One of Disney’s most popular holiday events is Epcot’s Candlelight Processional. This presentation of the sacred Christmas story in narration and song originated more than 60 years ago in Disneyland. Migrating to Disney World in the 1970’s, it has evolved over the years to become the beloved show it is today.
The Candlelight processional cast consists of a full orchestra, a Disney Cast member choir (the green robed “tree”), guest choirs garbed in gold robes, and a celebrity narrator. The Processional showings begin before Thanksgiving Day and extend past Christmas – with 3 shows per day, every day. With so many shows, there are multiple celebrity narrators that participate 2 or 3 days each as well as many guest choirs.
The Processional is located in the American Pavilion, part of Epcot’s World Showcase. It is unbelievably popular, especially for shows with favorite guest narrators. Jeff and I had attended last year, but I definitely wanted to go again. Due to its popularity, the only way to guarantee seating to a performance is to purchase a “Candlelight Processional Dining Package”. This involves making dining reservations at one of a selection of Disney sit-down restaurants. For a modest up-charge over the normal cost of dining, you are guaranteed seating at a selected show. I hadn’t planned to go the dining package route this year, but changed my mind when I saw people queuing up at noon in the Stand-By line for a 5 pm show! I checked the website and snagged a lunch reservation and a 5 pm show time slot just two days in advance. To add to the excitement, the guest narrator was to be Neil Patrick Harris, a fan favorite narrator!
Our lunch reservation was for the Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco. It doesn’t seem to be as popular a dining location, perhaps because the food is more exotic than the norm. But we had a delicious lunch, enjoying the belly dancer and Moroccan music as we dined. We couldn’t linger too long over our mint tea, it was soon time to queue up for the show!
Entering the theater as part of the guaranteed dining package line, we were able to snag prime seats in the middle of the theater – perfect for viewing the large stage. The show is primarily the re-telling of the classic Christmas story of Jesus’ birth and is chock full of classic carols. Hearing the familiar carols and watching the choirs process into the theater, candles in hand, just gave me happy tingles. Neil Patrick Harris was a superb narrator. Not only is he an accomplished actor/singer/dancer, he was celebrating his 11th straight year as a Processional narrator. This has become a part of his family’s Christmas tradition! He was relaxed and entertaining, but respectful of the material. I even saw him singing along during the Hallelujah Chorus! I can see why he is a fan favorite. I loved, loved, loved the show from start to finish! It was over all too soon.
It’s simply a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas season!
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