History of Light: The First Performance of The Electrical Water Pageant
A bit of a follow up from my last post….
The culmination of the dedication ceremonies for the Polynesian Village Resort featured the first performance of WDW’s Electrical Water Pageant. Although important for the history of the Vacation Kingdom, this new show has wider implications for a majority of Disney’s parks around the world. The reason being, THIS was the first use of the Baroque Hoedown music. Music, that would find itself as part of one of Disney’s most well known and iconic parades: The Main Street Electrical Parade, which has had performances in every Magic Kingdom park, save for Hong Kong. Although remastered and rerecorded for the parade’s many versions the 1966 synthesizer piece by Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley is now one of the archetypical sounds of Disney culture and history. A year after its Florida debut, in 1972, the music was adapted for the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade, which was only a series of flat, hand pushed, “floats” with lighted designs of Disney characters. In 1977, the music would come home to Walt Disney World with the full version the parade we know today. Later, Disneyland Paris would gain a iteration, and Tokyo Disneyland would adapt the parade into a more orchestral version called “Dreamlights”. Disney’s California Adventure even used the parade in its heady early years, headlining it as “A California Classic”. The parade might be, yes, but the music remains, originally, from Florida.
The Electrical Water Pageant has many important implications closer to home, too. Essentially the first large entertainment spectacular in Disney World, the show illustrates how different the early Vacation Kingdom presented itself to guests. With the Magic Kingdom closing early in the evening, often at 6 PM, it was expected that guests (most of them staying on Disney property) would retire to their hotels and resorts and would find entertainment there. Both the Polynesian and the Contemporary hosted large venues with music and dancing, and many forms of recreation were held on the Seven Seas Lagoon. But the unifying event of the evening was the Electrical Water Pageant, a spectacle unlike most. Synthesized music, glittering, animated floats, set against the bucolic beauty of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom at night.
While a cornerstone for Disney’s entertainment history, the Electrical Water Pageant is one of the largely unique pieces of Walt Disney World heritage that defines the Florida venture as wholly its own.