Disney World comes to Chicago once a year!

Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

We all know Walt Disney World Resort for its home in sunny central Florida. But did you know that he only brings his magic to the cold north once a year?

On the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year, Disney Parks Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are the grand marshals of the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade through downtown Chicago. Plus, Mickey and Minnie use their magic to light up the trees along Michigan Avenue and officially kick off the holiday season!

Mickey and Minnie atop a festive, illuminated float.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

We attended the parade on Saturday November 19th. But if you missed it, don’t worry! We’re here to share the magic with you, and you can watch on your local ABC channel all holiday season long!

Of course, the parade is headlined by Mickey and Minnie Mouse. On each block, the duo ask the crowd to count down from five as they light more than a million sparkling light bulbs on the trees that line the Magnificent Mile, a historic and legendary shopping district in the Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

Candy canes shaped like Mickey Mouse shoot golden fireworks as Mickey and Minnie wave to the crowd during the parade.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

As the lights come on, Mickey and Minnie’s festive float fires majestic fireworks that have the whole crowd cheering! The parade continues with towering holiday balloons and high school marching bands from across the country. But the Disney Park fun isn’t over yet!

Next, Goofy and Pluto, on a double-decker bus advertising EPCOT alongside Disney cast members waving their giant white gloves and sporting peppermint Minnie Mouse ear headbands. Goofy dresses up as Santa and Pluto wears reindeer ears!

Pluto and Goofy in holiday outfits on a Spaceship Earth decorated bus and "Happy Holidays" panels.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

It’s time to talk about Bruno! If he did not attend the Festival of Lights, his niece Mirabel Madrigal did. Ride in a carriage, beloved Encanto (2021) the heroine greets fans wearing brand new blue mittens, perfect on a 17 degree day in Chicago.

Mirabel’s gleaming white horse-drawn carriage is decorated with signs announcing Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary, which begins in 2021 and ends in March 2023.

Mirabel on horseback in a white carriage driven by a brown horse.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

Finally, Tic and Tac ride on top of another awesome double-decker bus filled with even more Disney cast members! As chipmunks wave to the crowd, the bus advertises Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Once again, the bus reminds Disney fans to enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort 50th Anniversary Celebration as the end approaches in just five months!

A bus decorated with the four Disney parks, a Mickey crown and lights.  Tic and Tac climb to the top.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

No Christmas parade is complete without a visit from Santa Claus. While it’s not Walt Disney World Resort’s sun-kissed Santa Claus, Wintrust’s Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights Parade ends with the big man himself atop his sleigh, which is joined by his reindeer, wishing everyone a good night!

Santa Claus waves from his sleigh, which is driven by eight (plastic) reindeer.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

Check your local ABC station schedule to watch Mickey and Minnie Mouse headline the Festival of Lights parade. Or plan a trip to Chicago next November!

Will you be watching the Magnificent Mile Parade of Lights on TV?

Herman C. Harkins