It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: The Comcast Holiday Spectacular Brings New Experiences to Life for People with Sensory Disabilities
’Tis the season for festive fun and excitement, and The Comcast Holiday Spectacular will bring joy to the Philadelphia community, families and visitors alike. Beginning Thanksgiving Day at 10:00 AM, the lobby of Comcast Center will transform into a winter wonderland with the help of 12 animatronic snowmen and a new Carol of the Bells. Additionally, for the first time, visitors with hearing and vision impairments will be able to experience the magic of the show through assistive technology, including audio description and closed captioning.
To make the family-friendly show accessible to the widest possible audience, Comcast’s Accessibility Team, led by Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility for Comcast Cable, worked with WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) and Media Access Group to create the audio description and closed captioning for The Comcast Holiday Spectacular. WGBH is the inventor of closed captioning and Descriptive Video Service (DVS). Audio description will provide narration of the show’s key visual elements, including actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes, and onscreen text, to blind and low-vision viewers. Additionally, closed captions will enable visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow along through carefully placed words that identify speakers, sound effects, music, and singing. According to the U.S. Census, there are 8.1 million people with a visual disability and about 19 million U.S. households have at least one member with a disability.
"When we created The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, we wanted to bring the most technologically-advanced experience for all to enjoy throughout the holiday season," said Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. "This year, with the addition of assistive technology, we are delighted to bring the joy and entertainment of the show to those who may not have been able to experience it before."
"For people with visual or hearing disabilities, audio description and closed captioning are critical components of an inclusive entertainment experience," said Tom Wlodkowski. "This addition to The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a great example of how Comcast is bringing entertainment experiences to people with disabilities."
The Comcast Holiday Spectacular is a 15-minute show full of unique holiday sounds and imagery that capture the wonderful spirit of the season with enchanting scenes from The Nutcracker, beautifully performed by the renowned Pennsylvania Ballet; a magical sleigh ride through the snow covered Pennsylvania countryside and into Center City Philadelphia; and fantastic performances by Broadway dancers, world-class ice skaters, and actors from Philadelphia’s historic Walnut Street Theatre. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, shown on the 83’ x 25’ Comcast Experience video wall — one of world’s largest highest resolution LED displays — has attracted more than 1 million visitors since its 2008 debut.
The show can be seen at the top of each hour, 10:00 AM through 8:00 PM, at Comcast Center (1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19103) beginning on Thanksgiving Day (November 27) through New Year’s Day — the show is not presented on weekdays at 5:00 PM. Children of all ages will receive a waterless temporary tattoo, that, when displayed, will be valid for a treat from The Market & Shops on the concourse level of Comcast Center during the show’s run.