Dec 052011

Taking Disney Captive to Christ – No. 3


Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, making today Uncle Walt’s 110th birthday!

Walt did a lot of great things during his life, and over the weekend I discovered another amazing legacy of the life of Walt Disney in the form of the Disneyland Candlelight Procession and Ceremony. Two nights each year in December, the park that Walt built transforms into a cathedral of praise to Jesus the Christ, born to be our Savior!

Here’s a quote from the “Disneyland Park Stage Shows & Live Entertainment” schedule handed out at the gate for the first week in December 2011: “As part of our long standing tradition at the Disneyland Resort, the ‘Candlelight Procession and Ceremony’ will be performed under the stars in Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. Join us for our holiday spectacular featuring a mass choir that will retell the story of “The First Christmas’ through song and scripture.”

When I first saw the schedule, I wiped my eyes, blinked, then read and re-read that last word…scripture! Scripture was going to be read aloud as part of the Disneyland schedule of events…I was beside myself!

At the appointment time, Sleeping Beauty’s castle flared with holiday splendor, then went dark, along with most of the other park lights, as hundreds upon hundreds of choir-robed singers, each carrying a candle, sang loud and strong, from Small World to Town Square, the traditional worship songs of the season – The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, and on and on in a stream of humanity and praise!

The pure power of the sights and sounds brought me to tears. I’d never seen Sleeping Beauty’s castle go dark, other than for fireworks. It reminded me a little of when Queen Elizabeth bowed as Princess Diana’s casket passed Buckingham Palace. I thought Disney, like the Queen, bows to no one, but here I saw humble acknowledgment of the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the voices of hundreds proclaiming His praise…in Disneyland! It was heavenly!

The seemingly endless sea of singers flowed down Main Street like an indomitable torrent – the Orange County Register reported the choir at 600 members strong this year – finally assembling into a spectacular living Christmas tree at the Main Street train depot for the telling of the biblical Christmas story in song with the help of a celebrity narrator.

This year’s celebrity scripture reader was Gary Sinise (CSI:NY, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13). Here is a video of the event, and one guest’s account of the evening, with more pictures.

According to “The first Candlelight Procession was held in 1955. It was actually a Choir Festival with individual choirs performing under a gazebo near the Jungle Cruise. For the next few years the ceremony consisted of participating choirs who performed around the hub facing the choir director. In 1960, Candlelight grew to 800 singers who followed the Christmas parades. Finally, in 1961 a narrator was added to the Ceremony. Past Disneyland narrators include Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, James Earl Jones, Mary Hart and, last year, Edward James Olmos.”

For the Thinking Christian Woman, on her quest to discover authentic links between Disney and the life of faith, this was a night of high praise with no need to translate or interpret – God’s message, sounded clear and true, transformed Disneyland, for me for that night, into the Most Worshipful Place on Earth.

© 2011 Melody K. Anderson
All Rights Reserved

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