Tips for the 2018 Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World

EPCOT's Candlelight Processional
Credit: Disney

The Candlelight Processional is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary this year. It was started by Walt Disney himself, and in the early years it was held at Disneyland. Some of the narrators back then were Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, and James Earl Jones. At Walt Disney World, the Candlelight Processional was originally held at the Magic Kingdom. It moved to its current home in Epcot’s America Gardens Theater in 1993.

The Candlelight Processional combines a 50 piece orchestra, a mass choir, and the Voices of Liberty. The highlight, though, is the celebrity narrator. The Biblical Christmas story is told, and after each part is read a classic carol or Christmas song will be sung. The show lasts about 40 minutes. The choir is made up of kids from local schools and Cast Members. There is a lot of talent in Central Florida.

Since I’m local, I have the luxury of attending the Candlelight Processional often. So far this year I’ve been four times. Twice I was a guest of Walt Disney World, so I was lucky enough to have reserved seating. The other two times I was on my own. This year I’ve seen Alfonso Ribeiro twice, John Stamos, and Bart Millard of the Christian group MercyMe. I was at the first performance ever for both Alfonso Ribeiro and Bart Millard. I love it when I get to witness someone’s first time narrating. The narrator is allowed to say a few words at the end, and often they are blown away.

Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up regarding the Candlelight Processional. I hope that you find some of the information here helpful.


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1. Candlelight Processional Dining Package

If there is a narrator who you really want to see, I’d recommend looking into a Candlelight Processional Dining Package. This will guarantee you a spot (as long as you arrive on time), but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a good spot. The line for the Dining Package is often fairly long. If you wait until the last moment you will get a seat for the show, but don’t expect to be close.

2. Keep An Eye on The Standby Line

The standby line can be tricky. The line will usually start to form earlier on the weekends, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be a line during the week. A lot of it depends on the narrator. No matter who is narrating the theater will fill up, so getting in at the last moment is unlikely. If you’re spending the day at Epcot, start checking in the middle of the afternoon to see what other people are doing.

3. First Show

There are three shows each evening; 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15. If there is a narrator who you really want to see and you don’t mind missing time in the park, line up for the first show. If you don’t get in you’ll be near the front of the line for the next one.

4. Other Views

If you don’t get into the theater, it’s hard to see and hear from the sides. There is no standing in the theater, but the area directly outside of it has a great view, and you can hear everything that is going on. That’s how my daughter and I watched John Stamos. We waited in line for two hours but still didn’t get a seat, so we just stood right outside of the theater.

5. Keep The Weather In Mind

The first time that I went this year, there was a terrible downpour right as the show started. A good part of the seating area is not covered, and many people took off in search of shelter. Two of the other three times it was really cold. I know that Florida cold is not the same as cold in other parts of the country, but both times I was glad that I had a jacket.

6. Being Courteous 

Since so many of the people performing in the Candlelight Processional are local, there will be friends and family in the audience. If someone is sitting on the end of the middle row, don’t be surprised if they want you to cross over them instead of scooting down the bench. Also, if you know someone in the show, please don’t loudly talk about it or try to get their attention. A couple of years ago the people behind us had a daughter who was involved. By the end of the 40 minute performance, we all knew a lot about Suzie (not her real name), because her mother would not keep quiet the entire time.

The Candlelight Processional is a beautiful annual tradition at Walt Disney World. It is something to behold, even if it does not line up with your own belief system. It’s an experience unlike any other at Walt Disney World, and it always puts me in the mood for the holidays.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.