Orlando Events in December

Through – January 4, 2009: ICE! A holiday extravaganza held annually at the Gaylord Palm. Bundle up and preview beautiful ice sculptures. For more info: 407-896-4231 x 254. Admission charge.

Through – January 4, 2009: The Best of Florida Christmas – The 4.5 acre atrium ath the Gaylord Palms Resort is transformed into a magical Christmas wonderland. A majestic 54-foot Christmas adds to the elegant and sometimes whimsical decor. Free admission – charge for parking.

Through December 31, 2008: Now Snowing in Downtown Celebration – Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, the Celebration Express, horse drawn carriage rides, and nightly snowfall. Free admission.

December 04, 2008: 1st Thursday’s – Themed happy hour on the first Thursday of each month at the Orlando Museum of Art from 6pm – 9pm. For more info: 407-896-4231 x 260. Admission charge.

December 05, 2008: Holiday Movie at Leu Gardens – Start the holidays off with a classic movie under the stars on one of Orlando’s largest outdoor screens. Admission charge.

December 05, 2008: Popcorn Flicks in the Park – Each month the Enzian Theater features free movies on the second Thursday of the month at Central Park. For more info: 407 -629-1088. Free admission.

December 05, 2008: Christmas Walk in Mount Dora – A holiday street party with music, Santa and shopping sponsored by the Downtown Village Merchants. For more info: 352-735-1191. Free admission.

December 05, 2008: Jazz Holiday Concert – Unwind from 5:30 – 8:30pm with the sounds of Chris Standring. Hosted by Smooth Jazz 103.1 at the Mall of Millenia’s entrance. For more info: 407-363-3555. Free admission.

December 05, 2008: Florida International Beer and Food Festival – From 5 – 9pm sample beer from around the world. Food from area restaurants. Event will be held in Downtown Orlando at Heritage Square History Center. For more info: 407-383-2331. Admission charge.

December 06, 2008: Christmas Parade in Sanford – From Mellonville to Sanford Avenue beginning at 6 pm until 10 pm. For more info: 407-330-5697. Free admission.

December 06, 2008: Annual Mount Dora Christmas Parade – Sponsored by the Mount Dora Lions Club, delight in the annual Christmas Parade down the streets of Mount Dora. For more info: 352-735-9629. Free admission.

December 06, 2008: Light Up the Holidays – The traditional lighting of Cranes Roost Park at Uptown Altamonte sponsored by Progress Energy from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. There will be music, entertainment and fun for the entire family. For more info: 407-571-8180. Free admission.

December 06, 2008: Jazzed in Sanford – Free monthly Jazz Concert series held the first Saturday of the month in Magnolia Square, downtown Sanford from 4 – 7pm. For more info: 407-688-5004. Free admission.

December 06 – 07, 2008: Christmas Tour of Homes – From 11 am – 4 pm preview six Mount Dora homes that are beautifully decorated for the holidays. This is a self-driving tour to the various homes. For more info: 352-383-8808. Admission charge of $15.

December 08, 2008: Holiday Movie Night – Holiday movies on the lawn Cranes Roost Plaza, Uptown Altamonte, starting at 7:00pm. Bring your blankets and chairs and enjoy a family holiday classic with a warm beverage on the lawn in front of the tower. Sponsored by Florida Hospital Altamonte. For more info: 407-571-8180. Free admission.

December 11, 2008: Alive After Five – The second Thursday of each month, enjoy themed entertainment and activities. For more info: 407-302-2586. Admission charge.

December 12, 2008: Movie in the Park – Free family movies on the second Friday of each month at Donnelly Street in Mount Dora. Bring the family and a blanket or chairs – movie starts at dusk. For more info: 352-735-7183. Free admission.

December 13, 2008: Children’s Christmas in the Park with Snow – From 4 pm – 9 pm at Donnelly Park in Mount Dora, join in the family-friendly holiday festivities. For more info: 352-735-7183. Free admission.

December 13, 2008: Lake Monroe’s Illuminated Christmas Boat Parade – Starting at 5 pm. Both Vereran’s Memorial Park and Wolfy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill will provide up-close and exciting views of the boats, both power and sail in all their holiday spirit. For more info: 407-330-0633. Free admission.

December 13, 2008: Kissimmee Holiday Extravaganza – Annual event at Kissimmee Lakefront Park includes a twenty ton snow pile, strolling street performers, live entertainment and plenty of activities, incuding Frosty’s Playground, ice carving demonstrations. Nighttime events include a “Festival of Lights” and a fireworks display. For more info:407-93EVENT. Free admission.

December 15, 2008: Storytelling at Leu Gardens – Stories at 3 times for different aged children on the third Monday of the month.For more info: 407-246-2620. Free admission.

December 16, 2008: Stories of the Season – W.T. Bland Public Library in Mount Dora. Bring a lunch and rediscover favorite Christmas tales for the holiday season. Coffee, tea and dessert is provided by the library. For more info: 352-735-7180. Free admission.

December 19, 2008: Mount Dora At Nite – Celebrate the third Friday of each month with live entertainment, great food and shopping in Downtown Mount Dora. For more info: 352-383-5451. Free admission.

December 19, 2008: Cinema in the Park – Free family movies on the third Friday of each month at Centennial Park in Sanford. Bring the family and a blanket or chairs for the 7:30pm showing of this month’s movie. For more info: 407-688-5004. Free admission.

December 24, 2008: Christmas Eve Open House – A peaceful respite from the busy holiday season, free admission to the Morse Museum. For more info: 407-645-5311. Free admission.

December 25, 2008: Christmas Day Concerts At Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. You can enjoy concerts featuring Christmas carols from around the world. For more info: 863-676-1408. Admission charge.

Information courtesy of About.com

There’s No Place Like Walt Disney World for the Holidays!

It was once suggested that while there’s no place like home for the holidays, the next best place on the planet may be Walt Disney World Resort. The good news is that guests don’t have to choose: They can experience the sparkling decorations and joyous seasonal entertainment throughout the Vacation Kingdom and still be home for Christmas, because the festivities begin weeks before December 25. Here’s a sampling of what’s in store:
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights — As “snow” falls overhead, the Streets of America backlot cityscape at Disney’s Hollywood Studios comes alive November 28-January 4, 2009, with millions of holiday lights that dance to music, animating sparkling displays to create twirling carousels, marching toy soldiers and even Santa and his reindeer taking flight. The synchronized music and light show is presented in collaboration with famed Arkansas businessman Jennings Osborne, who developed the dazzling display for his daughter more than a decade ago at his Little Rock, Ark., home. The spectacle is included with Disney’s Hollywood Studios admission.
Holidays Around the World / Candlelight Processional — An Epcot tradition continues November 28-December 30 with holiday customs from around the globe, international storytellers, a nightly tree-lighting ceremony featuring Disney characters, a stunning display of snow-white and colored lights, and Candlelight Processional. A beloved Disney tradition that began long before Epcot, Candlelight Processional features celebrity guest narrators accompanied by a mass choir and 50-piece orchestra for a retelling of the Christmas story at America Gardens Theatre at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 pm. All of the Epcot holiday fun is included with regular theme park admission.
Castle Dreamlights — A dazzling lighting spectacle transforms the iconic Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom into a glimmering, shimmering ice palace at holiday time. Bathed in more than 200,000 tiny white lights, the castle glows and glistens nightly beginning November 10. It’s all a fulfillment of Cinderella’s holiday wish, as guests learn during a special show that climaxes with the transformation of the famous Magic Kingdom icon.
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade — A Disney’s Animal Kingdom tradition, the procession results from Mickey Mouse’s invitation to a special group of friends to join him on a holiday adventure. The parade is filled with gaiety — the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings of the season. Mickey and his friends are no exception. They’ve added holiday accessories to their safari costumes. Add in some special music and you have a combination that celebrates the holidays in a Disney’s Animal Kingdom way November 28-January 4, 2009.
Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney – Guests can finish their holiday shopping at this one-stop mecca featuring something for everyone on their list and enjoy the dazzling light display and holiday décor that adorns the Downtown Disney streets November 28-December 24, 2008. Youngsters can bring their Christmas list and visit Santa Claus from noon-10 pm daily.

Information courtesy of Mousesavers Newsletter

At Islands of Adventure, The Grinch and The Whos from Whoville sing their hearts out about the true meaning of Christmas in the park’s special holiday Grinchmas show – featuring music specially created by holiday music sensation Mannheim Steamroller.

Just one park over, guests line the streets of Universal Studios to see the larger than life Macy’s balloons and floats that make up the Macy’s Holiday Parade along with special performances by marching bands from across the country.
It’s the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort – and Grinchmas, the Macy’s Holiday Parade and other special events run from December 6 through January 1.
Universal Orlando Resort kicks off the holiday season this year with live performances by Christmas music mega-sensation Mannheim Steamroller, who will perform two live concerts at Universal Studios Florida on Saturday, December 6. The Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling group will play songs created specifically for the resort’s original holiday stage show “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” as well as brand-new music from their newly released album Christmasville. Founder Chip Davis will join Mannheim Steamroller in his only scheduled appearance of the holiday season. Mannheim Steamroller has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Universal Orlando Resort for their holiday celebration,” said Chip Davis, founder of Mannheim Steamroller. “We are looking forward to performing some of our classic hits, as well as new material, for park guests.”
The concerts will take place at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the New York area and are included in park admission to Universal Studios Florida.
Mannheim Steamroller’s performances are just the start of the month-long holiday festivities at Universal Orlando. Beginning December 6 and running through January 1, the resort’s celebration will include the specially themed Grinchmas show and Macy’s Holiday Parade.
At Islands of Advenure, the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in Grinchmas, a live stage show featuring an original musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. During the show, six songs are performed by a live cast, including The Grinch and The Whos from Whoville. As a part of the Grinchmas celebration, guests will also have the opportunity to meet The Grinch.
Next door at Universal Studios, the world-renowned balloons and floats from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade return. Guests can experience the excitement of the New York City tradition as the Macy’s Holiday Parade cruises through the streets of the park. In addition to the parade, Universal Studios guests can enjoy performances by marching bands from across the country, a nightly Christmas tree lighting, as well as specially themed holiday shows including The Blues Brothers, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and Barney.
“With the heart-warming story of Grinchmas and the excitement of the Macy’s Holiday Parade, we have brought together two of the most beloved and compelling holiday experiences in our culture,” said Jim Timon, senior vice president of entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort. “We have created a month-long holiday event that every family will love.”
The celebration continues at Universal Orlando’s three on-site hotels – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort – all of which will glisten with holiday decorations. Hotel guests will be immersed in the spirit of the season with carolers, tree-lighting ceremonies, holiday movie presentations and special holiday menus.
Information courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

Walt Disney World Resort Rings in a Happy New Year 2009 With Parties, Extended Hours and Fireworks Galore.

Walt Disney World Resort offers many options for celebrating the official kickoff of 2009 – from ringing in the New Year at a special party at Downtown Disney to getting festive in the parks.

DISNEY-MGM STUDIOS

The Disney Studios are aglow with the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Millions of sparkling lights adorn the Streets of America backlot through Jan. 6, 2009. Special New Year’s Eve park hours: 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Special entertainment includes a trio of “Fantasmic!” fireworks shows at 6:30, 8:30 and 10 p.m., plus a special showering of fireworks at midnight.

MAGIC KINGDOM

Donning hats and noisemakers, revelers can party on until 1 a.m. at Magic Kingdom with double the parades and fireworks. Guests can count down to the magical hour with the “SpectroMagic” parade at 7 and 10:30 p.m., plus “Holiday Wishes” fireworks at 8:30 p.m. and “Fantasy in the Sky” fireworks at 11:50 p.m. The park is open from 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

EPCOT

A special version of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” laser-light spectacular will be presented at 7:30 and 11:40 p.m. at Epcot. Latin crossover band Papo’s Groove and the energetic DJ Indio Davila will entertain partiers at America Gardens Theatre, while the big band swing music of the Tom Butler Orchestra will fill World Showplace. Rockers can boogie down at Scooter’s dance party at the Fountain Stage, plus techno rock at the China pavilion and classic rock ‘n’ roll at the Italy pavilion in World Showcase. The park is open from 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

“Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade,” an outrageous street party starring favorite Disney friends, winds through Disney’s Animal Kingdom at 3:45 p.m. Theme park hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

At Downtown Disney, Cirque du Soleil fans can celebrate the New Year La Nouba style with two presentations of the theatrical production, at 6 and 9 p.m. A champagne toast celebration, souvenir program, glow sticks and gift are included in the special ticket price. Tickets are from $67 to $139, plus tax, depending on category.

Information courtesy of About.com

Since February of 1988, Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Kissimmee has been amazing Central Florida guests with it’s unique blend of world famous horses, expert riders, special effects and beautiful costumes all of which is rolled into a delightful family theatrical performance.

With seating for up to 1,200, it is known as the world’s largest indoor Equestrian Arena. Arabian Nights beckons both Central Floridians as well as tourists from around the globe into it’s 140,000 square foot facility. Voted the four-time winner of Orlando‘s #1 Dinner Attraction, Arabian Nights has entertained millions of visitors since it’s opening in 1988.
Showcasing the talents of 40 performers and 65 prized horses with daring stunts and remarkable horsemanship within a magical, romantic story. The number of costume changes here surpasses even the most complex Broadway show.
Walter Farley’s Black Stallion is the main star in this cast of 65 horses. Fourteen breeds from around the world consist of:
Arabian
American Quarter Horse
Andalusian
Appaloosa
Belgian
Canadian Warmblood
Donkey
Lippizzaner
Paint
Percheron
Saddlebred
Standardbred
Prior to the show, as guests arrive at Arabian Nights Dinner Theater, they are invited into the Great Hall to enjoy pre-show entertainment. There they may meet some of the stars of the show or listen to the live music.
As you enter the Great Hall, family photos are taken with the themed background. Near the end of the show, the souvenir photos and photo key-chains are brought to your table, where you can choose to purchase them. The gift shop has a large selection of horse figures, cards, jewelry and many show mementos.
Sixty beautiful horses and 40 talented performers make up the entire cast for this 1 hour and 30 minute production. There is never a dull moment as twenty-two themed acts continuously blend together to form the story line of the birthday of the beautiful Princess Scheherezade (from the literary Arabian Nights) and her quest to find the prince of her dreams.
A showcase of talented riders and beautiful horses from around the world partake in the adventures. Each event is designed to demonstrate the great skill of the performers and the immense training and ability of the prized horses. Different acts include:
A Chariot Race from ancient Rome
Square dancing Cowboys and Native Americans
Gypsies offering daredevil stunts in a circus-like atmosphere
Individually plated three-course dinners feature salad, rolls and butter, the choice of New York strip steak, grilled chicken breast, certified Black Angus chopped steak with gravy, pasta primavera or chicken tenders, and specialty dessert. Unlimited beverages include Budweiser products, California blush wine, Pepsi products, coffee and tea. A cash bar for cocktails is also available.
The 1 hour 30 minute production is shown nightly and tickets can usually be purchased the day of the show. Discounts are available to military personnel and veterans, AAA, AARP, college students and seniors with appropriate identification.
For those who would like a little more information, there is a guided behind the scenes where you can learn more about the horses and trainers. An enclosed skybox is available for individuals and group functions. The skybox, which seats up to 80 guests can be reserved for larger groups, including wedding receptions and company parties.
Starting mid-November and running through January 1st, Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Kissimmee adds a new storyline with a festive winter theme. The colorful Arabian Nights Holiday Show finds Princess Scheherazade in need of a distraction while her husband, Prince Khalid is off searching the globe for the perfect Holiday gift for his new wife. The always-faithful genie Hocus Pocus invites a new friend, Santa Claus to come distract Scheherazade from missing her husband with gifts and good cheer.
Hocus Pocus does even more to lighten the Princess’ mood, bringing each of Santa’s gifts to life in the magical Palace of Horses. In this dazzling show, the 60 Arabian Nights horses and 40 talented performers are joined by spectacular pyrotechnics, snow, special sets; including four incredible 25 foot Christmas trees, and breathtaking costumes.
Santa and Hocus put on quite a show for the Princess, bringing to life a variety of gifts including Toy Soldiers, Mystical Unicorn, and a Winter Wonderland Snow Globe! Santa’s Reindeer, Horse-riding Elves, Gingerbread men and Sugarplum Fairies are just a few of the astounding guests who stop by to bring the Princess some Holiday Cheer!
Guests can also join Princess Scheherazade, Prince Khalid and Hocus Pocus on New Year’s Eve, for this colorful Holiday Show and stay to ring in the New Year as part of a special New Year’s Eve package available.
Information courtesy of About.com

Universal Orlando Resort is known for its thrilling rides and comic-book character driven adventures that have become synonymous with Orlando family fun. During the Orlando holiday season, Universal Orlando celebrates by honoring Christmas traditions, creating new ones and bringing cartoon characters to life for over-the-top events for those of all ages. The fun begins December 6 and continues through January 1, 2009.

The New York Streets of Universal Studios welcome Macy’s Holiday Parade for some authentic festive fun featuring floats & balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. Street performers, marching bands and Santa make special appearances during the parade as well. After the parade, a tree lighting ceremony dazzles the night with glowing light and holiday music.
Universal Studios is also presenting KidZone Holiday Show, Barney’s Christmas Show, & the Blues Brothers Christmas Show. Plus, for the week of December 26 – December 31 Universal Studios will feature Universal 360 – A Cinesphere Spectacular at the end of every night. Through unique technology, Universal is able to recreate the sights & sounds of some of the best Hollywood films, which are then projected onto huge spheres in the Universal Studios lagoon. It is a wonderful production that enables pyrotechnics and lasers for a cinematic adventure unlike any other. Mannheim Steamroller will be Live in Concert at Universal Studios for one night only – December 6 – to kick off the holiday season at Universal Orlando Resort. Their world-renowned holiday music will be performed at 6pm & 8pm.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure Seuss Landing is transformed into a wintry wonderland of Grinchmas, featuring the live musical show “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Full of humor and heart-warming moments, the Grinch and his group of dancing & singing Who’s perform to music created by Mannheim Steamroller, while the town of Whoville comes to life. After the show, take a holiday stroll through the Whoville Wonky Tree Lot and Meet the Grinch for an autograph or photo. A special breakfast with the Grinch & Friends is available as well at Confisco Grille, and is $19.95 for adults and $13.95 for children.

Cypress Gardens, one of Florida’s oldest tourist attractions, is closing yet again in another attempt to reinvent itself.

Land South Holdings LLC, the current owner, announced Monday that this Polk County theme park, long known for its botanical gardens and hoop-skirted Southern belles, would close after this coming weekend for extensive changes that should take several months to complete.

The company said the park should reopen in March.

The new Cypress Garden won’t have a zoo or roller coasters. Instead, it will focus on three areas: the water-ski shows that were the park’s original draw, the botanical gardens that made it famous for generations, and the water park that opened only two years ago.

The zoo, which specializes in exotic animals, will be permanently closed. So will the park’s amusement rides, including the Starliner, a roller coaster that was moved to Central Florida from the Panhandle and reassembled last year.

“The operating expense of running 38 amusement rides, a zoo, the botanical gardens, a ski show and a water park are considerable,” co-owner Rob Harper stated in a news release. “It is obvious the park cannot successfully function as four parks in one.”

The park’s approximately 215 employees will be laid off during the renovations — and will be informed this week about which of them will be rehired when the park reopens, said Cypress Gardens spokeswoman Jennifer Mansfield. The park plans to “take care” of its annual-pass holders, though it has not worked out the details, Mansfield said.

The park, founded in 1936 in Winter Haven, was hurt in 2001 by a nationwide slump in travel following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It closed in 2003, but a public-private land deal saved the park from redevelopment. The next owner, Kent Buescher, renovated and reopened the attraction, but he filed for bankruptcy-court protection in September 2006, and the park changed hands again.

Earlier this year, the new owners slashed the park’s operating schedule from seven days a week to three. They also split from Baker Leisure Group, an Orlando management company that had run the park since January.

Part of the park’s problem is its location, roughly halfway between the Orlando and Tampa tourism markets and a half-hour drive from Interstate 4, which links the two metro areas.

“There was no marquee thing to draw people from Orlando or Tampa,” said Brian Blanchard, operations director for Baker Leisure Group. “There’s no way to get around it — it’s a drive to get down there.”

But Blanchard said focusing on the water park is a good call by the current owners.

“That was a big part of their business,” he said. “Eighty percent of the people in the park were in the water park.”

Rick Dantzler, a former legislator who led an effort to preserve the park in 2003, said he still believes in Cypress Gardens. The park, he said, is “part of Polk County’s soul.”

“There is a configuration of Cypress Gardens that works,” he said. “We just haven’t found it yet.”

Information courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

The Streets of America backlot again will sparkle brightly as millions of twinkling lights dancing to music illuminate the area starting in November and continuing into December and the first week of January, during the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Amid “Florida snow” flurries, the building facades, trees and streets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios backlot dazzle with three-dimensional and motion-based displays – some originally created at the Osborne home in Arkansas by businessman Jennings Osborne as a holiday display for the delight of his daughter.

After the Arkansas home exhibit grew larger and brighter over the years, the million-light display was transported in 1995, where the spectacle continues to grow larger and brighter each year. Some of Osborne’s original creations still sparkling brightly at the park today include dozens of flying angels and Santa Claus light designs.
Amidst gently falling snow, guests will bask in the glow as twirling carousels, melodic angels, colorful wreaths, marching toy soldiers and Santa and his reindeer move to high-energy music and 3-D effects, creating a dazzling symphony for the senses. This enchanting spectacle results from a crew of 18 electricians working some 14 weeks using six miles of rope lights, 84 angels and 66 snow machines.
It all began in the mid-1980s in Arkansas when a little girl asked her daddy if he would decorate their house with Christmas lights. Jennings Osborne, a Little Rock businessman obliged his daughter’s wishes and started the first Osborne holiday tradition with a modest 1000 lights. Each year the number of lights grew, along with lighted floating angles, ornaments, wreaths holiday greetings and much more. Within seven years the once simple tradition was transformed into a massive display of over 4 million lights.
Though a joy for many who traveled to Little Rock just to view the Osborne lights, the neighbors and community found the lights to be excessive and disturbing. They cited the display as a nuisance and filed a law suit that was eventually heard by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Soon the display of lights was forever shut down at their Little Rock home. The media attention of the Osborne lights was spread nationwide, and in 1995 Walt Disney World representatives contacted Jennings Osborne about bringing his lights to Orlando Florida.
Now guests to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park can stroll the backlot where they are surrounded by the multi-colored display. With special holographic glasses that are provided at the park, the millions of tiny twinkling lights appear as dancing angles. Keeping the creator’s name, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights has become the park’s third largest attraction.
The Osborne’s dream has not stopped growing. Thanks to a little Disney magic, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights now boasts five million lights and even enjoys its very own Florida “snowfall.”
Information courtesy of About.com

ICE! like you’ve never seen it – Two million pounds of it – is transformed into every imaginable Christmas icon as the star attraction at the Gaylord Palms this Christmas season.

The shaped, cut, illuminated and often colored ice takes over a large portion of the Gaylord Palms exhibition center as you walk through the chilly 9 degrees environment in the winter parkas provided by the Gaylord Palms. (Although the parkas are provided, close toed shoes are a must and warm jackets, sweaters and gloves/mittens are highly recommended so you can enjoy the experience.) To give you an idea of the size and scope of the attraction, it boasts 1,500 fluorescent tubing lights frozen within the ice and uses three different types of ice: clear “glass-like” crystal ice; white “snow-pack-like” ice and colored ice.
During your walking tour, you are literally surrounded with ice created sculptures depicting characters and scenes from the holiday season crafted into a series of themed areas. For example, “Victorian Fantasy” is an elaborately set dining room table scene made completely of ice, with no detail spared, including the family cat made of ice.
Another of the more memorable sculptures was the ice bridge. That’s right, a bridge that is large enough to hold five to 10 ten people. You actually walk on and over the bridge, made again completely of ice.
The entire ICE attraction is carved by a team of 40 artisans from Harbin, China. If you are lucky, you will be able to see one of the artisans working on a sculpture during your tour. Harbin is best known for its annual Ice Park and International Ice Festival.
The tour of Ice begins with a very short five minute video that explains how the ICE show came to America and how it is assembled each year; what it takes to make these intricate creations and what it takes to preserve them in Orlando, Florida’s temperate climate.
Back to the actual tour, besides the opportunity to have their photo with a 10-foot tall ice sculpture Santa Claus, complete with red suit made of ice, the highlight for kids will be the slides made of ice. That’s right, for youngsters, or the young at heart; ice has been crafted into a large ice slide. There is no sled required; you just glide down sitting on your parka. You can spend as much time as you want on the slides, but the 9 degree temperature will catch up to you very quickly.
Finally, the most dramatic and powerful ice sculpture is the crystal-clear life sized replica of the Nativity scene, which depicts the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger.
Note: Purchase tickets in advance, especially if attending on weekends, to avoid lengthy lines. Special ICE weekend packages are also available. Call 407.586.4423 for more information.
Information courtesy of About.com

Ring in the New Year with your family this year in Orlando. Area events offer safe and family friendly celebrations across Orlando, including late hours at area Theme Parks.

Free New Year’s Eve Celebrations
Celebration Town Center:
Featuring it’s first ever New Years Eve bash with live entertainment, fireworks and a whole lot more leading up to the midnight countdown.

Old Town:
Ring in the New Year at Old Town in Kissimmee. There will be something for everyone to do, food, kids’ activities, music and more! Enjoy classic rock n’ roll performed by The Repeatles, rides and the fireworks show at midnight.

Theme Park New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Walt Disney World Theme Parks
The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s MGM Studios are all open past midnight for a special night of family celebrations to ring in the New Year.

Universal Orlando Theme Parks
Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios are open until 1:00 am with special events for New Year’s Eve.

SeaWorld Orlando
Enjoy a New Year’s Eve bash at SeaWorld Orlando. Dance to a 14-piece band, jazz musicians and a DJ keeping the party going all the way through midnight.

Cirque Du Soleil
At Downtown Disney, Cirque du Soleil fans can celebrate the New Year La Nouba style with two presentations of the theatrical production, at 6 and 9 p.m. A champagne toast celebration, souvenir program, glow sticks and gift are included in the special ticket price. Tickets are from $67 to $139, plus tax, depending on category.

Dinner Shows Open On New Year’s Eve

Arabain Nights Dinner Theater
The show is presented with a new festive storyline with a winter theme.

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
The swashbuckling Pirate’s Dinner Adventure celebrates the holidays with an array of yuletide surprises, from spectacular sets “decked” out in seasonal finery to a special holiday-themed show starring Magee the elf. Purchase tickets online for special savings.

Information courtesy of About.com