Spending Thanksgiving in Orlando

Thanksgiving Day in Orlando

If you’re spending Thanksgiving in Orlando, be prepared for a cornucopia of fun things to do. Whether you want to hit the theme parks, plan out your Black Friday shopping or find an amazing foodie feast, here’s our guide to the Thanksgiving holidays.

What exactly is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.

The story of Thanksgiving can be traced back to a celebration at the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts in 1621. Religious refugees from England (known as the Pilgrims) invited the local Native Americans to a harvest feast after a particularly successful growing season. The previous year’s harvests had failed and in the winter of 1620, half of the Pilgrims had starved to death. Luckily for the rest, members of the local Wampanoag tribe helped out and taught the Pilgrims how to catch fish and grow local crops.

Today, Thanksgiving is a celebration of that bountiful harvest and an expression of gratitude for friends and family.

How should I celebrate?

Thanksgiving in Orlando is an extravagant affair, with bountiful dining options around every corner. Buffets are a big thing for Thanksgiving, as are gourmet brunches, lavish lunches, and opulent dinner events.

If you don’t fancy heading out you can stock up on fresh produce and cook a Thanksgiving dinner in the comfort of your vacation home.

There are plenty of other entertainment options too, with special events, parties, and celebrations happening all over the city. Also, many department stores open late into the evening for the start of the door-busting Black Friday sales.

Thanksgiving buffets in Orlando

Thanksgiving is a time for feasting, and there are lots of fantastic places to go in Orlando to get your fill of turkey dinners. Some of the top-rated buffets in the area take place at the Reunion and Encore resorts. Theme parks and restaurants across Orlando also get in on the action. Take a look at our guide to The Best Thanksgiving Buffets in Orlando.

Thanksgiving at the theme parks

Disney World

An array of restaurants at Disney World offer special menus over the Thanksgiving weekend. You’ll find turkey-inspired options at Disney Springs and across all 4 Disney parks.

Other highlights to look out for are Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which features shows, parades, and special fireworks.

Epcot’s Candlelight Processional also kicks off around Thanksgiving time. It features rousing music concerts, nightly fireworks, and a re-telling of the Christian nativity story by a line-up of celebrity narrators.

Things to do in Orlando for Thanksgiving

Universal Orlando

From holiday buffets with live entertainment to Italian-themed harbor nights, Universal lights up with the spirit of the season. Events at Universal during Thanksgiving include Grinchmas, Macy’s Holiday Parade, and Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Will the parks be really busy?

Yes, the theme parks will be busy over the Thanksgiving weekend.

For Disney World, use the Genie tool and the rider switch program to make the most of your visit. At Universal, invest in an Express Pass or use the Single Riders line.

You can find out more with our guide to the best time to visit Disney.

Celebrate in a vacation home

Why not have a cozy Thanksgiving and celebrate with loved ones in the comfort of a luxury vacation home?

Our villas in Orlando are located in the top resorts near Disney World. They come equipped with everything you need to cook up a feast for your family and friends.

You’ll find fantastic amenities including fully-equipped kitchens, spacious living and dining areas, and private swimming pools with spillover tubs. Many homes also have alfresco dining areas, outdoor kitchens, BBQs, movie theaters, and game rooms.

Thanksgiving in Orlando

There are plenty of grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Orlando where you can pick up ingredients for your Thanksgiving Day dinner. The Winter Park farmer’s market is held every Saturday, and the Lake Eola Park farmer’s market is held every Sunday in Downtown Orlando.

Don’t fancy cooking? Why not hire a private chef to do all the catering for you?

Other things to do for Thanksgiving in Orlando

Black Friday shopping

Thanksgiving in Orlando also marks the start of another holiday – the Christmas shopping season – which kicks off with Black Friday just after Thanksgiving Day. If you love a bargain, or you’re saving up for something big, Black Friday is the time to get it. Stores have massive discounts on a whole range of products both online and in-store. Check out our guide to Black Friday shopping for tips on bagging the best deals.

Fortunately, Orlando is packed with malls and shopping centers. You can pick up absolutely everything from designer clothes and jewelry, to homeware, electrical goods, beauty products, and souvenirs.

The best places to go shopping in Orlando are the Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue and International Drive. There’s also the Mall at Millenia also on International Drive (close to Universal Studios). The largest indoor mall in Central Florida is the Florida Mall which has more than 270 stores and restaurants. Orlando is also home to the Pointe Orlando Mall, the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, and the Winter Park Village shopping complex.

Go turkey trotting

Nothing says Thanksgiving in Orlando like a good old turkey trot!

A Turkey Trot is a fun run that is held every year around Thanksgiving. Turkey trots are great fun, and they also do good in the community. Many of them support charities that provide Thanksgiving meals to the homeless or those on low incomes. All participants usually dress up in fancy dress, and the winner usually gets a frozen Thanksgiving turkey.

The Seniors’ First Turkey Trot 2022 is set to take place at Lake Eola Park this Thanksgiving Day. More than 5,000 runners annually participate to raise money for programs that support the elderly in the local community.

Relax on a beach

Orlando is famous is for its theme parks, but if you want a relaxing day out, there are beautiful beaches nearby. You can pack up a Thanksgiving picnic and drive to Daytona Beach on the east coast in under an hour. You can park on the sand at Daytona Beach which is ideal if you’ve got kids and equipment in tow.

West coast beaches like Clearwater Beach and Treasure Island are a bit further away (around 2 hours) but they boast whiter sands and calmer seas than their east coast counterparts.

Play golf

You can make the most of the long Thanksgiving weekend by teeing off on the world-class golf courses in Orlando. If you stay at one of the villas at Reunion Resort, you’ll have access to 3 of the best.

The resort also boasts 3 signature golf courses designed by legendary golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson. All are award-winning courses famed for their unique and challenging layouts.

Booking your Orlando vacation home for Thanksgiving

If you’re thinking of spending Thanksgiving in Orlando, then contact us today to book your villa. Additionally, our dedicated team can arrange any added Travel Extras you need such as great-value car hire. You can view all our Orlando villas here.