The holiday season is a very exciting (and beautiful!) time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort.
In addition to all of the decorations at both the parks and resorts, there are also several special events occurring at Disney World during this time of the year.
One of the most popular of these events is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.
So what exactly is the Candlelight Processional and do you need to book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package to see it?
What is the Candlelight Processional?
The Candlelight Processional (which takes place during Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays) is a presentation of the Christmas Story that is read by various celebrity narrators.
Accompanying the narrators are a 50-piece orchestra and a huge choir which, as you can imagine, creates a truly lovely experience.
The show lasts 40 minutes and takes place 3 times a day (typically 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 p.m.) at Epcot in the outdoor America Gardens Theatre, which is located in The American Adventure pavilion of the World Showcase.
What makes getting a seat for the Candlelight Processional so difficult?
There is no cost to attend the Candlelight Processional.
That’s right – it is free.
But, the popularity of the show and the small size of the theater means securing a seat can be a challenge since a large number (well over half) of seats available for the performances are reserved for guests that have booked the dining package.
So, while booking a Candlelight Processional Dining Package is not required, it is the best way to guarantee your seat.
What do you get with the package?
Each Candlelight Processional Dining Package includes:
- Meal with appetizer, entree, dessert, non-alcoholic beverage (or, if the meal is a buffet, you get 1 buffet meal)
- Reserved section to sit in during Candlelight Processional
2021 Candlelight Processional Dining Package restaurants and prices
In 2021 there are just 4 options for dining packages, but keep in mind that you can book Dining Packages for either lunch or dinner.
Which performance your guaranteed seating will be for is determined by the time of day of your reservation, and you aren’t able to use your guaranteed seating privileged at any show other than the one assigned to you.
(AGES 10 AND UP)
(AGES 3 TO 9)
Coral Reef Restaurant
The Living Seas
Garden Grill Restaurant
The Land Pavilion
Rose & Crown Dining Room
United Kingdom Pavilion
You’ll know which performance you are assigned when you make the reservation, which makes it easier for you to plan out the rest of your day.
How to book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package
The best way to book your Candlelight Processional Dining Package is online. Here’s how that works:
- Navigate to the Candlelight Processional Dining Package page.
- Select the blue “Check Availability” button.
- You’ll then be able to select the restaurant and time of your choice:
2021 Candlelight Processional Narrators
We don’t have all the dates for who is narrating when, but we do have a partial list of confirmed narrators for the 2021 Candlelight Processional. Additional narrators will be added in the upcoming weeks:
- November 29-December 1 – Chita Rivera
- December 2-4 – Jodi Benson
- December 5-7 – Alton Fitzgerald White
- December 8-10 – TBD
- December 11-13 – Lisa Ling
- December 14-22 – TBD
- December 23-25 – Steven Curtis Chapman
- December 26-28 – Blair Underwood
- December 29-30 – Pat Sajack
How to get the best seats for the Candlelight Processional at Epcot
Even though guests with the dining package have guaranteed seating, your exact seat isn’t assigned.
Everybody (both those with the dining package and those doing standby) will need to line up in order to enter the theater.
The closer to the front of the line the better your chances are of securing the best seats, but since there is such a large chunk of the theater reserved for guests with Candlelight Processional Dining Packages you don’t have to line up nearly as early as those doing standby.
Getting in line about 45 minutes early is generally good, although, for the most popular narrators (like Neil Patrick Harris) you might want to consider lining up even earlier if you are picky about your seats.
When do Candlelight Processional Dining Packages open up for booking?
The release date for the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages varies from year to year, although they are generally released in mid-summer (late June, early July).
Typically, most narrators will be known at this time, but it isn’t uncommon for the narrators for some dates to not be released until later in the year.
Historical release dates for the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages
- 2021 – October 26, 2021
- 2020 – N/A
- 2019 – Wednesday, July 3, 2019
- 2018 – Wednesday, July 11, 2018
- 2017 – Saturday, June 30, 2017
- 2016 – Thursday, June 30, 2016
- 2015 – Tuesday, July 7, 2015 (although some people were able to book some dates earlier)
What should I do if I don’t book a Candlelight Processional Dining Package?
If you don’t have a dining package you’ll need to use the standby line – so be prepared to wait.
Plan to arrive to the America Gardens Theatre early with the aim of being close to the front of the line. How early you will need to arrive will depend on the popularity of the narrator for that evening.
Candlelight Processional standby tips
- One tip is to check-out how the standby line looks for the first show. If you see a long line forming 2 hours early, you’ll know what you’ll need to do at the later shows in order to get a seat.
- Also, the Cast Members working that area often have a good feel for the popularity of the narrator and politely asking one of them how early they’d recommend lining up can help, too.
- If seeing the Candlelight Processional would be “nice” but you wouldn’t be sad if you didn’t see it, you can also try showing up 15 or so minutes before the show starts to see if there is any seating available.
- Or, if you’re more interested in hearing the music or if you’d just like some festive background ambiance while you relax and eat a snack, since the sound of the theater carries there are several nearby places to sit where you can hear everything (even if you can’t see it).
Is a Candlelight Processional Dining Package necessary to see the show?
More and more, we have found that while the dining package is not required to attend the Candlelight Processional, it is definitely encouraged to guarantee your spot at the performance.
If seeing the Candlelight Processional is a “must do”, book a dining package.
When you factor in the cost of the time you’d spend in the standby line (instead of using your park ticket doing something fun) with no guarantee you’ll get a seat, the value of the dining package is clear.
Find more information on performance dates, the list of narrators, and Candlelight Processional Dining Package booking on the official Disney World website or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
Holidays at Walt Disney World
- Candlelight Processional Returns To Epcot Starting November 26
- Walt Disney World Vacation Packages Can Be Booked Through End Of 2021
- 2022 Disneyland Vacation Packages Are Now Available To Book
- Dessert Parties & Dining Packages Return To Disney World For The 50th
- 2022 Walt Disney World Vacation Packages Now Available To Book
- Candlelight Processional Dining Packages Open October 26 - October 15, 2021
- Genie+ Debuts at Walt Disney World on October 19 - October 8, 2021
- How the Virtual Queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure works - September 24, 2021