by Disney (SAY) Epcot at Disney World in Orlando has a long history of celebrating winter holidays, dating back to its first Holidays Around the World celebration in 1996.
This first year of Holidays Around the World started as a small event with food and drink offerings and holiday entertainment from around the world, according to FloridaSmart.com. It also featured a candlelight procession that moved from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to Epcot in 1994.
The holiday celebration began to grow at the theme park and changed the name of the event to Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in 2016.
Fun holiday festivities return to the park as the Epcot International Holiday Festival begins Nov. 25 with a variety of activities including storytellers, holiday cookouts, a holiday cookie walk, and Joyful! A celebration of the season, which includes gospel, R&B and holiday songs performed by vocal ensemble Joyful.
A joyful celebration
Joyful! A celebration will take place at the World Showcase Plaza in multiple performances each day at 2:40 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 4:50 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. The performances will celebrate Christmas and Kwanzaa through December 30.
Holiday storytellers and other performers will be featured at the World Showcase throughout the holiday season, showcasing different holiday wonders and stories. Park goers can enjoy different holiday treats from around the world and cookies during the Holiday Cookie Walk. After purchasing five cookies and collecting passport stamps for the event, attendees can receive special treatment. The special treat can be picked up at Holiday Sweets & Treats.
After a two-year hiatus, the Candlelight Processional at Epcot returns. The event will tell the Christmas story, the biblical tale of Bethlehem and will have music provided by a full live orchestra and the a cappella group, Voices of Liberty at the America Garden Theater. Guests wishing to attend will need to be admitted to Epcot.
Narrators are lined up to voice the candlelight procession at Epcot, including stars such as Josh Gad, Simi Liu, Edward James Olmos, Raul Esparza, Whoopi Goldberg, Isabella Rossellini, Daymond John, Gloria Estefan, Neil Patrick Harris, Cal Ripken Jr., Marie Osmond, Courtney Vance and Angela Bassett. While the list of exact narrator dates is subject to change, Disney fans can agree that this is a pretty exciting list.
Disney is offering ways to make attending the Candlelight Procession even more of an event with Candlelight Dining Packages. The event lasts approximately 40 minutes and takes place three times per evening at 5:15 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. inside the American Adventure Pavilion. The package includes an appetizer, a main dish, a dessert, a soft drink and reserved seats for the event.
It’s free, but it’s going to cost you
Since the Candlelight Procession is a free event, the best way to get a seat for the date and time you want to attend is to get the meal plan. Package prices start around $52 for adults and $23 for children. Dinner reservations are currently being accepted.
Arriving at least 40-45 minutes was the best way to get good seats, but for really popular storytellers, attendees might want to show up earlier.
Some guests who are unfamiliar with the magic of this event may think that queuing for over an hour for the event seems like a “big ask” when they only have a short time on vacation.
If you’re not as interested in seeing the show, you can also sit outside the theater, grab a snack, and just listen to the performance and narration. Using your imagination for show, when it saves you more than an hour of waiting in line is not a terrible thing.