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Disneyland Article
Black Panther Star Sterling K Brown To Narrate Candlelight Processional
Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
The name of the Disney celebrity that is typically kept secret until the last possible moment as a surprise for VIP visitors invited to the annual Candlelight Processional at Disneyland has been revealed for this holiday season. Consider this your spoiler alert.

“Black Panther” and “Frozen 2” star Sterling K. Brown will narrate the Candlelight Processional at Disneyland on Saturday, Dec. 4 and Sunday, Dec. 5.

The Emmy Award-winning actor from the NBC television series “This Is Us” has also played N’Jobu in “Black Panther,” voiced Mattias in “Frozen 2” and served as the narrator of the Disney+ documentary series “One Day at Disney.”

The annual Candlelight Processional that fills Disneyland each Winter with seasonal songs returns this holiday season after the Anaheim theme park was forced to cancel the Christmas tradition in 2020 for the first time in decades because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Candlelight Processional will be held at 5:30 and 7:45 p.m. each night for invited guests and VIPs. The procession of hundreds of choir members along Main Street U.S.A. begins 10 minutes before show time.

Disneyland rarely officially announces the Candlelight Processional celebrity narrator in advance.

Most years the narrator’s secret identity leaks via social media as the celebrity rehearses on Main Street U.S.A. in advance of the Candlelight Processional — and in clear view of thousands of smartphone-wielding Disneyland visitors. This year, the spoilers spilled out earlier than usual as choir members learned Brown would take the podium both nights.

The 600-member candlelight choir parades down Main Street U.S.A. for two performances each night in Disneyland’s Town Square.

Limited standing room-only standby viewing areas are available near City Hall, the Opera House and behind the seating sections in Town Square on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Candlelight Processional 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.

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

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.

The celebrity narrator 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, Chris Pratt and James Earl Jones.

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 a limited number of standing room-only spots. 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.

Walt Disney World has already kicked off the much longer East Coast version of the Candlelight Processional at Epcot that runs through Dec. 30. Epcot is limiting the choir and musicians to fully vaccinated employees — leaving guest choirs from community groups and schools out of the 2021 event.

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