Seventy years ago in Santa Claus, Indiana, the first-ever theme park opened its gates to revelers devoted to year-round Christmas merrymaking. The spark of holiday spirit from 1946 continues to grow, kindling at the biggest names in theme parks from Walt Disney World® to Busch Gardens®. But it was the small family-owned celebration at Santa Claus Land that would light the way.
Extravagant holiday festivities now brighten the smiles of Bluegreen families visiting Orlando, Branson and Williamsburg where theme parks transform best-loved attractions into a dazzling winter wonderland. A holiday season stay at nearby resorts means you’ll not only visit with old St. Nick and your favorite characters, you’ll also revel in festive food and drink, holiday parades, classic shows, and themed boutiques offering unique gifts for everyone on your list.
Get ready to celebrate this Season in good cheer!
The Busch Gardens® annual transformation into Christmas TownTM begins in November where the party lasts through December. Decked with over eight million Christmas lights, it’s the largest light display in North America, by far!
Begin your merriment by exploring the park’s Polar Pathway, a dazzling illumination of white and ice blue, then visit the cascading waterfalls of light at Italy’s Escape from Pompeii®. Just in time for the festivities, Santa’s set up his North Pole workshop in Christmas Town, so stop in with your wish list before making your way to 25 rides still open through the season. Even thrill rides like Tempesto® and Verbolten® will stay open on nights the temperature doesn’t drop too low.
Make time to catch a few live shows created especially for this winter celebration. World-champion figure skaters star in ‘Twas that NightTM , a spectacular show on ice, and a live musical will take stage with the classic Scrooge tale. Don’t miss Gloria!, a re-telling of the story of the first Christmas, is a favorite showing in Ireland’s Abbey Stone Theater.
All three of Orlando’s major attractions celebrate the November and December holidays throughout the parks. There’s so much to see and do, you’ll need a full week to try to cover it all. Here are some highlights you won’t want to miss.
Catch a live Macy’s Holiday ParadeTM each night during the holidays. At Universal Studios, just like in New York, the parade fills the streets with breathtaking balloons, marching bands, clowns, and, of course, Good Ole St. Nick. Grab a hot chocolate, watch the parade, and enjoy a music-filled evening capped off with a dazzling tree lighting ceremony.
No one does the Holidays quite like Walt Disney World! From Disney Springs to the Magic Kingdom®, the skies alight with the glow of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas cheer.
At Epcot, Holidays Around the World features a candlelight processional amid the rich sounds of a 50-piece orchestra playing seasonal favorites, and full choir singing carols well into the night. As the skies darken, IllumiNations, the park’s breathtaking fireworks, laser and waterworks show begins.
Disney Springs and its shopping and entertainment neighborhoods get all decked out for the season. Enjoy a nightly tree lighting ceremony, a meet and greet with Santa at his Chalet, and a Marketplace Kwanzaa celebration. At The Landing, Hanukkah will be honored with story and song.
The Magic Kingdom is the home of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the biggest event held during the holidays. Snow falls on Main Street and Cinderella’s Castle sparkles in against the night sky. All your favorite Disney characters wear holiday attire, and even the attractions will be “dressed” with seasonal decorations. Of course, there will be fireworks and a spectacular holiday parade.
LEGOLAND® is celebrating their Christmas Bricktacular with a 30 foot Christmas tree made of thousands of LEGO® bricks, and a life-size LEGO Santa complete with sleigh and reindeer. And yes, Virginia, there will be a nightly fireworks display. Don’t miss the scavenger hunts!
SeaWorld will create a water wonderland on select dates during the Holidays, featuring skaters gliding across ice and lighted Christmas trees reflected in the park’s many water attractions. The merrymaking continues with Holiday food as well as live shows and entertainment inspired by the natural world.
The Silver Dollar City treats visitors to An Old Time Christmas by decorating this 1880s city in over 5 million lights and 1,000 decorated Christmas trees. On Main Street, the brightest show features a 5-story tree draped with 350,000 lights. Twice nightly, the Holly JollyTM Christmas Light Parade takes to the street with Rudolph and friends.
The park also features Broadway-style live shows including classics like A Dickens’ Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life, and at the Riverfront Playhouse, you’ll enjoy a Living Nativity.
A favorite Christmas feature of Silver Dollar City is its old-fashioned train rides! Journey through the Ozark Mountains on the Frisco Sing-Along Steam train as you listen to Grandpa tell the Christmas story. This 20-minute excursion departs each day in November and December.
Each of these parks spares no Christmas cheer to deck the halls, streets, and attraction rides meant to delight you with the best of the holiday season. With extravagant parades and a show of gleaming lights, Christmas at the theme parks makes for a family vacation guaranteed to create warm winter memories whether you spend it in the snowy Ozarks or in sunny Orlando and its twinkling palms.
Pick up one of Bluegreen’s Explorer packages to resorts near theme parks like these, and get an instant $50 MasterCard® Reward Card. See you there!
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