Local Theme Parks Provide Family-Friendly Holiday Fun During Christmas Season

Compiled by Michelle Colesanti

‘Tis The Season For Christmas Town At Busch Gardens Tampa

The annual holiday tradition, Christmas Town™, returns to Busch Gardens® Tampa Bay with more than two million twinkling lights, festive treats, holiday entertainment and unique attractions, including the all-new addition of the beloved Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. 

The popular event takes place on 23 select dates from Friday, November 25 to Saturday, December 31, with fan-favorite entertainment and new twists:
New this year is Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland, located in the Celestial Crossing. Meet and take photos with Rudolph, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and Bumble. Play holiday games and indulge in Yuletide treats while scenes of the beloved story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer come to life. Enjoy  Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®.

Guests can also expect the return of fan-favorite shows including Christmas on Ice, Carol of the Bells light show and the Holiday Hills Brass Band. Christmas Town is open until 10 p.m. on select dates and will close at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For New Year’s Eve, the event will remain open until 1 a.m.

Christmas Town is included with any annual pass, Fun Card or daily admission to the park. Guests who purchase their 2017 Fun Card now can visit Busch Gardens for the remainder of 2016 for no additional cost, including the popular Christmas Town event. 

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party At The Magic Kingdom

Join Mickey for live entertainment, spectacular fireworks and an oh-so-jolly holiday parade at his very merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. 
Enjoy fun, magic, cheer and enchantment for guests of every age.

Held from 7 p.m.-12 Midnight at Magic Kingdom Park, this annual yuletide event will take place on November 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29 and December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22.

Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto are dropping by dressed in their Christmas best. Peter Pan is flying in from Never Land, Alice and the White Rabbit are hurrying over from Wonderland and Woody and Jessie from Toy Story are galloping in for this holiday ho ho hoedown. Plus, Snow White and Dopey, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket and many more surprise guests will be stopping by.

This joyous performance is the perfect yuletide treat to share with your family. Your favorite characters will ring and sing in the holidays with carols old and new. You’ll witness the splendor of Cinderella Castle aglow with enchanting and ever-changing holiday illuminations. Feel the warmth and wonder of the season as this unforgettable performance is Christmas-wrapped up in one sensational, snowy, show-stopping finale.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party requires a separate admission ticket. Prices vary depending on your chosen day to visit. For more info on prices and to purchase tickets, visit disneyworld.disney.go.com/events/mickeys-very-merry-christmas.

Celebrate The Holidays At Universal Studios Florida And Islands Of Adventure 

Many people will never get to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, but can experience it here. Universal Studios Florida® comes alive during the holidays from December 3 to January 1 with balloons and floats beyond your imagination, marching bands, Santa, and seasonal sing-alongs for the little ones.

The fun continues with Grinchmas™ at Universal’s Islands of Adventure®, featuring the Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular. 

You can really get into the spirit by enjoying performances by Mannheim Steamroller on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 7 p.m.

Join Barney™ and his friends for a magical musical show full of songs at “A Day In The Park With Barney™!” Located inside Universal Studios Florida ® .

Grab your sunglasses and get ready to rock and roll. Jake and Elwood perform festive favorites like “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” “Blue Christmas,” and more with snow on Delancey Street in Universal Studios ® at the end of each show. 

For more information on holiday events, visit https://www.universalorlando.com/Events/Holidays/Overview.aspx.

Sea World’s Christmas Celebration

The season meets the sea at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration on select days from November 25 to December 31.

At SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration™ carols fill the air, a sea of lighted trees sparkles over the lake in a wintery, watery wonderland, and world-famous skaters twirl on ice. Enjoy stunning live shows, and delightful entertainment inspired by the natural world, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is where holiday memories are made. Stroll the lakeside Christmas Market and savor the cinnamon and spice holiday scents of delicious treats as you shop for unique, artisan-crafted gifts. 

O Wondrous Night® is a 30-minute show features puppetry and dance against the backdrop of traditional Christmas music that will charm, entertain and delight people from all walks of life.

SeaWorld® invites you to experience the power and beauty of the Shamu family in a nighttime holiday show, Shamu® Christmas Miracles.

New this year, you can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Rudolph leads the way to Christmas joy and holiday fun with all-new ways of making spirits bright.

Christmas comes to life on a stage of ice, jewels and light as skaters dazzle and delight in this show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza in Winter Wonderland On Ice. The other stars of the show are the towering fountains of water dancing on the lake and fireworks that light up the night sky after the last ice show of the evening.

Take a walk through a wintery, watery wonderland and immerse yourself in a sea of holiday trees.

For more information, visit https://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando/christmas/.

ICE! At Gaylord Palms Features A Charlie Brown Christmas

New for 2016 is ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. Watch Charlie Brown rediscover the true meaning of Christmas as the beloved classic story unfolds through interactive ice sculptures and displays. Experience the Peanuts gang in iconic scenes such as their holiday play rehearsal, Snoopy’s decorated doghouse and Charlie Brown choosing the perfect Christmas tree. Everything is hand-carved from two million pounds of ice.

Other attractions include a walk-through holiday attraction, kept at a chilly 9 degrees, four ice slides, The Frostbite Factory (live carving zone) and a Nativity scene carved from crystal clear ice. Enjoy Alpine Rush Snow Tubing in the Alpine Village and zoom down an eight-lane tubing hill that’s fun for all ages and is covered in real snow.

Christmas in Orlando is fun for the entire family. Gaylord Palms Resort is located at 6000 W. Osceola Pkwy. in Kissimmee. ICE! will run Friday, November 18 through Sunday, January 1. For more info, visit www.marriott.com.

Christmas Bricktacular at Legoland

Bricktacular is Legoland’s annual holiday celebration. It returns to deck the halls with a 30-ft.-tall Christmas tree made of thousands of LEGO® and DUPLO® bricks, festive decorations, a life-size LEGO Santa, reindeer and sleigh, holiday-themed scavenger hunts with prizes, and opportunities to build with LEGO alongside Master Model Builders. Meet LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier during daily park appearances and end the evening with a not-so-silent-night fireworks spectacular set to classic Christmas melodies.

Bricktacular will take place on December 17-18, 24-25, 26-30. Purchase tickets at www.legoland.com/florida/buy-tickets/admission-tickets/.

Florida Aquarium Holds Aqua Eve

Come celebrate New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, with a splash at The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve. Enjoy fantastic live music, complimentary food, beer and wine along with a champagne toast – and the best view in town for an amazing fireworks display at midnight. The Florida Aquarium’s Aqua Eve party is the premiere New Year’s Eve party in Tampa to ring in 2017.

Early Entrance is 8: 30-9 p.m. Main event runs from 9 p.m. -1 a.m. Ages 21 and over only; ID required.

To purchase tickets, visit http://www.flaquarium.org/event-calendar/Aqua-Eve.aspx  or call 273-4000.

Christmas in the Wild At Lowry Park Zoo

The traditions of Christmas will be abundant at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo this holiday season! Be immersed in a festival of lights shining brightly. Encounter amazing animals at night, enjoy Christmas carolers and live entertainment, and marvel at the skills of artisans. You can sample holiday treats and seasonal refreshments at the Christmas Lodge. Visit Santa, and have a merry and memorable evening at this magical holiday event in the unique setting of the Zoo at night.

Enjoy Christmas in the Wild on November 25-25, December 2-3, 9-10, 16-23 and 26-30. Lowry Park will be open until 10 p.m. Zoo Members and Pay for A Day Ticket holders enjoy free and unlimited access to Christmas in the Wild. Visit www.lowryparkzoo.org/events/christmas-in-the-wild or call 935-8552.