It started out after DH and I grabbed fast passes for the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The heat and sun were getting to us. We were running out of the water and the Gatorade we brought into the park. So, we decided to duck into the Tusker House to relax, cool off, and get some cold lemonade until our fast pass time. It was pretty busy in there. So as we stood around looking for a table, a wonderful Cast Member approached us. She asked how our day was and if we had planned to watch the parade. We hadnÂ´t given the parade much thought. ItÂ´s a lovely parade, but weÂ´ve seen it before and arenÂ´t really “parade people.” Plus, we have Safari fast passes. Not discouraged by our response, she asked if we would be interested in being in the parade. DH immediately told her no assuming weÂ´d be dancing and/or walking the entire time. I asked the lady to wait while I convince DH to do it. See, I was operating under another assumption…the correct one. I knew weÂ´d be riding on a float under shade. Once the CM and I got this message through to DH, he agreed to do it. I really think the heat was getting to him; he was tired and possibly dehydrated. The nice CM asked us to meet her at [3:30]PM after we gave her our names.
We then realized we had about 40 minutes or so to kill. We thought we had maybe enough time to use our fast pass and meet the CM at [3:30]PM (Oh, I wish I remembered her name! I do remember she was from New Jersey.) We went over to the Safari with our fast passes….and whoa….the line was LONG! Yes, it was the fast pass line we were looking at. Not wanting to wait in that line, we headed back to Tusker House. We decided that weÂ´ll try using it after the parade. It would give us more time to sit and relax in the shade.
The time arrives! We notice we are not the only couple waiting outside the gates. There were about 4-5 groups that were riding in the parade that afternoon: 2 couples, 1 family of 4, and a large group speaking Spanish. Though, I wasnÂ´t sure if they were Cuban or Puerto Rican. I did understand more than I thought I would. Go Public School Spanish! We were the first asked to go “backstage.” They offered us a locker to place our belongings, and they gave us the key. We then got fitted for our safari gear. Everyone got Safari Vests and Safari Mouse Ears. I wore a blue vest with red safari ears. DH opted to go blue and blue. While we waited for the parade to load up behind the gates, everyone was offered a bench to sit down on and some cold tap water to drink. We were given ear plugs at this point. They explained they would be taking a picture of us with a disposable camera on the float as we crossed the gate opening. They then would give that camera to us. We are then informed weÂ´ll be on the Gator Float (itÂ´s blue); and we are escorted to the float. We climbed aboard and buckled ourselves in.
We are then introduced to several CMs backstage while the parade got ready: the young woman who was peddling our float, a safari dancer (who is from Puerto Rico), a parade coordinator, etc. It was those 3 that convinced us that maybe wearing those ear plugs they gave us would be a good idea. So, we put them in. (Later on, weÂ´re grateful.) I engaged BrÂ´er Rabbit in some chit chat. I asked him if had found his LaughinÂ´ Place. He indicated “no.” So, I then told him about Frontierland (thatÂ´s Louland to us DWTers) where he may find it. I kept turning around and waving to Goofy who was on the float behind us, he kept waving back to me. After talking to BrÂ´er Rabbit, he and BrÂ´er Bear went off to the side playing with each other. Chip and Dale were up to no good as usual. It was really fun seeing everyone “backstage,” but still very much in character. After all, there were children riding in the parade too.
ItÂ´s go time! And weÂ´re off! The parade starts. Once we reached the gate, the music for our float is turned on. We could hear it just fine with the ear plugs. Glad we took their suggestion. The nice CM lady takes 2 pictures for us and then hands us the camera. Wow…this is an interesting way to do a parade. We spent the next 35 minutes constantly waving and smiling per our instructions. At times DH and I jammed in unison to the music on the float, but he wouldnÂ´t do it with me the entire time. He tried to concentrate on waving to small children or people who didnÂ´t seem to be enjoying themselves; whereas, I was waving at everyone…especially those already smiling and waving. We especially waved to people wearing there mouse ears by saying “love you ears!” From the parade route, we took a few pictures. We got a nice one of the Tree of Life from the float. I donÂ´t know how people can smile constantly for 35 minutes. Our cheeks hurt! LOL! ItÂ´s was definitely a lot of fun.
The AK parade loops around Discovery Island. So on our way back into Harambe, we noticed the crowds had thinned out. We enter inside the backstage gates on our float. They kill the music. We get off the float and stand off to the side. I get pictures of the rest of the floats as they come into the gates. Donald waved and blew me a kiss. They thanked us for being in the parade, and we thanked them for the opportunity. We return our gear and gathered our belongings from the locker. We said goodbye to everyone and headed back into the park to the Safari ride with our fast passes. I then used up the rest of the film on the disposable they gave us on the Safari ride.
People often wonder how people get picked for the parade. IÂ´m still not entirely sure. DH and I enjoy wearing our mouse ears, but we didnÂ´t that day due to the AKÂ´s heat. We didnÂ´t even wear matching shirts. As a matter of fact, DH had on a very dark POTC shirt and dark cargo shorts which I think contributed to his heat issues. I was wearing a blue/white striped Mickey/Minnie boat necked shirt with coordinating khaki colored skort. Many people had on Disney clothes. So, it wasnÂ´t our clothes or hats. IÂ´m starting to slowly realize that despite what we wear to the parks, many CMs just assume the two of us are on our honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary. Complete strangers approach us…they assume the same thing. This has happened on all of our trips. So, we must give off honeymoon/anniversary vibes. Or everyone just assumes that is the only reason a couple without children would visit WDW. So, I offer no advice for getting picked to be a parade. We had a great time! This is will be a wonderful WDW memory for us. How often do you get to be in a parade? Just remember if the opportunity is ever presented to you, GRAB IT! DonÂ´t be like my DH! LOL