Orlando is a magical place to visit during the holidays. Unique holiday celebrations spread festive cheer and merriment all throughout Central Florida. Discover how to spend this Christmas in Orlando, Florida and plan your trip today.
Table of Contents:
- Holidays at the Theme Parks
- Festive Orlando Attractions
- Where to Stay this Christmas in Orlando
- Where to Eat in Orlando
- Tips for Navigating Your Orlando Christmas Vacation
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 lifelong memories!
Walt Disney World Resort
November 8 through January 6, 2019
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, the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, and Sunset Seasons Greetings and the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM Fireworks display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Guests can also ring in the New Year with a variety of entertainment, including all-new parades and special dining events across Disney.
Universal Orlando Resort
November 17 through January 6, 2019
Universal Orlando Resort celebrates the classic tale of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” with Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular 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 the Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, presenting floats and balloons direct from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Plus, all the merry and mayhem from classic characters from the Minions, Shrek, and Madagascar are featured in the parade, too.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter also lights up for the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. Christmas at the Wizarding World features festive holiday decor, special entertainment, and a stunning projection around the Hogwarts castle as the stars in the night sky begins to shine. Guests will find Harry Potter holiday decor in both Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida and Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure.
On New Year’s Eve, CityWalk comes alive for “EVE“—the biggest celebration of this year (and the next). EVE features performances by national acts, a gourmet buffet, and nightclub entertainment.
SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
November 17 through December 31, 2018
SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration runs for six weeks, beginning November 17th. SeaWorld offers special shows and attractions, including Shamu Christmas Miracles, Winter Wonderland on Ice, and Sea of Trees. Of course, all your favorite SeaWorld Orlando rides and activities will be open throughout the holiday event. Guests can also countdown to New Year’s Day and enjoy live music and spectacular fireworks display.
Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND
December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22-31, 2018
LEGOLAND Florida is home to Christmas Bricktacular, a celebration with daily appearances by Santa Claus, a 270,000-LEGO-brick Christmas tree that stands 30-feet tall, and other seasonal creations. While enjoying all of the bricktastic fun the park has to offer, visitors can also meet LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier, write letters to the North Pole, and go on the hunt for Santa’s LEGO elf hiding somewhere in the park.
Kids can also participate in their very own countdown to 2019 during a giant, LEGO brick drop at “Kids Standard Time,” otherwise known as 7:00 pm, during the park’s Kid’s New Year’s Party from December 26-31st. This New Year’s fest also includes a kid-friendly DJ dance party from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
November 17 through December 31, 2018
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. Christmas Town features millions of twinkling lights, Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland, and so much more! Best of all, Christmas Town is included with Busch Gardens tickets.
Christmas in Orlando: Festive Attractions
Holidays at Disney Springs
November 8 through January 8, 2019
Embrace the spirit of the season at Disney Springs. The premier shopping complex presents live entertainment, Santa photo opportunity, catchy carolers, and festive holiday décor. Stroll through the delightful holiday wonderland, then browse in unique shops for that gotta-have-it gift. Be sure to visit the Christmas Tree Trail lined with trees decked out in Disney movie themes, from Frozen to The Jungle Book.
ICE! at Gaylord Palms
November 16 through January 6, 2019
Christmas in Orlando doesn’t get any better than this event! ICE! at Gaylord Palms, an award-winning attraction carved by a team of 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. Should you choose to stay at the Gaylord Palms during your Christmas in Orlando vacation, you’ll enjoy a world of entertainment including holiday shows, photos with Santa, and more.
Where to Stay When Spending Christmas in Orlando
Once you’ve determined which theme park festivals and Orlando holiday events you’d like to attend, you must find a hotel room. Fortunately, Orlando is jam-packed with everything from family-friendly resorts to a myriad of hotel deals.
Before you book a room, however, always consider what you need in a hotel room. Ask yourself:
- Do I need to be close to theme parks such as Walt Disney World and LEGOLAND?
- Would I rather stay in a populated area such as International Drive?
- Do I need specific amenities like a free shuttle service?
- Would I be better off staying at a theme park resort, including those at Disney World?
The answers to these questions will lead you to your ideal Orlando hotel or resort. With the Bundle it! option from Reserve Orlando, you can combine your theme park and attraction tickets with the perfect hotel room for additional savings. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love saving money at Christmas time?
Where to Eat in Orlando
The Christmas season isn’t complete without a little indulgence or feast (or two…) If you’re planning to book a Christmas vacation in Orlando, you’ll want to make your restaurant reservations ahead of time.
For those dining at Disney for the holidays, check out the restaurants at Epcot or Magic Kingdom for festive feasts. You can’t go wrong with a reservation at the wide array of Universal Orlando restaurants, either!
The greater Orlando area is home to a wide array of restaurants and cuisines. If you plan to spend Christmas in Orlando, browse through this list of restaurants open on Christmas day and place your reservation ASAP.
Tips for Navigating Your Orlando Christmas Vacation
Orlando, Florida is a popular Christmas season destination. Keep these quick tips in mind for the perfect Orlando vacation this winter:
- Be ready for crowds! Go to the theme parks early.
- Make sure you pack everything you need for each day.
- Remember, it’s still hot in Orlando during the winter.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Take advantage of complimentary theme park transportation.
- Bring your bathing suit and take advantage of the warm weather.
- Purchase essential travel items before your trip rather than at the theme parks.
Also, remember to use Reserve Orlando to plan, customize, and book your Christmas vacation for the best rates and availability! With all of this information in your back pocket, you’re ready for an extraordinary Christmas in Orlando.
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.