The First Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World

The Candlelight Processional has always been a part of Walt Disney World since the park opened in 1971.  In Walt Disney World’s early years and before EPCOT, the Candlelight Processional was held on Main Street with the narrator reading from balcony area of the Main Street Train Station.

The processional was just one part of the Magic Kingdom’s Christmas festivities.  Town Square in 1971 featured a 50-foot Christmas Tree and there was a special holiday parade which ran daily from December 10th to January 2nd.  The Candlelight Processional was a two-night affair on December 18th and 19th with the show starting at 6 pm.  The narrator in that first year was movie star, Rock Hudson.

Rock Hudson #1

Hudson would go on to narrate the processional at Walt Disney World again in 1973, 1974, 1977, and 1980.  The processional stayed at Walt Disney World until 1993 when it moved to the American Gardens Theatre in EPCOT.

Christmas at Disney has come a long way since that first Walt Disney World Christmas in 1971.  Now, we have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which starts in November, Christmas Around the World at the EPCOT World Showcase, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios with the Candlelight Processional still taking place in the American Gardens Theatre in EPCOT.

List of Walt Disney World Candlelight Processional Narrators (Magic Kingdom)

Rock Hudson: 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984

Cary Grant: 1972

Dean Jones: 1975, 1987

Joseph Campanella: 1976, 1983, 1990

Ross Martin: 1978

James Hampton and Darrin McGavin: 1981

Pat and Shirley Boone: 1982

Howard Keel: 1985, 1986

Walter Cronkite: 1988

McLean Stevenson: 1989

George Kennedy: 1991

Paula Zahn: 1992

Information for this article was pulled from:

The Rock Hudson Project

Mouse Planet


2 thoughts on “The First Candlelight Processional at Walt Disney World”

  1. I participated in the 1st Disney candlelight program in 1972 with Carey Grant. The Singing Boys of Orlando formed a living Christmas tree. If you have a program or pictures email them to

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