What a fun week at Disneyland, crowded but festive. We have all sorts of things to show you, from popcorn buckets to holiday treats, but it was Chris Hemsworth (Thor himself) who stole the show this week.

Candlelight Processional

The Miracle of Candlelight

Wow! After many years of trying, I FINALLY got to see Candlelight at Disneyland on Saturday, and I was blown away by the majesty of it all. While I’m not one for overtly religious displays, this was something special. A chorus of nearly 600 regaled the audience with classic Christmas carols and hymns, while the narrator told the story of the first Christmas.

It was beautiful, awe-inspiring, and here’s where it gets really interesting . . .this year’s narrator was Chris Hemsworth, the devastatingly handsome Thor! The crowd went wild when his name was announced, as you might imagine. One park guest screamed out, “We love you, Chris.” To which he responded back, “I love you, too.”

Candlelight is a major undertaking for something which is only performed four times over two nights. A 50-piece orchestra, dozens of local choirs, soloists, and trumpeters perched atop the Main Street Train Station are all highlights of the event. Unfortunately, seats are hard to come by, and they are mostly offered up to hand-picked guests. Still, thousands of park visitors pack Main Street for a glimpse of the awesome spectacle of this heartwarming show.

Here’s what it all looks like:

Invited guests checked in outside the park.
Disneyana and the Opera House closed to house a private reception for VIPs.
A Disneyland choir, Disney Studios choir, and hundreds of chorus members from area performing groups made up a sea of voices for the show.

Chris Hemsworth was dashing and poised as the narrator. He joins the ranks of such stars as Dick Van Dyke, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Olympia Dukakis and James Earl Jones, who have all previously performed the role.

Those of you following us on Facebook saw the photos and video as they happened:

Disneyland

Disneyland is filled with the holiday spirit at the moment. After witnessing Candlelight, I was really in the mood for more holiday cheer. While Christmas feels scaled back at Disneyland this year in terms of decorations, there’s still a lot left to enjoy.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade

The Christmas Fantasy Parade is in desperate need of a refresh, as we’ve discussed in previous updates, but even with its flaws it still entertains.

Believe in Holiday Magic

Disneyland’s Christmas fireworks got a bit of an update this year with projections on the buildings of Main Street.

And the show ends with a convincing flurry of snow!

Buckets of Fun

The popcorn bucket frenzy has kicked off once again. The latest offering is a new $25 Star Wars AT-AT bucket that quickly sells out each day. It’s the latest craze.

Would you pay $25 for a plastic popcorn bucket?
The buckets are so popular that a taped switchback line has to be set up to manage the demand in the mornings.

River Belle Redo

We were able to pop into the River Belle for you this week. As we’ve mentioned before, the results of the extensive reworking of the venue are mixed at best. Much of the charm of the establishment has been removed and the decor is sparse and feels austere. However, it’s nice to have another table service option in the park, and the food here is pretty good.

Previously there was a high-backed booth sofa in the center of the room with tables all around it. It added a lot of character to the room and helped break up the space visually. Now the dining room is just a big open space.

Star Wars Land Construction

Show buildings are mostly enclosed and rockwork is advancing rapidly on this mega project at the back of the park.

Star Wars is rising behind the Rivers of America.

Wireframe mountains are being transformed into rock structures.

The massive show buildings are now mostly enclosed.

A Walk Through Disneyland

Let’s take a quick walk through the park to see what else is going on . . .

Lots of signs notifying you of show tapings and early ride closures.

Path of the Jedi is closed. It looks like a new Star Wars film is being prepped. It reopens on Friday.

There’s some fun vintage looking Star Wars merch in Tomorrowland.

Some of this year’s holiday merchandise is interesting.

The Flower Market on Center Street has been dressed for the holidays.


Disneyland’s Santa is adorable.

Hot Chocolate Peppermint Churro . . . yes please!

Scott was afraid that the hot chocolate would be a bit overpowering on a churro but really enjoyed it. Quite good if you like peppermint and churros.

The moon was huge on Saturday, that’s what that light flare is!

Disney California Adventure

The holiday’s are in full swing now. Here are some of the newest decorations.

A Bugs Land

Just outside of Bugs Land, on the Parade Route, you’ll find some cute little drummer figures.

Coco continues to preview in the Bugs Life Theater.

Since we are in the area, let’s take a look at that decaying mural. . . Really BAD SHOW.

FESTIVAL OF HOLIDAYS

The main event at DCA right now is the charming Festival of Holidays. While prices on the food are still too high, there’s a lot of energy and fun to this event.

You’ll find a tasting window open at the Western patio at the Golden Vine Winery. It’s also the gateway to a special passholder opportunity area.

You can have your photo taken with a Disneyland AP sign.
You can also get a free gift . . . which is almost always a button these days.

There’s also some limited edition AP merchandise you can purchase:

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But the main reason you’ll want to visit the AP patio is to purchase the Sip and Savor card . . . which doesn’t really allow you to sip –  you can’t use the card to buy alcoholic drinks.

Out on the parade route, you can also purchase a hand-customized Christmas ornament.

Cars Land Christmas

The Cozy Cones have some tasty holiday treats.

Take a minute to look through the window to the Cozy Cone office. They have a great gingerbread cone village.

Much like Halloween, the two flat rides have received minimal overlays that change up the music on the attraction to fit the holiday.  It’s a fun change of pace.

Grizzly River Decor

There’s not much to the decorations in Grizzly River, but they are charming none the less. I particularly like the holiday color lightning bugs in a jar.

Hollywood Land

All the decorations are finally up in Hollywood Land. But it’s still not all it should/could be.

Buena Vista Street

This is the heart and soul of the park this Christmas.

Dole Whip and Mickey Premium Bar plush.  Cute:

The old-time department store decorations on Buena Vista Street are lots of fun and always worth taking the time to explore.

DCA Holiday Entertainment

But here’s where DCA really shines. . . the holiday entertainment in this park is spectacular.

Viva Navidad, back by the Pacific Garden Grill, is heartwarming and energetic

Elena of Avalor also has a show back by Goofy’s Sky School and Paradise Gardens.

You can then head in to Paradise Gardens area to meet Elena in person.

Three different culturally themed groups share the Paradise Park stage.

Two groups play the Pacific Wharf stage.

The World of Color holiday show, Season of Light, is really good. I’m not a big World of Color fan. While I think the technology is neat, the shows tend to be long and a bit boring to me. After the first number or two I feel like the trick of water and projections has played itself out. However, I do find the holiday show to be charming and it holds my attention.

If you get a chance, don’t miss the Holiday Toy Drummers. I’ve seen them marching down the parade route before, but have never caught their little show.

Downtown Disney

Share your ears online and Disney will donate to Make A Wish. Interesting campaign.

See Ya Real Soon
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 Dusty Sage with additional contributions from Scott Attula, Dsny Debbie, and Brian Pinsky.

 

Merry Hemsworth everyone . . . I mean Christmas . . . I mean, let’s let Chris conclude today’s update!

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