If you’re spending Christmas in Orlando then you’re in for a treat – the theme park capital does the holiday season like nowhere else.
Orlando is a fun place to visit no matter the season, but some might say that Christmas is the most magical time to go. Each holiday season, Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and resorts roll out elaborate festive celebrations that supersize the excitement. Think theatrical parades, incredible decorations, spectacular fireworks and nightly snow falls (not real ones of course). Away from the theme parks there are plenty of smaller, local offerings too, including lots of free ones!
If you’re spending Christmas in Orlando and you’re looking for things to do, check out this guide to the best festive events for Christmas 2019.
Christmas at Disney World
There’s no question that the Happiest Place on Earth really comes alive at Christmas. The entire resort gets decked out for the holidays, and all of the parks present festive entertainment and events. Even Disney Springs and the hotels lay on lots of excitement. You can dance in the streets at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, indulge in festive treats at Epcot’s Festival of the Holidays, and sport all manner of festive Disney merchandise. Whether you’re visiting in the run-up to Christmas or on the day itself, you’re guaranteed to find endless festive fun.
At Magic Kingdom, Cinderella Castle gets a festive makeover with more than 200,000 shimmering holiday lights. The entire park follows the winter wonderland theme with dozens of elaborately-decorated trees, hundreds of festive wreaths and miles of Christmas garland. Disney characters don their most festive attire, favorite attractions take on a Christmas theme, and snow falls every evening on Main Street.
On select nights starting November 8, the park hosts its all-singing, all-dancing ‘Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party’. Packed with festive fun, this special (separately-ticketed) event includes Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, as well as Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. Colorful stage shows, lively dance parties and plenty of festive eats and treats are all part of the party which runs from 7pm – midnight.
Like Magic Kingdom, Epcot goes all-out for Christmas. Running from late November, its International Festival of the Holidays showcases the colorful Christmas traditions of different cultures from all over the world. Various themed pavilions present the sights, sounds, stories and even foods of their respective countries. Other festival highlights are the Candlelight Processional, a nightly recitation of the Christmas story featuring a celebrity narrator, a 50-piece orchestra and a full choir.
Also look out for Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree, and the Joyful vocal ensemble. Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays runs from November 29 through December 30, 2019and is included in park admission.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Chinese Theater lights up each evening for the amazing multimedia show, Jingle Bell Jingle Bam. It includes holiday-themed clips from classic Disney cartoons, along with theatrical lighting, lasers and a lively musical soundtrack. There’s also plenty of fun at Sunset Boulevard which hosts Sunset Seasons Greetings, a cheerful holiday show with special effects, lazer projections and a sprinkling of Disney’s special falling show.
Echo Lake gets a merry makeover with Christmas trees and elaborate decorations, while over at Toy Story Land, Woody, Buzz and the gang celebrate the holidays with festive attire, Christmas music and holiday theming on the rides.
Animal Kingdom will host new holiday entertainment in every land for Christmas 2019. During the day Discovery Island will come to life with a holiday gathering of winter animals in the form of life-size puppets. Reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more will interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians. As evening falls, the Tree of Life awakens with colorful lights and a soundtrack of wintery tales and holiday-inspired music.
Party with Chip ‘n Dale and get involved in fun and games at Dinoland’s DJ-led dance party Holiday Hoopla. Also be sure to visit Asia where the Theater Distric is decorated in celebration of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India. Cultural performances, along with glowing lanterns and flowers light up the main square and the waterfront stage. New for this year, the holiday spirit even reaches Pandora The World of Avatar with various holiday happenings at the Pongo Pongo area of the park.
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The sprawling Disney Springs district is hosting its annual Christmas Tree Trail, as well as meet-and-greets with Santa Claus. Live entertainment embodies the spirit of the season, and ‘snow’ falls every night. For little ones, Stitch’s Holiday Hunt serves as a fun scavenger hunt for budding detectives.
You’ll find shops galore where you can buy those special holiday gifts for your family and friends. Visitors can also indulge in seasonal treats at one of the many award-winning restaurants, and soak up the seasonal sights and sounds at the decked-out waterside promenade.
Holiday programming at Disney Springs starts in early November and runs through January 6.
Holidays at Universal Orlando
From November 16 through January 5, Universal’s two theme parks will offer an array of holiday-themed entertainment. Both of the Wizarding Worlds get holiday makeovers with beautifully themed decor, musical entertainment and special holiday treats. The highlight is the awe-inspiring laser-and-fireworks show which takes place nightly at Hogwarts Castle.
Merriment at Universal Studios includes Universal’s Holiday Parade (formerly Macy’s Holiday Parade) which brings forth beloved characters from Despicable me, Shrek and Madagascar, along with other festive folk including Santa Claus. The Mannheim Steamroller also returns to the park for live music performances on select night from mid November through mid December.
Islands of Adventure
Through the holidays, Universal’s Islands of Adventure hosts the holiday hub of Grinchmas at the Seuss Landing area. Events include the fun-packed Who-liday Spectacular show, plus meet-and-greets with The Grinch himself. For something extra special there’s the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast (separately-ticketed) featuring delicious breakfasts along with appearances from a variety of Dr Seuss characters.
All Universal Holiday events are included with regular park admission – and with a park-to-park admission ticket you will have access to everything.
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Seaworld’s Christmas Celebration
Each holiday season, Seaworld ramps up the fun with festive shows, wintery displays, holiday decorations and live music. From November 23 through December 31, more than 3 million twinkling lights transform the park into a winter wonderland, and live entertainment comes in the form of stunning shows like Shamu Christmas Miracles, Elmo’s Christmas Wish and Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas.
Other highlights are the Sea of Trees which light up over the lake and sparkle to the tune of Christmas music, and Winter Wonderland on Ice, an incredible ice-skating show that takes place at Bayside Stadium. A particular favorite with families is O Wondrous Night, a Christian nativity show featuring life-size puppets, special effects and live animals at the Nautilus Theater.
Seaworld’s Christmas Market is also returning for 2019 with its Christmas eats, treats and souvenirs. Visitors can meet colorful Christmas characters and watch a choir performing carols on the Gazebo Stage.
Christmas at Gaylord Palms
Come November 25, Orlando’s Gaylord Palms will be bedecked with millions of holiday lights and acres of magnificent decorations. Events for Christmas 2019 include the annual ICE show featuring scenes from The Polar Express movie, carved from more than 2 million pounds of ice. Kept at a chilly 9 degrees, this winter wonderland has ice slides, an ice-carving zone and a Christian nativity scene made entirely of ice.
Also at Gaylord this Christmas is Cirque Dreams Unwrapped, a colorful Cirque du Soleil-inspired stage show packed with fun holiday antics. There’s a Christmas Lights Show in the resort’s main atrium and a rousing Christmas concert series on the main stage Emerald Bay Plaza.
Little ones will love the Secret Santa scavenger hunt and the huge 8-lane snow tubing arena – it’s covered in real snow! Also take the kids to Mrs Claus’ Christmas Traditions where they can sing along to favorite holiday songs while enjoying freshly-baked cookies and ice-cold milk.
Gaylord Palms Christmas events all require tickets – you can purchase them here.
Holidays at Legoland
Perfect for families with younger kids, Holidays at Legoland features a combination of seasonal shows, festive treats, brick-building activities and amazing surprises.
Running on select dates from November 29 – 31, guests are invited to dance and sing-along at amazing interactive shows including the Jolly Holly Jubilee which takes place around 30-foot high Lego Christmas tree. Life-size Lego characters, rides in a giant Lego sleigh and live ‘snow’ falls are all part of the action.
The fun isn’t just confined to Christmas either. From December 26-31 the park will host its annual New Year’s Party. Expect amazing nightly fireworks, fun dance parties, special building activities and lots of other fun events. On New Year’s Eve itself, the whole family can enjoy a special New Year’s Eve party – but at the kid-friendly hour.
Now Snowing at Celebration
One of the top ‘snowing’ events in Florida, Now Snowing at Celebration offers a busy Christmas schedule packed with seasonal cheer. From November 24, the town’s main square will host an ice rink, Christmas carollers, live performers, photos with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides and the Celebration Express train. Perhaps the most magical event of all is the nightly snow fall which takes place every hour starting 6pm – while it may not be the snow that Northerners are user to, these flurries definitely tick the Christmas spirit up a notch.
Other things to do in Orlando for Christmas 2019
It’s not just the theme parks and resorts that celebrate Christmas in Orlando – there are heaps of things things to do besides. You can stock up on Christmas goodies at the many malls, dine out at the myriad restaurants and enjoy all kinds of holiday happening around the city. Here are a few of our favorite festive things to do away from the big ticket attractions.
Go Christmas shopping
With its sprawling malls and shopping plazas, there’s no better place than Orlando for Christmas shopping. There are options for all tastes and budgets, from top department stores like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, to the budget-friendly Premium Outlets on International Drive and Vineland Avenue. What’s more, the best-known shopping destinations are all within easy reach of the main vacation resorts in Orlando.
Get out and explore
Wherever you go in Orlando at Christmas you’re bound to see something festive. Get out and explore and you’ll find all manner of Christmassy things to do. There’s a Santa meet-and-greet at Millenia Mall, holiday happenings all along International Drive, and a festive lights show at Lake Eola. You’ll also find Christmassy goings-on at Harry Leu Gardens, Winter Park, College Park, and Cranes Roost Park – to name just a few!
Eat festive food
If you fancy dining out for Christmas 2019 you’ll find an abundance of places for a festive meal. Amazing Christmas buffets take place at many of the main hotels including Rosen Shingle Creek, Disney’s Swan and Dolphin, Loew’s Portofino Bay and Gaylord Palms. Tasty Christmas dinners can also be found at places like Taverna Opa where meals are accompanied by live belly dancing, Fogo de Chao which is serving a steak feast for Christmas Day, and Tu Tu Tango, set in an artist’s loft and serving seasonal specials through the holidays.
See a seasonal show
Shows are a central part of the Christmas season in Orlando, and there are plenty on the line-up for 2019. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is playing at the Amway Center on December 14, ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ is on at the Plaza Live on December 7 and the award-winning Orlando Ballet will perform their unique version of The Nutcracker at the Dr Phillips Center on various dates through the holidays.
Rent a luxury villa
Imagine spending Christmas in a luxury villa decked out with family friendly amenities. You can cook up a festive feast in a state-of-the-art kitchen, watch Christmas movies in your own private cinema, and keep the kids entertained in the game rooms – some even have bowling alleys! Many villas come complete with private swimming pools and large outdoor terraces, perfect for soaking up the sun. Some homes also have private gyms and amazing themed kids’ bedrooms.
Book a stay at one of the many family resorts in Orlando and you’ll be located close to Disney World and Orlando’s other top attractions.
Hire a private chef
If you’re renting a villa for the holidays why not make it extra special by hiring a private chef? That way you and your nearest and dearest can kick back and relax while someone else does all the hard work. Not only will your chef prepare a delicious Christmas feast just how you want it. They’ll also take care of the shopping, serving and even the cleaning up afterwards! To discuss the packages available contact the Top Villas guest experience team.
Visit holiday-inspired homes
In early December, owners of elegantly-decorated houses open their doors for the Celebration Holiday Home Tour. The town of Celebration is so close to Disney that many of the homes are adorned with amazing Disney-themed decor. The self-guided tours are clearly marked out around the town. You can tour the homes at your own pace, and plenty of parking is available.
Tours for 2019 will be held on December 7th from 3-9pm and December 8th from 1-5pm. Tickets are $20 and include access to the Winter Wonderland market at Celebration Town Hall.
You can buy tickets here.
Soak up the sun
If you’re spending this Christmas in Orlando you won’t need to worry about getting cold. In fact, the Christmas weather in Orlando can get pretty toasty, allowing you to swap frosty winter mornings for family pool time. Temperatures in Orlando can reach the mid 70s through December so you’ll be able to leave your winter jacket at home. This super-detailed guide has more tips on the best time to visit Florida.
Where to stay
If you’re staying in Orlando for Christmas 2019 check out these fantastic vacation rentals. Located in Orlando’s best resorts, these homes are packed with amenities such as private pools, movie theaters, game rooms and themed kids’ bedrooms. What’s more, they’re currently on offer with up to 25% off stays through Christmas 2019.
Reunion Resort 991
Perfect for families or groups of friends, this 8-bedroom villa has enough space for up to 20 guests. Situated in the exclusive Reunion Resort, it offers access to championship golf courses, a tropical water park and a great selection of restaurants and bars. Villa highlights include an exciting game room, a plush home theater, a gym and a private infinity pool with a spillover tub.
This villa is currently available with 25% off stays up to November 21, and 25% off any stay between 3- 18th December, 2019.BOOK THIS VILLA
With it themed kids’ bedrooms and private plunge pool, this 5-bedroom villa offers lots of fun. Located just a few miles from Disney, it has full access to the extensive resort amenities at Championsgate Resort, including communal pools, a water park, championship golf courses, a gaming arcade, a cinema, a spa and an array of restaurants.
Like the villa above, this home is available with 25% off stays through November 21, and between 3- 18th December, 2019.BOOK THIS VILLA
Tempted to book?
Whether you want to book one of these homes, or a different one from our wide range of vacation rentals in Orlando, it’s super-easy to do.
Follow our simple online booking process and you can secure your dream vacation home instantly without any phone calls or fuss. It’s easy to check availability, get a quote and book instantly online. Alternatively, submit an enquiry and we’ll get straight back to you.
Looking for the best deals? You can see all of our special offers in Orlando here.