While your turkeys were in the oven this Thanksgiving season, choirs from across the United States were gearing up for Disneyland’s 60th annual Candlelight Processional.
This holiday extravaganza is a musical retelling of the story of “The First Christmas” through song and scripture, and features a mass choir as the centerpiece of the show.
The candlelight processional has a rich history and tradition that dates back to 1958 at the Disneyland Resort.
The Candlelight Ceremony and Processional is traditionally performed under the stars on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland.
With 25 to 30 choirs participating each year, the processional features members walking through Main Street with candles in hand singing Christmas tunes until they arrive at the train station for the main event.
The Disneyland Symphony Orchestra, fanfare trumpets, hand bell ringers, and a guest celebrity narrator will join the mass choir in this joyous holiday tradition.
The best seats for the processional are those the theme park sets up for invited guests, VI.P. guests, and club 33 members, so if you’re thinking about getting there super early for a good view, don’t plan on it.
There are no exclusive or secret ways into becoming an invited guest, so if you aren’t one already, the chances are you will never be.
Because of the lack of seating, Disney does not heavily publicize the event.
There are generally no postings on the park’s blogs, social media sites, or anywhere really until AFTER this event.
Your best bet for the show dates, which are Dec. 2 and 3, is to show up at around 2 p.m. at Main Street.
The closest you’ll be able to get is a little behind the Christmas tree, which are still good seats if you’re planning on taking photos.
There are two showings that night: 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Many individuals who leave after the 6 p.m. show make room available for the 8 p.m., so even if you come at the tail end of the first show, you should be able to squeeze your way into a better position.
One word of warning though, the candlelight processional is held on two very busy nights of the week and Christmas season.
So the happy-go-lucky crowd you encountered upon your arrival will likely digress into an angry mob with pitchforks by the time the show actually begins.
If you should happen to be vacationing in the parks, I would not suggest this event as a wise or efficient use of your time.
Moreover, if you plan to visit the parks on both showdays, please be sure to avoid the front of the park at all costs, as moving people out of town square quickly is nearly impossible.
If you are interested in attending the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland but not camping out for hours in order to view it, the processional makes its way down the Disney parade route.
The guests who do arrive early, will be serenaded by the members of the mass choir dressed in gold choir robes and other arraignments singing Christmas carols known to all as they make their way to the main stage. So by all means, feel free to sing a long; it is Christmas time after all.
I much prefer the Disneyland version to its sister show performed in the Epcott theme park in Walt Disney World Florida.
The main difference is that the Disneyland show has stayed true to its roots while the show at Epcott has adopted a more guest-friendly show that attempts to accommodate enough seats and space for a large crowd, which rarely shows up.
Although I cannot fault either version for the approach, I think tradition always wins.
My last recommendation is to treat the show like the lavish event it is; get dressed up (preferably in Christmas attire), attend a nice dinner beforehand, and prepare your heart and mind to be submerged in the true spirit of Christmas.