Show goes on for trio of theme park parades

Parade lovers will have one less option at Orlando's theme parks soon. The Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun, an afternoon staple at Disney's Hollywood Studios, calls it quits on Saturday.

Walt Disney World decided last month that the Countdown, which features characters from movies such as "Toy Story" and "It's a Bug's Life," and sister attraction "Disney Channel Rocks" would be discontinued. That leaves just three daily theme-park parades in Central Florida. (See story on page xx for details about these final performances.)

I'm a drop-by parade watcher. I've never claimed a curb seat hours in advance for the parade to pass me by, but I'm glad that the sidewalks along the routes are filled with onlookers. Many people at the parade means that many people aren't in the queue with me elsewhere.

Disney hasn't announced a replacement parade for Hollywood Studios, so let's take stock of our parade inventory.

So far, safari

What: Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

Where: Disney's Animal Kingdom

When: Afternoons, daily (Check park guide for exact time.)

Since when: Oct. 1, 2001

What you'll see: This is a fully themed production with characters in safari wear; stilt walkers in creative, animal-inspired costumes; drummers atop floats; and dancers complete with canteens and pith helmets.

What you might like: The 8-foot, rolling puppets that resemble curious animals such as giraffes, Disney characters aboard their themed floats (Donald Duck's is nautical, for instance) and the catchy soundtrack that's not straight out of a Disney film.

What you might wonder about: Do the guests riding on the parade floats tire of the nonstop waving and grinning? Should the puppeteers "driving" the puppet be waving at me?

You'll know it's over when: Mickey Mouse brings up the rear in his own tricked-out Jeep.

Dream team

What: Celebrate a Dream Come True

Where: Magic Kingdom

When: 3 p.m. daily

Since when: Jan. 23, 2009, although there were earlier, similar incarnations with similar names.

What you'll see: This is a cavalcade of Disney characters in party hats and on the loose in Frontierland and up Main Street USA plus a slew of color-coordinated dancers.

What you might like: Mash-up pairings of characters allows unlikely friends such as Aladdin, Dumbo and Mary Poppins to interact (They can fly!). This extends as well to the soundtrack, which melds songs from Disney films with the overarching "Anything Is Possible" musical theme. (Again, they can fly!)

What you might wonder about: Would Disney villains really do "jazzhands"? Why do all the female dancers have the same haircut? Why does Peter Pan get to sit down throughout the route?

You'll know it's over when: The giant staircase float hauling key princesses and their mates thunders by.

Show stoppers

What: Universal's Superstar Parade

Where: Universal Studios

When: Afternoons, daily (Check park guide for exact time.)

Since when: May 8, 2012

What you'll see: The theme park's first-ever daily parade showcases four films and TV shows: "Hop," "Despicable Me," "Dora the Explorer" and "SpongeBob SquarePants." Each segment has characters and bright-costumed performers with customized props that are used when the parade halts to put on a short show.

What you might like: Dora's swinging monkey friends; the yellow, goggled, dancing minions; and the percussionists and pogo-stick guys from "Hop." (Bonus like: The floats and characters also make meet-and-greet appearances during the day.)

What you might wonder about: Why is the transition from parade to show stop so long? Is "I Want Candy" appropriate theme-park fare? Am I overthinking this?

You'll know it's over when: Dora's cargo-panted dancers sashay by. or 407-420-5477

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