The Pepita puppet in the Magic Happens parade at Disneyland has been updated to a platform float with a driver.
New Pepita Puppet Float
Pepita is the last of the “Coco” unit, which also contains a float with Miguel, Héctor, and Mama Imelda, plus the alebrije dancers.
Pepita is modeled after Mama Imelda’s alebrije from the Pixar movie “Coco.” Alebrije are traditionally wooden animals, and the puppet was made to look like it was crafted in similar fashion.
The puppet is now mounted to a float platform rather than appearing to stroll down the street. Puppeteers are still located inside the float to operate the head and outside to move her wings. There is also now a driver seated in Pepita’s belly.
The feet still move but no longer look like they are touching the ground.
The platform is black and so are the driver and puppeteer’s costumes, to help them blend in.
Watch our video of the new float platform for Pepita below.
Former Pepita Puppet
Pepita is operated by puppeteers both inside the puppet and outside.
Her leg motions were manually controlled, and the puppet was supported by the puppeteer system to make it appear as if Pepita was walking down the streets of Disneyland.
Magic Happens Parade
Magic Happens debuted in early 2020 as part of the 65th anniversary celebrations and ran for only two weeks before the resort closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It returned to Disneyland in February 2023 after a three year hiatus.
The parade is led by Mickey and friends, followed by contemporary Disney hits “Moana,” “Coco,” & “Frozen.” The next segment of the parade is Disney Classics, including “Sleeping Beauty,” “Aladdin,” “Peter Pan,” “Pinocchio,” and “Cinderella” characters.
Pending any global pandemics, weather delays, or cancellations, “Magic Happens” is performed twice each day at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Upon its return, the line of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” was noticeably missing from the finale of the show.
The line, which is also the title of the song originally composed for the controversial Disney film, “Song of the South”, was perhaps most widely recognized as part of the Splash Mountain attraction based on the film.
Additionally, Polynesian guests took to social media earlier this year to criticize the choreography of the “Moana” section of the “Magic Happens” parade. Hawai’ian TikTok user @kehanuolani shared a video disapproving of the choreography, writing, “Y’all should not have put us in the front row of this parade[.] Not [sic] hate to the girl who’s playing Moana but the choreographer needs to do some different work[.]”
A Hawaiian friend of WDWNT and frequent Disneyland guest told us, “Hula is the telling of a story with your hands. It’s about the ʻāina and the land. This is a complete [bastardization] of the culture. It would be better for her to just stand there and wave.”
The parade has also suffered a series of small mishaps, from the audio system crashing, Merlin from “The Sword in the Stone” losing his shoe, and the finale float getting stuck in the middle of Main Street, U.S.A. The performance was halted before the Cast Members on the Sleeping Beauty Castle float were evacuated and asked to walk the rest of the route.