December is one of the best times to visit Orlando. Even though there’s no real snow, you’re sure to be able to get into the Christmas spirit with all of the festivities. Whether want to visit the Grinch, go ice skating, see thousands of dancing holiday lights, Orlando has you covered. Here are the events we’ve rounded up.
Holiday Concert Series This season brings a new Holiday Concert Series in the new Music Plaza. Enjoy some of your all time holiday favorites as performed by Mannheim Steamroller (Dec. 5), Chris Isaak (Dec. 12) and Natalie Cole (Dec. 19).
Macy’s Holiday Parade – This seasonal favorite features authentic floats and balloons (including several brand new ones this year) direct from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. You’ll also enjoy festive street performers and talented marching bands from around the country, and of course Santa Claus himself. Afterwards stay for a spectacular tree lighting ceremony with music and a dazzling display of lights.
KidZone Holiday Show – Join your character friends as they dance to holiday hits in this live show.
Barney’s Christmas Show – Join Barney and his friends for a magical sing-along, clap-along show at A Day In The Park With Barney.
Blues Brothers Christmas Show– Add some rock and roll to your Christmas with the Blues Brothers! Catch them live, performing holiday favorites like “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” and “Blue Christmas” with snow on Delancey Street at the end of each show.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Grinchmas – Seuss Landing is transformed into the wintry wonderland of Grinchmas featuring a live musical performance of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.” Then stroll around the Whoville Wonky Tree Lot and take in the whimsical Wholiday decorations.
Polar Express – The Wild Arctic simulator ride is transformed into the Polar Express Experience. When the ride is done, you’ll be at the North Pole and can visit Santa and his northern animal friends.
Winter Wonderland on Ice – This all-new holiday-themed ice-skating show can be seen at Bayside Stadium and will be performed on select nights through Jan. 3. The show includes water fountains, fireworks, and, of course, ice skaters.
Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas – Sea lions Clyde and Seamore, along with a few mischievous otters and a walrus or two, offer up comedy in this new Christmas show that runs on select nights from Nov. 27 through Jan. 3.
A Sesame Street Christmas – This new musical show features Abby Cadabby, Elmo, Big Bird, and other popular Sesame Street characters. Abby has never heard of Christmas and her friends help explain the holiday spirit to her. Sesame Street character meet-and-greets are available after each show.
Shamu Christmas … Miracles – A choir, holiday music and sights help Shamu tell the story of peace and friendship.
Castle Dreamlights! – Guests can behold twinkling lights of one of Disney’s newest holiday traditions – Castle Dreamlights! Donning their holiday finest, Cinderella and friends take to the Cinderella Castle stage daily for a dream-come-true, light-the-night moment. With 200,000 sparkling, jewel-like crystals adorning the iconic castle, the glistening light-show spectacular signals the beginning of Disney’s seasonal merriment.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – The theme park hosts the long-running Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on select nights. During this special-ticket event, guests are treated to the new stage show “A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas!,” “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade,” “Holiday Wishes-Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks spectacular, plus special shows featuring Disney characters decked out in their holiday finest, carolers, festive tree lightings and more. And while forecasters predict the first snowfall of the season will swirl a winter-like effect down Main Street, U.S.A, guests can take heart: there’s hot cocoa and cookies to add a warm spirit, plus apple slices and apple juice. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party dates are: Dec. 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 18.
Candlelight Processional – Held daily at World Showcase, America Gardens Theatre at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m., the Candlelight Processional is a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a glorious mass choir. Upcoming presenters are:
Dec. 2 John O’Hurley
Dec. 3 – 5 Steven Curtis Chapman
Dec. 6 – 8 Anika Noni Rose
Dec. 9 – 11 Andy Garcia
Dec. 12 – 13 To be announced
Dec. 14 – 17 Abigail Breslin
Dec. 18 – 20 Whoopi Goldberg
Dec. 21 – 23 Brian Dennehy
Dec. 24 -26 Edward James Olmos
Dec. 27 – 30 Angela Bassett / Courtney B. Vance
Gospel Choir – Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season featuring D’Vine Voices will appear through Dec. 26 on the Fountain Stage at 1:15, 2:15, 3:15 and 4:15 p.m.
Holiday storytellers – International holiday traditions unfold throughout World Showcase Nov. 27-Dec. 30 when storytellers such as Pere Noel in France, La Befana in Italy and Santa Claus in The American Adventure share the traditions of the season and spread the message of goodwill. As a “nightcap” to each day, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” – a kaleidoscope of lasers, lights, fireworks and music – takes on a spirited holiday finale.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – Bathed in bulbs of brilliance, the Streets of America glow with millions of dancing lights and animated displays through Jan. 4, 2010. Amid gently falling snow, guests will bask in the glow as twirling carousels, melodic angels, colorful wreaths, marching toy soldiers and Santa and his reindeer move to high-energy music and 3-D effects, creating a dazzling symphony for the senses.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade – This whimsical spectacle is a theatrical showcase of characters, floats and puppetry with a holiday world-beat twist. Guests can meet Disney characters decked out in their holiday best at Camp Minnie-Mickey, which also features live seasonal entertainment, holiday photo opportunities and decorative Christmas trees.
Outside the Orlando theme parks
Busch Gardens – Christmas on Ice at the Stanleyville Theater.
ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort – It’s rooms full of hand carved Ice. Tag along on Santa’s journey, beginning with an encounter with Old Man Winter, through an arctic forest, and into the middle of a Christmas Carnival, complete with a life-size carousel. Next, chill-seekers will explore Santa’s ornament room, climb onto his oversized knee, and watch as he and reindeer take flight (yes, the ice slides are back) Then view the Nativity finale, hand carved from crystal clear ice.
Now Snowing in Celebration, Fla. – This “Snowing” event, offers an all new ice rink this year. Now Snowing is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.
Bok Tower Gardens Christmas at Pinewood – Designers will deck the halls of the 20-room, 1930s Pinewood Estate with elegant and elaborate decorations.
Holiday Lights Zipline Safari – Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida has announced their new Holiday Lights Zipline Safari that takes guests through the Forever Florida Wildlife Conservation Area fifty‐five feet off the ground amid dancing colorful lights and music.
Wild Wonderland at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo – Millions of twinkling lights and glimmering holiday displays light up the night. Meet Santa and his real reindeer. See a Frozen Forest with crystal animals, trees and dancing fountains set to the sounds of festive music. Hear the jingle bells ring on a special holiday horse-drawn carriage ride.
Silver Spring’s Festival of Lights – More than a million twinkling lights and neon displays will be on display throughout the park from dusk until 8:30 p.m. Nightly activities will include Miss Molly’s Storytelling (Except Dec. 24) in the Silver River Theater, local choirs on the weekends singing songs of the season, strolling carolers, the famous lighted boat parade, shopping in the Silver Springs specialty stores, and of course don’t forget to visit with Santa Clause (through Dec. 24).
Holy Land Experience Festive musicals and engaging presentations unfold throughout the day and help tell the tender story of the birth of the Christ child. All new for 2009 “Eyewitness to His Glory” is the Christmas story as you’ve never seen it before. Other shows include Come To The Manger, The True Story of St. Nicholas, Ye Olde Christmas Carols and Glorious Impossible.
Light Up UCF – The area’s biggest free holiday light show, free outdoor Holiday Film Festival and Orlando’s largest outdoor skating rink. For 2009, Light Up UCF is offering all-new rides and attractions including Santa’s Village, the Arctic Glide Ice Slide, Kris Kringle’s Carousel and McDonald’s Ferris Wheel.