Written by Joe Lane
Published: November 23, 2004 at 9:53 PM
It's that time again. As the holiday season descends upon us all nationwide, Orlando's theme parks are gearing up for another year of yuletide celebration. Here's a quick look at some of the festivities.
Walt Disney World has a whole slew of holiday traditions lined up this year. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will run on special nights from November 28th to December 17th at the Magic Kingdom. This special admission event lasts from 7 p.m. until midnight and guests can enjoy a special Christmas-themed parade, a plethora of live musical Christmas shows (including the Country Bear Christmas Jamboree Special), snow on Main Street, Santa Claus and Santa Goofy, plus all the cookies and hot cocoa you care to eat and drink.
Epcot will bring back it's own time-honored tradition, the Candlelight Processional. A celebrity narrator will share the story of Christmas, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir in an event that has been referred to by many as a breathtaking experience. The performance runs three times nightly, from November 26th to December 30th, and is a part of regular park admission, although there are dinner packages you can partake of. Epcot will also feature a number of special presentations, including Lights of Winter (miniature lights synchronized to Christmas carols), Holiday Storytellers (various holiday icons share their Christmas stories from around the world in World Showcase), Mickey's Tree Lighting Treat (a brief show featuring Disney characters in a tree lighting ceremony), and a new special Yuletide finale to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights will be making its return this year at the Disney-MGM Studios. Although Residential Street may be a memory of the past (demolished to make way for the new Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show), the newly remodeled Streets of America area is the perfect place for the millions of lights to be displayed. You can see it all for yourself starting November 24th until January 2nd.
Universal Orlando will bring back two holiday events this year: Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure and Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios. Both last from December 10th to January 8th.
At IOA, Seuss Landing will be transformed into a holiday Whoville, borrowing heavily from Ron Howard's take on the classic Seuss story "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". Guests can take a tour the Grinch's Lair and have their picture taken with the Grinch, then watch the Whoville Whobilation, a live musical rendition of "The Grinch". In previous years, a sixty foot ice slide called the Mt. Crumpit Snow Plummet has been featured, but it is uncertain whether it will be operating this year.
Next door at Universal Studios, the Macy's Holiday Parade will make a return appearance, complete with genuine balloons and floats from Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Past years have seen the old Boneyard area transformed into Balloonopolis, a display featuring some of the bigger Macy's balloons, including Snoopy, Barney and the Cat In The Hat. The 5th Avenue Food Festival will feature a number of seasonal and New York style foods. And rest assured, Santa Claus will likely be present for photo opportunities.
SeaWorld is getting into the holiday spirit this year. Starting on November 26th and lasting until January 2nd, guests at SWO can enjoy a myriad of Christmas events and performances. A special, nighttime Christmas-themed show, "Shamu's Christmas: A Child's Wish" will perform nightly from November 26th to December 30th in Shamu Stadium. The show combines the treats of killer whales and their trainers with a live choir and musicians. "Christmastide" Holiday Fountain Show will take place on the park's lagoon from November 26th until December 25th, when "Mystify" will return for a special weeklong engagement. The entire Waterfront area will be transformed for the holiday season with snow flurries, decorations, carolers and, of course, Santa (St. Nick is working double-time this year, putting in a LOT of appearances at theme parks and malls worldwide). Guests can also see and hear the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra perform live at the Bayside Stadium.
But wait! There's more! Over in Tampa, Busch Gardens will feature its Christmas Celebration, a song and dance number from now until January 2nd at the Desert Grill. Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner & Show will feature a special Christmas-themed show, including a live nativity scene. Shows are ongoing now until January 22nd. Gaylord Palms Resort presents the return of ICE!, an incredible exhibit: two million pounds of ice will be used to create extravagant holiday scenes, all in a chilly environment of 9 degrees (free parkas will be on hand). This event is ongoing until January 2nd.
If you have any comments or questions regarding these events, post 'em below and our TPI regulars will do their best to help you out. And don't forget to keep on ridin'!
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood