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Today in Disney History: Electrical Water Pageant Celebrates 40 Years at Walt Disney World Resort

Jennifer Fickley-Baker

by , Editorial Content Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

“Water will also serve as a ‘stage’ in Walt Disney World. Lakeside and on the lagoon, fireworks shows and water spectacles will be presented – even including special ‘parades.’”

These words printed in the 1970 “Walt Disney World Preview” book certainly ring true when you think of the Electrical Water Pageant, which launched in 1971 and marks 40 years of shows today, Oct. 26.

Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World Resort

When Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971, a series of grand-opening ceremonies took place: One for Magic Kingdom Park, one for each resort (then the Contemporary Resort Hotel and Polynesian Village) and one for the Polynesian Luau show. The Electrical Water Pageant, originally called “Electrical Pageant,” debuted as a part of these various grand opening celebrations.

Much like today, the first pageant consisted of 14 barges that pull 25-foot-tall floats across Seven Seas Lagoon. Each float features illuminated characters, such as a whale, turtle, sea horse and a multi-float sea serpent. During the second half of the show, these floats switch to display illuminated American flags and stars.

Electrical Water Pageant at Walt Disney World Resort

Not only did the pageant wow guests, making it a regular sight on Seven Seas Lagoon, but it’s success also inspired the creation of another innovative guest draw – the Main Street Electrical Parade, which opened at Disneyland in 1972. Incidentally, the parade’s signature track “Baroque Hoedown,” was originally featured in the Electrical Water Pageant. A compilation of music by Georg Freidrich Handel, and several other tracks, later replaced “Baroque Hoedown” in the pageant.

Today the show can be seen by guests (weather permitting) at resorts along the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake: Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

All entertainment is subject to change without notice.


  • Made sure to watch it every night during our last stay at the Poly – love it!

  • Those we so pretty walking out of magic kingdom!

  • My dad loved Disney World,always stayed at the Polynesian, and most of all loved the Electrical Water Pagent. He will be 100 on December 6, 2011 and though he cannot travel to the parks this year,myself, my son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter will be there to watch the Water Pagent for him(weather permitting)though we will be watching from Fort Wilderness.

  • Love the Parade even though it scared me half to death the 1st time we heard it. We were at Contemporary attached building rooms with a somewhat view of the lake, well after a full day of fun it was time to rest when out of know where that loud music starts and gave me a jump. lol Never got to see it till the next day when we asked the front desk what in the world was that!!!

  • This was the most amazing pleasant surprise we encountered when we stayed at the Grand Floridian. We’d been to Disney World a couple of times before then, but we never knew about this. Now even if we aren’t staying on the lakes, we try to make it over once to see the water parade. It’s wonderful that this ‘low key’ event has been going strong for so long. Now I just need to make sure I know what time it happens for our upcoming visit.

  • My husband, family and I have seen the water parade so many times we have lost count. Some years it is more than once. It never fails to thrill me when I see the first boat light up and the music begins. Thank you for providing such great entertainment!

  • One of my fondest memories from childhood. This used to be a must see on every trip, which wasn’t hard as we used to stay at the Contemporary. I have not seen it in my last several visits, but this hopefully this December I will!

  • We love to camp at Fort Wilderness and watch the parade almost every night! It never gets old! One of my sons always wants to get hot chocolate (no matter which season) and go watch the parade every night. It’s a great tradition for my family. We’ve been watching since about 2003.

  • Have loved this since my grandmother introduced me to the Contemporary in 1977. Have since shared it with my children who also love it. My son got to enjoy it on his honeymoon at Bay Lake towers. Will be sure to see it tonight!

  • many, many years ago I was thrilled to find myself working as a Park Greeter at MK for a summer. Even though I’d been to the parks hundreds of times growing up, I never knew the Water Pageant existed. Then one evening as guests were lining up to view the fireworks I saw the floats drift onto the water. It was so exciting to see something new. In a few short weeks I’ll be taking my family to the Poly for our annual trip, hopefully they’ll have a chance to see something new too – maybe even the water pageant.

  • I love the water pageant! We spent many nights at Fort Wilderness in my grandparents’ motorhome as I was growing up and we took the tram down to the marina almost every night to watch it. I have very sweet memories of sitting with my grandma in the sand and watching the parade. Such a small thing, but so loved. Thank you, Disney, for continuing to show it year after year. It’s part of the magic that brings us back time and time again.

  • Still have not been able to enjoy this show yet, but looking forward to my stay at the Poly (in 2013 :( ) so I can finally catch it!

  • I love this!! Saw it last year out first time staying on site at the Grand Floidian the first night we were at Disney!

  • LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! I even get excited watching it when it’s docked(when you take the monorail to the MK). I loved this so much i recorded it one year on my sister’s boom box(sorry, it WAS the 80s after all) and played the casette over and over. First time I saw it I felt like a big kid because it made the last round at the Contemporary around 10:30 and we were staying at one of the wings and it was summer time so my sister and I could stay up to watch it(and Taxi, which was on ABC at the time) I barely made it. An excellent view. Super close and it seemed so private. My husband and I caught it during our honeymoon 7 years ago. When we have children we will surely make sure he/she sees it.

  • Thank you! We haven’t seen this show for YEARS! We always seem to be somewhere else at MK regular park hours closing times. I’ll need to put this on the must do list for our next trip :)

    • You’re welcome. :)

  • This is an annual tradition for our family. We discovered a “secret” spot to view the Pageant at Ft. Wilderness, and my girls, 15 and 12, and were around 10 months old at their first visits, never fail to be amazed at the magic! Happy Birthday, Electrical Water Pageant- see ya real soon!

  • We went for a family trip in december 2009 and got an unexpected chance to see this show. We were wainting for a table at a grand floridian restaurant and heard some music coming from the water and looked over to see the water pageant making its way by. It was a nice entertainment while waiting for dinner!

  • do you have one more star that i might wish apon i wish i could work with the artist c. money

  • Wow. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Disney World but in all my 10 visits I have never even heard of such a thing. I have stayed at The Polynesian and The Contemporary and still had no idea. That’s ok, the next time I visit I will just add it to the list of firsts I will be experiencing, such as the Little Mermaid ride and the revamped Snow White ride!

    • Sounds great. Weather can have a big impact on the show, so be sure to check with your resort front desk about showtimes.

  • The Electrical Water Pageant is my FAVOURITE show at Walt Disney World and has been since I first visited in 1972. Attractions and shows are phased in-and-out and tweaked at WDW, but this is one thing I hope will always remain constant. I LOVE IT!

    • Great.

  • For my family, every Disney World trip includes a visit to the beaches of the Polynesian to watch the Electrical Water Pageant and the fireworks over Cinderella Castle. In 2007, my girlfriend and I sat atop Sunset Point and watched the pageant shortly before I proposed during Wishes. Last month, my wife and I were able to take our 4 month old baby boy to that very spot. He enjoyed the pageant, as well 😉

  • I’ve seen this waiting for the bus to go back to the resort. I never realized it had a name…

  • It’s so nice that some things never change! Watching the Electrical Water Pageant and the Main Street Electrical Parade are some of my earliest memories as a kid (seeing Elliott, Pete’s Dragon, was a HUGE highlight!) It’s so neat to now be able to share these timeless classics with the next generation in our family.

    • Good to hear. :)

  • This parade has not changed much since I first saw it back in 1993. It never disappoints! I love it. I get excited when I can see it coming around from the Grand Floridian, passing the Polynesian (where I usually catch it) disappearing onto Bay Lake and then reappearing in front of the Contemporary.

  • Ive got the record release from the original soundtrack… BUT am curious will you all release the current water pageant soundtrack either as a free download or a paid release? Would love to have the entire show on my mp3 player! :)

  • Just returned from WDW vacation at Fort Wilderness cabins. Loved viewing the water pageant from the beach and the Cali Grill restaurant. Please keep this unique and beloved attractions!

  • I’m a huge Disneyland know it all, but when it came to going to WDW, I had no idea what to do and where to see everything! One night, we were waiting to watch the fireworks outside of the Grand Floridian and much to my surprise, this show that look just like the Main St. Electrical Parade comes out… On the lagoon!! I enjoyed it so much, it was such a fun “pre-show”! 😀

    • Good to hear, Ashley!

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