Sunday, December 3, 2017

2017 Disneyland Candlelight - Chris Hemsworth

It's the 2017 Disneyland Candlelight Processional! We've been coming to see this show for 10 years now and it's always enjoyable. After waiting on one of the curbs on Main Street for 5.5 hours, the show is starting!

The orchestra takes the stage first and opens with a peppy mix of some holiday favorites. Then, all the lights in the area go dim and you hear the soft sound of caroling. As that soft sound grows louder, finally you see the entire choir assembly coming down the street, all following the leads with their lanterns.

As difficult as it is to get a shot of the leads, it's even more difficult to get a shot of the people following. What with their only light source being a single candle. I managed to find Ruston among the crowd of people. Lucky.

Watching the show and trying to find Uncle Ruston.

Before all the lights come on, this is what it looks like as people find their place on stage. Totally dark with little pinpoints of light.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Chris Hemsworth.
That's right, the god of Thunder himself, Thor, will be narrating the Candlelight Processional tonight. Disney kept this under wraps all the way until the first showing of Candlelight yesterday, when normally they'd make an announcement at least a few weeks in advance. There was even speculation that even though Chris Hemsworth narrated the first night, it could even be a different person tonight.

"The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS." 

Chris Hemsworth did a great job narrating. He's got a pleasing deep voice and the Australian accent sounds great too.
Now to get a photo of it. Photographing Candlelight can be difficult. There's light sources everywhere, making some things way too bright and others still dark. I can't trust the camera to make the right decisions, so I had to play tweak things in Manual Mode until I was happy with it. Not bad, but still too bright. Once everyone in front of me in the chairs sat down, I was able to lower my tripod and get underneath all the hanging tree branches. Phew!

Where's Ruston?
After Ruston's practice here on Thursday night, he found out where he'd be standing, and we knew we'd really just be "hearing" him perform and not really seeing him. We can just see the top of his head.

But the rest of the tree we can see pretty well. Recognize anyone? Let me know and I can send you a higher resolution photo.

Okay, I've got the camera settings where I'd like them. Now to get a photo of him looking up.

I don't know how many years Nancy Sulahian has been conducting, but she's the only conductor I've ever seen.

A sweet singing of "Away in a Manger"

I bet this is an excellent view.

A duet singing "What Child is This"

It's always a joy to see the trumpeting heralds on the rooftops. I bet they have an interesting view of the show too!


The entire event is such a treat. It's a really great start to the holiday season.

Drew Tablak did a beautiful job singing Silent Night.

And I enjoy it when Drew and Nancy invite everyone to join them in a verse. Hearing not just the choir, but all the people around me singing, once again, it's one of those moments that gives you chills.

Okay, it's now or never. Look at the camera and smile!
It's a smirk, but I'll take it. Great!

The finale of the show ends appropriately with the Hallelujah Chorus, where since the year 1756 it's tradition that everyone stands.

Unfortunately once everyone stood up, I had to raise my tripod to get over their heads, and once again I was contending with the branches. Gah! There's one right across his face. Good thing I know a little bit about Photoshop.


After the Hallelujah chorus, the voice of Disneyland comes over the speakers and thanks everyone for their participation.
"We extend our sincere thanks to our Candlelight choir. Our featured soloists and guitarist. Our sign language interpreter. The Candlelight orchestra. Our conductor, Nancy Sulahian. And tonight's special guest narrator, Chris Hemsworth."

"Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. It was an honor sharing this beautiful Candlelight ceremony with all of you. It has been a very special and inspiring night. You know there are many traditions and many ways to celebrate this wonderful time of year. And however you do so, you and your loved ones, I hope you find your life renewed in meaning and with purpose. So let's embrace every one of our tomorrows with hope, and with love. And through this holiday spirit, may we continue to spread peace and goodwill throughout the world. Thank you very very much, and have a very Merry Christmas."

Thumbs up to the choir before exiting.

Afterwards, Ian and I headed up towards the stage before everyone was shuffled out to prep the area for the next showing.

We thanked the orchestra members along with the conductor, and just enjoyed the whole feel of the area.

Armand and Robbin were in line for the 2nd showing already. Thanks for the cookies and everything else Armand! Merry Christmas!

The five of us stood in our regular spot near the Christmas Tree, waiting for Ruston to change out of his robes and join us from backstage. It's tradition now to get a picture here.

The center of Main Street is empty! I think they're keeping it clear so the processional can walk down Main Street for the last show of the night. The sidewalk on the other side though sure is jam packed with people.

No-one had eaten dinner yet, so that was our next stop. I had originally thought about eating at the Plaza Inn and having some of that delicious fried chicken. The crowd though was funneled right past the Plaza Inn and as a result, the line stretched out the door and halfway to the Astro Orbitor. Instead we enjoyed a meal at the pizza port.

Since I've got all the gear, including a tripod, why not get a nighttime family photo in front of the castle.

As well as a photo of everyone together.

Oh boy. I see that yawn. Yes we are keeping you out past your bedtime for this.

Another tradition. Gingerbread cookies and some of my grandma's recipe spiced tea. It's just not the holiday season without it. This batch of tea was made last night, heated and kept hot in a thermos all day, just so it could be enjoyed tonight with everyone.

And normally we might have just gone home, but there's planning to be done. Sure, why not in the castle forecourt. Bring out the laptops and phones because next year we're all going on a big trip together to cross off some things on our Disney bucket list!

As it neared 8pm, we were told we'd have to move, as the area was going to be prepped for fireworks. And even though the 2nd showing of Candlelight has already started, the street hasn't opened back up. The backstage bypass wasn't open either. That mean that this walk from the end of Main Street...

... to the front of Main Street, took 15 minutes!

Our aim was to find a spot in the Grand Californian lobby. Grab a drink, grab more cookies, and continue the planning. There were guards at the security gate entrance though, letting only hotel guests through. Guess we'll have to finish this on the planter in the middle of Downtown Disney. Ian decided he'd had enough, asked if we could lower his side of the stroller, and went to sleep. Alli is still going though!

After planning was completed, we all said our goodbyes and headed to the car. The walk over from Downtown Disney to the Mickey and Friends garage was enough to put Alli to sleep too.

Once again, it was an awesome day and a great night. I love being able to see Candlelight every year, and this year's performance was fantastic. If you've never done it, but have a lot of Christmas spirit and you have the means, I highly recommend seeing it.


  1. Do I sense a Shanghai/Hong Kong Disney trip coming?? I'm already excited to experience it secondhand through your blog. I've been following along since your Japan trip back in 2011, and I actually used your posts as a great resource for planning my trip to Tokyo Disney in 2014 for my college graduation. Thanks so much for all of the hard work you put in!

    1. Your senses are right in tune! I'm excited!
      Thanks for following along for so long! That's great you were able to use it for planning and awesome you got visit Tokyo! How'd you like Tokyo Disneyland?

    2. I loved it, especially Tokyo Disney Sea! We brought along my best friend who is fluent in Japanese which was amazingly helpful. Obviously most of the cast members are able to speak some English, but it was so nice to have someone to rely on for more nuanced discussions like "Does this show go on if it rains and will anything change?" and he also translated most of the Japanese language attractions for us. He had been to Japan twice before (but never Tokyo Disney) so he also handled the planning for our non-Disney days which were equally superb to the park days. Can't wait to go back, but I need to get through all my post-grad work first!

  2. I definitely laughed when I saw your Photoshop job. I was scrolling image by image, was thinking "oh, he'll probably do some clone stamp and healing brushes to get it to look normal...." and then you go and do that. Awesome!