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2013 Christmas Events at Florida Theme Parks

Disney World, Universal Orlando, Legoland, Busch Gardens, and SeaWorld Orlando


Christmas at Disney World.

Disney World gets decked out for the holidays.

© Arthur Levine. Licensed to About.com.
It's the most wonderful time of the year...at Florida's theme parks. Disney World and the Sunshine State's other parks are magical throughout the year. By adding an overlay of Christmas and holiday cheer, the parks supersize the magic and fun between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Of course, supersized fun can also mean supersized crowds. The week between Christmas and New Year's is among the busiest -- if not THE busiest -- of the whole year at Disney World and Florida's theme parks. But bustle is part of the holidays, right? Besides, the parks extend their hours, increase the capacity of attractions, and offer a bunch of special events. So, put on your Santa hat and your matching red shorts while we check out the holidays in the theme park capital of the world.

For the latest discounts and special offers, visit my Florida Theme Park Deals page.

Christmas at Disney World

The entire resort gets decked out for the holidays. Special events include Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Epcot's Candlelight Processional, and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This year, the Magic Kingdom is also offering the Jingle Cruise. Read more at Christmas 2013 at Disney World. Also, you can take a tour of the resort with my exclusive photos of the holidays at Disney World.

Christmas at Universal Orlando

You'll just have to take my word on this, but I used to go to Universal Studios Florida around the holidays, saw the few measly decorations, and thought that the park really should have done something more to get into the spirit of the season. Its New York backlot area was just screaming for some tinsel. "And there's a (faux) Macy's department store," I'd ponder. "What a perfect tie-in for...a Christmas parade!" Well, they must've read my mind. Universal has been going all out the past few seasons -- and Macy's has figured prominently in the holiday hoopla.

Are you planning to head to Universal Orlando at Christmas time? Get discounted Universal Orlando tickets in advance of your visit. Buy direct from Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando Holiday Season Photo Gallery

Universal Studios Florida
Macy's Holiday Parade and other holiday fun

  • 2013 dates: December 7 to January 4 (2014)
  • Included with admission
It's Universal's version of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The theme park rendition includes some of Macy's signature giant balloons, including Uncle Sam and a toy soldier, plus floats, clowns, and guest marching bands. Santa Claus and his reindeer wrap up the parade with a big ho-ho-ho (and not just any Santa, but the actual, authentic, Macy's-certified one, straight from the Big Apple).

Mannheim Steamroller, the musical group known for its quirky takes on Christmas classics, will be performing at the park on December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22. There will also be a Holiday Village (merch alert!) with gifts, holiday treats, and crafts-making. The park will also offer smaller holiday shows featuring some of the its characters such as the Blues Brothers.

Official Holidays at Universal Studios Florida info

Islands of Adventure

  • 2013 dates: December 7 to January 4
  • Included with admission
A musical presentation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will be performed in the park's Seuss Landing. The furry green Grinch will also meet and greet guests. For an extra fee, the park offers a character breakfast with the Grinch.

Official Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure info

SeaWorld Orlando SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

  • 2013 dates: Select dates from November 23 through December 31.
  • Included with admission
SeaWorld adds some holiday cheer to its marine park in the form of special shows, festive decorations, and live holiday music from classical musicians and carolers. "O Wondrous Night" tells the Christmas story. Younger kids will enjoy the show, "Elmo's Christmas Wish." The skating show, "Winter Wonderland on Ice," promises holiday cheer. (It must be expensive to keep the ice frozen in sunny Florida!)

The Wild Arctic motion simulator ride gets a holiday makeover into The Polar Express Experience. Scenes from the film are repurposed for the ridefilm attraction. Other features include Sea of Trees, a display of decked-out Christmas trees with lights that are synchronized to carols. Each evening ends with "Holiday Reflections," a fountains and fireworks show.

Official SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration info

Legoland Florida Christmas Bricktacular and Kid's New Year's Eve

  • 2013 dates: The Christmas event will be held weekends in December. The "New Year's Eve" event is scheduled for December 26 to 31.
  • Included with admission
The park offers a low-key holiday event with a huge Christmas tree made out of Lego blocks, appearances by a Mr. S. Claus, and a Kids' "New Year's Eve" (that will actually take place at a kid-friendly 7 p.m. over the course of a few days) featuring fireworks and music.

Official Christmas Bricktacular info.

Busch Gardens Tampa Christmas Town

  • 2013 dates: Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, Dec. 6 to 8, and Dec. 12 to 23 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Requires a separate admission. Get Christmas Town passes direct from Busch Gardens Tampa.
The Florida park will include holiday themed presentations such as "Elmo’s Christmas Wish" and the ice skating show, "Angels of Peace." The park's train will be transformed into the Christmas Town Express. There will also be plenty of twinkling lights, Santa (of course!), and "SnowWorld" with real snow and sledding (in Florida?).

Official Christmas Town info.

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