Update: WDWNT reports that the float has been replaced by a Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip float. Frankly, we sort of wish Disney had just left the empty space rather than this off-theme replacement.
The Maleficent dragon float, part of the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World, Florida) caught fire during the parade on Friday.
Typically, the dragon float breathes fire every minute or so. Here’s some video of the near-identical dragon in action at Disneyland Paris (the best we could pull up on short notice):
Clearly, something went wrong, and the head of the float caught on fire. We’ve embedded some tweets and video about the incident…
Looks like the Dragon from #FestivalofFantasy Parade in Magic Kingdom caught fire today. Float was burning in Liberty Square, seems the fire was put out quickly. Cast member friends confirming everyone is fine.— Disney Dan 🏰 (@DisneyDan) May 11, 2018
Float is completely destroyed. #MagicKingdom #DisneyWorld #Fire pic.twitter.com/UPCf6m4rvP
The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt.
More About The Maleficent Dragon Float
The Maleficent dragon float is definitely a favorite of many, us included. Its fire-breathing effect was always one of our favorite Disney effects. This was no doubt in part due to the fact that it always felt a little dangerous, even though it wasn’t.
I say it wasn’t dangerous, despite this incident, because the safety protocols that were in place worked and kept everyone safe. No, the head of the dragon isn’t supposed to catch on fire, but there’s also nothing to indicate anyone was ever actually in danger.
According the WDW News Today, the theme of the parade is that the residents of Fantasyland have created their own floats, and the dragon float is thus made from parts they might have access to. It is 35 feet long and 26 feet tall.
Even without the fire effect, the Maleficent dragon is a beautiful piece of art. So much so that we always sort of felt some of its awkward moves took away from the quality design.
The design is quite eclectic, mixing the mechanical with the fantastic and with the natural. There is metal, there is fabric, and there is plant, all weaved into one awesome design.
What's To Come In Magic Kingdom and Paris?
All of this commentary is to say that we hope Disney finds a way to bring the dragon back. It is certainly not an expense they'll be happy about, but the dragon was one of, if not the, focal points of the parade.
Importantly, if they decide the fire effect isn’t safe enough, we hope they find a way to bring at least the dragon back.
While losing the dragon in the Festival of Fantasy parade is a huge loss, it would arguably be even bigger in Paris, which is not only home to its own version of Sleeping Beauty Castle, but also houses a dragon under its castle and in a thorny construction behind the castle. The eclectic design of the float even comes off as a bit Parisian.
We don’t have any word on whether there have been any changes to the Disneyland Paris parade as a result of this, but its reasonable to suspect that the fire effect will be put on hold for a while. (We did see a tweet about another fire effect being out of commission at a Disney parade, but we haven’t been able to track it down, sorry!) Update: @ED92Live reports the fire feature will indeed be on hold for safety checks:
Maleficent is planned to appear today in Disneyland Paris “Disney Stars on Parade”.— ED92 (@ED92live) May 12, 2018
Even though our version is technically different from her Magic Kingdom cousin, she will not be breathing fire for a couple days while safety checks are conducted following yesterday’s incident. pic.twitter.com/4OiABttCGb
For now, we just should be thankful that “safety” is the first key to the kingdom. It’s unfortunate that things don’t always go right, but it’s good that when they go wrong, Disney is prepared to handle them in a safe manner.
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