Orlando’s Christmas Extravaganza

Walt Disney World Tickets , Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park , Universal Orlando Resort Tickets , SeaWorld® Orlando Tickets , LEGOLAND® Florida Resort , ICON Park , Kennedy Space Center Tickets , Gatorland Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column , Seasonal Events
A girl sitting on a man's shoulders holding her hands out to catch fake snow as it falls
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Check out the city’s full festive line-up for 2023

After 20 years as Orlando residents, we’re pretty well-versed in all the seasonal attractions of this unique destination and are well aware of what the arrival of November means for the extra fun that’s in store.

From Walt Disney World Resort to our local supermarket, the signs of Christmas are everywhere, and there is a genuine sense of excitement and anticipation throughout this part of Central Florida. But it is still possible to underestimate just HOW much festive merriment is on offer, which is what we felt after seeing the seasonal press release from the Visit Orlando tourist organisation this week. It was a full five pages long and absolutely PACKED with events and happenings for “the Holidays,” as they say over here. Even though we know how Orlando celebrates at this time of year, the sheer number of things to do still took us by surprise.

So, with that in mind, we thought we would highlight what’s in store by synthesising those five pages into blog form; the essence of Christmas, if you like.

Or, in the words of Visit Orlando president and CEO Casandra Matej, “November marks the start of a joyful holiday season in Orlando, featuring new experiences and cherished signature events that capture the magic of the destination and create treasured holiday memories with the entire family.”

We couldn’t agree more, so let’s go place-by-place to showcase what’s in store for all our visitors this festive season:

Walt Disney World Resort

(Nov 9-Dec 31)  

It all starts with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which returns for 25 select nights at the Magic Kingdom. This separate-ticketed evening event features a welter of festivities, including stage show Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration, the superb Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade and nightly Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks. In addition to complimentary cookies, cocoa and snowfall on Main Street U.S.A., guests can also experience Frozen-inspired entertainment with Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and the Snowgies at Frozen Holiday Surprise, an all-new entertainment experience that lights up Cinderella Castle with holiday cheer.

At EPCOT, the International Festival of the Holidays (Nov 24-Dec 30) takes guests on a global celebration with a signature Candlelight Processional presentation featuring celebrity narrators, a full choir and orchestra at the America Gardens Theater three times each night, while the rest of the park showcases story-tellers, costumed performances, glimmering greenhouses in the Living with The Land ride and more than 15 Holiday Kitchens throughout the World Showcase nations, along with sights, sounds and flavours of the season.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park (Nov 11-Dec 31) brings a holiday twist to the magic of nature with a variety of seasonal delights. Discovery Island springs to life with artisan-sculpted puppets of arctic animals like penguins, reindeer, polar bears and more during the Merry Menagerie. As night-time falls, a holiday edition of the Tree of Life Awakening will begin, accompanied by a heartwarming musical score. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a brand new offering in the shape of the Disney Jollywood Nights party (Nov 11- Dec 20), an all-new separately ticketed evening holiday extravaganza that combines Hollywood and holiday for a night of glitz and glamour with dapper décor, merry mashups, tastes and sips, special appearances from classic characters, live entertainment and the return of the nighttime spectacular Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! Throughout the evening, guests can also enjoy after-hours access to rides under the stars.  


Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends standing on Main Street USA in their Christmas outfits


Universal Orlando Resort

(Nov 17-Dec 31)

We have already covered the full Christmas scene at Universal, but it’s worth highlighting the three big elements that make their parks extra special:

Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure brings holiday charm to Seuss Landing with The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter features seasonal holiday shows and festive decor in both Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Once night falls in Hogsmeade, guests can also revel in a spectacular holiday projection show on Hogwarts Castle during The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

During the Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, characters from Illumination’s Despicable Me and DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek and Madagascar – along with larger-than-life balloons, dozens of holiday floats, hundreds of festive performers, and Santa – fill the streets of Universal Studios in the evenings.  


Large gold star-shaped balloons being carried past a tall Christmas tree



(select days from Nov 10-Jan 2)

During SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, the park transforms into a winter wonderland featuring millions of sparkling lights throughout the park. Included with theme park admission, guests can enjoy snacks, live performances, character dining add-on options and great live entertainment, including the must-see O Wondrous Night show and the Holiday Reflections: Fireworks Finale.

During the Sesame Street Breakfast at SeaFire Grill, beloved Sesame Street characters dress up in festive attire, while Dinner with Santa is an opportunity to enjoy a holiday meal with Santa Claus himself.  


The SeaWorld lighthouse in front of a purple tinted sky and a lit up Christmas tree



(Nov 24-Dec 31)

This kid-friendly park in nearby Winter Haven will deck the halls with their Holidays at LEGOLAND theme, which features a giant LEGO Christmas tree, seasonal shows, holiday characters, special treats, LEGO activities, twinkling lights and more. 


Three children posing in front of a LEGO Christmas tree with LEGO santa and a toy soldier


If that’s the headline info from Orlando’s theme parks, there is plenty more to look forward to in places like Kissimmee, International Drive, downtown Orlando and Florida Mall. Take your pick from:

Island H2O Water Park: Kissimmee’s big attraction debuts an all-new island-themed holiday light spectacular, “Holiday Nights,” (select nights from Nov 8-Dec 31). The unique walk-through experience will feature twinkling lights, enchanting displays, immersive family fun, live entertainment, a holiday market and more.

Harry P. Leu Gardens: Downtown’s eye-catching botanical garden looms into a winter wonderland with a million sparkling lights, shining forests, magical displays, music and beautiful sculptures during “Dazzling Nights” (Nov 24-Jan 6). The three-quarter mile, family-friendly interactive holiday experience features new immersive elements like a nighttime show with 100 10ft-tall beacons of light and a 30ft tree of thousands of shimmering gold sequins. During the day, “Holiday Blooms” showcases a collection of beautiful floral and holiday-themed displays throughout the garden.

Crayola Experience’s Colorful Christmas (Nov 18-Jan 7): The Florida Mall pre-school favourite returns with SNOWtastic adventures as visitors help save Christmas by piecing together riddles given by animatronic characters. In addition, guests will find a life-sized snow globe, complete with falling snow, a light show starring Scarlet and her singing reindeer and the chance to craft unique gifts.

International Drive: Watch as this busy tourist area dazzles with a glittering lighting ceremony of the iconic 50ft Holiday Tree during the I-Drive District Holiday Tree Lighting (Dec 1), along with the wonderfully family-friendly Santa Workshop Experience at ICON Park (Nov 10-Dec 24).

Lake Nona: The 6th annual Oh, What Fun! Holiday Festival (Dec 7-23) will turn Town Center at pretty Lake Nona into Peppermint Square, a winter wonderland with nightly snowfalls, live entertainment, festive photo ops and more.

Winter Park: Celebrating its 71st year, Winter Park’s annual Ye Olde Hometown Christmas Parade (Dec 2) is the oldest annual holiday parade in Central Florida and will feature more than 80 participating organisations, including marching bands, an appearance by Santa and more.


A man and child riding in a red old-fashioned fire truck with Santa and Mrs Clause in the back


Kennedy Space Center: The Visitor Complex will host Holidays in Space (Dec 15-30), featuring Starflake’s Holiday Voyage, a nightly projected show on the massive exterior of Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, where visitors can embark on a journey with Starflake as she travels through the stars. In addition, festive holiday décor will encompass the entire Visitor Complex, including a 50ft tree with more than 61,000 pixels of light, an all-new Rocket Tree Trail, astronaut nutcrackers and more.

Gatorland: Get ready for the return of the totally fun Holiday Ho Ho Ho-Down (select dates from Dec 2-24). This family-style event is included with park admission and will feature live music, festive food items, displays and more.  

Gaylord Palms: Kissimmee’s mega-resort presents its annual highlight, which this year is ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas (Nov 17-Jan 3). Here, guests experience an immersive, story-driven holiday showplace complete with larger-than-life ice sculptures of classic scenes and beloved characters re-created in three dimensions, along with frozen slides, tunnels, an Alpine village, snowball-throwing, and much more. 


Do you have a favourite Orlando seasonal celebration? Tell us about it on the friendly ATD forums, our Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

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Walt Disney World Tickets , Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park , Universal Orlando Resort Tickets , SeaWorld® Orlando Tickets , LEGOLAND® Florida Resort , ICON Park , Kennedy Space Center Tickets , Gatorland Tickets , Orlando , Expert View Column , Seasonal Events