Busch Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas Town in Tampa. The spirit of Christmas and safari-themed attractions combine to create a nighttime event full of seasonal sights, sounds and delicious holiday treats. Christmas Town is scheduled for select nights November 25 through December 31, 2016.
Christmas Town in Tampa

Even Busch Gardens’ most familiar fans will barely recognize the portions of the park that convert to Christmas Town Tampa through a million twinkling Christmas lights that will blanket every inch of the park. At Holiday Hills you can step back in time and experience a classic Christmas. Over at Enchanted Flamingo Valley Thousands of twinkling pink lights create a festive flock. Christmas Town Terrace journeys into Jungala and features a nature-inspired Christmas, including a new 50-foot tree light show. At Jungle Jubilee you can view larger-than-life nutcrackers and exotic decorations. Add some romance to your visit with at Mistletoe Memories, where romantic flowers fill the trees overhead and you can sneak a holiday kiss.  Returning for 2016 is the Three Kings Crossing, where guests can discover the famed journey to Bethlehem, and Celestial Crossing, featuring spectacular lantern stars, Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast and the Christmas Celebration Show.

Christmas Town in Tampa

Attractions during Christmas Town in Tampa are perfect for creating cherished holiday memories. Climb aboard the Christmas Town Express for a traditional Christmas sing-a-long. Then, join Mrs. Claus for a family feast and holiday stories. At Penguin Point you can chill with penguins. Don’t forget to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at Welcome to Santa’s House, where you can tell Santa what’s on your wish list and get a great souvenir photo.

Christmas Town in Tampa

The things to do at Christmas Town don’t end there. Shows during the event features family-friendly entertainment full of Christmas cheer. Christmas on Ice features world-class ice skaters, while you can watch thousands of lights dance during Carol of the Bells. Kids will love Elmo’s Christmas Wish and Madagascar Live Operation: Christmas Vacation. Hear local choirs from around Florida during the Hallelujah Showcase – sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

New for this year is Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland. The location in Celestial Crossing encourages guests to play holiday games and indulge in Yuletide treats while scenes of the beloved story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer come to life. You can even take your photo with Rudolph!

Three of Busch Gardens’ best coasters are open during Christmas Town in Tampa. You can ride Cheetah Hunt, Gwazi and Sheikra and see the holiday lights in a whole new way as you loop, drop and twist on these thrilling rides.

Christmas Town in Tampa is now included in the price of Busch Gardens tickets. Guests can experience all the safari-themed park has to offer during the day, then extend their visit until 8 or 9pm to add festive Christmas Town activities to their visit.  All of the Christmas Town experiences are available during the day, too. Therefore, you can be sure to get your fill of festive fun at the park!

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Bring your family to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney World Orlando.  Held on select nights this holiday season at Walt Disney World, the Orlando Christmas event adds a dose of holiday cheer to your Orlando vacation.  Featuring live entertainment, dazzling fireworks and a festive parade, this party – hosted by Mickey himself – is a sure way to create memories with the ones you love. 


Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special after-hours event that promises jolly fun for everyone. The Disney World event features an exclusive holiday fireworks extravaganza – Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season. Likewise, nothing is more enchanting than the Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle. Character greetings, complimentary cookies and hot cocoa and a magical snow fall on Main Street, U.S.A., are all part of the experience. Live entertainment featuring your favorite Disney Characters is also central to your magical evening.

Holiday Shows

The Holiday Wishes fireworks show is scheduled for 9:30pm, while the Celebrate the Season show occurs at 7:45pm, 10:05pm and 11:20pm. “A Frozen Holiday Wish” returns in 2016, with showtimes set for 6:15pm and 8:00pm.  Marvel as Cinderella Castle transforms with a Frozen display of gleaming winter magic.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

This a is a true highlight of the event. Not only does it feature Mickey Mouse and friends, but Santa Claus makes a special appearance too. The parade occurs at 8:15pm and 10:30pm each night of the party.

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Castle Dream Lights

Cinderella’s Castle enchants visitors as it is covered in thousands of twinkling lights, covering the castle in a dazzling “blanket of ice” for a wintry effect.

Dates, Times & Cost

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party will be held November 7 through December 22, 2016, on these select nights, from 7pm-Midnight at the Magic Kingdom:

November: 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29
December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22
Event time: 7:00 pm – 12:00 am

Admission to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is not included with the purchase of regular Disney Magic Kingdom tickets.  Prices for tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party start at $86/per person. 

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

During the winter season in Orlando, crowds are smaller which makes it an ideal time to visit Disney World Theme Parks. January through March you can navigate parks like the Magic Kingdom with ease, and hop on rides like Space Mountain and Journey with The Little Mermaid with little to no wait. The only downside to visiting during this time is the parks tend to close earlier than they do in peak season. So, what should you do on a Disney World winter vacation? Let’s find out.

disney-art-of-animation-lion-king-wing-pride-rock Disney World Winter

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

1) Stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel
With smaller crowds comes a smaller window of time for Disney guests to visit the parks. If you stay at a Disney World Resort Hotel you can maximize your time by shortening both your drive time. taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours at Disney Parks. Extra Magic Hours allot up to three additional hours at a Disney Theme Park open only to Disney Resort guests. It’s kind of the best! Plus, with the extra time you can park hop without feeling rushed. You may be seeing dollar signs at the thought of Disney World Resort prices, but that’s not the case for all. For example, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort and Disney’s Pop Century Resort are affordable and moderately priced.

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World of Disney at Disney Springs

2) Take a Break at Disney Springs
Downtown Disney has been completely transformed into the throwback, small-town styled Disney Springs. Here, you can take a break from the parks or visit after a day of character-filled adventures. From The Marketplace to the West Side, The Landing to The Town Center, one-of-a-kind shops, boutiques and eateries line the way. Favorites for kids are World of Disney, LEGO Imagination Center and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. That’s not all, though. Entertainment is available at Disney Springs, too. For example, you can see the incredible talents of Cirque du Soleil artists or roll a strike at Splitsville, a lux lounge where bowling, pool and more fun awaits.

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

3) Enjoy the Winter Weather (Seriously!)
Luckily Orlando’s southern location makes for a relatively warm vacation climate year-round. Average highs are in the lower to mid-70s—balmy compared to many other destinations! As a result, a Disney World winter vacation is the perfect escape from the cold.

One of the best ways to enjoy the mild temps is by making a splash–literally! Many Disney World Resort Hotels offer exceptional aquatic amenities. A few of my favorites are Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. Many have indoor pools and water features, but outdoor pools are heated too. With the Disney-designed waterscapes families can splash around for hours before they even know it! Furthermore, massive pools, twisting slides, lounge-laden sundecks, hot tubs, zero entry pools, waterfalls and more equal waves of fun for all.

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Disney’s Boardwalk is home to restaurants, lounges and much more!

4) Visit Other Disney World Resort Hotels
Disney World Resorts are expertly designed creating immersive environments with amenities all their own. During your Disney World winter vacation, why not spend time at these hidden gems? For instance, you can go for a horse drawn New Orleans-inspired carriage ride at Port Orleans Riverside; stroll the Boardwalk at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn to get a seaside taste of dining, dancing and performances; watch the nighttime Electrical Water Pageant from the Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort, Contemporary Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness; or dine at renowned restaurants like the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort or Victoria & Albert’s at the Grand Floridian.

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Treat yourself to a lovely dinner for two.

5) Plan a Date Night for Two
Many Disney World Resort Hotels have children’s activity centers and babysitting services. Subsequently, it’s easy to plan a date night for just Mom and Dad. And don’t worry!  The kids will be having so much fun they won’t even notice you’re gone. At these activity centers they can make crafts, play games, watch Disney movies and dinner is even included in the cost. Locations include the Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Cub’s Den at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Sandcastle Club at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Camp Dolphin at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel. Reservations are highly recommended.

Put these Disney World winter vacation tips to the test this season. You’re sure to break away from the winter blues in Orlando, Florida.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

You might not think of Orlando as a Thanksgiving destination but there’s a bounty of things to do in Central Florida. From bountiful feasts to discount shopping and engaging attractions, you’ll find a cornucopia of Turkey Day delights. Want to learn more about things to do in Orlando during Thanksgiving? Read on.

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Things to do in Orlando during Thanksgiving


Shopping and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. With Black Friday sales at outlet malls like Orlando Premium Outlets and high-end stores, along with boutique and box stores, shopping in Orlando is a real treat. You can make the most of Black Friday and get all of your holiday shopping done Thanksgiving weekend. Check out our holiday shopping guide to get the scoop of where to shop ’til you drop!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Once of the best things to do in Orlando during Thanksgiving? Eat! Plus, sometimes it’s nice to relax, have the meal taken care of and be able to simply enjoy the holidays season. Let Orlando restaurants cater to your taste buds. From family-friendly to intimate and quaint, you can choose the type of Thanksgiving meal right for you.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant
Hours: 11:00am-10:00pm
Traditional Thanksgiving faire is complimented by the restaurant’s regular menu

Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando
Hours: Noon-9pm
Features a special Thanksgiving menu from Chef Doug

Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Hours: Noon-9pm
Chef Ryan presents a special 3-course Thanksgiving menu. $49/person.

Islands’ Dining Room
Hours: 11:00am-9:00pm
Enjoy a Thanksgiving buffet while watching South Pacific entertainment and Universal Orlando Resort characters. $58/adults, $26/kids.

Landry’s Seafood House
Hours: 11:30am-9:00pm
A Thanksgiving dinner buffet is served along with the main menu. $22/adults, $10/kids.

Roy’s Orlando
Hours: 11:00am-8:00pm
3-course Thanksgiving meny is served with selections of Roy’s classic dishes available. $39.95/person.

The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel
Hours: 11:00am-4:00pm, 5:0opm-10:00pm
Thanksgiving menu featured along with entertainment and Universal Orlando Resort characters. $59/adults, $20/kids.

Tony Roma’s Orlando I-Drive
Hours: Noon-10:00pm
A special 3-course Thanksgiving menu, with ribs, is featured. $29/adults, $15/kids.

Thanksgiving Weekend Events

Thanksgiving is also the official kickoff to Christmas. You can start your holiday off right by visiting Orlando Theme Parks where the spirit of the season will already be in full swing. From Disney World to Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld to LEGOLAND, there are many ways to celebrate the magic of this special time of year.


You can also see an Orlando show over Thanksgiving vacation. Blue Man Group, Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure and other productions are open on Thanksgiving Day and have show times throughout the weekend.

Plan your vacation in Orlando now to get a head start on the holiday season.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

If you’re celebrating turkey day in Orlando, chances are Disney World will be a part of your plans. A Disney World Thanksgiving offers plenty of family-friendly activities, with each of the four parks—Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios—all open. From where to eat to what to see and do, my guide to a Disney World Thanksgiving will give you a head start on this traditional American holiday.

Disney World Thanksgiving

Image via Walt Disney World®

Where to Eat

The following restaurants will be serving delicious Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings:

Magic Kingdom
Liberty Tree Tavern: Lunch and Dinner

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Lunch and Dinner
Biergarten – Lunch and Dinner (buffet)
Coral Reef – Lunch and Dinner
Le Cellier Steakhouse – Lunch and Dinner
Restaurant Marrakesh – Lunch and Dinner
Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room – Lunch and Dinner
Sunshine Seasons – Thanksgiving menu all day
Via Napoli Ristorante – Lunch and Dinner

Disney’s Hollywood Studios
50’s Prime Time Cafe
Hollywood and Vine – Lunch and Dinner (buffet
Hollywood Brown Derby

Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Tusker House – Lunch and Dinner (buffet)

Downtown Disney
Raglan Road
Fulton’s Crab House
Planet Hollywood
Wolfgang Puck Cafe – The Café

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels will also be hosting Thanksgiving dinners.

What to Do

What are the best things to do at during a Disney World Thanksgiving? Each park features festive fun along with the classic Disney attractions you know and love. Keep in mind the theme parks will be busy, so bring your patience and be sure to utilize FastPass+.

See a Thanksgiving Parade
At the Magic Kingdom you are in for a special bonus as you can watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade as well as a Disney’s Thanksgiving Parade. It features Mickey, Minnie and the gang dressed in pilgrim regalia plus a nod to the theme of the holiday—turkey!

Have a Thanksgiving Meal To-Go
At parks like the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, you can grab a giant turkey leg to-go and skip the massive Thanksgiving meal. This way, you’ll be able to explore more theme park attractions yet still get your traditional holiday fix.

Experience an American Adventure
At the Epcot American Adventure pavilion the American Adventure show takes guests on 45-minute journey through the history of America. Fairly fitting for Thanksgiving, it is an innovative and visually enjoyable production honoring the humble beginnings of the United States.

Get a Sneak Peak of Christmas
During the Thanksgiving holiday, the Disney World Theme Parks will decked with beautiful Christmas decorations. It’s an excellent time to embrace the Christmas spirit without having to deal with the Christmas crowds.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Did you know Walt Disney World is the same size as San Francisco? At 42 square miles, this theme park is more like a town than a typical park. This means you’ve got to have a plan in place if you want to conquer Disney World in 3 days. Sure, a week at Disney World is ideal. But if you don’t have that much time you can still have the full Mickey experience if you follow this fast-paced yet fun itinerary.

Disney World Kids at Castle Copyright Disney World in 3 Days

Key Tips to Follow


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Day 1: Magic Kingdom

FastPass+ suggestions

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Character Meet and Greet
  • Festival of Fantasy Parade


What to Do

On your first day at Disney World, make your way to the Magic Kingdom. It’s the premier Disney Park, and the one you’ll want to visit first. There’s something about seeing Cinderella’s Castle that totally puts you in the Disney mood. Ideally, you’ve already used the My Disney Experience app to reserve your FastPass+ selections for all your must-see rides and attractions. I recommend getting FastPasses for the most popular activites, so you’ll spend less time waiting and more time having fun.

You’ll notice only one of the suggestions for FastPass+ is for a ride. This is because some of the most memorable things to at the Magic Kingdom are the meet and greets and parades. Depending on which characters are your favorites, classics like Mickey Mouse or fairytale princesses like Cinderella, you can arrange a time to meet them. By using a FastPass+ you’ll be able to have that fangirl moment and not have to waste an hour in line.  Trust me when I say these are the moments that make Disney amazing.

I recommend using FastPass+ for Festival of Fantasy Parade. Why? You get VIP, front of the crowd access for a perfect view of this stunning parade. No craning your neck to get a view, or putting a stop to fun to a get a viewing spot. It’s kind of the best.

To find out more about tackling this park, read our guide on how to conquer the Magic Kingdom in one day.

Where to Eat


Disney_Safari Disney World in 3 Days

Day 2: Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Hollywood Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours


What to Do

On day 2 of our itinerary that conquers Disney World in 3 days, you’re going to wake up early. Wildlife at the Animal Kingdom is most active in the morning, which makes it prime viewing time. A ride on Kilimanjaro Safari is the main attraction at Animal Kingdom. Aboard this safari, Disney transforms into an African plain. Animals like giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras and more frolic around, putting you thisclose to the action. It’s by far the coolest experience at the Animal Kingdom.

Other notables at this park include:

  • Expedition Everest
  • It’s a Bug’s Life
  • Festival of the Lion King


Where to Eat


(Please note, FastPass+ selections must be used at 1 park per day. For this Disney World in 3 days itinerary, save your Fastpasses for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.)

After a late lunch, make your way to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This park is undergoing a massive transformation right now. Long gone is the Sorcerer’s Hat and backlots. Incoming are all things Star Wars and Frozen. Currently, these are the best attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Toy Story Mania
  • Hollywood Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours


When you’re trying to make the most of Disney World in 3 days, you have to take advantage of Disney Springs. On Day 2, you’ll do just that. This newly redesigned, waterside entertainment complex (previously known as Downtown Disney), bustles with activity day or night. You can browse stores like World of Disney, with more than 50,000 square feet of retail space, for the perfect Disney souvenir. Then, have dinner at The Boathouse. A waterfront restaurant with charming views, this harbor-esque eatery is the place to dine for a memorable meal at Disney Springs. The atmosphere combines with a menu of fresh seafood and savory steaks to create a one-of-a-kind Disney experience. You can even go on a boat ride around the harbor of the restaurant! How’s that for dinner and a show?!

Outside of Spaceship Earth Disney World in 3 Days

Day 3: Epcot

FastPass+ Suggestions

  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After


Epcot has long been misunderstood by the masses. It’s been known as “Disney’s adult theme park” as its ride selection is fewer, and its focus is on global culture. But you know what? Epcot has really revved up its attractions recently, staring with Test Track. An overhaul four years ago made this ride futuristic and even more hands-on. Here, you can buckle up in a 6-passenger “simulation car” and put a virtual vehicle that you created to the test. It’s a lot of fun to see how your design handles the twist and turns of Test Track.

Another recent addition is Frozen Ever After. Geared towards guests who love Frozen (basically everyone!), this attraction is an unforgettable adventure through Arendelle. Your favorite Frozen characters such as Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf whisk you away for on over-the-water experience, one of which is even set to popular songs from Frozen. It’s a must-do for any Frozen fanatic!

Soarin’ is an Epcot staple. It’s worthy of a FastPass+ simply for the airborne adventure it features. Likewise, the journey is all-new and showcases beauty from across the globe. It’s an easy way to view extraordinary landmarks worldwide.

Of course, you can’t visit Epcot without spending some time bouncing around World Showcase. Eleven countries create the pavilion, each dedicated to the food and culture of its respective country. I suggest walking around the entire pavilion, stopping to take in live performances and for a drink or two at your favorite countries.

World Showcase Standouts

Mexico: Grab a margarita, listen to the strolling mariachi band and take a tour through a pre-Columbian pyramid

China: View intricate recreations of the Temple of Heaven and the Terra Cotta Army

Germany: Stroll through cobblestone streets and bavarian architecture while sipping a strong brew

Italy: Romance rules in Italy, with Venice inspired plazas, bell towers, palaces and gardens among the highlights

France: Sip some wine as you walk amongst recreations of The Siene and Eiffel Tower

Where to Eat

Trying to conquer Disney World in 3 days means you’re probably only eating dinner at Epcot once. So, be sure to take advantage of breakfast and lunch specials so you truly can taste your way around the world.


End your day at Epcot with the stunning Illuminations: Reflections of Earth show. Set on the World Showcase Lagoon, this night show celebrates the past, present and future of Earth. A stunning fireworks show set to stunning music, this is one show you’ve got to see!

For the best viewing (aside from restaurants), stake out a spot here:

  • Canada Pavilion
  • Waterfront Benches in China
  • World Showcase Plaza
  • Bridge between the France and UK pavilions


Magic Kingdom Fireworks Disney World in 3 Days

Conquering Disney World in 3 Days

With this fast-paced itinerary it’s totally possible to conquer Disney World in 3 days. You might not be able to see it all. But hey, that’s just a good reason to come back!

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.