Parades are one of the most popular attractions at the Disneyland Resort. Every day, people line the sidewalks of Disneyland Park's Main Street USA to stake out good viewing spots. It's not unheard of for people to get settled 60-90 minutes before the parade begins, taking turns with family members to get food or go to the restroom. We've done this many times, but now that the kids are older, they prefer to take advantage of decreased attraction wait times during parades. Besides, they've seen all the current parades anyway... or so we thought. At our most recent Disneyland visit, we discovered one of the resort's best-kept secrets: Disney California Adventure's Viva Navidad Street Party. It's festive and fun, and you can arrive with just five minutes to spare and still get a great viewing spot!
Viva Navidad is not really a parade, it's a street party that celebrates the music and dance traditions of Mexico and Brazil. The "parade" route is only about 100 meters and there is just one float. It's more like a 20-minute street performance with musicians and dancers, but it has a distinct parade-like feel. Singers and musicians march along a short "parade route", accompanying a single festive float, before settling in their performance spots.
The party opens up with a mariachi band and folklorico dancers. The Three Amigos. Donald, Sancho Panza and Jose Carioca dance and wave to the audience as their float makes its way down Paradise Pier.
After a while, the performers are joined by Brazilian samba dancers and drummers
The two groups perform separately and together in a seamless blend of rhythms and tunes that make everyone want to get up and dance! The performers do a great job interacting with the audience, especially the conga drummers who frequently invite kids to bang on their drums.
Throughout the performance, four 12-foot-tall mojiganga puppets weave their way around the musicians and dancers. A Mexican folklorico dancer, a Brazilian samba dancer, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus are colorful and beautiful and really add to the festive spirit.
At the height of the celebration, Mickey and Minnie arrive on tricycles and join the Three Amigos on the Float.
Everyone joins in the final musical number, an extended version of Feliz Navidad. By now, everyone in the audience is tapping their toes and singing (or taking photos and videos!).
The party ends in an explosion of confetti and cheers. Minnie and Mickey get back on their tricycles, and the giant puppets roll away as the dancers pull some kids and get them to dance.
Viva Navidad has several performances throughout the afternoon at Disney California Adventure (check the online schedule for the day of your visit). It only runs during the holiday season, so it's well worth 20 of your precious Disneyland minutes (okay, make it 35: 10 minutes to walk to the end of Paradise Pier, 5 minutes to wait, and 20 minutes to enjoy the actual event). The best place to watch is right in front of the Jumping Jellyfish ride and the adjacent bar, because that's where the float stops. The music is upbeat, the dancers are graceful, the costumes and floats are beautiful. Best of all, everyone is so joyous that you can't help become infected with their enthusiasm. It's a Can't Miss part of your Disney Holiday celebration!