Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World
Every holiday season at Walt Disney World the Candlelight Processional is performed nightly in Epcot. The Candlelight Processional uses a choir, orchestra and celebrity narrator to tell the Christmas story from a biblical perspective.
The show only runs after Thanksgiving and before New Year’s Eve (November 28-December 30, 2014). It runs three times a night in the American Gardens Theatre, 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM, and 8:15 PM and is about 45 minutes long. IllumiNations, with a special tag at the end, starts at 9:30 during the holiday season. If you enjoy the last show, you’ll want to find your viewing spot around the lagoon immediately after the show is over.
Those are the basic facts, but do you want to see the show? For our last Christmas trip, it was one of my most anticipated plans. We enjoy Christmas music, live music, and appreciate the religious story told. The show may not be for you if you do not have a particular emotional or religious connection to the Christmas story. Families with young children may also find that it’s a long process to sit through (between loading, waiting for the show to start, and the show itself).
If you think you’d enjoy the show, but don’t want to go through the complete process of a dinner package or standby seating, you may partially enjoy the show from the general area of the American pavilion. If you stand behind the theater, you will be able to hear most of the show. You will not have a clear view of all the show, but it’s an auditory event first, visual event second. Viewing the show from the open pavilion area, you will have background noise competing with the music, a problem you do not have in the theater seating. After we watched the 5:00 Processional from the theater, we heard much of the 6:45 show as we ate a quick dinner in the outdoor seating for Liberty Inn.
The best way to see the show is to do a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package. This is a special type of lunch or dinner reservation at one of several participating restaurants in Epcot that gives you first access to the outdoor theater seating. Meal reservation times correlate to the show time for the Processional for which you’ll have seating. 12:30-2:30 reservations see the 5:00 show. 3:30-4:15 reservations see the 6:45 show. 4:20-5:45 reservations see the 8:15 show.
Whether you have a lunch or dinner reservation, meals on the Dinner Package include an appetizer, entree, dessert (full buffet for Biergarten & family style meal for Garden Grill) and non-alcoholic beverage. These inclusions are the same whether you pay cash or with dining plan credits. On the basic Dining Plan and Deluxe Dining Plan, the Dinner Package uses 2 Table Service credits. The cancellation policy is stricter than most, with a full cost of the meal penalty if not cancelled more than 2 days before the reservation.
Participating restaurants for 2014 include Biergarten, Chefs de France, Coral Reef, Garden Grill, La Hacienda de San Angel, Nine Dragons, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli.
At the meal, you receive seating badges. These you will keep until your seating time, upon which you stick them to your shirt. The Dinner Package seating queue starts at American Gardens Theater and wraps west along the lagoon through Japan and Morocco. Don’t be alarmed if the line is long, as it moves quickly once seating begins. After all Dinner Package guests are seated, any remaining spots are opened up to the standby line, so you do not want to be late for your prescribed seating time.
I highly recommend a dinner package, but if you do not book one, my recommendation would be to look for a spot you can hear the show from outside the theater. The standby line can have people waiting for hours, and they are not guaranteed a seat.
The Candlelight Processional takes place in an outdoor theater and sunset is around 5:30 in November and December. If you prefer the mood set by a dark sky, the 6:45 or 8:15 show are the best choices.
Dinner package reservations usually become available in July or after, not at 180 days like other dining reservations. Celebrity narrators are announced intermittently, so you may not be able to plan your trip or reservation day around a specific narrator. Once announced, narrators can and do change dates or are removed completely.
The Candlelight Processional is a highlight of the Christmas season in Walt Disney World. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!