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Joe's 2019 Disneyland Candlelight Processional Trip Report with Lin-Manuel Miranda

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  • Trip Report Joe's 2019 Disneyland Candlelight Processional Trip Report with Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Merry Christmas from the Flowers' family. I just finished my Christmas Lights (click here if you want to see more on that), but it doesn't really start feeling like Christmas until Disneyland's Annual Candlelight Processional happens.


    It's the first full weekend of December, so it's time for Disneyland to host its annual Candlelight Processional!
    While Theresa and I had been annual pass holders since 2002, Candlelight wasn't a published event and we hadn't heard of it before. It was in 2008 when we met Ruston for the very first time at Jacob's birthday party that he told us a little bit more about it. Ruston gave us a bit of the history, plus told us that he'd be performing. We went to see him that year (and nearly every year since) and soon we all became good friends.


    Sadly Theresa is home with the kids who are sick, but I'm healthy and I'm going to the parks to see Ruston! This is the very first time I've used the trams from this new parking garage. I'm hauling a bit of camera gear today.


    I love that they still hold Candlelight on Main Street. It just wouldn't be the same inside an auditorium. Having seen it so many times, I've taken quite a few pictures.
    2008 - John Stamos
    2009 - Jon Voight
    2010 - Tom Skerritt
    2011 - Gary Sinise
    2012 - Kurt Russell, Edward James Olmos, Dick Van Dyke, John Stamos
    2014 - Beau Bridges
    2015 - Geena Davis
    2016 - Ginnifer Goodwin
    2017 - Chris Hemsworth
    2018 - Chris Pratt

    By 9:15am, I was inside the park.


    Over the years, I've made a few friends who also really like Candlelight. One of them couldn't make it, but I knew they'd really like one of the limited edition pins.


    It's 9:30am. Today is not about rides. Not about shows. It's about seeing my buddy perform tonight, plus get to see the whole Candlelight show. And tonight, Ruston is going to be in a place of high honor. More on that coming up.
    And because it's just me, I don't have to worry about keeping anyone else entertained and can do what I please today. I'm going to make sure I have the best view possible tonight, so I'm here on the curb and I'm not leaving until Candlelight is over.
    In my best Wandering Oaken (from Frozen) voice - "The only one crazy enough to be out here is you dear."


    "You and these fellows. Yoo-hoo!"


    But seriously, yes, there are already people lining up to watch it. I made this map back in 2014 after getting asked about where to stand to watch it. I updated it slightly this year to add the narrator's location.
    As far as waiting goes, the bench seats are taken immediately at park opening. I like the light-red area on the right instead. It's a little further from the narrator, but it's got a good view of the stage and you're not looking through a bunch of trees.


    And now, we wait. I spent the time chatting with the cast members working the area. Last year they didn't allow people to start waiting until 12:30. It seems this year they are letting people camp out, though I was warned that someone might decide to make everyone get up and leave. With so many cast members, it's difficult to know who gets the final say of what to do.
    All morning the characters are out and about. Occasionally they'd come over and interact with the people waiting.


    Hey! I recognize these gals. We were all waiting together last year. They watched Candlelight on Saturday, but they recognized me from last year and stopped by to say hi. I know Spirit jerseys are popular now. Cassandra, you did a great job on these homemade Candlelight Spirit jerseys, with a big glittery Candlelight across the back. Thanks for saying hi!


    More people started to show up, which was great and helped pass the time. This was around 11am. Verlene watched the show yesterday and now she's back again today.


    By noon, the curb is mostly full. Cast members were keeping an eye on things, which I did appreciate. Around 11:15am someone walked by with a blanket, tossed it on the curb, announced "I'll be back", and left. They might have spent 15 seconds there. A cast member came by 30 minutes later, asked who the blanket belonged to and removed it. Thank you. (by the way, they returned at 3:30pm, over 4 hours later, and asked where their spot was).


    Characters have been greeting people right behind me all day. I've got to get a picture with Minnie, especially since she's so dressed up.


    This has been the same parade for a long long time. Just because I'm curious, I checked the wiki. A Christmas Fantasy Parade debuted in 1995. The floated were re-ordered in 2008. I'm ready for an update, and from the talk of many of the people around me, they are too. That soundtrack is so repetitive. Too repetitive.


    There are still some elements that are fun, like the tin soldier trumpeters.


    Hi Mickey. Nice outfit. I've seen a lot of people today with homemade shirts and hats to match up with Mickey and Minnie. The photos they've taken have been adorable.


    Hello Santa!


    Last year it was elves who were holding the rope at the end of the parade. This time it looks like cast members.


    More fun character interactions at the park. Cruella was chasing Pluto for a little while. Then Pluto turned around and chased her while she screamed about him having fleas.


    Look who it is! Ruston stopped by briefly before going backstage. The choir is meeting at 1:30pm so he's got places to be.


    At 1:45pm the ropes started to go up. People are starting to fill in.


    At 2:10pm, pallets and more pallets of chairs started showing up.


    Now let me say, I was concerned this year that Candlelight might not even happen at all. A week out, the forecast said it was going to rain from Saturday morning through Sunday night. Solid rain. Even a couple days out when the hourly forecast because available, Saturday and Sunday showed rain every hour that mattered.
    So on Saturday when the forecast changed to only 1 hour of rain, and then on Sunday morning it said no rain at all, I was very happy.
    Well, it's hard to predict the weather. It started as a light drizzle, but then turned into heavy drops.


    Look at that beautiful rainbow. If I wanted to leave the area, I bet there's a few places you could get a nice photo with the rainbow in the background. But not me. I haven't left the area at all.


    Rain would come and go, and just when you thought it was clear skies, another cloud would roll in and come down hard.


    Good thing I'm prepared with a rain jacket and umbrella.


    Because of the rain, the 3:15pm parade was delayed for 25 minutes or so. It was an abbreviated parade with fewer performers than the regular one.


    Ah, there's those elves.


    Once there second parade had passed by, cast members could finally set up the handicapped viewing section. People in this section were required to get a wristband ahead of time, so if you're planning to take advantage of that next year, keep it in mind. The benches were seated first, and then wheelchairs and scooters were lined up. And it's important to note that parties were separated here. Only the person on the scooter could be up front. People with them had to stand further back in a separate taped off section.


    It's 4pm. Another 1:30 until Candlelight. This section is pretty full.


    I love the patriotic flag retreat ceremony. The music for the Star Spangled Banner plays on the loud speakers and the Voice of Disneyland invited everyone to sing along. Some things I think will always give me chills no matter how many times I hear it. You've seen how crowded it is. When everyone stops talking, men take off their hats, people place their hand over their heart, and hundreds of voices rise up and sing the National Anthem together, how can you not get chills.


    After the flag retreat ceremony, a small army of cast members start wiping down the reserved seats. From what I know, these are Disney executives, Club 33 members, and other special invited guests.


    And of course after they finished, the skies opened up again and now all the seats are wet again.


    I didn't have my helpers this year, but in continue the tradition of my Candlelight friend Armand, I came with snacks to give out. A bag full of Dove Peppermint Bark chocolates to whet everyone's appetite, and then a Costco sized bag of Zebra Corn to follow it up. And this year I remembered bowls. I made a lot of people very happy with the unexpected treat.


    Time for the tree lighting. Count it down. 3...2...1...


    Happy Holidays! If you notice, in the photo above and in this one too, the sky is filled with black dots. That's not a dirty camera, but hundreds and hundreds of crows that for some reason decided to descend on Main Street.


    It was a really odd sight to behold. There's at least 30 birds in this tree in front of me. I'm directly below a tree here too, but don't dare look up. The smartest of us waiting pulled out their umbrellas, despite there not being any rain.


    It's 5pm. Just 30 more minutes until Candlelight. It's pretty packed here now.


    The handicapped section has now been roped off all the way to the sidewalk by the shops to allow more standing room.


    It's crowded but everyone is in good spirits. I spent the time chatting with Camille and Kalin about different Disney adventures. Camille even sang in Candlelight when she was younger as part of a school choir. Cool! The good thing about being surround by all these people is that we all have something in common. We love Disney, otherwise we wouldn't be here! It makes for easy conversation.


    At 5:20pm, the reserved seats are starting to fill up. I notice the rows have different colored bows on the end, and people are seated in different sections, despite closer sections being empty. I wonder what differentiates who gets which ticket.


    At 5:23pm the amazing conductor, Nancy Sulahian takes the stage. Let's start Candlelight!
    Last edited by mre200200; 12-16-2019, 09:32 PM.
    Visit my blog at http://flowerstales.blogspot.com/

    I stayed overnight in the Disneyland Dream Suite! Read all about it here!
    Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

  • #2
    It's time for Candlelight to start! Tonight's special guest narrator is Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Jack in Mary Poppins Returns and wrote the songs for Moana.


    I've been in pretty much this same spot since 9:30am. Not even a restroom break! Let's start the show!


    The lights around Main Street dimmed and the voices of the processional filled the air. They're coming!


    It's dimly lit and therefore hard to see individual people, but I'm always hopeful to see Ruston as he's coming in. And I did! And even better, I got a picture too!


    Now, I've been coming to see Ruston sing since 2008. A lot of those years it is just to "hear" Ruston sing. He's so tall, he's usually stuck in the back of a row, buried in the shadows somewhere. But this year, things are different. During rehearsals on Thursday night, he was placed in his usual "back of the row" location. Bummer.
    But on Friday night, he got a text from the Cast Choir organizer. After 17 years of performing, a little Disney Magic happened for Ruston.


    Ruston is the Star! I'm so excited for him!
    And now you know why I was fine with camping out all day and crossing my fingers the rain wouldn't cancel the show. I had to make sure I could be there to see this special event.


    Trumpeters right above his head.


    Lin-Manuel Miranda's introduction.




    The child soloist did a great job with "Away in a Manger".


    The handbell choir.


    I took so many pictures of Ruston on the top of the tree.



    I love the smile Ruston gives at the end. He really loves doing this.


    The picture of the entire stage. From this spot, this is about the best view you can hope for.



    One of my favorite parts of the show is when Conductor Nancy Sulahian and Drew Tablak lead the entire audience in the singing of Silent Night. And this year the people around me weren't shy singing, which makes it even better.



    The Hallelujah chorus is great too, when everyone stands together as soon as the first few notes of the song are played.


    The Voice of Disneyland - Ladies and Gentlemen, we extend our sincere thanks to - Our Candlelight Choir. The featured soloists and guitarist. Our sign language interpreter. The candlelight orchestra, bell choir and fanfare trumpeters. Our conductor Nancy Sulahian. And tonight's special guest narrator Lin-Manuel Miranda.


    Lin-Manuel Miranda's Closing Remarks
    Ladies and Gentlemen, it was my honor to share this beautiful candlelight ceremony with all of you.
    The moon came out just for y'all tonight.
    You know, there are many traditions and many ways to celebrate this wonderful time of year. However you and your loved ones choose to do so, I hope you find your lives renewed with meaning and with purpose.
    Let's embrace every one of our tomorrow's through hope and love.
    And through this holiday spirit may we continue to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world.
    On a personal note, this is my family's first trip to Disneyland. It's a pretty good way to do it.
    Muchísima Gracia. Thank you. And Merry Christmas!


    It was a beautiful ceremony tonight. Made even better by seeing Ruston as the Star.
    I headed over to the front of the stage just on the chance that I might see him as he walked off. He would tell me later that his section comes down from the stage and goes directly towards the Main Street Bank.


    Never-the-less, it's a beautiful sight with everyone leaving, the lights pointing everywhere, and all the saturated colors.


    As everyone is leaving, Nancy and the orchestra continue playing to an empty stage. This would be an amazing view for the show. I had to go up to the stage and say hi to Nancy and thank her.


    She just wrapped up the last song and I was at the base of the stage. Someone else (not me) called her name and she turned around.
    (This next part blew my mind)
    Nancy turned around, saw me and said "Hey! Where are my elves?"
    (Wow, she remembers me from last year coming up here with the kids)
    Me - Oh they wanted to come. They're at home sick unfortunately.
    Nancy - Oh. Now don't tell me. It was Ian... and Alli.
    (Oh my goodness. How does she remember that. Nancy must have an amazing memory)

    The kids really loved her and all the time she spent with them last year.


    Still amazed at how she remembered us, I asked if we could get a picture together.
    Nancy - Oh you don't want a picture with me up here. Let me come down there to you.

    Nancy, you're amazing. I think I overheard that you've been doing this since 1998. Thank you so much for everything you do to prepare and put this on every year.


    I went up to the stage to take one more look.


    Things are starting to clear out around here. There's another showing here in an hour.


    Reserved seats for Disney executives, special guests, and Club 33 members.


    As I'm leaving the area, I can see into the control booth. This would be a really interesting view too.


    The area along Main Street is quite crowded with people lined up for the second and final showing of Candlelight. From my timestamps, it's right around 6:40pm that they were letting people in.


    Getting the handicapped benches filled up first.


    Ruston!
    Ruston made his way from backstage into the park and over to me. It's been tradition to get a photo together in front of the tree.


    Who is hungry? I've only had snacks all day.
    Pasta is sounding great. Pizza Planet has some tasty chicken fusilli. Yum!


    For dessert, the two of us found some gingerbread cookies at the Penny Press Arcade on Main Street, which has an old fashioned candy counter inside.


    Passing by the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor right next door, Ruston said "Ice cream?"
    I mean, it's never a bad time for ice cream. Because a double cone is only 75 cents more than a single, it was more economical to get a double scoop and split it. They're giant scoops anyway. And a peppermint candy cone, yes please.


    Walking out, the last showing of Candlelight is just now starting (7:45pm). It would be rough being so far in the back.


    The entrance to Disneyland is fairly quiet considering the madness on the other side of the railroad station. It's an interesting sight seeing trumpeters from this side.


    Ruston and I wandered through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trails in California Adventure. Jumping on the Jingle Bridge, signing Santa's Nice List (but not waiting in line), and watching other kids meet Santa.


    Finally the two of us wandered into The Grand Californian. Looks like the Gingerbread house is finished! The kids are going to love coming back here to find all the hidden Mickeys.


    What better place to enjoy our gingerbread mickeys.



    The lobby of the Grand is a great place to hang out. We watched as Santa finished meeting the last few kids before finally going back to the North Pole for the night (8:15pm)


    We chatted while listening to the lobby piano player and then to the Holiday Handbell Carollers.


    It's been an eventful day today. It's always great coming to see Ruston perform!
    Visit my blog at http://flowerstales.blogspot.com/

    I stayed overnight in the Disneyland Dream Suite! Read all about it here!
    Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

    Comment


    • #3
      I've been waiting for this trip report, so I was excited to see it posted this morning. Bummer that the kiddos were sick, but happy to see you still toughed it out and went anyway. I'm not sure how you survived all that time without a bathroom break, I would have needed a buddy to hold our place or some diapers, haha. Thanks for taking the time to put this together Joe, really enjoyed reading it, and it's started to become something I look forward to around Christmas!
      -Brian

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      • #4
        I felt like I was there reading this! Thanks for allowing me to have an experience I couldn't! <3

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        • #5
          Very awesome, thanks for sharing.
          BGood! It's not just my motto its my name!

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          • #6
            Congratulations to Ruston on an amazing performance. He truly is a star!
            http://micechat.com/forums/disneylan...oto-heavy.html
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            No matter where you go, there you are.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bamato View Post
              I've been waiting for this trip report, so I was excited to see it posted this morning. Bummer that the kiddos were sick, but happy to see you still toughed it out and went anyway. I'm not sure how you survived all that time without a bathroom break, I would have needed a buddy to hold our place or some diapers, haha. Thanks for taking the time to put this together Joe, really enjoyed reading it, and it's started to become something I look forward to around Christmas!
              Thanks Brian. Ha, just skipped the morning coffee and it wasn't a big deal.
              I'm glad you've enjoyed it.


              Originally posted by JoFi View Post
              I felt like I was there reading this! Thanks for allowing me to have an experience I couldn't! <3
              Originally posted by mickdaddy View Post
              Very awesome, thanks for sharing.
              You're welcome! Merry Christmas!


              Originally posted by sbk1234 View Post
              Congratulations to Ruston on an amazing performance. He truly is a star!
              He really is!

              Visit my blog at http://flowerstales.blogspot.com/

              I stayed overnight in the Disneyland Dream Suite! Read all about it here!
              Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks so much for the report. Like your kids, hubby and I were both sick that weekend and had to cancel our hotel reservations! Bummer! But you made me feel as though I was there.
                1967, 1973, 1977 - DLR (RV parks)
                1980-1984 - DLR (multiple single days or at now-defunct motels)
                1994 - DLR (off-site hotel)
                2007 - DLR (single day)
                2008, 2009 - DLR (BW Stovall's)
                2012 - WDW (PopC)
                2013 - DLR (Candy Cane Inn)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by teacherlady19 View Post
                  Thanks so much for the report. Like your kids, hubby and I were both sick that weekend and had to cancel our hotel reservations! Bummer! But you made me feel as though I was there.
                  Aww, that's unfortunate you had to cancel. Glad I could give you a peek at what you missed.
                  Visit my blog at http://flowerstales.blogspot.com/

                  I stayed overnight in the Disneyland Dream Suite! Read all about it here!
                  Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

                  Comment

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