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2012-366 Day 348 – Disneyland IV

So, as I mentioned in the last blog post, we had originally planned to go to Disneyland today to see the Candlelight Processional narrated by Dick Van Dyke and to have a date day. The threat of rain, however, lead us to make a decision: since Dick Van Dyke was only doing the Wednesday and Thursday shows this week, and since rain was forecast for both days, and we’d already been burned two years ago when we tried to see the procession and were rained out at the last minute, did we stick to our original plan or try and go down for the Wednesday showing and hope the rain started afterwards? As you gathered if you read yesterday’s post, we opted for the latter.

We left around one fifteen and took the usual route down Interstate 5. Traffic actually behaved fairly well for us, and we got off the tram and headed into California Adventure around two forty. Jess wanted to see the Buena Vista street carolers, and we grabbed a schedule on the way in. We arrived at a perfect time, as the next performance was only ten minutes away at two fifty. We didn’t quite know where they were going to setup, however, so we walked up and down the street looking at the windows that had been decorated for the holiday season. We fairly quickly spotted the people in early century gear carrying hand bells as they were walking down the street, so we followed them to a spot under the bridge where eight people, four men, four women, started their show.

They had a fun little act with several Christmas carols and hand bell arrangements. It was very lovely to hear, and their finale of the Carol of the Bells was particularly nice, especially considering it’s Jess favorite Christmas song. Few people know this, but for the last few years of elementary school I played the hand bells. I actually get a little nostalgic when I see them, and would actually consider playing again should the opportunity arise. What I haven’t seen, however, in any of the groups or performers I’ve seen since, is the size of hand bell I used to play. Being one of the few guys, and the tallest, I played all of the bass bells, one of which was about the size of my head. To dampen the sound after ringing them you would place them against your shoulder. Well the ones that I would ring would vibrate straight through me when I dampened them. I kind of want to have one in a case so I could go up at the end of hand bell performances, walk up, unfasten the case, and unleash a big . . . whatever note it was those big bells played (alright, it would take a lot of work to get back to playing).

An excellent start to our day, one we, at the time, took as a good omen for our day. We wandered over to Cars Land and looked at the new holiday lights and Christmas trees. The decorations were all really well done, and the details were fantastic. We contemplated going on Radiator Springs Racers via the single rider line, which was only supposed to be fifteen minutes, but when it didn’t move for a few minutes we decided we had better things to do. We went back to Buena Vista street and I wanted one of the hand dipped ice cream bars, so we went to the ice cream and candy shop. While ordering, Jess found out that they still had large candy canes in stock.

The large candy canes are a Disneyland tradition. Prior to this year, a couple times a week during the holiday season the candy shop would give out tickets and then hand-make candy canes in the store window for all the ticket holders, a time and labor intensive process. With the new candy shop in California Adventure, they’ve actually doubled the days now, two in Disneyland and two in California Adventure, but they are still very sought after. The ones that Jess found in the store weren’t from those batches, but we were promised that they were made the same way with the same ingredients, just not at the shops. Jess bought one, as we are not morning people and would be unlikely to ever get a sniff of the special ones. We were warned as to their fragile nature, as fresh candy canes are not as hardened as those that have been around for a while.

It was time to head over to Disneyland, as we had to find a place for the Processional. A brief history, as I understand it: Walt originally commissioned the Processional as a thank you to the community. Local singing groups and a celebrity narrator perform selections from the Christmas story and several Christmas carols. Up until last year, it only took place for a couple performances over an early weekend in December. This year they actually expanded it to twenty some performances through the month of December, with a whole host of different celebrities. Jess loves Dick Van Dyke and had always wanted to see the Processional, so the combination was too good to pass up. In addition, this year, Disneyland did a pass-holder exclusive drawing for seats to the performances. We didn’t win, so we had to find room in the standing area, which stretched all the way back to the stores on Main Street (the stage is setup at the entrance to the Main Street train station.

We found a spot a few people deep in the standing area around four thirty and settled in. There was a little rain falling in intermittent drops, but nothing we characterized as anything more than spitting. While waiting for the five thirty show, I took advantage of a well placed hot cocoa stand and Jess and I enjoyed them while we waited. At five o’clock, the Christmas tree lit up and some snow was blown onto Main Street. A kid in the crowd asked, “Is that it?” and quickly had their fear allayed. At about five fifteen, two tents when up over the sound board, our first bad sign. The orchestra was out, however, so we held out hope. They announced that the performance was delayed at five thirty in very light rain, and then announced the performance was cancelled at five forty, after which, of course, the rain stopped completely.

All of the weather reports we were seeing predicted an eighty percent chance of rain for the seven thirty showing. We had to grab some food, so we decided to go have dinner and see if the rain ever came. If it didn’t, we would come back and wait for the other show. We wound up all the way back in Tomorrowland at the Pizza Port for some pasta (which wasn’t as good as we remembered, Jess’ version is far superior) and enjoyed sitting down for an extended period. We left and still had no rain, but I wanted to check out the limited edition pins before we went back to wait again. One of the limited pins was for the Candelight Processional, and Jess said we had to get one as an act of faith that the other showing would actually take place. We did, tucked it into the bag with a now broken candy cane (did I not mention that? It fell at some point when we were standing for the first show), and went back to wait.

We were in a slightly different spot for the second show, a little further away, a bit more centered, and framed by some trees, but with shorter people in front of us. We waited and watched the clock. Right on schedule, the lights dimmed and a hush fell over the crowd. A couple minutes later, the choirs became visible at the mouth of Main Street (they had started up towards the castle) and started filing onto the stage. There were A LOT of them, it took nearly ten minutes at least for the whole procession. The opened with a few carols and then Dick Van Dyke took the podium. He alternated reading passages of the Christmas story from the Bible with the choir singing carols. It was a powerful experience, one that I could barely do justice to even with a full description. The rain had mostly stayed away, but towards the end a drizzle started to creep in. That actually made the scene even more amazing, as some blue lights pointed skyward during the performance of Silent Night caught the fine drops and placed a beautiful top to a lovely picture. There was a brief delay right before the ending “Hallelujah Chorus” in which we got to hear Dick Van Dyke ad-lib a little bit (when handed an umbrella, he lifted it to the sky and threatened to fly away), which made the night even more special. The finale was shortly resumed, and a wonderful and moving performance was concluded.

We followed the crush of people towards the Disneyland exit, as we were trying to get back to California Adventure before it closed at nine to see Cars Land’s Christmas decor lit up at night. We made it, enjoyed the sights, and even managed to procure a replacement candy cane, which we wrapped a bit more securely this time and I didn’t let out of my hands. California Adventure closed and it was back to Disneyland so Jess could ride Big Thunder Mountain one last time before it closed for a lengthy refurbishment. We enjoyed the fireworks from Fantasyland, which places you between the ones shot from the castle and from Toontown, an interesting immersive experience, and made a run through Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters before the parked closed. Finally we went over to the Grand Californian to see their tree while the park and trams emptied out, and finally went back to our car for the drive home.

We had parked on the top level of the structure and there was some evidence of rain on our car, but we hadn’t felt anything since the end of the Processional performance. By the time we hit the Orange County line it was pouring, and the entire drive home was spent in the rain. Perfectly timed, and a perfect end to a great day, even if we didn’t always believe it would end up that way.

Weight: 222 Loss: 18 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 360.7 miles
Fitocracy Level: 26 ID: disciplev1

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