they are an essential part of the experience.

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