By Yvette Armendariz

Four dazzling nighttime shows are returning to the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks just in time for summer vacation. And, suddenly, life feels a little more back to normal.

“Main Street Electrical Parade” and “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular now (note: as of April 22) ignite the night at Disneyland, while the lively fountains and projections of “World of Color” delight at California Adventure. Meanwhile, “Fantasmic!” – with pyrotechnics and live performers – is set to return May 28 to Disneyland on its regular schedule.

For regulars anticipating the return of the twice-nightly electric parade, make sure to stay through the grand finale for the seven-part float that stretches 118 feet. It is inspired by the original parade floats and “it’s a small world” art style, and it brings to life more than a dozen Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films.

Do not leave without watching the newest fireworks spectacle “Disneyland Forever,” featuring immersive projections, which launches at 9:30 p.m. weekend nights in the spring and then goes on nightly over the summer. “Mickey’s Mix Magic” light projection show takes place on weekday nights during the spring.

Please check entertainment schedule for specific times/dates for each show. You can find it online to help you plan your trip (information is posted six weeks in advance) or check your app while in the park.

But before you pack your bag – especially if you haven’t been in a while – get online to find out the latest park protocols for masks and ticket reservations so you are not surprised. Details: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/experience-updates/

Make the most of your visit: 

  • Online park reservations remain a must. Staying at a Disney hotel does not guarantee entry. When you buy your tickets, reserve your park. As of April 1, no California Adventure tickets were available for most days through the end of May, and both parks were sold out on a few dates (May 4, 13, 20 and 31).
  • Download the Disneyland app – it is your ticket to making mobile food orders, getting on restaurant walk-up lists (if you did not make a reservation), ride times and more! Let me just say, mobile orders are awesome. Select your food and pick up time while in a ride line to maximize your visit.
  • Get Genie+ Service for $20 per ticket if you do not like lines. This lets you enter the Lightning Lane (the new FastPass) once per attraction per day at a set time. But be aware, not all rides have a Lightning Lane and some popular rides (WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure, Radiator Springs Racers, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) have an added cost of $15-$20 per person. Also, once those reservation times are gone, they are gone.
  • Make reservations for dining experience up to 60 days in advance. But check leading up to your trip, in case others cancel, opening up a spot for you.
  • Bring hand fans or cooling towels to help you beat the heat

Tips for grads

  • Disney offers a great backdrop for graduation pics – Paradise Pier, Toon Town, Cars Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and more! Some ideas to celebrate you this milestone – from making it through preschoolers or kindergarten to graduating high school or college.

o   Arrive early to avoid crowds, get good light, and stay cool.

o   Utilize PhotoPass, which comes with Genie+, to capture images on select rides and popular locations (you know, where you see the photo castmates). Be sure to ask your photographer to add a little magic for a fun surprise in some of your pics.

o   Select locations based on some of your memories when they were little, especially for your older graduates.

o   Consider buying graduation Mickey ears!

o   Bring a change of shoes and/or clothes. You’ll want comfy shoes for walking from location to location. And depending on the graduate’s clothing choice, you may want to change that after you are ready for rides.

Yvette Armendariz is a former award-winning business journalist and mom of two young adults. She remains a kid at heart and regularly sets off on Disney vacations.

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