Celebrating the Holidays in Central Florida 2012

November 7, 2012 Cheryl 15
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I heard my first Christmas song last week – I know, the first week of November and it started already!!  I still remember being a little kid and driving home from Thanksgiving dinner and seeing all of the Christmas lights coming on for the first time.  Now every store you look in has decorations out, the toy catalog’s have been delivered, and radio stations are devoting 24 hours a day to Christmas songs!!  So, I guess it is time to start thinking about the winter holidays, and what better a place to celebrate than in Central Florida!!

All of the Florida Theme Parks (and some hotels too) really go all out during the holiday season.  Here are just some of the great events!

The Walt Disney World Resort®

From Main Street USA to the hotels, the Walt Disney World Resort really goes all out for the winter holidays!  The Animal Kingdom has a special parade called Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, where the spirit of the savanna blends with the energy of the holidays.  All of the resorts get a holiday makeover, but none is as dramatic as Disney’s Grand Floridian and Spa.  They have a 45-foot tree, and a life-size edible Gingerbread House where you can actually purchase gingerbread and other holiday treats!  Amazing!!  Here are some other holiday goings-ons around the World:

Magic Kingdom

Beginning on November 9th and running on certain evenings through December 21st is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  This separate ticketed event includes park admission, free cocoa and cookies, holiday themed shows and fireworks, characters dressed in their holiday finest, and an amazing view of Cinderella’s Castle decked out in twinkle lights!  In December the holiday parades, castle display and special fireworks are also available during regular park days as well.  Santa arrives on his sleigh, the whole park is decorated in its Christmas finest, and there are tons of festive goodies to eat.  Look out, you might even see some magical snow!

Hollywood Studios

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights on the Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a dazzling seasonal display featuring millions of glittering lights synchronized to holiday music.  This is the mother of all holiday light displays!  Entire buildings are blanketed in multi-colored lights, and thousands more lights drape between the buildings – Santa and his reindeer are even there lighting up the night sky.  About every 10 minutes the lights dim and then pop back to life!  There is even the occasional snow flurry to add to the holiday magic.  Plus, the Walt Disney World® Resort has announced that this year, Santa Goofy will join the fun inside his very own Winter Wonderland. This area will serve as a meet and greet area during The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.


Visit the American Garden Theatre on select nights November 23 – December 30 to hear a celebrity narrator retell the story of Christmas, accompanied by a very talented choir and a 50-piece orchestra, in Holidays Around the World – candlelight Processional.  This beautiful holiday spectacular is free with your park ticket and can also be combined with a lunch or dinner, fireworks, and guaranteed seating selection with the Candlelight Dinner Package.  And be sure to check out all of the Christmas Markets in the World Showcase!


Although not technically part of Walt Disney World, it is the town that Disney built.  From November 24th – December 31st, the town will be hosting the Now Snowing! Winter Wonderland Spectacular.  Four times per night the air will be filled with snow flakes, without that pesky cold that usually comes with them!  Santa will be on hand to take pictures, there will be strolling holiday carolers, and you can even take a spin around Celebration’s ice rink.

Universal Orlando Resort®

Not to be outdone by by it’s neighbor across town, Universal Orlando Resort® is filled with it’s own style of holiday cheer! During select dates in December, Universal Island of Adventure patrons get the chance to frolic about Seuss Landing with the Who’s of Whoville and witness Christmas coming to life Grinch style!  Need more Grinch?  He will be available for photo’s and you can even have breakfast with him at The Grinch™ & Friends Character Breakfast.

On the other side of the Universal Orlando, in Universal Studios Florida®, direct from New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade are floats and balloons brought to life again in Florida’s version of the classic tradition – Macy’s Holiday Parade!  Your little ones will love A Barney® Holiday, and adults will love The Blues Broth Brothers® Holiday Show, where you can see Jake and Elwood perform festive favorites like “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” “Blue Christmas,” and more with snow on Delancey Street at the end of each show.  Plus on select Saturday and Sunday nights, Mannheim Steamroller, the biggest selling Christmas artist of all time, will perform!  The show starts at 6 pm on December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, and 23.

SeaWorld Orlando®

Waves of holiday spirit abound at SeaWorld during the holiday season!  This theme park goes all out for the holidays, with updates holiday shows such as A Sesame Street Christmas, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, Winter Wonderland on Ice, and Shamu Christmas- Miracles.  Guests can take  a walk through a wintery, watery wonderland and immerse themselves in a sea of holiday trees, take in O Wondrous Night – a show that tells the greatest story never told, with more than 30 carols, based upon the Christmas Story and told through the eyes of a variety of live animals. and end their day with a spectacular evening show with soaring fountains, dazzling lights, and festive fireworks, choreographed to joyous holiday musical favorites.  And no holiday trip to SeaWorld is complete without a a wondrous journey to the North Pole aboard THE POLAR EXPRESS!

Gaylord Palms

Featuring more than 2 million twinkling lights, visits with Santa, holiday music and a 54-foot-tall Christmas tree, Gaylord Palms brings ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar and Christmassy DreamWorks Experience to Orlando November 10, 2012 – January 1, 2013.  Merry Madagascar will be brought to life in an interactive world of colorful ice sculptures and two-story tall ice slides carved entirely from TWO MILLION pounds of ice!!  You can also decorate gingerbread cookies with Gingy, become an honorary Ogre and meet the rest of the gang from Shrek! at a fairytale feast fit for a king at ShrekFeast or get your picture taken with Po from KungFu Panda!   And if that isn’t enough, you can join in on a scavenger hunt hosted by Jack Frost and the rest of the guardians at Rise of the Guardians Adventure Scavenger Hunt.

Busch Gardens Tampa

This winter, Busch Gardens will transform into a nighttime holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas. Explore more than 20 all-new Christmas attractions, shows, rides, dining and shopping options and themed areas throughout Christmas Town.  You will have so many options to celebrate the yuletide season –   visit Santa’s House and get a peek inside The Claus Family home at the North Pole, take a ride on the Christmas Town Express train and sing along to traditional holiday songs, join your favorite Sesame Street characters at Sesame Street Season of Fun, check out the penguins, see a living angel statue, or visit the nativity scene.  Visit Candy Lane, Ice Wonder Way, and Jungle Jubilee to see how beautifully the park has been transformed into a winter wonderland.  And finally, you will find  the perfect holiday gift and delicious seasonal treats as you explore Christmas Town Village, with real, frozen snow, quaint cabin shops and an exclusive performance each night by Jars of Clay.
Seems like there are a ton of options to celebrate the season in the Orlando area…wish I was going this year!!