2013 Disneyland Candlelight Processional Guide

by Stephanie Wien, staff writer
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Disneyland's Candlelight Processional started in 1958 when Walt Disney wanted to show his appreciation to the community by hosting a choral celebration on Main Street U.S.A. Since then the Candlelight choir, made up of cast members and community choir members, has sung hymns to music provided by the Disneyland orchestra. Guest narrators are invited to read the Christmas story in between songs.

This year, the narrators are two well-known actors: Blair Underwood will read on Saturday December 7, and Kurt Russell will narrate on Sunday, December 8.

The following guide will help you navigate the park during these events, whether you wish to attend or merely access the attractions in other lands.

Event schedule

There are two performances on each day. The following is the schedule for Saturday and Sunday:

4:45 p.m. - Invited guest seating begins for the first performance.

5:20 p.m. - The processional begins when the choir walks from the gate near the Mad Hatter shop to their performance location at the Main Street Train Station.

5:30 p.m. - The first ceremony begins at Town Square.

7:15 p.m. - Invited guest seating begins for the second performance.

7:50 p.m. - The second processional begins.

8:00 p.m. - The second ceremony begins at Town Square.

Standby Viewing

If you want to view the ceremony, there are some options. All standby viewing is on a first-come, first-served basis and is very limited. Bench seating is available near the Christmas tree on the west side of Town Square; standing-room-only locations are located near City Hall, the Opera House, and any open spaces behind the seating area in Town Square. Viewing for the 5:30 p.m. performance will open at park opening (8 a.m. each day, with Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at 7 a.m. on Saturday), but viewing on the east side of Main Street will not be available until after the 3:30 p.m. "A Chrismtas Fantasy" parade passes that location.

All guests must leave the viewing area after the first performance has concluded. The line for the 8:00 p.m. performance will form at the south end of Main Street as soon as the 5:20 p.m. Processional has passed.

Guests with disabilities may sit in any of the previously mentioned viewing areas. A special assistance viewing area will also be provided on the east side of the viewing area, outside of the Opera House.

Operational Effects

The performances on Saturday and Sunday will affect a number of stores and attractions in the Town Square area. The following attraction, food, and store closures will be in effect both days:

  • Disneyland Railroad - 4:00 to 9:45 p.m.
  • Main Street Vehicles - 12:30 p.m. to midnight
  • Main Street Opera House - 3:00 to 10:00 p.m.
  • Captain EO - 1:00 to 8:00 p.m.
  • The Mad Hatter on Main Street - 4:00 to 9:00 p.m.
  • The Disney Gallery - 4:45 to 9:00 p.m.
  • Town Square popcorn and churro carts - all day

Traffic Flow

In order to manage the large crowds in and around Town Square, traffic flow will become one way in a circular fashion, starting at the gates and moving through the right hand (eastern) arch past the Opera House and up Main Street. To exit, the traffic will flow down the west side of Main Street and around through the western arch to the gates. Guests can cross over Main Street at Center Street. At times, the backstage area west of Main Street may be used to accommodate excessive crowds.

Comments

  1. By spectromen

    Did I read this correctly that they won't carol down Main Street anymore and instead just come from the parade step-off gate to the side?

  2. By olegc

    ^if correct - boo. That's one of the things I love - and in fact makes me think is what happened long ago on any Main St. USA.

  3. By bombardon3

    Out of curiosity, why is Captain EO closed?

  4. By Niwel

    Maybe that's where they are having the choir rehearse?

  5. By candles71

    I think you are correct Niwel. It wouldn't be hard to stage them there and go backstage to where they want them to come out.

  6. By Niwel

    Curious how it all went tonight with the weather....

  7. By tea4two

    Everthing went very well for the second show. We arrived at 7:30 pm, and the moderate crowds were moving along smoothly. A CM directed us to a standing area for Candlelight viewing. About 10 minutes later, another CM lifted the rope and invited people to take the empty seats. The weather was crisp, but not freezing. Blair Underwood did a great job as narrator. All in all it was a very nice and memorable evening. By the way, the choir did process down Main Street (don't know if they started from IASW or not) -- they did not enter from the parade gate by the Mad Hatter.

  8. By kingu

    Quote Originally Posted by tea4two View Post
    The weather was crisp, but not freezing. Blair Underwood did a great job as narrator. All in all it was a very nice and memorable evening. By the way, the choir did process down Main Street (don't know if they started from IASW or not) -- they did not enter from the parade gate by the Mad Hatter.

    Some big disappointments for me. The cutting at Epcot of the 'One Solitary Life' segment and the song 'Do You Hear What I Hear' also manifested out here. I love the song, and can barely stand it being cut, but to cut 'One Solitary Life' from the processional really digs into the heart of the show, and I hope they reconsider this and return it to the Candlelight program for next year. I'm relatively new to the processionals, and perhaps One Solitary Life was a recent addition, but having heard Gary Sinese and Dick Van Dyk both read the story, I'd very much like to see it return.

    And as for Blair Underwood's performance, of all the hosts I have ever heard, he seemed to have the most trouble narrating the program. Though I utterly agree with him - those trumpeters atop the train station are indeed powerful.

  9. By tea4two

    Well, there's always room for disagreement. I think Blair Underwood did a fine job of taking the narration seriously and reading it carefully, giving the text the respect it deserves. His style is very different from that of the other two actors you mentioned, but that doesn't make it worse. After Tom Skerrit's seemingly tipsy/drunk reading a few years ago (our winner for worst narrator so far, unfortunately), Blair Underwood (and Gary Sinise and Dick Van Dyke in past years) impressed us with his dignified performance. We're probably in the minority here, but we did not mind that the "One Solitary Life" poem was cut, although we did miss "Do You Hear What I Hear?" -- we prefer the Scripture text to the poem, but I can understand how many people might miss having it included.

  10. By castmembermom

    Hello, I am new to Mouse Planet and hope this is the right place to ask if anyone knows if the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland is available to purchase on DVD. My daughter was in the tree part of the choir for the 8:00 performance and my camcorder didn't capture it well so I would love to get a copy if possible.

  11. By olegc

    Quote Originally Posted by castmembermom View Post
    Hello, I am new to Mouse Planet and hope this is the right place to ask if anyone knows if the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland is available to purchase on DVD. My daughter was in the tree part of the choir for the 8:00 performance and my camcorder didn't capture it well so I would love to get a copy if possible.

    I don't believe they do. Maybe through the CMs in house but I doubt it. There are a few disney fan web sites that offer full video, etc. - however, these of course all depend on your definition on if they are worth it.

    IF they are somehow available - that would be coool.

  12. By DisneyFunFamily4

    I was not thrilled the cutting of "one solitary life". It really bummed me out. Dont get me wrong, it was amazing as always and Kurt Russell totally looked at me an smiled... He was great. I just feel like the whole thing leads up to One solitary life and that part is just so powerful. Just my personal orion, i hope they bring it back.

  13. By carolinakid

    Perhaps someone (one of the suits) has determined that One Solitary Life could be offensive to some guests. Although I don't know why they'd be attending a Christmas Candlelight Processional if that were the case... Or maybe they wanted to keep the emphasis on song if they had to shorten the performance.

  14. By Drince88

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    Or maybe they wanted to keep the emphasis on song if they had to shorten the performance.

    But I believe the cut out a song, too (Do You Hear What I Hear).

    I'm going to have to pull out my CD and listen to it again!

  15. By ilovehymn

    Just returned from WDW and our (Disneyland) Candlelight Procession is so much better than what they do at Epcot!
    The trumpeters wore tuxedos and red cumberbunds and the choir just strolled past us to get in their place.
    No caroling through the procession...my favorite part. I love standing on Main Street at Disneyland and singing
    along with the choirs, it gives me goosebumps through the whole procession. And the trumpeters in their royal garb
    on top of the train station is beyond amazing. Their "It's A Small World" is pitiful and doesn't compare to California, plus no
    Christmas makeover. I love their 'Haunted Mansion", but once again, no makeover with "The Night Before Christmas"
    Very surprising that the two parks don't follow each others lead. Disneyland rules in my opinion, nothing beats an original!

    P.S. The choir use to start caroling down by the tea cups, now they start at the end of Main Street before the hub.

  16. By norahs99

    I'm a member of the employee choir at Disneyland and this was my 11th year participating in Candlelight. I wanted to address a couple of the things posted above. But before I do, please be aware that the folks at the park who run the show (and do a heck of a job, I must say) don't always explain why things are done the way they are. That said:

    This year, like last year, the processional began from the gate at the end of main street next to the corn dog cart. Previously, in my experience, the processional for the first show began at a gate to the west of Small World and the second show's processional began at the end of main street.

    Again, this year, like last year, we gathered and rehearsed in the Captin EO theater in the afternoon. It was also used as a holding area for the choir between the shows. In past years, the pre-show rehearsal was held in a building backstage closer to where the choir emerges into the park. Then between shows, we would be in the Lincoln Theater. Many of us were disappointed with this change because the full processional, as some of us call it, was one of our favorite things. Also, the other rehearsal space gave the entire choir, employees and other guest choirs, our only opportunity to rehearse together. They would also bring the guest narrator to that rehearsal, which I would think was of great benefit to them. This year and last, that didn't happen. The first time we saw and heard the narrator was when they came on stage. Imagine stepping onto Main Street to perform that program with NO REHEARSAL! I wouldn't want to do it!

    A couple of people mentioned the song 'Do You Hear What I Hear?' and I wanted to note that that was not the song that was cut from the Disneyland program. In fact, it hasn't been part of Candlelight at Disneyland since I've been there. The song they cut was 'O Come All Ye Faithful.' We used to sing the last verse.

    I've been told that Disneyland does not sell copies of the show because of copyright laws. They'd have to get permission from all of the performers, singers, orchestra members, etc. in order to do so, so don't expect that to ever happen unless the laws change.

    Hope this helps clear up some things. I love, love, love being a part of Candlelight and will keep doing it as long as they'll have me. See you there next year!

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