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Holidays at Orlando Theme Parks

Holidays at Orlando theme parks are special (and warm). Orlando may not be able to supply a white Christmas, but there sure are a lot of other things it has to offer come wintertime! As the reigning theme park capital of the world, there is certainly no shortage of family-friendly holiday fun! Each park offers their own unique holiday celebration, filled with lights, music, decorations, events and more!

General Overview of Holidays at Orlando Theme Parks

holidays at orlando theme parks seaworld

1. Sea World’s Christmas Celebration

Holidays at Orlando theme parks provide an opportunity to enjoy Sea World’s Christmas Celebration as carols fill your ears and the many Christmas lights dazzle your eyes. For young children, Sea World has a show called Elmo’s Christmas Wish, where, with the help of his friends, Elmo searches for his Christmas wish and discovers the true meaning of Christmas! Sea World’s sea of trees is bound to be a family favorite, with over 100 trees that shine to the music and illuminate the water. You will even have an opportunity to visit with Santa Clause himself if you decide to embark on the Polar Express Experience, where the sights, sounds, and scents from the classic holiday story will surround you. This is only a taste of what the park has to offer, with ice skaters and Shamu also getting in on the holiday fun. Remaining dates for Sea World’s Christmas Celebration are Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-31.

universal studios holiday events

2. Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Studios also gets in on the holiday fun with a plethora of fun Christmas spectacles and experiences! If you have always wanted to see the Macy’s Holiday Parade in person but haven’t had the chance to get to New York, why not watch it in Orlando? Holidays at Orlando theme parks offer a way to enjoy the holiday parade in a t-shirt and shorts at Universal and enjoy watching the procession of floats straight from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Fans of the classic holiday tale The Grinch will have the opportunity to have breakfast with their favorite folks from Whoville. After, feel free to take a trip to Seuss Landing, which will be transformed into a winter wonderland and the host of the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the beloved holiday tale which will feature everyone’s favorite Grinch!

disney mickey mouse christmas party

3. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

While Guests don’t have to buy special tickets to enjoy seeing the park shine with dazzling Christmas lights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is Magic Kingdom’s exclusive, event-ticket-only Christmas event. Holidays at Orlando theme parks encourage tourists to come prepared to be met with tons of holiday cheer as Christmas carol’s and lights fill up the park! Free cookies and hot chocolate are also available at designated park locations. Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas Parade is not to be missed, with Character’s like Jiminy Cricket, Tigger, and Scrooge McDuck all making appearances alongside dancing gingerbread men and elves! Anna, Elsa, and a few other Frozen favorites will also make an appearance in A Frozen Holiday Wish, where Elsa uses her ice powers to present a gift to everyone in Magic Kingdom. Other events include the Celebrate the Season Show, A Totally Tomorrow Land Christmas, and of, course, a special Holiday Wishes Fireworks display to end the night with a dazzling display of Christmas Cheer. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: For fans of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing lights, so be sure to get tickets!

Busch Gardens Christmas lights

4. Busch Gardens Christmas Town

Busch Gardens put their own spin on the holiday season by transforming the park into Christmas Town for their holiday celebration. Guests will have the opportunity to meet Santa and friends, ride a Christmas train, and be dazzled by the holiday lights (there’s more than one million of them) at this event. Special shows include the We Three Kings Show, which musically tells the story of the tree wise men making the famed journey to Bethlehem. Busch Gardens also offers a Christmas on Ice skating show, which captures the spirit of Christmas in this breath-taking, fun family show. If you have little ones and didn’t make it to Sea World, Busch Gardens offer another opportunity to have fun with Elmo and friends during the Elmo’s Christmas Wish show! This is another great way to celebrate holidays at Orlando theme parks.

Other Holiday Shows & Opportunities

Christmas may not be conventional here in Orlando, but we sure do have a lot to offer! If none of these theme parks offer the holiday experience you are looking for, the Kennedy Space Center, Capone’s Dinner and Show, The Holy Land Experience, and LEGOLAND are all also offering unique holiday experiences! Enjoy the holidays at Orlando theme parks and have a warm and merry Christmas!

Sea Lion Show Returns to SeaWorld Orlando

Clyde or Seamore pose at SeaWorld

The Sea Lion show is returning to SeaWorld Orlando, and it will be better than ever. “Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High” will make its debut April 16, 2015. The old show was temporarily replaced with educational-type sessions at the Sea Lion, Walrus and Sea Otter show pool, so it only makes sense that the education theme continue.

What better place for education than school! The new show setting is an aquatic-themed high school called Sea Lion High. Clyde and Seamore are nominated to win scholarhips. Who wouldn’t want to go to Ocean University?! The fun begins as the sea lions must take a crash course in science, dance and gym. You can only imagine what these two ‘class clowns’ will do!

Most schools are a great place for fun, education, exploration and using one’s imagination. SeaWorld knows the value of education and continues to offer learning opportunities to all its guests. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High show will celebrate teachers in an educational pre-show. If you are an educator, you’ll not want to miss this new show, but be sure to get a seat early for the pre-show. Even if you are not involved with the education system, you’ll love the new show and appreciate the message.

New Ad Campaign for SeaWorld Parks

Speaking of Sea Lions, you’ll be seeing more of Leon, the Sea Lion. He will be the first animal to be featured in a new ad campaign for SeaWorld – “Meet the Animals.” This 9-year-old sea lion lives in the San Antonio theme park. The first ad can be viewed on SeaWorld’s Facebook.

Leon the Sea Lion

The new ad campaign puts the focus back on SeaWorld in an area where they surpass other theme parksanimal education.

“Research shows that animals are a prime draw for SeaWorld parks,” said Peter Frey, senior marketing officer of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. “We can continue to put coaster and other types of attractions in there but at the end of the day, people want to connect with our animals. It’s what separates us from everyone else.”

With the launch of the new ad campaign, SeaWorld will donate $30,000 to help institutions that must deal with the rise of sea lion beach strandings that are ongoing along the California coast. SeaWorld’s own record for marine-mammel rescues was broken with their 475th rescue within a year. They have rescued over 500 sea lions this year alone!

After meeting Leon, the ad campaign will move onto dolphins, penguins and other animals. With so much marine life at SeaWorld, there will be no shortage of ad material. Meeting so many animals is bound to be entertaining as well as educational. Let’s also hope it entices people to visit the awesome Orlando theme park.

SpaceX Dragon & Rocket Launch Offer Rare Opportunity

SpaceX Dragon

Have your photo taken with a spacecraft that has recently been in space!


If you are visiting the Central Florida area and have not made it out to the Kennedy Space Center, you should. This week and weekend offers a rare opportunity to see the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on display at the Visitor Complex. If you can make it to KSC on Wednesday, February 11, you’ll be in for a big treat as a Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch.

If you recall, the SpaceX Dragon is the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Prior to SpaceX’s $1.6 billion contrat with NASA, only government spacecraft delivered and retrieved cargo from the ISS. The Dragon was the first of 12 cargo missions contracted. It made history in May of 2012 with its trip into space, successfully completing the mission. It is currently the only spacecraft flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Talk about a glorified trash truck!

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The SpaceX Dragon display is included with admission to KSC and is free for annual pass holders of this theme park. It offers a great opportunity to get your souvenir photo taken with an actual spacecraft that has recently been in space.

Rocket Launch

Since the Falcon 9 rocket launch is scheduled for 6:03 p.m. on February 11, this day will allow guests to visit the attraction complex all day and be in for a treat shortly after closing. The Visitor Complex hours are 9 am – 6 pm; and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® hours are from Noon – 5 pm. Extended hours are also a possibility on launch days.

This particular Falcon 9 rocket is a Deep Space Climate Observatory, which is a fancy way for saying that the satellite will help predict the weather! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) space weather alerts and forecasts observe the nation’s solar winds. By placing this observatory in orbit, it will provide up to a 60-minute warning for geomagnetic storms. These are the storms that can effect transportation systems, power grids, telecommunications and GPS. Pretty cool, huh?!

If you enjoy learning more about our nation’s history in space, be sure to plan a day at KSC. Having the Dragon and a Rocket Launch this week, make it an extra special time to visit this Central Florida attraction. The next launch is scheduled for March 12 at 10:44 p.m. It is an Atlas V rocket that will make three-dimensional measurements of magnetospheric boundary regions and examine the process of magnetic reconnection. Sounds like rocket science to me…

Summer Winding Down at Orlando Attractions

Children are returning to school in Florida, and summer is winding down. Orlando attractions will be very busy for the next few weeks, however, after Labor Day, the crowds begin to thin. Theme parks are not quite ready to call it a summer though!

As suggested in our post about Diagon Alley even before this new attraction opened, the crowds have been astonishing. Just last week Universal Studios announced that 1 million passengers have taken a ride on the Hogwarts Express! In less than a month, this attraction hit a major milestone. Unfortunately, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts ride is still causing long wait lines. While the wait queue is very entertaining, spending several hours waiting in line is never fun. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you can wait until September or October, go to this theme park on a weekday, as early as possible, you may see the shortest wait time for this ride yet. They are getting more and more efficient at handling the large park crowds.

Orlando theme park record day

Another park that has had an extremely successful summer is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Records have been broken primarily because of the special events centered around the movie “Frozen.” Scheduled to end on September 1, Disney will try to extend their summer success by extending the Frozen event. It will now end on the 28th of September. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you want to see the “Frozen Fireworks,” you will need to attend this Orlando theme park on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday after the first of September. Other evenings will not feature this spectacular fireworks show.

"Frozen Summer Fun Live!" at Disney's Hollywood Studios

If you’ve already taken your summer vacation, start saving up for next year. There are sure to be a lot of new attractions and fun things to do in Orlando. If you still have some vacation days left, look for discount tickets to Orlando theme parks in September. This is usually a great time of the year to visit.

Busch Gardens Celebrates Global Tiger Day

Tiger Day at Busch Gardens

Photo Credit: Connie and Carl Pulvermacher

For the second year in a row, Busch Gardens has hosted a celebration around Global Tiger Day. This year, on July 29, 2014, guests attending this Central Florida theme park will be able to meet Tiger Keepers and participate in fun activities dealing with these large cats. What’s even better is that a portion of proceeds when buying tiger-related merchandise goes to the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

As few as 3,200 tigers live in the wild today. That is due in part to the fact that they have lost 97% of their habitat. Several tiger conservation efforts are supported by the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund in an effort to help preserve their habitat and prevent poaching.

One of the species included in the conservation efforts are the Malayan Tigers. Last year three cubs were born at Busch Gardens raising their population to 63. Attending this theme park and seeing these beautiful cubs can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although they are no longer cute and little, these cubs will soon be old enough to do their own part to help protect their species. The Malayan Tiger cubs named Cinta, Bundar and Rukayah are part of the Species Survival Program (SSP). The SSP promotes a healthy managed tiger population, and even hopes that in the future, some of these tigers could be reintroduced into the wild.

Look for Busch Gardens to participate in this event year after year. The theme park participates in over 120 Species Survival Programs, which you can learn more about through their blog. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you love elephants, be sure to purchase tickets to this theme park and attend it on August 9 when they will be celebrating their own special date for World Elephant Day.