Thrifty Thursday: Should you get the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package?

Candlelight Processional

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For many, a visit to Walt Disney World during the Holiday Season would not be complete without seeing the Candlelight Processional. Performed 3 times each night at Epcot, from the day after Thanksgiving until Dec. 30, this moving concert tells the story of the Nativity, featuring a 50-piece orchestra, celebrity narrator and a massed choir made up of choirs (including many student/school groups) from around the country. It’s a beautiful, amazing, and inspirational way to celebrate the season. But don’t take my word for it. Take a few minutes to get an idea of what it is all about.

You can see that the Candlelight Processional is truly an amazing experience…and you can also see why the lines waiting to get into each show are typically very long…with many folks waiting in line, not getting a seat at all. For this reason, Disney offers a Candlelight Processional Dinner Package that provides the opportunity to combine guaranteed seating for one of the Candlelight Processional shows on a particular day, with reserved seating at lunch or dinner at one of a number of Epcot restaurants. This is how it works:

  • You schedule your Candlelight Processional Dining Package meal for before the performance you will attend.  So if you will attend the 5 p.m. performance, you have the Lunch Package. For the 6:45 show, you will schedule a Dinner Package for dinner between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., and for the 8:00 performances, your Dinner Package will typically be for dinner between 5:00-6:00 pm.
  • Pricing is based on the restaurant you choose, and range from $44.00-$70.00/adult and $15.50-$42.00/child for lunch and from $51.00-$80.00 adult and $17.50-$42.00/child for dinner.
  • New this year, 3 restaurants are also offering a breakfast option, which prices out slightly less than the price range for lunch.
  • Meals include appetizer, entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage. If you wish to use the Disney Dining Plan, it will cost two Table Service credits.

So, while the Candlelight Processional is technically free, the Dinner Package is clearly not. Which leaves many people wondering if they should pay the cost for the dinner package (ie: Is it “worth” it?) or just take their chances trying to get a seat…or just skip the show entirely….

To help you decide, consider the following:

  • While you don’t HAVE to have the dinner package to get in to see this concert….not having it will mean that you will wait in line for at least 60 minutes prior to the show, and hope that there are still seats available by the time you get to the front of the line. During the peak of the holidays, there are not likely to be many…or any…seats available after the Dinner Package people have taken their reserved seats. With the Candlelight Processional Dinner Package, you remove the stress about getting a seat (although you will still need to get in line prior, but you are guaranteed a seat), you have a sit-down meal at one of Epcot’s great restaurants, and you also receive access to a preferred viewing area for Illuminations.
  • Do you have little ones that will be ok with sitting for this concert for nearly an hour? That’s a long time, and while it is an amazing performance, it is often very hard for children to want to stay still and quiet for the entire time.
  • How important is it to you to see/hear this show….and is it in your budget? Remember: if you are going to use Dining Plan Table Service credits, it will cost you two credits.

In my opinion, if it is in your budget, and you enjoy Christmas carols and performances, then YES, get the Dinner Package to make it more of a relaxing evening: you will not regret it.

If you have young children, or it just is not in your budget, don’t despair, because there are ways…… 🙂

If you want to try to get in without the Dinner Package, then choose your performance, and plan a couple of hours to wait in line, preferably with more than one person to take turns. Since there are 3 performances, I would probably try for the first one at 5 p.m.: head over to the American Gardens Theater no later than 3 to get in line. There is a stand-by line and one for Dinner Package guests, so choose the stand-by line. Once all guests who are in line from the Dinner Package are seated, the remainder of the seats are filled with those in the stand-by line. While I personally have not done this, from what I have read, those who are near the front of this line have an excellent chance of getting in.

Now if you have young children and would like to see/hear the concert but are not sure about going through all that to get a seat – only to find they are getting restless and you have to leave – you should know that you can still see and hear the show simply by standing along the promenade outside of the pavilion You will still be treated to an exceptional performance…but will also have the ability to move on when the little ones get antsy.

Everyone is different, but for me, this performance is extremely moving, and is my single favorite thing at Disney World during the Christmas season. If you love Christmas music, massed choirs and inspiring performances, then do whatever you can to attend the Candlelight Processional.

P.S. Want to know who all the Celebrity Narrators will be for this year? Click here to find out.

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