Day 14: The Story of Christmas / H&H@TP 2017

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The American Adventure

We were given our tickets for the 5pm showing of the Candlelight Processional when we paid our bill. Even though you have a guaranteed seat in the theatre, people do still line up as the seats are filled first-come-first-served, so we did join the line (which had already started forming next to the ) at about 3:30pm.

But before that, we headed into The American Adventure – which is not only the name of the USA’s pavilion in World Showcase – but also the name of the main attraction. Confusing I know!

Inside the Colonial-style building, you’ll find the huge lobby which has a domed ceiling, known as a rotunda. Around the room are quotes from famous Americans (including Walt Disney) as well as paintings of American life through history.

The American Adventure Domed Ceiling
The American Adventure Domed Ceiling

There was also a gingerbread house set up for the holidays with a plaque at the front which said:

United States Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial

140 Pound Gingerbread
20 Pound Royal Icing
30 Pound Modeling Chocolate
7 Hidden Mickey
and a Lot of Pixie Dust!!!

Gingerbread United States Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial
Gingerbread United States Capitol Building

The rotunda is also where the a capella group, The Voices of Liberty perform several times throughout the day singing historic American songs. During the holidays, those songs become festive.

They are amazing to see and perform and well worth stopping by just for them. The acoustics in the building are stunning and the voices of The Voices of Liberty are ones you don’t forget it a hurry!

The Voices of Liberty
The American Adventure (Theatre Statues)

The Voices of Liberty are not the main attraction in this building though, The American Adventure takes guests on a trip through America’s history.

It is narrated by Audio-Animatronic figures of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain (who lived almost 100 years apart) and is presented in a theater-like auditorium, with sets and characters rising out from the stage floor to represent scenes from different historical periods. (Thanks Wiki for the info)

I know some people find this sort of thing a snooze-fest and as a place to get out of the sun and heat for a while, but for me, it’s a fascinating history lesson. The song at the end – Golden Dreams – is so patriotic you can’t help but feel moved!

Audio-Animatronic figures of Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain
Gold Eagle

Japan Pavilion

We also ventured into the Japan Pavilion to visit the Mitsukoshi Department Store which is a huge, awesome shop filled with so much awesome stuff!

A visit to Japan is not complete without purchasing a kaki gori – a Japanese shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup – yum!

Kaki Gori - Japanese Shaved Ice
Kaki Gori – Japanese Shaved Ice
Torii Gate
Torii Gate

Candlelight Processional

You can see the ropes in front of the Torii Gate which forms the line area for the Candlelight Processional. If you know the layout of World Showcase, you’ll know how far back this is from the America Gardens Theatre it is!

I will add, even if you can’t get a seat for the Candlelight Processional you can stand around the theatre and view/listen to it as the theatre is open air.

That said, it is likely to be very crowded, and I’m not sure how much space the Cast Members allow people to fill up without disrupting the flow of guests walking through the pavilion.

Oh, and I should mention too that because it is open-air (and uncovered) that you should dress accordingly! The show is not cancelled because of inclement weather, so pack a poncho and umbrella should it rain!

Candlelight Processional Sign
Christmas Tree at Candlelight Processional

As I previously mentioned, we joined the line at around 3:30pm. We hadn’t planned to start lining up so early but with a queue already forming we guessed it was a wise decision.

This was a good choice as we were sat just a few rows from the front of the stage! By the time the show started the theatre was as packed as it could be. Cast Members were even asking people to shuffle up close to squeeze more people in to sit down.

The 1000-seat theatre is seated to those with a dining package first, and then, 15 minutes before showtime it is opened up to other guests.

The standby line can start forming as earlier as midday for the 5pm show – be prepared for that if you REALLY want to see it – especially the closer you get to Christmas itself, and if the narrator is a popular celebrity (like Neil Patrick Harris).

There are three shows every evening: 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15 pm so if you miss the first, you can continue to line up for the next (but you will hear it, so if you don’t want to, bring out noise-canceling headphones).

My tip is if this is your only chance to see the Candlelight Processional then book a dinner package at 180 days out. That is the route we took as you know and I am very glad we did.

America Gardens Theatre Stage
The Stage
Epoct Sign
America Gardens Theatre Stage

Each night, a celebrity narrator tells the biblical tale of a savior born to a virgin in Bethlehem. All the while, gorgeous choral pieces are woven into the production as an orchestra and choir provide an inspirational backdrop with songs of hope and joy. Walt Disney World

The celebrity narrator changes throughout the seasonal run of the show, and on our night we had Neil Patrick Harris who is a veteran narrator having taken on the role for many, many years now. He is a fan favorite too and I was very pleased that he was our narrator!

Other celebrities include Whoopi Goldberg, Gary Sinese, and Pat Sajak, among others. Disney list their narrators quite far in advance, so if you want to see a particular narrator, plan accordingly (like we did!).

That said the line-up is subject to change, so if you’re lining up for the event (rather than a dinner package) then check that your narrator of choice is still going to be appearing.

Candlelight Processional with Neil Patrick Harris
Candlelight Processional with Neil Patrick Harris

The 50-piece orchestra took their seats and the conductor started the music as the choir in red, green, and yellow robes, filed into the theatre holding candles (hence the name!) and took their places on the stage.

Candlelight Processional Choir
Candlelight Processional Choir
Candlelight Processional Choir
Candlelight Processional Choir
Neil Patrick Harris at Epcot

Once in place, the choir began singing and when the song was over Neil Patrick Harris entered the stage. I think he chatted for a bit before starting telling us the story of Christmas…

From when the Arch Angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her she has been chosen to be the Mother of Jesus, through to Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem where there was no room at the inn, and finishing of course, with the birthday of the baby Jesus in the stable. Not forgetting the three wise men following the star, and the shepherds too.

It is a solemn affair, but very moving at the same time as the story is broken up with hymns that sound just so beautiful.

We are not a particularly religious family, but hearing the Christmas story accompanied by singing and music was wonderful. It made us all feel very festive and at points, emotional too. (I think children may find this a bit boring – especially as it lasts around 40 minutes – but make the best judgment with your children.)

Candlelight Processional Choir - Neil Patrick Harris 2017
Candlelight Processional Choir

You can watch a DisneyParksLIVE recording of the 4 December 2019 Candlelight Processional narrated by Neil Patrick Harris on the Disney Parks YouTube channel, which I’m going to watch after finishing this report!

When the performance was over we made our way out of World Showcase and back to the monorail. We had decided not to hang around for the fireworks because we still had to finish packing.

I do wish we had though, as IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth has now finished, and during the holidays I know that they add on an extra part at the end… Nevermind.

Epcot World Showcase at Night
Epcot Christmas Tree
Epcot Christmas Tree

It was nice to see the Epcot Christmas tree all lit up, and on the way out we stopped by Club Cool to grab a free drink. This is another thing that has now gone from Epcot as they are reimagineering the park.

Club Cool was awesome as you could sample complimentary Coca-Cola soft drinks from around the world.

I hope they bring it back in some form or other as it’s practically tradition to go and sample the Beverly!

My favorite is the Japanese VegitaBeta, a non-carbonated beverage with apricot and passion fruit flavors.

You can still try some of these drinks out at the Coca-Cola store in Disney Springs.

Club Cool Drinks Machine
Club Cool Drinks Machine
Club Cool Drinks Machine
Epcot Spaceship Earth at Night

We said goodbye to Epcot for the final time on this trip and boarded the Monorail back to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

We grabbed dinner from Captain Cook’s – the Resort’s quick/counter-service restaurant and finished off packing. I didn’t take any photos of the food, so we probably all just had our favorites that I would have written about on another day of this report.

Tomorrow we fly home to the UK, but first, there will be breakfast at ‘Ohana!

Read about the day after:
Day 15: ‘Ohana Means Family
Breakfast at ‘Ohana / Travel Day MCO-LGW

Read about the day before:
Day 13: Disney Resort Christmas Tree Trail Part 4
Saratoga Springs / Animal Kingdom / Lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue / All Star Movies / Tree of Life Awakenings

» Read ALL the days!

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The camera I use for my Disney photography is a Canon EOS 70D.
The two main lenses I use: Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro and Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC Art. Both of these lenses will also fit Nikon and Sony DSLRs.
I also take some photos on my iPhone7 for sharing on social media – follow my Disney Instagram account – LoveDisneyPhotos
Pool photos are taken with: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. A similar model is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT30EB-A
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