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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tip Tuesday: Holidays at Epcot

Candlelight Processional

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

In my continuing series about the holidays at Walt Disney World, I wanted to take you to Epcot to experience all the holiday happenings there.

Epcot (my favorite park, especially for the holidays), offers so many holiday-related opportunities that it's hard to fit it all into a single day. That being said, anyone planning to experience some of Epcot's holiday events would do well with a little bit of preparation beforehand. Most holiday events begin the Friday after Thanksgiving and conclude December 30.

So without further adieu, let's go!

The Candlelight Processional
This is Epcot's holiday "main event" featuring a 50-piece orchestra and mass choir consisting of the Voices of Liberty, honor choirs from local high schools and guest choirs from high schools across the nation. Each night there are three performances (5:00, 6:15, and 8:00 p.m.). In addition, special celebrity narrators tell the Christmas story in conjunction with the choir. This year's narrators include Whoopi Goldberg, Anika Noni Rose (voice of Princess Tiana), John O'Hurley, Vanessa Williams, Andy Garcia and more.

The Candlelight Processional is, by far, Epcot's most popular holiday event. If you're planning to see one of these shows, you'll want to keep the following tips in mind.

1. There are two ways to get a seat. The first is to purchase a Candlelight Dinner Package. This package includes dinner at one of the restaurants in Epcot's World Showcase, guaranteed seating in the America Gardens Pavilion and reserved viewing location for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth (and holiday tag). This is a popular option and a lot of people book these dinner packages.

If you want to make sure you get a decent seat - you'll want to give this option serious consideration. Prices run from $32.99 (lunch, tier 1) to $59.99 (dinner, tier 3) per person. The prices vary depending on what show time you reserve and where you dine. Those booking a Candlelight Dinner Package should check-in at the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package booth near the America Gardens Pavilion no later than 15 minutes before the show. I would recommend checking in no later than 40-minutes in advance, especially if you want a seat towards the front. I've seen the dinner package line run from the pavilion all the way to Morocco. That's a lot of people!!!

2. If you don't want to book a dinner package, you can roll the dice and try the standby line. This line forms on the Italy side of the America Gardens Pavilion. Once all the guests from the dinner packages have been seated, the standby line opens. If you get a seat, it will most likely be toward the back of the pavilion, and there is no guarantee of getting a seat. Your best chance for getting a standby seat is try to attend a show in the middle of the week and before about December 20th when crowds begin to swell. The closer to Christmas, the more crowded the parks (and Epcot) will become.

3. If you're standing anyway - how about standing room only? This is the option I've used when I've watched the Candlelight Processional and, as you can see from the photo above, you get a decent view. This option, as well, requires some advance work. I like to stand on the rope line behind the left side of the pavilion, near the center. If you can get on the rope, you'll have an near un-impeded view of the show (since you're standing and everyone else is sitting). You also get a wonderful (and, depending on where you're standing) close-up view of the choirs processional into the pavilion. Your feet will be tired, so be sure to wear good shoes (you should be anyway -- you're at a park!).

4. If you don't care about seeing the show and just hearing it, try to find a table outside the Liberty Inn. The show's plenty loud, so you'll hear everything just fine. Best of all, you might be able to make it a real "dinner" show, with a bite from the Liberty Inn.

The Candlelight Processional is awe-inspiring and highly recommended. This is a DisneyDaddy must do!

Holiday Storytellers in Norway

Holidays Storytellers Around The World
Now for another DisneyDaddy must do -- the Holiday Storytellers. At every World Showcase pavilions, Disney puts on a brief show feature a holiday figure from that host country. For instance, in China, the Monkey King tells the story about the Chinese New Year, while in Norway, Sigrid tells the story of the mischievous Julenissen, the Christmas Gnome (see photo above). The America Adventure pavilion actually features three storytellers, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

These performances happen several times during the afternoon and evening. If you're interested, be sure to check the daily times guide when you enter Epcot.

These storytellers are absolutely wonderful and I highly recommend seeing every one. There are thirteen presentations in all. It's pretty tough to see them all in one day, so I suggest devoting two afternoons to seeing all the storytellers.

Unlike the Candlelight Processional, you don't need to show up quite as early. If you want an up front viewpoint (there are no seats, this are out on the promenade), you'll want to be in place about 10 minutes early (15-minutes early closer to Christmas when the crowds are heavier).

Parents: These are wonderful photo opportunities as each storyteller will allow some time for photos after the performance. Have your camera ready as PhotoPass photographers aren't usually on hand (though they can be).

New this year is a gospel group performing at Innoventions Plaza in a show called "Joyful," featuring the talents of D'Vine Voices. Joyful is performed four times from 1:15 to 4:15 p.m. each day and blends gospel and inspirational music with jazz, soul and R&B. This is another wonderful show with music you can't help but sing along with.

There are so many wonderful holiday events at Epcot that guests really have to make a choice: holiday events or attractions. You just can't do it all in a day (or even two). For my family, we always choose the holiday events. What better way to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in the most wonderful place on Earth!

1 comment:

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