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Disneyland's Candlelight lures crowds

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

ANAHEIM – Mitch Adair wasn't worried when he didn't win a seat for Disneyland's Candlelight Ceremony.

Until this year, reserved spots only went to invitees, anyway, and for the past 18 years Adair was able to watch the celebrity-narrated event on the outskirts in Town Square.

So, this year, once again, he just stood in a roped-off section to view Tuesday night's performance led by actor Kurt Russell.

"I'll probably come about six more times," said Adair, an annual passholder from Long Beach.

Disneyland, for the first time, scheduled 20 nights of the Candlelight Ceremony, a traditional holiday service previously held on just one weekend for community leaders and invited guests. Disneyland, also a first, opened up seats to annual passholders who won them in a lottery.

Up to 24,000 tickets are available for seats; the Candlelight Ceremony runs through Dec. 20.

In 1958, Walt Disney began the Candlelight tradition to thank community leaders and groups for their support with a retelling of the Christmas story and music. Celebrity narrators have included James Earl Jones and John Wayne.

Visitors always have had tried to watch the ceremony from the sidelines. But they often had to get to the park early in the morning to secure standing-room-only spaces for evening performances, usually four over two nights.

On Tuesday, visitors easily found spaces in the front of the roped-off, standing area just 45 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. event. Some were allowed to take unoccupied seats a few minutes before music began.

Some annual passholders weren't able to win tickets through the lottery. John McClintock, a Disneyland Resort spokesman, declined to say how many applied and were rejected.

Ed McQuillan, an annual passholder from San Diego, said he applied for all of the dates and got no tickets.

Said Jeff Gordon of Santa Monica in an email: "It was very frustrating, as Candlelight is a highlight of the holiday season."

Contact the writer: 714-704-3793 or stully@ocregister.com


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