Candlelight Processional

Disney began its Christmas season tradition known as the Candlelight Processional in 1958 at Disneyland in California.  Thirteen years later, in 1971, Walt Disney World presented its first Candlelight Processional at Magic Kingdom with actor Rock Hudson as the celebrity guest narrator.  In 1994, the event was moved to the American Gardens Theatre at Epcot.  Since that time the Candlelight Processional has been held there every year from late November through December 30th.  Three times each evening (5:00, 6:45, 8:15) the traditional story of Christmas is retold in song and narration by a 50 piece orchestra, a mass choir and a celebrity guest narrator.  The choir consists of members of Disney’s Voices of Liberty (red & black attire), the Cast Member choir (green robes), and visiting high school and guest choirs (gold robes).  As for the guest narrator, each celebrity usually performs for three nights and each gives their shows a slightly different feeling based on their personality.   So if you are visiting the Disney World resort during the holiday season, I think it’s worth your time to attend more than one performance with different narrators.  I’ve done this…twice.

But the first time I saw the Candlelight Processional I really didn’t know that much about it.  So during our second ever family trip to Disney World in 2000, my family of 5 attended just one show, narrated by singer Jon Secada.

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Not being very familiar with Jon Secada and not knowing what to expect at the show, I didn’t take any photos.  But I did place a copy of the nice program we were given in my trip scrapbook…

 

My first impression of this show was quite good.  I remember being afraid that it wouldn’t hold the attention of our three children (ages 4 – 11) for 45 minutes but that turned out to not be a problem.  Also of note from this first experience was that we did the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, having dinner at Chefs de France before the show.  I would choose to dine at Chefs with the dining package two more times, including my most recent trip in December 2016.  For the other two Candlelight Processional shows I attended, I also used the dining package but chose to dine at Teppan Edo and San Angel Inn.

After my 2000 trip, I did not visit Disney World again during the Christmas holiday season until December 2013.  It was during this trip that I attended my favorite Candlelight Processional show with guest narrator, Whoopi Goldberg…

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Whoopi added her own unique “flavor” to the readings…think Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act. ;)

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I attended a second Candlelight Processional Show during this 2013 trip, this time with guest narrator Dennis Haysbert ( “the Allstate Guy”)…

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I loved his deep voice, as the Christmas story felt like it was being told by God. ;)

And that brings me to my most recent trip in December 2016, where I again saw the Candlelight Processional show twice.  The first show had as the guest narrator, Robby Benson, my crush when I was 18 years old.

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For you younger readers, you might know Robby (or at least his voice) as the Beast in the original animated version of the Disney movie Beauty & the Beast.

When he was a late addition to the CP narrator schedule, I just had to add a second show to our trip.

And so here are some of the photos which I took at the December 12, 2106 Candlelight Processional show featuring Robby Benson as narrator…

 

And a close up of my teenage crush…

Though now more grey and distinguished looking, Robby Benson is still very handsome and charming…even when at the end of the program he yelled in his Beast voice, “Get out!”  :laughing:  Ok yes,  I’ll admit it.  I still have a crush on Robby Benson!  ;)

On the next evening of our trip (Dec. 13, 2016) we returned to the American Gardens Theater for another performance of the Candlelight Processional show.  This time my daughter was with us and instead of Robby Benson, the guest narrator on this evening was American journalist and talk show host, Meredith Vieira…

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And here are a few photos from the show…

While she did a fine job of narrating, I preferred Robby Benson’s rendition from the night before.  However, my all-time favorite narrator is still Whoopi Goldberg!

 

 

 

 

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