Walt Disney World is full of special events, decorations, shows, parades and more during the Christmas season. Out of all that Disney has to offer, the Candlelight Processional at Epcot is my favorite. We have been attending the Candlelight Processional since 1997 and during that time we have seen many celebrity narrators-our favorites being James Earl Jones, Sandi Patty, James Avery and Michael W. Smith. This year we chose to see Trace Adkins as the celebrity narrator and he didn’t disappoint. His passion for what he was reading rang out through his smooth baritone voice. We own the CD with Phylicia Rashad narrating and we all pretty much have the show memorized. Knowing the show as well as we do doesn’t make it less special. As a family of musicians we appreciate the mass choirs, orchestra and herald trumpets with a deep knowing of all the work that goes into a production of this magnitude.
Soon after the first performances of this year’s rendition of the Candlelight Processional began I started to read complaints on Facebook that there were changes in the script and a song had been cut. These changes made me sad and later angry. I read that the poem One Solitary Life and the song “Do You Hear What I Hear” were cut from the show, according to news reports due to “time restraints”. When we watched the show on Saturday evening, and then later discussed it as a family we all admitted to be saddened by the changes. These two items were not the only changes in the production, there were other changes in the script. What we as a family have loved about this production for the last 17 years is how it wasn’t watered down, the majority of the script was Scripture. This was a place where we could hear the Word of God, the true story of Christmas being proclaimed at Walt Disney World. The crowds waiting in line for hours for seats in the American Gardens Theater for each of the three performances a night tell me that a) people want to hear the Biblical Christmas story and b) the show length was just fine the way it was. We felt that instead of getting the whole Christmas story we got bullet points, a brief history of “Silent Night” and some PC fluff.
It wasn’t all negative the music was as beautiful as ever. Thankfully my favorite song in the show didn’t get cut, take a listen to “Rejoice with Exceeding Great Joy!”
I hope and pray that the powers that be at Walt Disney World listen to their guests, and read all of the negative online posts and correct the changes that were made as they plan for next year.