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Disneyland Article
Disneyland Cancels Candlelight Ceremony As Coronavirus Threatens Christmas Events

Mad Hatter Main Street U.S.A.
Brady Macdonald
September 10, 2020
September 15, 2020
Disneyland has been forced to cancel the annual Candlelight Ceremony that fills the Anaheim theme park each December with seasonal songs as the coronavirus pandemic that has already spoiled summer and wrecked Halloween is now taking aim at Christmas.

The Candlelight Ceremony and Processional will not take place this year at Disneyland, according to Disney officials.

The Candlelight Ceremony features dozens of choir groups who gather on a stage in front of Disneyland’s train station to bring the story of Christmas to life. The annual event is attended by hundreds of community members who fill a seating area set up each holiday season in Disneyland’s Town Square.

Disneyland is disappointed that event attendees, choir members and cast members unfortunately will be unable to gather in this way in this unprecedented environment, according to Disney officials.

Disneyland was unable to commit to the monthslong planning process for the Candlelight Processional without a clear understanding of when theme parks can reopen from the State of California, according to Disney officials.

Walt Disney World put Epcot’s Candlelight Processional on hiatus this year along with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party due to the large crowds the events typically attract. The Candlelight Processional at Epcot stretches over a month and dwarfs the massive undertaking put on by Disneyland.

The 600-member candlelight choir typically parades down Main Street U.S.A. on two weekend nights in early December for two performances each night in Disneyland’s Town Square. The crowded and busy special event tends to jam foot traffic near the main entrance to the park. Backstage passageways behind the Main Street U.S.A. shops are typically opened during the Candlelight performances to ease congestion in the high-traffic area.

The Disneyland Candlelight Ceremony tradition began in 1958 as a way for Walt Disney to show his gratitude to the Orange County community that was home to his first theme park.

Each year, the singers include Disney employees and members of local community choirs performing along with a live orchestra, handbell players and fanfare trumpeters.

A celebrity narrator, kept a surprise until the first show, tells the story of the first Christmas between songs.

Past narrators have included Cary Grant, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Dick Van Dyke, Chris Hemsworth and James Earl Jones.

Reserved seating is limited to a few hundred invited guests that include community members, civic leaders, media representatives and VIPs.

Holding a private event in the middle of a theme park during operating hours presents a number of challenges for Disneyland — from attraction operations to show scheduling to crowd management.

Crews set up the Candlelight stage beneath the Main Street train station and arrange hundreds of folding chairs in Town Square between Disneyland City Hall and the Opera House.

In years past, the Candlelight ceremony has limited the attraction hours of the Disneyland Railroad, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Jungle Cruise and the Main Street vehicles. Similarly, shop hours around Town Square, including the Mad Hatter and Disney Gallery, have been impacted by the ceremony.

Disneyland does little to promote the Candlelight Processional to uninvited guests, but it is possible to catch the shows if you don’t have reserved tickets.

Candlelight fans have been known to wait all day for the limited standing room-only spots behind the seating area. For those not willing to wait, it’s possible to hear the ceremony along Main Street and see the choir arranged on risers in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Attractions Referenced

Disney Gallery (Main Street)

Disneyland Railroad

Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln

Jungle Cruise

Parades Referenced

Candlelight Procession

Shops Referenced

Mad Hatter Main Street U.S.A.

Lands Referenced

Main Street U.S.A.

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