Sunny Central Florida may not go with your traditional image of a white Christmas, but the theme parks of Orlando put on holiday shows that are filled with festive fun. If you are in the Orlando area this Christmas (or any Christmas) here are the kinds of events that you can experience:
SeaWorld Orlando has announced that they will feature a ride based on Robert Zemeckis’ “The Polar Express.”
Warner Bros. Pictures and Iwerks Entertainment are reprogramming the theme park’s Wild Arctic simulator ride, and transforming it into a simulated train ride to “Santa Town” for the holiday season. When the ride ends, people will step out onto a recreation of the North Pole. SeaWorld’s exhibit of polar bears, beluga whales, walruses and other Arctic animals will also be made up to fit the winter wonderland theme. The new Polar Express ride will debut on Friday and will be in place through January 1st 2008.
The cost and contact information for Seaworld are as follows: Cost: $67.95; $57.95 children; Sea World Drive, Orlando; Telephone: 800-327-2424
Walt Disney World in Orlando offers Christmas and winter holiday themed events at each of its major attraction centers. Disney’s Magic Kingdom Very Merry Christmas Party begins will be held through December 21 from 7 pm to midnight. Also, when regular park hours are over, the lights come alive. The tree lighting ceremony and the almost crystallized castle are well worth the price of admission; and, for those who dream of a white Christmas, enjoy the snowfall on Main Street.
Here are the costs and contact information for Disney World: Cost: $51.07; $43.62 ages 3-9; Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista; 407-934-7639
Not to be outdone by Disney or Seaworld, Universal Studios in Orlando offering its own version of Macy’s Holiday Parade, including the “actual, authentic” Santa from New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Universal also offers entertainment ranging from Barney’s Christmas Show to the Blues Brothers Christmas Show.
In addition, Universal is also unveiling a new stage show at Islands of Adventure, called “Grinchmas,” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Seuss’ Christmas story. “Back by popular demand,” Grinchmas will feature seven songs on a new stage.
The celebration continues with decorations and special events at Universal CityWalk as well as all three world-class, on-site hotels – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Here are the latest costs and information for Universal: one day/one park ticket: $71; $60 children; Universal Blvd. Orlando; 407-224-4243 or visit their holiday website: http://www.universalorlando.com/holidays.
The nearby city of Silver Springs offers a Festival of Lights, from dusk to 8:30 p.m. from December 14-30. This is an event that you should not miss. It features more than one million twinkling lights and is complete with carolers, stage shows , a boat parade and holiday concerts as well. Here is the contact information and costs for this event:
$33.99; $30.99 seniors; $24.99 ages 3-10; 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd.; Silver Springs; 352-236-2121
Busch Gardens in Tampa also offers annual Christmas events. This year it feature a breathtaking spectacle of music, dance and holiday cheer as well as other holiday experiences scattered throughout the park daily. The costs and contact information for Busch Gardens are as follows: $64.95; $54.95 children; 3000 E. Busch Blvd., Tampa; 888-800-5447
There it is! Orlando and vicinity is a great place for you and your family to enjoy your winter vacation.