No Candlelight Dining Package for 2009
by, 10-11-2009 at 01:18 PM (4109 Views)
The day after D23 announced their 2009 event holiday event schedule, which includes a $275 per person Candlelight Spectacular event at Disneyland (link), a Disneyland Resort spokesperson confirmed for MousePlanet that the Resort will not offer a Candlelight dining package this year.
Visitors who want to see the annual holiday event can either spring for the pricey D23 Candelight Spectacular package (and for D23 membership, if they are not already a member), or devote most of a weekend day to saving a spot on Disneyland's Main Street.
While this decision came as a shock to many of our readers, is it really that surprising in retrospect? Disneyland has never pulled off a sucessful Candlelight dining offering, and with each passing year the frustration and complaints mounted. In a blog post last year (link) I detailed six years of broken processes and poor communication that have marked Disneyland's efforts at offering a Candlelight dining plan, and wrote
"The time has long since come to decide what Candlelight means to the Disneyland Resort. If it's really intended to be an private event, a "thank you" of sorts for corporate sponsors, senior executives and Club 33 members, then hold it after park hours on a December week day, much as you do the Cast Member holiday parties, and be done with it. But, if Candlelight is going to remain a public event, then it's time to get serious about making this truly a Disney experience."With this announcement, I think we have Disney's answer. Instead of fixing the myriad but not insurmountable problems with the Candelight dining packages (which I still maintain could have been easily resolved by offering brunch instead of dinner, and hiring an outside firm to handle package sales), they've decided to scuttle the program entirely - or at least hand it off to D23 to try and manage.
What seating there is will be reserved for VIPs and invited guests, and those willing to pay for the D23 package. Everyone else will jockey for position in the standby viewing area, just as it was for the years (decades, really) before Disneyland first experimented with the dining package.
Now those who plan to see Candlelight this year anyway just have to think back to 1997, and try to remember their best strategy for getting a seat. For me, I remember arriving around Noon to find a spot, and waiting with friends for hours to see the show. We brought blankets and playing cards, and made a day of it. We didn't have the best seat in the house, but we were there.
It still remains to be seen whether Disney will communicate how they plan to handle the stand-by seating this year, or if that process will be as much of a mystery as it has been in recent years. If the Main Street viewing area is set up as usual, there will be quite a number of benches and chairs at the back of the VIP seating area, and Disney always has some (if unannounced) plan for filling those seats, usually involving a long line down Main Street. We'll post more information as we have it.