If you’re spending Thanksgiving 2023 in Orlando, be prepared for a cornucopia of fun things to do! Thanksgiving week this year falls on November 18 – 26, 2023, providing the perfect excuse to enjoy the City Beautiful, with your friends and family. If you’re fortunate enough to be spending Thanksgiving 2023 in Orlando, get ready to enjoy an abundance of exciting activities. Whether you’re eager to explore the theme parks, strategize your Black Friday shopping, or indulge in a delectable foodie feast, our guide to the Thanksgiving holidays has you covered.
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 exclusive comfort of your vacation home. Of course, if you’re looking to savor a lavish culinary occasion with your nearest and dearest, then hiring in the expertise of a private chef to prepare a feast in your Top Villas vacation rental promises to serve up an unforgettable Thanksgiving 2023!
Aside from the feasting, there are plenty of other entertainment options on offer too in Orlando, 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 and the world-class theme parks promise a spectacle of fun and magic, to showcase the seasonal holiday magic.
Weather in Orlando Thanksgiving week
Orlando enjoys mild and pleasant weather during Thanksgiving week, with average high temperatures around 75°F (24°C) and cooler evenings around 55°F (13°C), making it ideal for outdoor holiday festivities. So whether you’re dining indoors or looking to celebrate out and about, Orlando paints the perfect destination for seasonal fun with the family.
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
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.
Late fall in November also brings exciting developments at Walt Disney World, including the completion of projects, the last opportunity to savor the delights of the Food and Wine Festival (which concludes on November, 18th), and a host of seasonal Thanksgiving celebrations, before a festive, first-class run up to Christmas. This year will also mark the celebration of Mickey and Minnie’s 95th Birthday! By the third week of November, the Magic of Christmas decorations begin to transform the Disney parks. The Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the heart of Magic Kingdom (from November 9 to December 22, 2023) is also in full swing – promising an unforgettable celebration for all, with shows, parades, fireworks, and more.
After Thanksgiving, prepare for the enchanting EPCOT Festival of Holidays, which blends cherished traditions and delectable seasonal foods with a magical Candlelight Processional. This popular annual event features music concerts, nightly fireworks and an imaginative re-telling of the Christian Nativity story. In late November, you’ll also get to meet the New Asha Character at EPCOT and encounter the Hatbox Ghost at the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom. Plus, for sports enthusiasts, November 23-26, 2023, brings the ESPN Events Invitational, featuring thrilling college teams competing in exciting matchups. With all this and more to enjoy, Disney World Orlando promises a captivating November, which is full of seasonal magic and excitement!
From holiday buffets with live entertainment to Italian-themed harbor nights, Universal Orlando lights up with the spirit of the season! In particular, Universal Orlando comes alive with holiday magic on and around Thanksgiving 2023. From November 11th to January 1st, 2024, Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure promises a captivating experience. Snow-covered Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, festive decorations, and delectable holiday-themed food and drinks set the stage. The grand finale is an enchanting holiday show at Hogwarts Castle, making it a must-visit for wizarding enthusiasts!
Continuing the festivities from November 12th to January 1st, 2024, Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort – Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings Seuss Landing to life with the heartwarming Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular live show. Meet the Grinch for photos and autographs or indulge in The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast. These events, coupled with Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at Universal Studios from November 11th, 2023, to January 1st, 2023, make Thanksgiving and the holiday season in Orlando truly magical.
Will the parks be really busy?
Yes, the theme parks will be busy over the Thanksgiving weekend.
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 Orlando vacation home?
Our villas in Orlando are located in the top villa 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.
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 Senior’s First Turkey Trot 2023 is set to take place at Lake Eola Park on November, 23rd 2023. More than 5,000 runners annually participate in this 5k family fun run, to raise money for programs that support the elderly in the local community. Now in its 34th year, if promises a fun way to celebrate the holidays and burn off some calories before feasting – with runners decked out in Thanskgiving-themed Turkey hats and full costumes!
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.
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.