On Monday, November 26, I was honored to be part of a Media Day to celebrate the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. Disney provided us with free admission, a tasting of some of the treats found at the festival, reserved seating at the Candlelight Processional, a special dessert party before IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, and other goodies. It was a jam packed day, and I learned some great information about the festival that I would like to share with you.
First off, there is a bit of exciting news. On December 4, Disney Parks Blog will stream the Candlelight Processional live. It will be the 8:15 performance, and Neil Patrick Harris will be the celebrity narrator. If you can’t watch it when it happens, it will still be available to watch after it takes place. The livestream will start around 8:05 that evening. The Candlelight Processional is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year, it was started by Walt Disney himself back at Disneyland. The first year it was a one night only show.
We were treated to a special performance by the Voices of Liberty. We also learned that the Disney Parks Playlist is available on Apple for a three month free trial.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to Festival of the Holidays; pick up a Festival Passport when you enter the park. It’s filled with information on entertainment, Holiday Kitchens, and shopping. It’s the perfect guide so that you will not miss anything.
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One of the fun new offerings for Festival of the Holidays this year is the Holiday Cookie Stroll. Buy a cookie at one of five locations, and stamp your passport. Then move onto the next location. Once you’ve tried all five, head to Holiday Sweets and Treats in Showcase Plaza. You’ll receive a complimentary sixth cookie, plus a glass of milk to wash it all down with. Santa would join you, but he’s too busy greeting guests in the American Adventure. You do not need to complete the Holiday Cookie Stroll in one visit.
The storytellers and other holiday entertainment have returned around World Showcase. You can learn about Pierre Noel in France, or rock out to German Christmas songs with Durch & Durch. Performance times for all the acts are listed in your passport.
JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season is back on the stage by the Fountain of Nations. Their high energy show runs several times daily. The main focus right now is Christmas, but then it will switch over to a Kwanzaa show on December 26.
Scavenger hunts have become popular at the Epcot festivals, and for Festival of the Holidays it is Chip ‘n’ Dale who need your help. They’re trying to find ornaments for their tree. Purchase a map in one of several locations, then start your search. Maps cost $6.99, and when you’ve finished you can turn it in for a reward.
There are over a dozen Holiday Kitchens this year. They seem to be a bit heavy on the sweets, but that’s true everywhere throughout the holiday season. Aside from desserts and cookies, there are dishes such as Slow-Roasted Turkey with Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Cranberry Sauce; Queso Fresco-Stuffed Arepa Topped with Shrimp, Crushed Avocado Aji and Tomato Sauce; and Pastrami on Rye with House-Made Pickles and Deli Mustard. Remember that these are small plates, you won’t fill up on the turkey dinner. That’s part of the fun, you’ll want to visit as many of the kitchens as possible so that you can earn the stickers for your passport.
The Candlelight Processional is one of the highlights of the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. We were treated to see Alfonso Ribeiro the very first time that he narrated it. Also new this year for celebrity narrators are Helen Hunt (who was there November 24 and 25), Bart Millard (December 10-12), and Auli’i Gravalho. Returning favorites include Whoopi Goldberg and Jodi Benson.
Of course, if you visit Epcot during Festival of the Holidays, you can’t leave before IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It’s been announced that the long running show will end next summer, so this is the last season with the special holiday ending. It’s going to be sad to see it go.
The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays takes place daily through December 30. It is included with your theme park admission. I’d like to thank the incredible people at Walt Disney World for including me, and thanks also to all those who made it such a special day.