Last Christmas, I begged my husband to go with me to the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. I had heard amazing things about it and some people consider it their Christmas tradition. I made a few mistakes along the way and it dampened the experience. I look forward to returning one day to fully enjoy the Christmas show, but I’d like to share with you some tips now so that you can make the most of your experience and will remember it fondly.
The Candlelight Processional is a show at Epcot during the holiday season. The Christmas story is read by celebrity narrator. During the reading, choirs enter quite majestically, like the “multitude of heavenly hosts”. Christmas carols are song along with a 50 piece orchestra by candlelight. It is a Christmas tradition at Disney World and a family tradition to many!
*I’d like to give a special shout out and thank you to my fellow Disney Vacation Club owner who shared with me her Candlelight Processional photos from her trip last week! All photos are courtesy of Amy Miles Landry and her family. Thank you Amy!!*
#1 Find out the show times and dates.
The Processional does not start when the decorations go up, which is right after Halloween. The Processional begins on the day after Thanksgiving, November 24th and runs through December 30th.
There are three shows each evening, 5 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:15 pm and is held in the America Gardens Theater in the American section of the World Showcase.
#2 Find out who is narrating and when.
This may or may not be important to you. But, if you are set on hearing a specific celebrity narrate, then you will want to find out when they will be there.
Every three days is a different celebrity narrator, except for Neil Patrick Harris who gets 4 days (he is the most popular narrator).
#3 Decide whether you are able to deal with more crowds
During Christmas week (the weekend after Thanksgiving and the 2-3 days before Christmas through December 30th), you will need to be prepared for extreme crowds. If you would prefer to see the show during a slower period, try to schedule your trip between December 1st and 21st and preferably on week nights, not weekends.
#4 Check the weather report and be prepared
One of the things that dampened, literally, our experience was heavy rains. Only the front part of the theater is covered and there is a good chance even if you opt for the preferred seating (more on that in #5), you may not be under cover. If it looks like rain is in the forecast be prepared with heavy duty full coverage ponchos. We only had dollar store ponchos and they did not cover well and most of my body was soaked. I also caught a cold that night.
If it looks like it will be cold in the evening while you are there, dress appropriately and perhaps consider bringing a blanket to cozy up under while watching the show.
#5 DON’T do the dinner deal
I’m sure some people will disagree with me, but this is my opinion, so hear me out.
There are dinner packages you can reserve for the Candlelight Processional. These are restaurants either at Epcot or at the resorts near Epcot. You pay extra for dinner reservations where you are served a 3 course meal either at breakfast, lunch or dinner and are “guaranteed preferred seating” at the Candlelight Processional for a specific show time. I put guaranteed seating in quotes because this is what the Disney fine print states.
When I reserved our candlelight processional dinner package, which was for the Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk, I assumed they only sold a certain number of reservations for each show and that there would be reserved seating for those of us who purchased the package. The packages are quite expensive and depending on where you go, can cost anywhere from $44 to $76 per person!
There wasn’t reserved seating. When arriving, we got there 30 minutes early, we came upon a very long line, which wrapped around the showcase several countries!! I thought, “This can’t possibly be the dinner package line?” But, unfortunately, it was!
I quickly discovered there is no reserved seating. They just let those who paid for a dinner package in first. We were at the end of the line, so we didn’t get a covered seating spot and when they let the non-dinner package people in, they were in the same area as us.
Personally, I feel like if you spend the extra money for preferred seating, it should prevent you from having to wait in a line and should definitely allow you to get a good seat no matter what.
So, as you can see, I definitely regretted purchasing the Candlelight Dinner Package.
#6 If deciding to go during a busier time of year, arrive early!
If you decide to go during the busier times of year as mentioned above, you will want to arrive early. I’ve heard people say you have to camp out hours early for the Neil Patrick Harris night.
#7 But, if going during less busy weeks, don’t arrive too early!
But, if going during the less busy times or if your plan is just to enjoy Epcot and maybe catch the show, you don’t have to get there too early either. On our night, people were walking up after the show had started and got seats in the back.
Stragglers can still get seats in the back or even stand.
*Please double check though to see if your night or narrator is a popular night before deciding when to arrive to get a seat. And, regardless, if you plan on getting a seat closer to the front, you may want to arrive earlier.*
#8 Relax, and enjoy the show!
Regardless of your seat or the weather, try to just sit back and enjoy the show. It is truly beautiful.
#9 Grab some hot cocoa after and enjoy the night time Christmas lights at Epcot!
If going to one of the earlier shows especially, you will have some time after it’s over to enjoy Epcot before the park closes. Grab some Hot Cocoa and take a stroll through the World Showcase and just enjoy the Christmas lights.
Or stick around till the end of the night for the Christmas themed Illuminations show and fireworks! Illuminations at Christmas is my favorite time of year to see the fireworks at Epcot!
Have you seen the Candlelight Processional? Do you have specific tips for enjoying it to it’s fullest? Share in the comments section below!
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