We’ve made our list and checked it twice for Orlando’s favorite holiday happenings. From snowball fights to twinkling lights, Christmas memories are just waiting to be made.
1. Universal Orlando Resort
For those who think Thanksgiving just isn't the same without watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, this is your opportunity to live the magic and join in on the festivities in person. The holiday season marches into Orlando when the legendary Macy’s Parade hits the streets of Universal Studios straight from 34th Street in New York City. After Thanksgiving, many of the Macy’s Day Parade balloons and floats make their way to Universal Orlando for this celebrated annual holiday tradition. Witness in-person this spectacular celebration followed by appearances by Santa, sing-a-longs and a tree-lighting ceremony complete with music and a light show. It’s a festive holiday atmosphere that’s fun for the whole family.
Then grab a butterbeer and jam out to rocking the tunes of the best-selling holiday artists of all time when they return to Universal Studios December 3-18 for weekend performances of Christmas classics.
Allow time for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” next door at Islands of Adventure.
2. Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Join Mickey and friends at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for an oh-so-jolly holiday festival, party and parade. The magic of the park lights up with winter wonder when festive music fills the air and favorite attractions take on a holiday theme. Don’t miss Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, a jubilant new stage show featuring a flurry of shimmering snowflakes and songs of the season in front of Cinderella’s Castle aglow with ever-changing holiday illuminations, followed by spectacular fireworks and a holiday parade with Mickey, Santa and other familiar Disney characters in their festive best. The wonder of the season warms the chill in the air as this unforgettable Christmas celebration fills guests with the spirit of the season.
3. Walt Disney World's Epcot World Showcase
Mariachis, nutcrackers and lion dancers ring in the holidays at Epcot’s World Showcase. Get a taste of Christmas from around the globe with fruity German stollen, decadent French Bȗche de Noël and warm gingerbread. Rejoice in the season as a celebrity narrator retells the story of the Bethlehem baby accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and full choir at the Candlelight Processional.
4. SeaWorld Orlando
Splash into the spirit of the holidays with Shamu and friends at SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration. Festive carols fill the air and a sea of lighted trees glistens off the lake like stars in the night sky when the nautical park transforms into a wintery world of water. Holiday-themed shows like “Winter Wonderland on Ice,” featuring world-famous ice performers, along with Shamu’s “Christmas Miracles” and “The Polar Express” Experience pair with festive fare and gifts from a lakeside Christmas Market. The sweet memories of spiced treats and artisan-crafted gifts are sure to become cherished holiday traditions for you and your family for years to come.
All-new holiday festivities include Rudolph’s ChristmasTown, where guests can meet Rudolph, Clarice, Bumble and Yukon Cornelius from the classic family Christmas television special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and Santa's Workshop presented by Coca-Cola with an all-new Christmas experience.
5. LEGOLAND Florida
LegoLand Florida builds up the holiday spirit and deck the halls on select weekends in December during its Christmas Bricktacular celebration. Witness a larger-than-life-sized LEGO Santa along with his reindeer, sleigh and a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree crafted from more than 270,000 bricks. Frolic through festive decorations made entirely of LEGOs and participate in holiday scavenger hunts around the park in search of fun prizes. Plus, Santa Claus and LEGO Toy Soldiers make frequent appearances, and LEGO build activities taught by Master Model Builders make for a creative holiday experience. Plus, a “not-so-silent-night” fireworks spectacular set to classic Christmas melodies makes for a show-stopping finale to the celebration.
6. Santa Sightings
Everyone knows that Santa and Mrs. Claus take a little Orlando vacation to rest up before the biggest night of the year. The Swan & Dolphin Resort hosts the couple every year, where they don their Florida attire. Visitors can also spot the man in red and take professional photos at The Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. Of course Santa couldn’t come to Orlando without first visiting the theme parks. Guests can see him at Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando. In the town of Celebration and the nearby Gaylord Palms Resort, Santa also pays a nightly visit, where guests can sit on his lap and get their pictures made.
7. Historic Mt. Dora
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Don your mittens and head to historic Mt. Dora for sledding, snowball fights and over three million twinkling lights. Board the train to the North Pole, where Mr. Claus himself presents each child with a gift. Boat tours, parades and dancing in the streets make this historic town a merry place to be.
8. Gaylord Palms Resort
Enter a space that’s a mere 9 degrees to admire dozens of ice sculptures inspired by characters in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Charles Schulz. ICE at the Gaylord Palms Resort features two million pounds of ice have been carved by Chinese artisans whose native climate stays below freezing half the year. After taking several trips down the ice slides, head back out to Alpine Village to warm up with hot chocolate or get your heart racing on the snow tube slides.
9. The Town of Celebration
In Disney’s storybook town of Celebration, snow falls onto Market Street on the hour from 6-9 pm each night. An iceskating rink with synthetic ice invites children of all ages to take a spin. The mood is set with Charles Dickens Carolers, horse-drawn carriages, Santa visits, holiday home tours and train rides.
10. Winter Park
The Morse Museum launches Winter Park’s holiday season by lighting a stunning display of antique Tiffany glass windows in Central Park followed by a free public concert in the park. Spend the weekend shopping along Park Avenue and enjoy a tree lighting ceremony Dec. 6 and the "Ye Olde Hometown" Christmas parade Dec. 7.