The holidays at Walt Disney World are unbelievably magical. The decorations on seemingly every building, stand, terrace or pole really serve to get you into the spirit. Then there’s the food – the cookies, the cupcakes, the hot chocolate or apple cider – all of it serves to warm the heart and expand the waistline. But my favorite thing about Walt Disney World at the holidays is the music. The Main Street Christmas loop always gets me in the mood, as does the singing of the Voices of Liberty or other groups around the World.
The best example of this, however, is also my favorite show in all of Walt Disney World. The Candlelight Processional at Epcot only comes out for a scant few weeks at the holidays, but it is my absolute favorite show throughout the year at Disney. The pageantry and spectacle of it are simply breathtaking.
If you’ve never seen the show, take some time right now and go. I’ll wait.
Seriously, though, if you have not seen the Candlelight Processional, it’s one of those “must do” experiences that you hear Stacy go on and on about in the resort TV loop. The basics are that a celebrity narrator joins the Voices of Liberty, an orchestra of musicians and a choir composed of cast members and local school kids to perform a rendition of the Biblical Christmas story.
Immediately, some people will be turned off by the fact that it’s a religious story. For those people, all I can say is that you should give it a try. I have been to the event with people like me who (try to) attend church every Sunday, and I have been with people who do not participate in religious ceremonies. Both have raved about the Candlelight Processional. If you can handle A Charlie Brown Christmas, you will enjoy Candlelight.
The show begins with a procession of the various choir members from the American Adventure pavilion across to the America Gardens Theatre. Then, the Voices of Liberty are introduced and the orchestra begins to play. Finally, the celebrity narrator is introduced. And let me tell you, we’re not talking minor celebrities here. A few weeks ago I saw Corbin Bernsen of Psych and L.A. Law do the ceremony, but there have been major stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and Isabella Rosselini doing the show in recent years.
From there, the ceremony alternates between the narrator reading verses or writings about the birth of Jesus and all that happened that fateful evening, and the choir and orchestra performing songs that reflect what the narrator is saying. My personal favorite is when the musicians strike up “Shout for Joy,” but there are so many favorite moments, all the way through to when they cap the performance with Handel’s “Messiah.”
It’s a hard show to describe, frankly. There is a CD that Disney released several years ago featuring the show with Phylicia Rashad of Cosby Show and Dinosaur pre-show fame as the narrator, but it hardly does it justice. The show is extremely popular as well. Even though there are three shows nightly, lines are long. Disney does sell a dinner package that offers a reserved seat, but the prices are quite expensive. However, if you’re looking for a pleasant evening at Epcot, it’s hard to beat a nice meal at one of the World Showcase restaurants, seeing some of the Epcot Holiday storytellers, then watching the Candlelight Processional and Holiday Illuminations.
On my last trip, I was fortunate enough to share the show with my children, as well as fellow Touring Plans bloggers Kristin and Caroline, as well as some other wonderful friends. It is a memory I will always cherish, because it was my daughter’s first time seeing the show, and I got to share the experience with some great friends.
What about you? Have you seen the Candlelight Processional? What did you think of it? What’s your favorite experience at Disney during the holidays?