With dazzling celebrations around every corner, Christmas in Orlando is always extra special. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should visit during the holidays…
You can swap winter chills for sunshine
Tired of spending Christmas in the cold? Then head to the Sunshine State! The weeks before and after Christmas are wonderfully warm, 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.
The Christmas shopping is amazing
With its sprawling malls and shopping plazas, there’s no better place then 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. The best-known shopping destinations are all within easy reach of the main vacation resorts in Orlando.
You’ll be wowed by the theme parks
It should come as no surprise that world-famous theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios dazzle with festive cheer through the holidays. Whether you’re visiting in the run up to Christmas or on the day itself, every theme park lays on myriad events and experiences. Here’s a rundown of the best:
On select nights through November and December, Disney’s Magic Kingdom hosts the all-singing, all-dancing Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This separately-ticketed event is open to guests of all ages and features parades, stage shows, character experiences and festive eats and treats. Party-goers will also delight at snow falling on Main Street, dazzling lights on Cinderella’s Castle, and an exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza.
Included with regular admission, Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays is every foodie’s dream. Themed ‘holiday kitchens’ serve up scrumptious bites, decadent desserts and merry libations from all over the world. Guests can also enjoy stirring musical productions and festive tours as costumed performers bring international Christmas traditions to life throughout World Showcase.
Also at Epcot through Christmas is the rousing Candlelight Processional featuring celebrity narrators accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a full choir. The Illuminations show is another don’t miss spectacle with music, lights, lazers and fireworks at the World Showcase Promenade.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is packed with holiday merriment including festive shows, enchanting snow-falls and holiday decor. Hollywood Tower Hotel is transformed with Christmas projections and lazer effects, and Echo Lake gets a merry makeover with extra-large Christmas decorations. The spectacular Jingle Bell Jingle Bam show also runs through the holidays, plus you’ll find plenty of holiday cheer at all-new Toy Story Land.
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From early November right through early January you can see a special festive version of A Great Bird Adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Inspired by Disney Pixar’s ‘Up!’ the show invites you to flock together with Russell, Dug and their fine-feathered friends for a fun foray into the holiday Festival of Lights’ in India.
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Expect joyful entertainment, seasonal treats and dazzling decor when you visit Disney Springs at Christmas. There’s a Christmas tree trail featuring music, falling snow and festive trees. Visitors can also take part in a merry mission to locate all the items on Stitch’s Holiday Gift Hunt.
You’ll find shops galore where you can find those extra special gifts for your family and friends, plus you can indulge in seasonal treats at one of the many award-winning restaurants. Little ones will love saying hi to the big man himself at Santa’s Chalet, and the whole family can soak up seasonal sights and sounds at the decked-out waterside promenade.
Universal Orlando Resort
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Over at Universal Studios, both Diagon Alley and London are transformed with festive decor, amazing lighting and seasonal melodies – look out for the buskers playing holiday favorites at King’s Cross Station. With a park-to-park admission ticket you can board the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade Station in Universal’s Islands of Adventure where the shops are festively decorated and the Frog Choir sings seasonal songs. Grab special treats and drinks to share, and revel in a dazzling projection of holiday spirit at the Magic of Christmas lights show at Hogwarts Castle.
Islands of Adventure
Holiday happenings at Universal’s Islands of Adventure include the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular show, plus meet-and-greets with the maven of mystery himself for an autograph and a photo. A separately-ticketed experience, the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast also offers family fun with the Grinch himself making the rounds, stopping to pose for photos and sharing hilarious small talk.
You can join Santa Claus and the characters from Minions, Madagascar and Shrek at Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. The Mannheim Steamroller also returns to the park for live music performances on select night from mid November through mid December.
Get great-value Universal tickets here.
Kids can dine with Santa
Seaworld’s Christmas Celebration is included with regular park admission from November 17 through December 31. It includes the Sea of Trees, festive performances and entry to the Christmas market. For an extra cost, the whole family can dine with Santa at Shamu Stadium and get reserved seating for the Winter Wonderland on Ice show.
You can let someone else do all the hard work
Rent a luxury villa for the holidays and you can kick back and relax while someone else does the hard work. Whether you want a private chef to cook your Christmas turkey, a festive photoshoot in your villa or help with arranging a special occasion, the Top Villas concierge team can arrange whatever you need.
You’ll see one-of-a-kind Christmas trees
The Christmas Bricktacular at Legoland Florida features a 30-foot Christmas tree made with Lego and Duplo blocks. Included with regular park admission, the event also offers holiday-themed scavenger hunts, Lego building activities and character meet-and-greets. It runs on select days from December 1-25.
You’ll find amazing resort facilities
If you’re spending Christmas in Orlando you’ll find some fantastic places to stay. Book a condo or villa at Reunion Resort and you’ll benefit from access to on-site facilities like a water park, golf courses, tennis courts, restaurants, spa and a kids’ club. Over at Encore Resort you can make the most of exclusive extras including complimentary water park access and free transfers to local theme parks.
And amazing villa amenities
Imagine spending Christmas in a luxury villa decked out with top-notch amenities. Most of our Orlando villas come complete with swimming pools, hot tubs and game rooms. Many also have home theaters, fitness rooms and themed kids’ bedrooms. If you’re looking for something a little smaller, check out our condos which come complete with fully-equipped kitchens, open-plan living spaces and spacious balconies.
Everything is open on Christmas Day
One of the best things about Christmas in Orlando is the fact that most of the big ticket attractions are open for business. Disney World, Seaworld, Universal Resort, Legoland, Discovery Cove and Aquatica are all open on Christmas Day.
There are plenty of places for a festive meal
If you want to eat out on Christmas Day you’ll find an abundance of places for a festive holiday meal. Rosen Shingle Creek’s Cafe Osceola serves an all-day Christmas buffet including steaks, seafood and classic holiday dishes – buffets are available for around $70 for adults and include unlimited champagne and mimosas. Other tasty Christmas fare can be found at Villa de Flora, Taverna Opa, Fogo de Chao and Tu Tu Tango.
It’s always a white Christmas
Hosted by the town of Celebration, the Now Snowing event features nightly faux snow falls as well as train carriage rides, seasonal entertainment and photo opportunities with Mr and Mrs Santa Claus. It runs from November 24 through December 31 and is free admission.
You can see the Nativity – made of ice!
From November 16 through January 6, Gaylord Palms will be running its annual ice show. The all-new theme for this year is the beloved holiday movie A Christmas Story, and you’ll see it come to life through hand-carved scenes, colorful life-size ice sculptures and fun ice slides. The event also features a live ice-carving zone and a majestic Nativity scene carved from crystal-clear ice.
Everything has a festive twist
Wherever you go in Orlando at Christmas you’re bound to see something festive. All of the main attractions are decked out with festive decor, as are the parks, malls, museums and markets. There’s a Santa meet-and-greet at the Millenia Mall, a Christmas tree design show at the Orlando Museum of Art 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 – and many more!
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