With the balmy air and days full of sunshine, it can feel like anything but Christmas Time when you arrive in Central Florida. But look around, and you’ll soon discover that no one does Yuletide with quite as much joie de vivre as Orlando. And it makes sense. After all, The City Beautiful is the theme park capital of the world, and attractions here take great pride in welcoming guests and giving them a respite from reality. So during this, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, indulge in the childhood fantasy of the perfect winter holiday season. Go ahead. We’ll be right there with you.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom
Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the gang—Santa too!—are gearing up for the greatest party of the year at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. During this separately-ticketed, limited-attendance celebration, guests can enjoy Holiday Wishes, a special fireworks show, and watch toy soldiers parade information down Main Street USA during Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.
Other special touches include seasonal stage shows, special character meet and greets and complimentary cookies and cocoa. Select nights now through December 21. To purchase tickets, visit the party's page.
Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays
Visiting Epcot always feels a bit like a whirlwind trip around the globe, and the holidays are no exception. This special event, included with Epcot admission and running through December 30, offers guests a glimpse into cultural traditions from the countries represented in World Showcase. Enjoy special entertainment throughout the pavilions, and savor the flavors of the season at Holiday Kitchens.
Kids of all ages can purchase a map and stickers for Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree, a lively scavenger hunt that will send you seeking the cheeky duo and their ornaments; return your completed map for a special surprise. Next, witness the perennially popular Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the traditional Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by an orchestra and choir. Cap off the day with a special holiday edition of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. To learn more, visit Disney's website.
LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
It’s a toy-filled, joy-filled holiday event, as LEGOLAND Florida celebrates the season and decks the halls befittingly with thousands of the colorful building bricks. Enormous renditions of Santa, complete with sleigh and reindeer, dazzle young and old alike, while a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree, made of more than 270,000 LEGOS, serves as the center of the celebration.
Enjoy scavenger hunts, LEGO building activities, character appearances and more. Included with regular park admission on select dates through December. Visit the company's website for all the details.
Holidays at Universal Orlando
Beloved characters and customs, both old and new, dazzle around every turn at the theme parks of Universal Studios Orlando now through January 6. Enchantment abounds in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, as Christmas makes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter an even more magical destination, with special decorations, performances, food and drink to bring good cheer. Once night falls, guests are treated to The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts, a projection show that transforms the castle into a holiday spectacle.
Elsewhere in Islands of Adventure, don’t miss The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, starring the mean, green man himself. At Universal Studios Florida, witness Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s, and watch in wonder as giant balloons depicting favorite characters soar through the park. Visit the company's website for more information.
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration
Taking place now through December 31, SeaWorld transforms into a wonderland of sights, performances and flavors during the season. Iconic characters from the animated classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer interact with guests in Rudolph’s ChristmasTown, while Santa himself greets guests at Wild Arctic. Stroll through the Christmas Market, and enjoy tempting treats such as Short Rib Mac and Cheese and Stuffed Donuts, while you shop for unique gifts. Stick around as night falls to witness the dazzling Sea of Trees as the sparkle and dance to Christmas carols.
ICE! At Gaylord Palms
For the ultimate in winter escape, visit ICE! at the Gaylord Palms, now through January 6. Featuring colorful, life-size ice carvings from the holiday classic film, “A Christmas Story,” you’ll laugh and relive every special moment through the heartwarming story. A separate scene depicts the Nativity as well. And don’t leave without taking a trip down the ice slides! For more information and to purchase tickets, call 407-586-4423.
Gingerbread School: Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando is decking the halls in delicious fashion this holiday season with two festive events. Attend Gingerbread School, where the Pastry Team hosts you to make the gingerbread house of your dreams. Use the resort’s life-size confection as a model, or create your own! Treats and to-go kits are also available. The price for a family or group of four is $195, and includes a $10 donation to the Children’s Miracle Network, as well as a personalized brick on Santa’s Workshop. For more details, dates and to make reservations, call 407-393-4648.
For a fun twist on a holiday adults night out, celebrate National Gingerbread House Day with the Bubbles and Ginger event. For one night only, this event offers champagne and savory treats while you and three friends build the ultimate gingerbread house! The event takes place December 12 at 7 pm, and is $250 for a group of four. All participants must be over the age of 21. Reservations are strongly recommended; to make them, call 407-393-4648.