Happy Holidays! It’s the best time of year at Disneyland. The park is filled with decorations, delicious scents and magical lights. This weekend the park hosted the annual Candlelight Processional and it couldn’t have been a better way to inject that holiday spirit into the dark heart of this resident Sith Lord. Let’s do the holiday Darth Daver style!

What’s New?

If you read my Star Wars Land News column, you know a couple things. I’m a guy that loves to hit the park at rope drop and check out everything new that’s in the works. Kinda like peeking at gifts while they’re still under the tree.

Of course I go to the big gift first…

Star Wars Land

The exciting stuff going on in the park expansion is along the path of the Disneyland Railroad. Set to open this summer, things are moving full steam ahead (pun intended).

What used to be a four-story mountain of dirt has filled in new berms in the area and is almost gone. This will eventually be the site of the Millennium Falcon attraction.
What used to be a four-story mountain of dirt has filled in new berms in the area and is almost gone. This will eventually be the site of the Millennium Falcon attraction.
This is the entrance to Star Wars Land from Fantasyland. The Disneyland Railroad will pass over this tunnel.
This is the entrance to Star Wars Land from Fantasyland. The Disneyland Railroad will pass over this tunnel.
Over the Frontierland entrance to SWL behind Big Thunder Mountain, a new bridge popped up recently.
Over the Frontierland entrance to SWL behind Big Thunder Mountain, a new bridge popped up recently.
From the park side, rock formations near the entrance from Frontierland are making the area look like an actual land.
From the park side, rock formations near the entrance from Frontierland are making the area look like an actual land.
Near Critter Country, this concrete and steel skeleton is where the Disneyland Railroad will cross in front of a waterfall on the edge of the Rivers Of America.
Near Critter Country, this concrete and steel skeleton is where the Disneyland Railroad will cross in front of a waterfall on the edge of the Rivers Of America.
Next to the Hungry Bear Restaurant a pathway to SWL is being built along the river.
Next to the Hungry Bear Restaurant a pathway to SWL is being built along the river.
A massive excavation is taking place on the west side of SWL that will be the Battle Escape Attraction.
A massive excavation is taking place on the west side of SWL that will be the Battle Escape Attraction.

Check out my regular column for more construction photos along with aerial shots and all the latest developments. We won’t see this gift for a couple of holidays, still. I can’t wait!!!!!

And then there’s the gift that sucks. Like getting underwear because you need it…

New Security Screening

The New Year will bring and expanded security bubble at the Disneyland Resort. The current bag check stations (that look like fancy pop-ups) on the west side of the esplanade are being moved out to the edge of Downtown Disney. In the photos below, you can see the construction at the Mickey and Friends parking structure for the new security perimeter. And they’re still pop-ups. Only less fancy so far. Bare bones and very temporary looking.

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BTW…Behind where the trams are parked is the site of the new hotel planned for the resort.
BTW…Behind where the trams are parked is the site of the new hotel planned for the resort.

Seems kinda cheap for Disney. What do you think? I don’t like getting underwear for Christmas.

OK, enough peeking! Let’s get to the holiday stuff!

Christmas Fantasy Parade

This is how to start the season: a winter cavalcade topped off by the arrival of the Big Guy at the end. We found a nice spot on Main Street and settled in for the parade.

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There he is!!!! I’ve got to let him know what I want.

Disney California Adventure

Festival of Holidays is in full swing across the esplanade.

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While the holiday decorations are not as traditional and expansive as they are in Disneyland, there’s a warm and festive outdoor party vibe rolling through the park. And it smells fantastic!

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We went by Grizzly Peak to see the Big Guy, but he had apparently moved on. Seems he’s got a lot of different places to be.

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Downtown Disney

Holiday lights are filling the trees downtown as music comes from bands on the main stage. But the ice rink is conspicuously absent this year while the expanded security perimeter is being assembled. The ginormous tree that marked the center of the ice rink has been replaced with one half its size in front of the theater.

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Grand Californian

The lobby of the Grand Californian features the annual ginger bread rendering of the Hotel. When we visited, the Dickens Singers performing Christmas Carols accompanied the smell of ginger bread. And nearby was the Big Guy. He must have come over straight from the parade. And he was on the move once again.

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Disneyland Hotel

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The Adventure Tower has it’s own unique tree in the lobby.
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Even with all the Christmas events and cold (for California) weather, some people couldn’t resist an evening swim.

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Just around the corner the torches lit the path for our next stop, Trader Sam’s, where the tiki idols were also decked out for the holidays.

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The main lobby of the Disneyland Hotel has it’s own gingerbread castle greeting guests as they arrive.

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And nearby, the Big Guy is here, too! Only now he’s got a retro living room set.

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Crank up the Hi-Fi, Santa. We’ve got business…

2016 Disneyland Candlelight Processional

My favorite holiday event at Disneyland takes place the first weekend in December with two shows on Saturday and Sunday. It’s been going on in one form or another since the park opened, yet most people only know about by word of mouth. The park doesn’t promote it and you won’t find any mention of it on the Disneyland calendar.

The park quietly installed risers and a stage on the Main Street Train Station This week. The days of the show, Town Square is filled with chairs for Disney VIPs.

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Disneyland invites choirs from all over to march down the parade route with candles. While they are walking through the park, the orchestra on stage plays Christmas music. The mass choir files through Town Square and fills the stands and forms one mass choir.

Conductor Nancy Sulahain.
Conductor Nancy Sulahain.

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The traditional Christmas Story (the one about Jesus, not Santa) is read by a celebrity guest narrator. For our show, it was read by Ginnifer Goodwin, who did Judy’s voice in Zootopia and played Snow White in Once Upon A Time.

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A few years ago, I saw James Earl Jones as the guest narrator. Darth Vader reading the Christmas Story…chills!!!!

The show alternates between lines in the story and classic Christmas carols (again, not the ones about Santa). Guest soloists accentuate a few of the songs.

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Guest Soloist Mia Vavasseur.
Guest Soloist Mia Vavasseur.
Guest Soloist Caleb Shaw and Jamie Cargnilla.
Guest Soloist Caleb Shaw and Jamie Cargnilla.

The crescendo of the show was when guest soloist Drew Tablak came out and sang “Silent Night”, at first in Italian as an opera and then inviting the entire audience to join him in English. Having everyone sing together is the ultimate surround sound! Goose bumps and tears were everywhere.

Guest soloist Drew Tablak with Tom Hines on guitar.
Guest soloist Drew Tablak with Tom Hines on guitar.

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The Candlelight Processional is built around the story of Jesus, but it isn’t overtly religious. Regardless of your faith, it’s just a beautiful show and a fantastic way to kick off the holidays. Enjoying the season on a day like this, surrounded by loved ones, really is the best day ever!

Thanks for visiting and Happy Holidays! Until the next time…M-I-C…

See ‘Ya Real Soon!

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Thank you !
All of us on the Disneyland Photo Update crew would like to thank you for joining us today. Each week we’ll feature different photographers and commentators (often more than one). Today’s MiceChat Disneyland Update was shot and assembled by Darth Daver.

 

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That’s it for this weeks Update.Are you a photographer? Do you love the parks? Would you like to contribute to the Disneyland Update or other MiceChat columns? Contact Dusty Sage: [email protected]