Happy Independence Day!
Have you ever been to the Parks on the Fourth of July? What place is better to watch parades and fireworks than right in the center of all that Disney magic? Back in 1976, America celebrated its bicentennial and Disney made that celebration last all year long! If you were lucky enough to be in the Parks at that time (remember, there were only two!), both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom hosted the same giant, amazing, and bizarre parade.
Do you have a Disney collection? I like to collect Disney books, especially ones about the Parks! One of my prized possessions isn’t particularly rare as books go, but it is particularly relevant to my topic today. Disney’s America on Parade was a book released on both coasts to provide a bit of history along with pictures of the big parade. Several fold-out pictures describe the event through wide panoramic shots. A few of the pages have concept art and models of parade floats, too. Throughout, the text focuses on American history and how it helped to build the modern world of the 1970s.
It’s a fun book, especially considering it’s almost 150 pages long! You might already have enough history books on the shelf, but the real attraction is the pictures of the parade. I would love to find out more about the origins of this celebration, but this book does not focus on that. There are other materials out there if you want to know more.
The parade was truly a spectacle with giant, patriotic floats. Of course, Mickey and the gang are in their colonial garb on the float featuring an eagle, a flag, and a snare drum. The rest of the floats depict moments through American history like a Conestoga wagon and a steam train. No Disney characters on most of these floats, though. Instead, exaggerated, doll-like figures ride along in period costumes. Take a look. They’re a bit bizarre, right?
Even more bizarre were the floats describing modern America. The Disney characters are back, making sure we knew that people in the 1970s liked TV and movies. And junk food. I wish the book contained some full shots of the ice cream, hamburger, and sandwich-shaped floats, but alas! All I can share with you is this picture of the concept model.
The parade looked like a lot of fun, and I’m sure the fireworks were quite a spectacle every night. It’s too bad this whole celebration was a bit before my time. But I can always collect books like this to get a glimpse into the past of our favorite Parks!