This annual tradition
has been around in one form or another since Disneyland opened back
in the 50s (December 20, 1958 to be exact). In the early 60s the show adopted its current format with
the live choir and narrator. When Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
opened in 1971 a second version of the show started there then was
moved to EPCOT in 1993 where it has been ever since.
The show is similar at both parks, but each has its own unique
elements and the song list/arrangements are different. The ceremony consists of a large choir, an orchestra,
and a guest narrator. The guest narrator reads the story of Christmas
and it is intertwined with song. Past guest narrators have included
James Earl Jones, Robert Urich, Marie Osmand, Roy Disney, John Wayne, Carey Grant, Dick Van Dyke and the
list goes on.
At Disneyland this annual tradition
occurs usually the first weekend in December and there are four
shows. Two on Saturday and two on Sunday. For the 2012 season they expanded this to 20 nights going from December 1st through 20th with two shows a night.
The main part of the ceremony
takes place on Main Street USA in Town Square. Large bleachers are
brought in and the choir assembles in front of the Train Station.
There are folding chairs for the audience throughout Town square
then the rest of the guests stand around the square and down Main
Street. (In 1998 the show was in the Fantasyland theater).
The choirs process in along the entire parade route from Small World
all the way to Main Street where they assemble for the reading of
the Christmas story by the guest narrator.
Traditionally seating at Disneyland
has been reserved for invited guests and Club 33 members. Usually
the invited guests are people affiliated with the choirs, or community members as a thank you. A couple of years they tried a very limited dinner/pay option. In 2012 with the added nights there was a lottery for Annual Passholders for 18 of the nights (36 shows). The first two nights/four shows were done the traditional way.
Walt Disney World Seating: Since the show occurs
many more times than the
Geeks thoughts: I think the Candlelight is a not to be missed Disney event. I find the Disneyland one more impressive and I tend to favor the song arrangements and selection too, but that just may be my West Coast bias.
Disneyland Candlelight Processional Show Order/Song List: Show order:
- Sing Praise to Him, Our Lord (arr. Jim Christensen)
- The First Noel (arr. Don Neufeld, Azusa Pacific University)
- Candlelight Carol (arr. John Rutter)
- He is Born (arr. Roger Wagner)
- Angels We Have Heard on High (arr Eskew/Healey)
- What Child is This (arr. Ken Whitcomb)
- We Three Kings (arr. Eskew/Healey)
- Sing Noel (arr. Brent Pierce)
- Joy to the World (arr. Bob Krogstadt)
- Peace, Peace (Silent Night) (arr. Fred Bock)
- Hallelujah Chorus (Handel's Messiah)
- O Little Town of Bethlehem (in G unison)
- The First Noel (in D, unison)
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing (in F, unison)
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. (in B-Flat, unison)
Thank you Mark for the Disneyland information
Take a look at some still images from the 1998 Disneyland
For pictures from the Candlelight and more visit our holiday section or Disneyland Picture Section. Or to learn about the Walt Disney World Candlelight Ceremony.