Candlelight Processional is one of my favorite holiday experiences at the Walt Disney World Resort. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, the first Candlelight Processional debuted on Main Street in Disneyland as one of Walt’s most-loved holiday events in the park. Today you can experience it for yourself on both coasts, with visiting choirs, cast member choral singers, the Voices of Liberty, a live orchestra, and a different celebrity narrator every couple of days. (You can read more about the history of Candlelight Processional in my article in the Winter 2018 issue of Attractions Magazine).
Getting a good seat for Candlelight Processional (with the narrator you’re hoping to see) is no joke, especially as it gets closer to Christmas. Here are some tips to ensure you’re able to make the most of your Candlelight experience. (And if you can’t make it to Epcot this year, you can watch a replay of Candlelight Processional with Neil Patrick Harris via the Disney Parks Blog here.)
Check the narrators in advance
Each Candlelight Processional features the story of Christmas read from the Bible with a celebrity narrator broken up by choral performances. The only part of the show that changes day-to-day is the narrator, so if you’re set on a seeing a certain one be sure to check the dates for each celebrity in advance. Some like Neil Patrick Harris and Whoopi Goldberg come back each year (usually around the same time of the month) but others change each season. Find a list of narrators directly from Disney here.
Whether or not you book the Candlelight Processional Dining Package (and more on that in a minute!) arriving early is really what is going to ensure you get a good seat. Getting the package with your dinner reservation in Epcot helps because you’re let into the seating area before standby guests, but you’re still going to find yourself in a line with other guests who also purchased the package. Regardless of how you’re getting into the show, it’s helpful to arrive about an hour or so early if you really want to make sure you have a good seat. (You’re guaranteed a seat with the dinner package, but seats close to the front can go quick if you’re in the back of the line!).
Book a dining package
If I’m planning on attending Candlelight Processional, especially if I want to make sure I’m there for a certain narrator I always book the dining package. The package essentially adds to the cost of your regular dining experience in exchange for early access to the seating area. Pricing varies with the least expensive option being a breakfast buffet at Ale & Compass (for $38/adult) at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and the priciest option of $80/adult for La Hacienda de San Angel in Mexico. Most restaurants with the package run about $50-60/adult. See complete pricing details here.
If you’re on a budget, go for breakfast at Ale & Compass. This is also a great option if you’re not planning on spending the morning in Epcot, because you can have an early breakfast at the resort and head off to whichever park you please until it’s time for Candlelight Processional. For in-park dining, I can’t recommend Via Napoli enough. The price is fair for what I’d usually end up spending there with the upcharge for the show, and if you’re planning on dinner you’ll only be one pavilion away from the show.
One thing to note about the Candlelight Processional Dining Package as opposed to other similar offerings around the Walt Disney World Resort–while you are “guaranteed” a seat for the show, dining package guests do not have a reserved section (like at Fantasmic). This means you can’t show up moments before it’s set to begin and stroll over to a reserved seating area. Instead, dining package guests are allowed into the theater before standby guests, so be sure to arrive early regardless.
Don’t worry about being religious (or not)
Unless you’re just repulsed by the story of Christmas, don’t stress if you’re not a religious person. (I’m not at all, and having gone through years of Catholic school I’ve certainly heard this story more times than I care to–but it’s really fine!). While the show does focus around the Christmas story, it’s not akin to a mass. It’s obviously a moving religious experience for those who practice, but I find that it’s equally as awe-inspiring if you don’t. The story gives context to the holiday and some insight into popular Christmas songs, but it’s not like being in church per se and you won’t feel out of place if you don’t “participate” (the only interactive part of the show really is if you choose to sing a long, and it’s totally fine if you don’t!).
Is Candlelight Processional a tradition for you? Let me know in the comments!