Last night, I finally had the chance to see EPCOT’s Candlelight Processional in person. This event, part of EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays, is held in the American pavilion in World Showcase. Alongside a mass choir, the Voices of Liberty, and a 50 piece orchestra, a celebrity narrator tells the story of Christmas.
This event is held daily during three showtimes: 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. and is running through December 30th. To see the show, you don’t have to purchase a ticket, but to guarantee a seat you can reserve a dining package for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at several restaurants around EPCOT.
There have been plenty of well known celebrity narrators this year, including Neil Patrick Harris and John Stamos, but I made it a point to experience my first Candlelight Processional narrated by the beautiful Auli’i Cravalho (also known as the voice actor of Moana).
For this review, I am going to focus on the dining package reservation vs. standby line, the narrator, and the overall experience. I’ll start by saying, however, that this is absolutely a must-do experience if you are on property or nearby when it is offered! I was blown away by the event itself, and I don’t think any words that I type will truly do it justice. But, let’s jump right in!
Dining Package Reservations vs. Standby Line
The Candlelight Processional is a free event with park admission, however the standby line can get pretty insane – especially if the celebrity narrator is well known. As this was my first experience attending the event, I did plenty of research and found out that it was common for people to wait in the standby line for over three hours to grab a seat at one of the three showings.
One way to avoid the standby line and guarantee a seat, however, is to make a dining package reservation for the day of the event you’d like to see. There are several restaurants that offer the dining package, and have options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, the dining packages can be expensive, reaching up to $70 per adult for a dinner.
I went back and forth between planning to wait in the standby line and just booking a reservation, but I decided [only a few hours before we left] that I didn’t want to chance not being able to see Cravalho in person, since Moana is an absolute favorite of mine. I couldn’t find any available dinner reservations, but there were plenty of lunch reservations available and I ended up snagging a 2:30 reservation at Garden Grill. The lunch included beverages, an appetizer, a family style meal, and dessert. Also included was a ticket for the 6:45 showing of the Candlelight Processional.
It ended up being a good choice doing the dining package, because the standby line was seriously insane. Even the dining package line was crazy long, and we got there 45 minutes before the event even started. We ended up finding out that they use the dining package to reserve 75% of the seating in the theater, leaving only 25% for standby guests.
So, long story short – as far as standby vs. dining package, I would suggest the dining package if it is your first time seeing the event or if it is a celebrity narrator you just have to see. I definitely wouldn’t have paid for the dining package someone were performing that I didn’t really care to see, but then again I don’t think I’d stand in a three hour line either!
I mean… What can I say really?! Auli’i Cravalho is just as lively and spirited as Moana, and it really made the overall experience that much more magical. It was so obvious that she was honored to be there, so into the story, and absolutely loved the choir. You could see her mouthing and singing along to the songs with the chorus behind her, and she just seemed so moved and touched by the experience. I would absolutely go see her ten times over!
The Overall Experience
I have to start out by saying that, in a country where there is so much fuss over “political correctness” and sensitivity, I am very surprised Disney puts on such a religious show. Between the story itself, the songs that accompanied it, and the overall story – it is a very Christian ceremony. That being said, I fear that one day (sooner, rather than later), someone somewhere will protest this event and it will be a thing of the past. I would absolutely recommend seeing it within the next upcoming years if it is a bucket list event.
Overall, it was truly a magical experience that really puts you in the holiday spirit. It was nice to be so immersed in a show that discussed the true reason for the season in such a beautiful way. The orchestra was outstanding, the choir was breathtaking, and the story was so beautifully told. It really has you step back from the hustle and bustle of the holiday itself and appreciate what this is all truly about.
All in all, like I said about three times above, this is a must-do experience if you’re on property for the holidays. The celebrity narrators are a nice touch, but really it’s all about the message and the beauty behind it all. Below, I’ll add a few clips of some of my favorite parts of the show (they’re poor quality, done on my iPhone – sorry in advance :)!
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