From festive events to a variety of themed holiday shows and unique shopping experiences, Orlando offers one of the most elaborate and diverse holiday celebrations of any destination in the world. In addition to the well-known theme park activities, visitors can enjoy breathtaking light displays; choral concerts; specialty shopping and shows; guaranteed nightly snow showers; seasonal hotel packages and more throughout November and December.
Here are just a few of the trimmings that make the holidays in Orlando merry and bright:
Holiday Dinner Theater Offerings
Arabian Nights – In this stunning holiday fairytale, 60 magnificent Arabian Nights horses and a cast of more than 40 holiday characters are joined by spectacular pyrotechnics, snow, special sets and breathtaking holiday costumes to create a winter wonderland fit for a prince and princess. The Arabian Nights Holiday Show includes a wide range of seasonal music from Andy Williams, Hilary Duff, Rebecca St. James and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Appearances by toy soldiers, horse-riding elves, gingerbread men and sugarplum fairies add to the holiday cheer.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure – A shipload of yuletide surprises are in store for guests of the Pirate’s Christmas Dinner Adventure. Choreographed swordplay, aerial artistry and dynamic duals combine as the cast of pirates engage in a thrilling, heroic effort to save Christmas. All youngsters are invited to participate in the show’s March of the Toy Soldiers and more than 150 guests each night find themselves in the middle of the show action. A pre-show Nativity Scene with live barnyard animals and a post-show Buccaneer Bash Dance Party with a live DJ complete the high-seas holiday festivities.
Holiday Music and Theatre
The Plaza Theatre – Internationally acclaimed crooner Michael Andrew and the Atomic Big Band present some of the hippest renditions of holiday favorites in Michael Andrew’s Swinging Christmas Show Friday Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at The Plaza Theatre. The evening will kick off with pre-show entertainment in The Plaza’s very own Swingerhead Lounge followed by a night of swingin’ music, including the Michael Andrew original song, “Mistletoe Mambo,” and nutty comedy hijinx for all ages. Tickets are $43 for both adults and children.
Winter Park Playhouse – Ring in the holidays with music from Broadway, film, television and radio, plus the return of crowd favorites, the wacky duo, Eb and Flo. Performances take place Nov. 30 – Dec. 15 on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Winter Park Playhouse.Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for students.
Old Town – Holiday-goers can stroll Old Town’s brick-lined streets and browse through a diverse selection of merchandise at more than 75 specialty stores. A variety of rides and attractions are also offered. Every evening from Dec. 3-21, Old Town turns into a flurry of fun with nightly snow showers on the hour from 6-9 p.m. and offers free pictures with Santa Monday – Friday to anyone who brings an unwrapped toy or offers a cash donation.
Orlando Premium Outlets – Savvy shoppers can kick off their three-day Thanksgiving Weekend gift-buying spree with special deals at high-end designer and name brand fashion outlet stores during the Orlando Premium Outlets “Midnight Madness” event beginning at midnight on Black Friday (Nov. 23). Exclusive offers and coupon book vouchers worth hundreds of dollars in additional savings are also available at Orlando Premium Outlets online throughout the holiday season for impressive savings at Ann Taylor, Barneys New York Outlet, Burberry, Coach, Diesel, Fendi, Gap Outlet, Giorgio Armani, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, MaxMara, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Salvatore Ferragamo, Theory, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
Historic Bok Sanctuary – Stunning holiday décor is showcased at the 1930’s 20-room classic Mediterranean Revival Pinewood Estate, a National Historic Landmark mansion. The 8-acre estate also features a spectacular winter garden and a 60-bell carillon housed in a 205-foot-tall Gothic bell tower, which rings daily throughout the sanctuary. Historic Bok Sanctuary is open every day of the year from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. General admission is $18 for adults, $9 for children ages 5-12 and free for children ages 4 and younger.
ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort – Guests will experiences thrills and chills during this walk-through winter wonderland hand-carved by Chinese artists from two million pounds of ice. The interactive, larger-than-life display includes ice monuments, sculptures, ice slides, memorable holiday scenes, a walk-through igloo and a towering gingerbread candy house made from colored ice. The enormous structure that houses ICE! is cooled to 9 degrees and over-sized parkas are loaned to guests to stay warm. An outdoor skating rink, special Christmas show and display of country wreaths add to the resort’s holiday activities. ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort runs Nov. 19 – Jan. 3 and tickets range from $9.99 to $24.99, depending on the type of ticket and day of week.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – For the 29th year, the Morse Museum, which is renowned for its comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany jewelry, pottery, and leaded-glass windows; lights up century-old Tiffany windows in downtown Winter Park, just north of downtown Orlando, on Dec. 6 from 6-8 p.m. The spectacular lighting ceremony is complemented by a free outdoor concert featuring the 150-voice Bach Festival Society choir.
SeaWorld Orlando – Guests can create yuletide memories and celebrate the season during “Christmas at SeaWorld.” The holiday event features festive decorations, snowfalls and live holiday music from classical musicians and carolers. The event is included in daily park admission, which is $64.95 for adults, $53.95 for children ages 3-9 and free for children ages 2 and under.
Universal Orlando Resort – The world’s most famous parade has become a holiday experience for park guests at Universal Studios. The Macy’s Holiday Parade features some of the most popular balloons and floats direct from the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. The excitement and pageantry of the parade, complete with a festive tree-lighting ceremony by Santa Claus himself, is exhibited each day of the holiday season.
Walt Disney World Resort – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World includes a series of fun nighttime events for the little ones including holiday shows, fireworks and magic treats with Minnie and Mickey. Holidays Around the World at Epcot features international holiday storytellers, a daily character tree-lighting ceremony and a stunning display of snow-white lights. The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights electrifies Disney Hollywood Studios with millions of sparkling lights.
Information courtesy of Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau