The event, which takes place on select nights in November and December, presents a variety of entertainment options that are included in park admission. It’s always a pleasure to take in the sights and sounds of the holidays while walking through the park; and SeaWorld gives attention to the smallest detail, such as multi-colored icicle lights hanging from the trees and a mix of Christmas music piped in throughout the park. As dusk gives way to night, the park takes on a new life carefully crafted by SeaWorld’s employees. This year’s trip was particularly pleasant as temperatures were in the 50s and 60s for the first time this winter.
Most of the holiday-themed shows are only offered several times a day, so you really need to carefully plan your day to make the most of your time. Many of the shows fill to capacity long before their scheduled start time, as people begin to line up an hour or more ahead of time. There is a special show called O Wondrous Night, which tells the story of Christmas, complete with live animals in the nativity. It’s immensely popular and only offered three times a night. There was also a holiday ice skating show, called Winter Wonderland on Ice, which is offered twice. It was performed in the enormous Bayside Stadium, and, when we visited, it was completely full. The show was entertaining and festive, and the skaters did a wonderful job with the small ice rink they were provided. There is also a holiday version of the popular daytime show One Ocean, which features SeaWorld’s famed orcas. Shamu’s Christmas Miracle is shown twice per night.
One of our favorite offerings is Elmo’s Christmas Wish, which takes place several times throughout the day in the Seaport Theater. The playful pet playground is transformed into a backdrop for Elmo, Rosita, Grover, Zoe, and Cookie Monster as they come together to share their Christmas wishes with each other. At the start of the show, Elmo is unsure of what he wants to wish for, so his friends try to help him decide. The show features contemporary holiday music such as “All I Want for Christmas,” “Run Run Rudolph,” and “Hot Chocolate” from the Polar Express. They had children and adults singing and dancing along for the entire show. If you plan to take part in the celebration, plan to arrive at least an hour early to get a seat. It’s an extremely popular show! Children also have the opportunity to have a meet and greet with several of their Sesame Street friends after the show, which makes for some cute pictures and great memories for the kids.
Coming in at a close second is the Sea of Trees that line the lake between Shamu Stadium and the Sky Tower. SeaWorld describes them as a “glistening forest with over 100 sparkling trees,” although that description hardly does it justice. The trees come to life each night as their lights dance to classic holiday classics. When they aren’t dancing, they still dazzle with their vibrant red and green hues. Given that this year is the final performance of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Sea of Trees might soon be the only show of this nature in town.
Since we first started attending the celebration, we had wanted to explore the Christmas Village, which was open from 5pm through park close. Thanks to the relatively light crowds, we had time to do so this year and found its streets lined with shops, food, and entertainment focused on on the season. There were snack carts featuring hot chocolate, cider donuts, s’mores, Frito pie, and even smoked brisket mac and cheese. We also saw a number of games, such as Plinko, which guaranteed a winner every time, as well as a talented group of a capella singers performing upbeat tones in perfect harmony. A massive miniature village, trains including, were a nice touch. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare to navigate as a result of the crowds pouring out of Winter Wonderland on Ice show. The massive crowd of people made it virtually impossible to walk. Thankfully, we found a slightly less-crowded path which allowed us to make our exit.
A recent addition to the park, although not themed to any particular season, is Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen located just before Shamu’s Happy Harbor. Its design blends a Bavarian cottage and a lighthouse. Offerings include specialty pretzels including their signature dish, Mama’s Meatball Pretzel Twist. It was sold out when we arrived, so we opted for a delicious Bacon Pretzel Twist. It was a very satisfying dish, thanks to the deep fried bacon entwined in the light, slightly-salty pretzel dough. We savored each bite and were quite full after finishing our snack.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration is one that you won’t want to miss if you’re in Orlando during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. The theming and shows, combined with a dash of holiday magic, make it one of the most special presents under the tree.
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