Inside Christmas time at Epcot with ‘Candlelight’ choir, Mrs Claus, and a few beautiful views at Walt Disney World

in Disney, Entertainment, Walt Disney World

Each of Disney’s theme parks celebrates the Christmas season in its own unique way. Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, including a special parade and fireworks show. Disney’s Hollywood Studios puts on a dazzling display of colors and animation in the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. But over at Epcot, the holiday offerings are as varied as its country pavilions.

Let’s take a stroll around Future World and World Showcase, stopping at a few holiday highlights along the way.

Front topiary with Goofy and Donald Duck
Epcot's entrance is often decorated with character topiaries and for Christmas time this year, Goofy and Donald are skating on a flower bed.

Thumper topiary
More topiaries around this area include the cute (Thumper)...

Stitch topiary
...the not-so-cute (Stitch)...

Bambi topiary
...and the ultra-cute (Bambi).

Fountain of Nations
Further into Future World, the Fountain of Nations dances to Christmas tunes. Behind it is a stage that features a gospel music act that, in my opinion, doesn't quite fit in with the park's other holiday entertainment. (Or perhaps I'm just bitter that the popular Lights of Winter archways disappeared the same year this gospel group debuted in nearly the same area.)

Mickey and Minnie topiaries
Mickey and Minnie Mouse topiaries provide a perfect photo opportunity.
Pluto topiary
On the other side of the planter, Pluto's display uses Spaceship Earth as a backdrop.
Christmas tree
Approaching the World Showcase, Epcot's giant Christmas tree is a sight to behold, even in the daylight.

Chrismas tree and World Showcase Lagoon
The tree is large enough to be seen across the World Showcase Lagoon.

Christmas tree
Taking a closer look, it's even taller than the nearby palm trees!

Christmas tree in American Adventure
But it certainly isn't the only tree, with a beautifully decorated one sitting outside the American Adventure building.

Santa and Mrs. Claus in American Adventure
Within Santa's Village, the big man himself poses for pictures in a rare opportunity to also meet his wife, Mrs. Claus!
Santa and Mrs. Claus in American Adventure
It's one of Walt Disney World's best Christmas time photo stops.
Mrs. Claus in American Adventure
Where else can you get a picture with Mrs. Claus? (Did you know her first name is Yolanda? Wikipedia told me so.)
Candlelight Processional
Across the way in the American Gardens Theatre, guests prepare for the ultimate in Christmas entertainment at Epcot: the Candlelight Processional. This religious show tells the story of Christmas through song and narration.
Candlelight Processional
While getting a seat for the show can be tough (dinner packages are recommended), there is an added bonus for those who don't sit. Standing just outside as the show begins, the massive choir assembles and enters in song. It's the best way to get an up-close performance from the choir as the show begins.

Watch the video below to see (and hear) the choir sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” followed by “O Come All Ye Faithful” on stage. The video features binaural audio, so wear headphones while watching for the most enjoyment.

Video: 2011 Epcot Candlelight Processional choir, songs and highlights

Candlelight Processional with Chita Rivera
Chita Rivera was the celebrity narrator for this performance of the Candlelight Processional, doing a great job at no only telling the Christmas story but also singing along with the choir.
Candlelight Processional
While it is fun to see celebrities in the park, the choir and live orchestra are the highlights of this performance.
American Adventure
Inside the American Adventure, before each Audio-Animatronics filled show, Voices of Liberty sing a few familiar tunes in the holiday-decorated rotunda.
Hanukkah display in American Adventure
It's also inside here that Epcot's Hanukkah display is featured, as part of their Holidays Around The World. Stories are told on a schedule here and throughout the countries of the World Showcase, each themed to various holidays celebrated in different cultures and religions.
Mexico - Three Kings
The Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes Magos) speak in English and Spanish in Mexico.
Japan storyteller
In Japan, this storyteller talks of other traditions outside of Christmas.
Aladdin and Jasmine
Beyond the special storytelling, World Showcase always features Disney characters, many of whom bundle up on (rare) cold days like this one.
Aladdin and Jasmine
But even with overcoats, Aladdin and Jasmine still warm guests' hearts with their smiles.
Christmas tree, Spaceship Earth, and World Showcase Lagoon at sunset
But the warmth of the day fades as the sun sets in a beautiful way, casting an orange hue over the World Showcase Lagoon, Spaceship Earth, and that tall Christmas Tree.

Epcot’s Christmas celebration continues through the end of the year, though the Candlelight Processional’s final performance is Dec. 30, allowing a New Year’s Even fireworks extravaganza the following night. These last two weeks of the year are traditionally some of the park’s busiest, but those willing to brave the thick crowds will find plenty of unique entertainment to enjoy while making a trip around the world.

More photos from Christmas time at Epcot 2011:

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