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.
2008 - John Stamos
2009 - Jon Voight2010 - Tom Skerritt2011 - Gary Sinise2012 - Kurt Russell, Edward James Olmos, Dick Van Dyke, John Stamos2014 - Beau Bridges2015 - Geena Davis2016 - Ginnifer Goodwin2017 - 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.
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!