By Andy Guinigundo
With the Christmas holiday upon us, let’s look at a winter festival that takes place at one of the biggest amusement destinations – Six Flags. There are four Six Flags Parks taking part in the “Holiday in the Park” celebration this year. These include The Great Escape (Lake George, N.Y.), Over Texas (Arlington, Texas), Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, Calif.), and Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas).
There appears to be a formula for these winter celebrations whether you are talking about Six Flags, Disney or Dollywood. Every celebration must have lights – lots and lots of lights. Many describe their lights by saying “tens of thousands” or for the parks truly committed to twinkling, “over a million lights”. Indeed, both of these phrases are used in the descriptions of Holiday in the Park at the different locales. Big Christmas trees are definitely in order too. The trees at Six Flags all top out at 60 feet or above and feature a nightly lighting ceremony. Santa Claus himself has set up shop at each of the four Six Flags, no doubt ready to hear your little ones’ Christmas wishes and to pose for a picture.
The live entertainment differs slightly at each park. Fiesta Texas has the “Majesty of Christmas” with a nominal up-charge. This features the story of the Nativity brought to life in song. Travel north to Six Flags Over Texas to experience the talents of local choirs, dance groups, and bands in “Holiday in the Park Stars of the Season.” Park guests at The Great Escape were treated to holiday songs from recording artists Cymphonique and Veno. If you travel across the country to Discovery Kingdom, you can see some live entertainment of an aquatic nature. See Shouka the killer whale perform its holiday show “Dream,” the dolphins perform “A Dolphin Holiday” or catch the sea lions in “Super Spirited Sea Lion Save Christmas”.
Want to go sledding in Texas? Under most normal climates, one would not be able to go sled riding even in the heart of winter in Texas. Well, at Six Flags you can. Sharon Park of Fiesta Texas described the process:
“We have refrigeration on the hill, basically the same type of refrigeration tubes that are used on an ice rink. The snow is fresh ice used from our ice house that is crushed and run through a chipper that finely grinds up the ice into small particles. The same chipper blows the ice onto the hill.”
Sledding is available at Fiesta Texas, Over Texas and The Great Escape. It is still somewhat weather dependent – i.e. no one wants to get slushy wet sledding in the rain.
Holiday shopping and sweet and savory treats are available at all of the parks. Many of the regular season attractions are open to enjoy as well. The Holiday in the Park opened in November and most continue on until Jan. 3.
Oh yeah, one final similarity between the Six Flags parks – For about $50 you can have admission to Holiday in the Park and admission for the 2010 season at any Six Flags park! That seems like a great deal if you have a Six Flags near you since that price is around $30 less than a single day admission to a single Disney park.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.