It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the Orlando theme parks really know how to celebrate in style! Each park is transformed into a winter wonderland, with decorations, Christmas trees and glittering lights, as well as a host of festive activities and seasonal shows running throughout the day. There are so many exciting events to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve chosen the most must-see events taking place this year at both the Walt Disney World Resort and the Universal Orlando Resort, to help you decide what to put at the top of your list. Check out the best places to celebrate with our handy park by park guide…
Cinderella’s iconic castle is pretty impressive at any time of year, but at Christmas it undergoes an incredible makeover that will take your breath away. The castle becomes illuminated with over 200,000 lights by Queen Elsa, in the nightly ‘A Frozen Holiday Wish’ show. She’ll also be joined onstage by her Frozen pals Anna, Kristoff and the adorable Olaf. If you’re visiting the park, you really won’t want to miss this!
One of the most popular events at the park is 'Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party', hosted by, you guessed it- Mickey Mouse! The separately ticketed annual event takes place after the park closes and is always a sell-out, so if you want to be at the party of the year you must get your tickets early. Make the most of the popular rides (minus the long queues!), festive food and line-up of fun-filled activities. Our favourites are ‘Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade’, which sees your favourite Disney characters glide along Main Street USA on enormous glistening floats as the sound of Christmas carols fills the air, and ‘Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration’ starring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Snow White and plenty more familiar faces, in the ultimate Christmas celebration.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
This year, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will host a brand new Christmas spectacular called ‘Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!’, packed with special effects, holiday music, fireworks and flurries of snow from start to finish! Santa Claus has gone missing, and it’s down to you to help find him in time to save Christmas day. Hilarious elf double act Wayne and Lanny (the stars of ABC’s Prep & Landing) lead the way, taking you on an adventure through famous scenes from the most popular Disney movies, before an “epic showdown” in Halloween Town (from The Night Before Christmas).
It’s always fun to visit each country at Epcot’s World Showcase, and at Christmas time there’s even more to see. Discover the Christmas traditions of the 11 nations and sample tasty seasonal cuisine from around the world. There’s also an opportunity to meet both Santa and Mrs Claus at 'The American Adventure', so make sure you’ve got your Christmas list ready!
Epcot’s most popular tradition though, is the stunning Candlelight Processional- a heart-warming performance of the Christmas story. Read by a celebrity narrator, this year’s line-up includes Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris, Anthony Mackie and Jodi Benson to name just a few. There’s even live music provided by a 50-piece orchestra and several talented choirs.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
Generally, Disney’s Animal Kingdom tends to be the Disney park with the least Christmas celebrations, although this year, the park has a lot more in store for its guests. Now open even later, the park will be illuminated with festive decorations, including a towering Christmas tree adorned with colourful animal-themed decorations. There will also be plenty of opportunity to see some of your favourite characters in their finest festive attire, so get ready for those selfies! Look out for Minnie and Mickey dressed in their best Christmas costumes and Goofy dressed up as Santa.
Even though, Disney Springs isn’t a theme park, we thought you might like to know that this year, there is an exciting Christmas Tree Trail. The new walk through experience is made up of 15 Christmas trees, with each one themed on a popular Disney character or story. Look out for Frozen, Tangled, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, The Jungle Book, Lilo and Stitch, 101 Dalmatians, The Muppets, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Disney Villains and Mickey & Minnie Mouse themed designs.
Universal Studios Florida:
The must-see Christmas event at Universal Studios Florida, is without a doubt the ‘Macy’s Holiday Parade’. The huge balloons and floats used in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are sent over to Universal from New York City just in time for Christmas. There’s a marching band, dancers, clowns and even a surprise appearance from Santa Claus! After the parade, the incredible tree lighting ceremony takes place, bringing the park to life in a burst of colour.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure:
Forget Christmas, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, it’s all about ‘Grinchmas’! The Seuss Landing area of the park is transformed into the snowy town of Whoville, where the Grinch is trying his best to ruin Christmas. Watch the characters come to life in the ‘Grinchmas Who-Liday Spectacular’ and if you’re feeling brave enough, meet the star of the show (the Grinch of course) for yourself!
If you’d love to experience the magic for yourself, click here to view our Orlando theme park tickets.
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