Walt Disney World has released the complete narrator lineup for the 2023 Candlelight Processional and dining package details–plus EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays entertainment, food & Santa info. This post covers details we know thus far about the Christmas-time event.
For starters, this year’s EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays will run from November 24 until December 30, 2023. Unlike other Christmas-time offerings at Walt Disney World, the holiday festivities at EPCOT always end before New Year’s Eve to clear space for NYE. It remains to be seen what Walt Disney World will do for New Year’s in light of Disney100 and the new Luminous: The Symphony of Us nighttime spectacular, but we’re expecting it to be a normal NYE at EPCOT.
Walt Disney World is once again releasing info about this year’s EPCOT Festival of the Holidays later than normal. Honestly, we thought the holdup with the Candlelight Processional narrator lineup might’ve been the actors’ strike. Given the celebrities in the lineup, that is obviously not the case! This announcement basically fleshes out what is happening, providing new details about the “choirs singing, chestnuts roasting, kitchens cooking, cookies baking or gifts unwrapping” at EPCOT for the 2023 holiday season…
Let’s begin with some ‘addition by subtraction’ news. The absence of Guardians of the Galaxy: HolidayRewind all but confirms that Christmas overlay of Cosmic Rewind was a one and done. That debuted last year, and in it, the Guardians traded in their classic hits playlist for a mash-up of seasonal jams. Guests blast off to the tune of a holiday single, bringing joy to Xandar and Terra.
If you missed that, you did not miss much. The only thing that changed was the music, and it didn’t fit the attraction very well at all. For that to be a one and done, my guess is that guest feedback was resoundingly negative. (We hated it.)
In World Nature, Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights will return. During the Festival, ride Living with the Land for a special, sparkling boat tour. Enjoy a peaceful cruise and view twinkling holiday light displays throughout the greenhouses.
We absolutely love Living with the Land. It’s one of the Walt Disney World attractions we do the most. We also absolutely love Christmas lights. Put those two things together, and we are squarely the target audience for Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights. Unsurprisingly, we absolutely love this overlay. I could go on and on about this, gushing about the calming atmosphere, thoroughness, and understated simplicity of it all. Suffice to say, do not miss Living with the Land: Merry and Bright Nights!!!
In terms of entertainment, Walt Disney World has teased that the Holiday Storytellers, musical acts, and other performers will bring holiday traditions of the world to life around World Showcase. No specifics as to which ones will be back, but that’s usually not revealed until shortly before the holiday season starts.
One new addition (or change) is that Santa Claus himself will visit with guests at the Odyssey pavilion from November 24 through December 24, 2023. Don your festive best for the perfect photo op and make sure you’ve been nice!
You can also sing along with the exuberant voices of JOYFUL! A Celebration of the Season in World Showcase Plaza. With uplifting Gospel and R&B songs celebrating Christmas and Kwanzaa, JOYFUL! returns once again for the 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. (They’ve gotta be one of the longest-running seasonal acts at EPCOT at this point.)
Walt Disney World has also shared details about the 2023 Candlelight Processional. This time-honored tradition has been a part of the holiday season at Walt Disney World since its opening in 1971. Experience the celebrity narrators, the Voices of Liberty acapella ensemble, a 50-piece live orchestra and glorious massed choirs as they present a heartwarming retelling of the traditional Christmas story.
EPCOT will once again share this tradition with the community, inviting guest choirs from across Florida to take part in the show. Choirs comprised of Walt Disney World Cast Members will also return, bringing magic to their performances as they do in their roles every day.
Walt Disney World has also released the FULL lineup of narrators for the 2023 Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. You can see this show nightly at 5:15 PM, 7:00 PM or 8:30 PM at the America Gardens Theatre in EPCOT’s World Showcase.
This year, the following celebrity lineup will lend their talents to the performance:
Chrissy Metz (NEW) – November 24 and 25, 2023
Luis Fonsi (NEW) – November 26 and 27, 2023
Ann-Margret (NEW) – November 28 and 29, 2023
Simu Liu – November 30 and December 1-2, 2023
John Stamos – December 3 through December 5, 2023
Neil Patrick Harris – December 6 through December 8, 2023
Marlee Matlin – December 9 through December 11, 2023
Brendan Fraser (NEW) – December 12 through December 14, 2023
Eva Longoria (NEW) – December 15 and December 16, 2023
Joey McIntyre (NEW) – December 17 and December 18, 2023
Sterling K. Brown (NEW) – December 19 and December 20, 2023
Jordan Fisher (NEW) – December 21 through December 23, 2023
Steven Curtis Chapman – December 24 through December 26, 2023
Audra McDonald (NEW) – December 27 and December 28, 2023
Lisa Ling – December 29 and December 30, 2023
Celebrity narrators, dates and other entertainment are subject to change or cancellation without notice.
I’m going to call it right now: this is the best Candlelight Processional narrator lineup since we’ve been doing the event at EPCOT (I want to say our first time was 2008?). There’s truly someone for everyone here, with big-name newcomers like Brendan Fraser, Eva Longoria, and Sterling K. Brown having huge fan-followings. Hopefully someone gets Mr. Fraser his cup of coffee before his performance, or watch out!
Seriously though, there are a lot of big names that I actually recognize. I would love to see any of those three–Brendan Fraser, Eva Longoria, or Sterling K. Brown–and the other newcomers should appeal to others. (Also, and I’m not going to name names, but it’s nice to see a few mainstays that I think overstayed their welcome and had been phoning it in not in the 2023 Candlelight Processional lineup.)
Then there’s Joey McIntyre and Jordan Fisher, who will appeal to different generations and different fandoms for very different reasons. Actually…maybe there’s more audience overlap than thought among the Disney Adults of my generation. Sarah loves the New Kids on the Block and Happily Ever After, so she’s more than just a little disappointed to be missing Candlelight Processional this year!
Then there are returning fan favorites like John Stamos and Neil Patrick Harris, who are arguably two of the top Candlelight Processional narrators of all-time. Both are also big Walt Disney World fans themselves, and can frequently be spotted in the parks during their weekends, which I appreciate as a fan. (Of the current ‘generation’ of Candlelight Processional narrators, they’re my favorites. I know, very ‘basic’ picks, but they’re both great!)
The biggest ‘missing’ names are probably Edward James Olmos and Pat Sajak, but hopefully they’re enjoying their respective retirements. All in all, a really good lineup with a lot of range that we’re guessing Candlelight Processional fans will appreciate!
Candlelight Processional Dining Packages are also returning, and can be booked online beginning October 17, 2023. Advance Dining Reservations are highly recommended and can be made up to 60 days prior to your visit. This means that on October 17, ADRs are available for Candlelight Processional up until December 16, 2023. (Also subject to the 60+10 rule for on-site guests.)
The remainder of the Candlelight Processional Dining Packages will be released on a rolling basis each day after October 17. Again, keep in mind that this is still subject to the 60+10 rule for on-site guests, so if you’re staying off-site, you very well might get shut out even at the 60 day mark for those later dates during the peak weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Here are details about the 2023 Candlelight Processional Dining Packages at select EPCOT eateries…
Choose from 8 unique eateries at EPCOT offering Candlelight Processional Dining Packages. A meal at participating restaurants includes:
At Spice Road Table: 2 small plates and one nonalcoholic beverage per person, plus a tagine and dessert platter for your party to share
All other participating restaurants: an appetizer, entrée and dessert, or one full buffet/family-style meal, as well as a nonalcoholic beverage
One guaranteed seat per person to the Candlelight Processional held on the same day
Explore participating restaurants and dining package prices, which exclude tax and gratuity:
Planning a last-minute visit? You may be able to purchase a same-day dining package, which allows you to:
Dine without reservations at Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue that day
Enjoy guaranteed seats to a Candlelight Processional performance later that day
To check availability for same-day dining packages, visit Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue during the Festival. Packages are subject to availability and may not be available on peak dates.
(Note that this is a change for the 2023 Candlelight Processional. Last year, same-day availability was also offered at Spice Road Table. We suspect that’ll be true again on an informal basis, as it’s possible that last-minute ADRs will be available for Candlelight Processional Dining Packages at Spice Road Table. We wouldn’t bank on that, though!)
We’re happy to see Biergarten Restaurant make the cut once again. This is always our top recommendation thanks to its jovial Christmas atmosphere, music, and value for money. Read Our Christmas Feast at Biergarten Restaurant for what the holiday time experience is like there.
We would strongly recommend those who want a 2023 Candlelight Processional Dining Package be online bright and early on October 17, 2023. These will sell out fast–probably far faster than normal. With fewer options (meaning less total dining capacity) plus pent-up demand (still ongoing for this since it was slower to return), we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see these sell out for all available dates right on the ADR drop day.
With that in mind, pack your patience if you’re planning on doing opening day ADRs for the 2023 Candlelight Processional Dining Packages. As with any ADR drop days, glitches and slow-to-load inventory are distinct possibilities. We’d recommend being up earlier than normal, being on multiple devices, and budgeting more time than you might expect. If it ends up being smoother sailing, consider it a small victory–but prepare for headaches. See our Guide to Advance Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World for tips & tricks to increase your chances of success!
In terms of other basic info, guests will receive Candlelight Seating badges at the restaurant after their meal. The badge will specify the date and show time they have reserved. Dining Package participants will enter America Gardens Theatre in a separate queue and will be seated on a first-come, first served basis. Seating is guaranteed for those who purchase the Candlelight Processional Dining Package.
If you have other questions, see our Guide to Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. While that hasn’t been updated with all of this new info, it should mostly be accurate. The basics of Candlelight Processional–showtimes, seatings, and more–should be more or less the same this year. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about the Dining Packages and everything else coming to the 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays.
Are you excited to experience the 2023 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays? Excited for Candlelight Processional? What do you think of our claim that the 2023 Candlelight Processional has the best narrator lineup in recent memory? Looking forward to the Holiday Kitchens, live music, or anything else? Think there will be any pleasant surprises? Any tips you want to share to make the most of the experience? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!