Orlando is a magical place to visit during the holidays.  There are unique celebrations bringing festive cheer and merriment to Central Florida.  Experience the joy of Christmas in Orlando this season and plan your vacation today.

Christmas in Orlando: Holidays at the Theme Parks

Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando celebrates the holiday season like nowhere else. From spectacular fireworks displays to festive live entertainment, Orlando’s theme parks offer something for every member of the family. Treat yourself to holiday events at Orlando Theme Parks for merriment and memories! 

Walt Disney World Resort
November through December 31, 2017
Disney World Theme Parks offer some of the most elaborate of seasonal festivities, with more than 1,300 decorated trees and 8.5 million lights strung throughout the property creating a unique Disney World Christmas experience. As a result, Disney World is a cornerstone of Christmas in Orlando. For several weeks around the holidays, guests celebrate the season with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park, Holidays Around the World at Epcot, and the dazzling Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests can also ring in the New Year with a variety of entertainment, including the Electrical Parade and special dining events across Disney.

Universal Orlando Resort
December 3 through January 1, 2017
Universal Orlando Resort celebrates the classic tale of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” with Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, featuring live musical shows, meet and greets with the Whos of Who-ville and appearances by The Grinch himself. Guests can also visit Universal Studios to experience Macy’s Holiday Parade, presenting floats and balloons direct from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. On New Year’s Eve, CityWalk comes alive with performances by national acts, a gourmet buffet and nightclub entertainment.

SeaWorld Christmas Spectacular
November 25 through December 31, 2016
SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration runs for six weeks, beginning November 25. SeaWorld offers special shows and attractions, including Shamu Christmas Miracles, Winter Wonderland on Ice and The Polar Express Experience. Guests can count down to New Year’s Day and enjoy live music and spectacular fireworks display.

Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND
December 17-18, 24-30
LEGOLAND Florida will feature Christmas Bricktacular, a celebration with daily appearances by Santa Claus, a 270,000-LEGO-brick Christmas tree and other seasonal creations. Kids can also participate in their very own countdown to 2017 during a giant, LEGO brick drop at “Kids Standard Time,” otherwise known as 7 pm, during the park’s Kid’s New Year’s Eve. 

Busch Gardens Christmas Town
November 25 through December 31, 2016
Christmas Town returns to Busch Gardens Tampa is the Bay area’s largest Christmas celebration, and features live music, festive treats and thousands of dazzling holiday light displays. Best of all, Christmas Town is included with Busch Gardens tickets.

Festival of the Seasons at Disney Springs
November 11 through January 8, 2017
Embrace the spirit of the season at Disney Springs. Festival of the Seasons presents live entertainment, Santa photo opportunity, holiday carolers and grand holiday décor. Stroll through the delightful holiday wonderland, then browse in a unique shops for that gotta-have-it gift.

ICE! at Gaylord Palms
November 18 through January 1, 2017
Christmas in Orlando doesn’t get any better than this event! ICE! at Gaylord Palms, an award-winning attraction carved by a team of 40 skilled artisans, features more than two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, including scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas, four ice slides and a live ice-carving station.  

Attractions Tickets & More
Reserve Orlando is an official seller of Orlando theme park tickets. To keep your vacation budget-friendly, take advantage of our discounts on Disney tickets and Orlando attractions.  We can also help you arrange a place to stay in Orlando, with options ranging from Disney World Resorts to hotels on International Drive.


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.

Orlando, Florida is a world renowned vacation destination, welcoming more than 50 million visitors each year. There are fun things to do in Orlando, like visit Walt Disney World Resorts and Universal Studios, but there are also plenty of free things to do in Orlando. With so many free activities in Orlando, it’s easy to see why travelers choose to visit year after year.

Orlando is known for its first class attractions, but there are also plenty of natural attractions for visitors to explore. Directly located in central Florida, Orlando has the great advantage of being immersed in beautiful natural surroundings that are waiting to be explored.

Free Things to Do in Orlando

Harry P. Leu Gardens/Facebook

1. Harry P. Leu Gardens

Guests can enjoy three miles of walkways, rose gardens, a butterfly garden, ancient oak trees, and more at Harry P. Leu Gardens. Admission is free on the first Monday of every month. Normal admission is $10 for adults and $3 for children.

 

2. Cornell Fine Arts Museum

This free admission museum showcases over 6,000 art pieces ranging from the Renaissance to the Baroque period. Art lovers of all ages will not want to miss one of the oldest collections in all of Florida.

 

Disney Springs

Disney Springs

3. Disney Springs

Free things to do in Orlando and Disney are two words you don’t see together very often. However, at Disney Springs there are several fun and free options at your disposal. You can explore the World of Disney store, which is an experience in and of itself. Also, visit the Lego Imagination Center, where your kids can enjoy the free Lego building stations and nearby playground. Plus, there are events throughout the year like Festival of the Masters, an award-winning arts & crafts event.

 

4. Ocala National Forest

Just north of Orlando, you’ll find Ocala National Forest. This is the largest national forest east of the Mississippi, at which you can hike, canoe and bike. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a day of nature.

 

Charles Hosmer Morse Facebook

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum/Facebook

5. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Home to the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany, including the chapel interior Charles Hosmer Morse designed for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. There is also an extensive American Pottery collection, as well as 19th and 20th century paintings collection. November through April, admission is free from 4pm-8pm on Fridays. Regular admission is $5 for adults, $1 for students and children (12 and under) are free.

 

6. The Town of Celebration

Visit this Disney-made town where you can admire the gorgeous houses, well-groomed yards and magic of Disney living. Admire the Rockwellian-atmosphere, let the kids play in the interactive fountain or stop by the farmers market on Sundays. During winter months, visitors can even see (fake) snow falling.

 

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Disney’s Boardwalk

7. Disney’s Boardwalk

For free things to do in Orlando, you can’t beat the charm of Disney’s Boardwalk. Stroll along Disney’s boardwalk, a re-creation of a 1930s-style Atlantic coastal village. The boardwalk is home to nightclubs and entertainment, but visitors can enjoy the street musicians, water views and street entertainers for free.

 

8. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts

This museum celebrates the famous Floridian best known for her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. The culture of people of African descent is celebrated at this Zora Neale Hurston Museum, and in late January, they present Zora Festival. Admission is free.

 

Grand Bohemian Gallery Facebook

Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando/Facebook

9. Grand Bohemian Gallery

Even if you’re not staying at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, stopping by for a free tour of the Grand Bohemian Gallery is worth the time. The gallery has everything from local contemporary art glass and jewelry to European paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

10. Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida

An informative center dedicated to remembering the millions of people that were lost during the rule of Nazi Germany. Displays include local survivor testimonies. Admission to the Holocaust Memorial is always free. Closed Saturdays.

 

Albin Polasek Facebook

Albin Polaske Museum/Facebook

11. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens

This Winter Park museum is home to the 20th century works of Albin Polasek. Exhibits change throughout the year, but admission to the sculpture gardens is always free. Museum admission is also cheap, with adults priced at $5, seniors at $4, students at $3 and children (12 and under) are always free.

 

12. Fort Christmas Historical Museum & Park

Fort Christmas is easily the one of the best free things to do in Orlando for history buffs. Visit the full size replica of Fort Christmas, which was originally built for the Second Seminole Indian War (1835-1842). Included are seven restored pioneer homes and exhibits showing pioneer life from the 1870s through the 1930s. Key themes are homesteading, cattle, citrus, hunting, fishing and trapping.

 

Free Things to Do in Orlando

Lake Eola

13. Lake Eola Park

This downtown Orlando centerpiece offers 43 acres for exploration and recreation, including fountains, a walking path, playgrounds, concerts, swans to feed and swan shaped paddle boats and gondolas (for a slight fee).

 

14. University of Central Florida Arboretum

Opened in 1983, this arboretum is home to over 600 plant species and at least 8 ecosystems and is located on 80 acres, where visitors can walk, or bike along a 9-acre lake.

 

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Gaylord Palms

15. Gaylord Palms

Tour the 4.5 acre atrium of the Gaylord Palms Hotel, home to three distinctive regions modeled after the Florida Keys, Saint Augustine and the Everglades. It’s a sight to see and strolling through the unique atriums is absolutely free.

16. Orlando Brewing Company

This is Orlando’s only certified organic brewery. They offer free tours Monday-Saturday at 6pm.

 

Almost Free Things to Do in Orlando

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Universal CityWalk

17. Universal Orlando® Resort

Parking is discounted  to $5 at Universal CityWalk® after 6pm and free after 10pm. This makes it super easy to visit the Universal CityWalk entertainment hotspot.  (Note that this excludes New Year’s Eve, Mardi Gras event nights, July 4th and Halloween Horror Nights event nights).

 

18. Kelly Park – Rock Springs

This Park offers over 248 acres of outdoor fun and excitement! A crystal clear spring is the focus of this park, with tubing down the meandering stream a favorite activity of guests. Admission to the park is per vehicle.  $3 for 1-2 people, $5 for 3-8 people.

With 18 free things to do in Orlando, Florida, a money-saving vacation at this destination is easy to accomplish. Visit today and see how exciting a trip to Orlando can be.


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 may think holidays in Florida are sun-soaked and warm, but at Gaylord Palms they bring a big chill to Orlando for the Christmas season. With their annual ICE at Gaylord Palms event, scheduled November 24, 2015 – January 3, 2016, visitors can experience a winter wonderland right here in the sunny state. This year, see Ma in her kerchief, Pa in his cap and more as the classic holiday poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, is brought to life in two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, including two-story tall ice slides. This awe-inspiring experience concludes with the wonder and majesty of a full Nativity in stunning, crystal clear ice.

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Using two million pounds of ice, Gaylord Palms is transformed into a North Pole featuring an arctic forest, four thrilling slides, a Christmas carnival with a life-sized carousel, Santa’s Ornament room and even reindeer.  There are also six individual rooms depicting the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Plus, one of my favorite attractions – a life-sized Nativity made of clear ice – has returned as well. The sculptures are lit by twinkling lights creating a beautiful, entrancing scene.

Returning in 2015, is snow tubing at Gaylord Palms ICE event. Guests age 10 and up can tackle the eight-lane snow hill with a combo ticket for $41.99/adults and $31.99/children. Work up an appetite? Join Mrs. Clause for milk and cookies!

The 18,000 square foot ICE events is indeed chilly, with a temperature of just 9 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to keep guests from getting too cold, hooded, calf-length parkas are provided. However, it is recommend you wear closed-toe shoes, pants, hats and gloves.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms is chockfull of over-the-top entertainment for families and kids of all ages to enjoy! Don’t miss out on the following complimentary attractions:  Cirque Dreams Unwrapped Stage Show and The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt.

Spending time at this unique attractions is a popular addition to any Orlando itinerary. ICE tickets cost $29.99/adults and $16.99/children. Make reservations in advance to save up to $2.00 per ticket.


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.

Orlando is a top holiday destination and for good reason.  All of the theme parks put on festive celebrations creating an atmosphere of jolly good times.  In fact, the sunny spot is transformed into a winter wonderland with magical snowfalls, special shows and appearance by Santa.  Want to learn more about Christmas in Orlando?  Read about our top five things to do in Orlando during Christmas.

1) Magic Kingdom:  No Disney World Theme Park celebrates Christmas better than the Magic Kingdom.  Main Street is decked out with garland, lights, a glowing Christmas tree and characters in holiday garb, while Cinderella’s Castle twinkles with a draping over its towers and turrets of over 200,000 lights.  Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks spectacular and special holiday parades are other highlights.  For even more fun at the Magic Kingdom, you can attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  Hot cocoa and cookies are served and you can see snow showers on Main Street, along with holiday fireworks and a parade led by Santa Claus. 

2) Epcot:  One of the more sacred holiday events in Orlando can be found at Epcot.  The Candlelight Processional is a traditional retelling of the Christmas story, complete with a 50 piece orchestra, celebrity narrator and choir.  You can also enjoy celebrations from across the globe at Epcot’s Holidays Around the World event.  Storytellers, meet and greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus and a nightly presentation of “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” add to the fun.

3) Universal Orlando Resort – Islands of Adventure:  This Universal Orlando theme park presents to beloved holiday-themed events – Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade.  Seuss Landing transforms into Whoville for the season, where you can meet The Grinch and Whoville residents, watch them perform in a live musical show and dance around the Whoville tree.  You can even get your picture taken with The Grinch – a definite keepsake.  If you can’t make the actual Macy’s Parade the one at Universal takes to the streets daily with real balloons from the famous New York City Parade, dancers and more.
4) Gaylord Palms Resort:  The ICE! event at Gaylord Palms changes this Florida-themed resort into a haven for holiday fun.  Master ice sculptors create a wonderland made completely of ice. Frosty the Snowman and his friends will be featured in a colorfully frozen retelling of the original Christmas classic.  More than 2 million pounds of hand-carved sculptures and icy recreations make this 9 degree event a true winter wonderland.   There’s even four ice slides designed to let you truly experience the fun of an ICE! 

5) SeaWorld Orlando:  With sea-worthy shows and memorable attractions, a visit to SeaWorld Orlando during the holiday season dives into the reason for the season.  During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration take in Christmas themed shows such as “O Wondrous Night,” “Shamu Christmas Miracles,” and “Elmo’s Christmas Wish” then embark on the Polar Express Experience where you’re invited to a multisensory experience simulating the train ride from the beloved holiday book and movie.  Once you arrive in the North Pole you can meet Santa as well as beluga whales, walruses and polar bears.  Make time to stroll through the “Sea of Trees” too.  It’s a wintry wonderland of holiday trees that sparkles to music and lights up the waterfront.


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.

It may be summer now but that’s no reason you can’t start planning your winter vacation.  Gaylord Palms has already announced details regarding their spectacular ICE! event.  This year the Gaylord Palms is bringing the North Pole to Orlando and Frosty the Snowman will join them in the festivities. 

Frosty the Snowman and his friends will be featured in a colorfully frozen retelling of the original Christmas classic.  More than 2 million pounds of hand-carved sculptures and icy recreations make this 9 degree event a true winter wonderland.   There’s even four ice slides designed to let you truly experience the fun of an ICE! 

New for 2013 is Artisans in Action.  The live lice-carving zone allows you to get up close to watch masterful ice carver from Harbin, China up close as he creates amazing sculptures before your eyes.  He is part of the tem of 40 ice sculpturists who travel from Harbin to create the ICE! event.  More than 6,000 blocks of ice are used and it takes over a month to complete the exhibit.

DreamWorks characters are also returning for some child-friendly events.  Join Gingy from Shrek for Gingy’s Gingerbread Experience where you can decorate a gingerbread house and get your picture taken with Gingy.  Want to start your day off right?  The Shrekfest Interactive Character Meal is just the ticket.  Become an honorary Ogre and join Shrek and friends for a fairytale feast fit for a king with tableside hugs and photos. Special DreamWorks character meet and greets are also planned.  Characters from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda make appearances.  On top of that, a DreamWorks Themed Scavenger Hunt is planned for families too.
Gaylord Palms Orlando gets into the holiday spirit dazzling holiday displays, more than two million twinkling lights, a 54-foot tall Christmas tree, carolers and plenty of cheer.  Plan your winter escape now to experience the wonder of ICE! at Gaylord Palms.

Make plans to celebrate the holidays at Gaylord Palms as they host Merry Madagascar Ice!  Ice! is Florida’s favorite frigid Christmas tradition, with over 20,000 square feet of chilly 9-degree ice carved into a winter wonderland complete with 30-foot ice slides.  This year’s theme is the DreamWorks animated TV hit Merry Madagascar starring characters like Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippopotamus. 

The Ice! attraction is carved by a team of 40 artisans from China, who spend a month creating the unique attraction. 
Along with Ice!, character meet and greets, seasonal decorations and activities are planned.  These include:
Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating: Hosted by Gingy, the famous gingerbread man from the Shrek movies, this activity lets you choose from three different design options to create a gingerbread cooking family or house.  Plus, you get to meet Gingy!
ICE! featuring “Merry Madagascar” runs daily from Nov. 10, 2012, to Jan. 1, 2013. Tickets range from $25.99 to $27.99, depending on date, for adults. Kids’ tickets (for ages 4-11) at $13.99.

It may be the middle of summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your winter holiday vacation.  Orlando is a top Christmas vacation destination for a variety of reasons.  Orlando theme parks like DisneyWorld and Universal Orlando host festive celebrations, shopping in Orlando is superb and if you’re looking for a delicious holiday meal one of Orlando’s restaurants is sure to serve up a feast to please the finest palate. 

Of course, another highlight of the Orlando holiday season is ICE at Gaylord Palms.  ICE is an award-winning tradition at Gaylord Palms Orlando FL, with over 20,000 square-feet of frosty 9-degrees creating an enchanting winter wonderland. This year’s ICE will have hand-carved ice sculptures paying tribute to the Dreamworks classic Merry Madagascar. Five 30-foot ice slides and beautiful Christmas decorations make the event one families are sure to love. ICE at Gaylord Palms takes place November 10, 2012, through January 1, 2013.
Classic Christmas elements can also be found at ICE. An arctic forest, Christmas carnival with life-size carousel, ornament room, reindeer and a very special nativity made completely of clear ice add to the event. 
Reserve a room at Gaylord Palms Orlando for a fun-filled holiday experience unlike any other!

Gaylord Palms Orlando is offering guests several new reasons to stay at this Orlando resort – $50 million new reasons to be exact. They recently completed a $50 million grand renovation project that is taking the Gaylord Palms guests experience to a whole new level.

Gaylord Palms Cypress Springs

Cypress Springs

Two new spectacular pools, a one-of-a-kind new multi-level dining venue, exciting new amenities and activities, luxurious new guest room features and outstanding DreamWorks experiences are waiting for you to enjoy. The new Everglades inspired Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park is a real highlight for families. It features a zero-entry pool, four waterslides, a multi-level water playground, activity lagoon, plunge pool and “dive-in” movies at night.

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South Beach Pool

Adults can get in on the aquatic fun at the new South Beach Pool which has an ultra-chic and ultra-private tropical oasis outfitted with a cocktail bar and entertainment areas. Sports fans will cheer for the two-story Wreckers Sports Bar. It has two-stories, with a bar on each level, a dance floor, multi-level 20-foot high video screen and it all overlooks the palm-lined waters of the South Beach Pool. Book your room at the Orlando Gaylord Palms Resort today to experience best of the Sunshine State, all under one roof!

Join Gaylord Palms for the ICE! Shrek the Halls and Kung Fu Panda SNOW! DreamWorks Experiences this holiday season.

The 4.5-acre Gaylord Palms Resort Orlando transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the winter season, and this year the festivities are bigger and better than ever thanks to a partnership with DreamWorks entertainment.  Gaylord Palms’ signature ICE! event is a 16,000 square foot playground with ice sculptures, five 30-foot slides made of ice and an all-new tribute to the DreamWorks classic, Shrek the Halls.  Guests can also meet Shrek, Fiona and Puss in Boots.   

This year’s holiday experience at Gaylord Palms Orlando FL also includes Kung Fu Panda Awesome SNOW! It features 130-tons of snow, fresh made daily. Kids of all ages are invited to make snowmen, forts and play in over 3-feet snow. Guests can also explore the village courtyard inside the Valley of Peace by crawling through snow tunnels, spanning bridges above the snow and sliding down hills of the all-new 64-foot pagoda slide. Snowballs fights with Tai Ling and Lord Shen, as well as some of their other evil henchmen, are also planned.

Dress appropriately for the events as the ICE! Experience is kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit and the SNOW! Event at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Be sure to plan your cool holiday vacation at Gaylord Palms Orlando by reserving a Gaylord Palms hotel room today.

Gaylord Palms is Shreking the Halls this holiday season with their all-new Dreamworks themed events.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms includes their signature ICE! Event featuring Dreamworks Shrek the Halls, Kung Fu Panda Awesome Snow, Visits with Santa Claus, Dreamworks Character Passport Meet and Greets, Dreamworks 3D Theater Experience, Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating and a Majestic Christmas Tree Lighting, among many other festive events.

ICE! Is an award-winning tradition at Gaylord Palms Orlando FL, with over 20,000 square-feet of frosty 9-degrees creating an enchanting winter wonderland.  This year’s ICE! has all-new hand-carved ice sculptures paying tribute to the Dreamworks classic Shrek the Halls.  Five 30-foot ice slides and beautiful Christmas decorations make the event one families are sure to love. ICE! at Gaylord Palms takes place November 16, 2011, through January 2, 2012.

New for this year’s holiday experience at Gaylord Palms Orlando is Kung Fu Panda Awesome SNOW.  It features 130-tons of snow, fresh made daily.  Kids of all ages are invited to make snowmen, forts and play in over 3-feet snow.  Guests can also explore the village courtyard inside the Valley of Peace by crawling through snow tunnels, spanning bridges above the snow and sliding down hills of the all-new 64-foot pagoda slide.  Snowballs fights with Tai Ling and Lord Shen, as well as some of their other evil henchmen, are also planned.
Be sure to plan your cool holiday vacation at Gaylord Palms Orlando by reserving a Gaylord Palms hotel room today.