10 Eye-Popping Disney Balloons, Floats at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Over The Years

Ella Kulak

by , Account Management Intern, Digital Integration

In just a few hours, the 97th  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will kick off the holiday season with exciting floats, bands and of course, famous character balloons.

With the parade quickly approaching, we thought it would be a perfect time to dig deep into the archives and find some fascinating and original photos of Disney balloons dating all the way back to 1934! Here’s a look into the past and Disney’s most memorable balloons featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade over the years. 

Mickey Mouse (1934)
Mickey Mouse Float 1943 at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Let’s jump back in time to see the first Walt Disney Company balloon float along the New York City streets. During the 11th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mickey Mouse made his first appearance looking as jolly as a mouse can be. He was the biggest Mickey Mouse ever created at 40 feet tall and had hand painted qualities.

But wait … Mickey was not flying alone in the sky! His best friend and dog, Pluto, followed him wherever he would go. As a popular icon and beloved character by many, Disney has continued to collaborate with Macy’s from this day forward providing entertainment to all.

Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (1972)
Mickey and Donald floats at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 1972

The 46th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was a special one! Celebrating the first anniversary of Walt Disney World Resort, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck took on New York City together! Donald led the way in his blue sailor uniform while Mickey followed right behind him.

While these two took the sky, Goofy, Pluto and Dumbo joined us on the ground riding the Disney Wagon. We even had some special characters walk the streets like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Even the Country Bears Jamboree came out of hibernation to play for us!

Mickey Mouse (1974)
Mickey Mouse Float 1974 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

In the 48th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mickey Mouse appeared for the 4th time wearing a classic yellow t-shirt and red shorts. Looks like he started to pick up on some fashion sense since we saw him last. Even his shoes matched! Talk about color coordination.

As Mickey floated up high, Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship sailed down 34th street. Hook avoided “Tick Tock” the Crocodile at all costs. Luckily Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and friends were on board keeping us safe! The Alice in Wonderland float also followed along featuring the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.

Donald Duck and Tom Turkey (1984)
Donald Duck and Tom Turkey Float 1984 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

In 1984, Donald Duck turned 50 years old and had the honor of following Tom Turkey in the 58th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Nothing is more honorable than following the star of the show!

Santa Goofy (1992)
Santa goofy float 1992 at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Joining us in the 66th Annual Parade was Santa Goofy! To welcome the holiday season, Goofy dressed up in a festive Santa Claus suit carrying a Christmas wreath for good cheer. He even got the spotlight for being the only new giant balloon character that year.

Not only was Goofy excited to be there, but the new Disney Fantasy Castle too first glide with Belle, Beast, Cogswoth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip to celebrate.

Bandleader Mickey Mouse (2000)
Bandleader Mickey Mouse float 2000 at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Bandleader Mickey Mouse made his first appearance leading the 74th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade into the new millennium. He wore his red and gold marching uniform with accented gold rope laced buttons inspired by the television program, The Mickey Mouse Club, launched in the 1950’s. He was then named the Macy’s Holiday Ambassador and visited the Macy’s store to meet children on the 7th floor.

The Ship of Dreams (2005)
The Ship of Dreams float 2005 at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

In the 79th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Ship of Dreams celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Disneyland Resort. The Ship of Dreams carried various Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, the Disney Princess characters, and others! LeAnn Rimes, a country singer, even performed “Remember When” to celebrate the anniversary.

Sailor Mickey Mouse (2009)
Sailor Mickey Mouse (2009) at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Sailor Mickey Mouse entered the 83rd  Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in style. To introduce the new cruise ships, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, Mickey Mouse sailed upon the sky in his red, white and blue sailor uniform, holding an anchor and saluting the crowds. This year, he was on his way to the seas!

Joining Sailor Mickey Mouse this year was the one and only Buzz Lightyear! Dressed in his everyday space suit, Buzz Lightyear flies to infinity and beyond.

Magic Meets the Sea (2021)
Magic Meets the Sea (2021) float at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The ship era begins with the Disney Wish setting sail in the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with their Magic Meets the Sea float! During its inaugural Parade voyage, the float featured 15 favorite Disney friends who represented the stories and experiences on the Disney Wish, including Captain Minnie Mouse, who proudly adorns the ship’s bow; Princess Tiana, who cooks up the power of imagination in an all-new interactive adventure aboard the ship; Aladdin and Jasmine, whose story has been reimagined into an original Broadway-style stage show on board; and Cinderella, whose beautiful bronze statue graces the fairytale-inspired Grand Hall.

Magic Meets the Sea (2022)
Magic Meets the Sea (2022) float at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The Disney Wish took another voyage in the 96th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2022, as Magic Meets the Sea! Captain Mickey Mouse, Captain Minnie Mouse and his friends hopped on deck and sang “Seas the Adventure,” a number inspired by the new Broadway-style show on board the Disney Wish.

Some of our favorite characters included: Mirabel, Mulan, Raya, Tiana, Prince Naveen, Cinderella, Prince Charming, Moana, Jasmine, Aladdin, Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Black Panther, and Spider-Man.

I hope you looked up! Grogu was one with the force and floated down 34th street like a master.

What will Disney have in store for this year? Keep an eye out during the 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for Disney Cruise Line’s float representing the Disney Treasure, the newest ship scheduled to join the Disney Cruise Line fleet. This year’s parade coverage begins at 8:30 a.m. (local time).

Comments

  • Thanks Ella.
    We enjoyed reading your descriptions of the Disney Characters’ participation in the famous
    Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades over these many years. Undoubtedly our family members over these many years sat together and enjoyed the parades as they were telecast to excited children and adults. We’ve actually attended two of the parades in person as they progressed along the west side of Central Park at 72nd St. After enjoying seeing several of the high floating balloons pass by we realized that due to the heavy throngs of spectators we were unable to view the parade participants as they marched along the street. Unless spectators arrived during the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning to capture a front or nearly front row position, those spectators were unable to see the paraders who were on the street. We decided to walk back to our co-op apartment on E 72nd St and enjoy the rest of those parades as they were telecast on TV. What a great opportunity it was to be able to see the true majesty of the big balloons as they floated by the excited crowds of spectators. We’ll be watching from our home in Florida tomorrow. Thanks again for the memories.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    The Asadoorians of Winter Garden