Epcot's Candlelight Processional is Pitch Perfect

Given the hundreds of musicians who pile onstage at Epcot's American Gardens Theater to help the guest narrator to bring the story of the first Christmas to life, it is amazing that there was not a single sour note during the performance. We attended Candlelight Processional, hosted by Gary Sinise, on Sunday, December 1, 2013 and the show was splendid.

Green Robed Choir Forms A Human Christmas TreeGreen Robed Choir Forms A Human Christmas Tree

We booked a Candlelight Processional dining package for lunch at Germany's Biergarten, which offered us guaranteed seating for the 5:00 show. At lunch our server informed us that we should get in the line that forms from the American Gardens Theater and extends toward Japan and that we should be in line between 4:15 and 4:30 for the 5:00 show. The line on the other side of the theater that extends toward Italy is for stand-by guests. When we saw that the reserved seating line was approaching the Moroccan pavilion at 3:50, we decided that we had better get a spot in line. While the dining package guarantees you a seat, it does not guarantee a good seat, so it is still a advisable to be in line an hour before the show begins especially if you are attending on a busy night. When selecting a seat, there is a trade-off to consider. The orchestra blends together very well if you are about 8 rows back from the stage, but the rows where the music sounds the best are open to the elements. Check the sky before you select your seat and plan accordingly.

A 50 Piece Orchestra Accompanies The ChoirA 50 Piece Orchestra Accompanies The Choir

After the 50 piece orchestra takes the stage and warms up, the procession begins with more than fifty choir members donned in green robes ascending a spiral platform to create a human Christmas tree. Roughly two hundred Choir members in gold robes fill in two additional elevated surfaces. The guest choirs are followed onstage by the Voices of Liberty and the last performer to join the group is the guest narrator.

Youth Guest Choirs Participate In This Holiday FavoriteYouth Guest Choirs Participate In This Holiday Favorite

The show contains a mix of narration and song, with the balance tipping toward song. Lighting effects create visual interest on the stage to help draw the audience into the story. Having listened to several of the holiday storytellers earlier in the day, I was struck by the fact that the Candlelight Processional highlighted some of the holiday traditions that are popular around the world. For example, at the German pavilion, we learned that the first Christmas tree was adorned simply with lit candles, similar to the way that the human Christmas tree is adorned throughout the Candlelight Processional. Also, Gary Sinise shared the story of how the Christmas Carol "Silent Night" came to be, the same beautiful story that we had heard at Biergarten at lunch.

Muscians Performing Seasonal MelodiesMuscians Performing Seasonal Melodies

At the conclusion of the performance, Gary Sinise took a few minutes to honor the veterans in the audience and to talk about his philanthropic work with members of the military. He did so not in a way that was boastful, but in a way that encouraged the audience to appreciate all of the blessings in our lives this holiday season and to encourage us to share that spirit with those around us. On a personal note, we learned that this was Gary Sinise's tenth year narrating the Candlelight Processional, which is an interesting coincidence because my husband and I are also celebrating out tenth anniversary this week. Candlelight Processional is definitely a must-see!

Thanks so much to Guest Blogger Holly L. for sharing a little bit of her 10th Anniversary trip with us live from Walt Disney World! If you'd like to read more about Holly's trip, you can find her sharing her adventures on our member forum.

Have you seen the 2013 Epcot Candlelight Processional? Leave a comment below and let us know what you thought!

disneydoc wrote on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 00:14:

disneydoc's picture

I saw it too that Friday night from the sidewalk. Spectacular!

Rob wrote on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 00:22:

Rob's picture

I have seen it several times from the perspective of "a guaranteed seat;" the standby entrance seating and the sidewalk. I've seen Geena Davis, Neil Patrick Harris and Michael W. Smith as narrators. Davis made it personal because she introduced her family, and Harris was personal and funny when he said if Disney had him narrate any earlier he would be doing it in October.
I would suggest sitting near the center. I've made the processional my own Christmas tradition.

J wrote on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 12:08:

J's picture

I have seen this ceremony many times and it never gets old. The narrator helps keep it original. Joseph Marcell, the butler from Fresh Prince was a good one. The best I ever saw though had to be Jim Caviezel best known for his roll in The Passion. As you might imagine he was quite passionate about the story. Excited about this year as well as we are seeing Trace Adkins.

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 13:23:

Kristen K.'s picture

One of these days I'm going to get to see this. :-)

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