In honor of Mardi Gras (today being Shrove Tuesday and all), let’s take a look at Disneyland’s parade spectacular, Party Gras, a parade so big it’s “Disneyland Big!” This colorful, one-of-a-kind pageant was the signature attraction of the 35th anniversary celebration of Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and this portable party traversed down Main Street, U.S.A. each day from January through November 1990. The centerpieces of this unique parade were the towering, balloon-like floats featuring Disney characters in colorful costumes. Soaring 40 feet high over Main Street, these six inflated floats included Mickey (as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice), Minnie (wearing a Carmen Miranda-like fruit-festooned hat), Pluto, Donald, Goofy and Roger Rabbit. (Roger’s hit film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, had premiered a mere two years earlier in 1988.) The inflatables were all concepted by art director Scott Sinclair, and the 22-1/2" character models in these photos (except for Mickey) were sculpted by artist/writer/historian Kevin Kidney.
“Those models were used to create the balloon patterns by an amazing company called Aerostar in South Dakota which produced the final balloons,” reports Kevin. “The design for the Mickey balloon kept changing—notice the model of Mickey sitting on a Conga drum which was made by a talented young sculptor named Rich Collins, but never used. I especially like the push unit models which were constructed by Scott Sinclair and myself, even though everybody mainly remembers the big balloons.” Many thanks to Kevin for this “hot, hot, hot” trip into Disneyland history and especially for the images pictured here. Party Gras was a spectacular way for everyone to celebrate “35 Years of Magic” at Disneyland. C’mon, everyone sing! “Now we’re thirty-five and countin’…”