Is There Any Love for Thanksgiving Among Theme Parks and Fans?

November 18, 2015, 8:14 PM · Here's a well-kept secret in the theme park industry — did you know that there is another major holiday between Halloween and Christmas?

It might be hard to believe when you see Christmas lights, trees, and other decorations appearing in the parks just days after the haunted houses and Jack-o'-lanterns go away for the year. But outside of the parks, some people continue to celebrate a holiday that falls on the fourth Thursday in November. Well, pretty much everyone outside the industry takes that day off, regardless, but some of them see the day as something other than a chance to go see Christmas decorations at a theme park.

Now give us a moment to move our tongue out of our cheek so we can talk more about the oft-overlooked holiday of Thanksgiving. Theme parks are hardly the only business ignoring November's holiday. From coffee shops to big-box retailers, the lure of Christmas dollars tempts many businesses to rush toward Christmas just as soon as Halloween is done. (Or, in some cases, to jump the gun even before that.) It seems that only the grocery stores are defending Thanksgiving — which makes economic sense, since that is their biggest money-making holiday of the year.

In my Orange County Register column last Sunday, I took a look at some of the holiday celebrations at Southern California theme parks and their kickoff dates. Then I offered a plan on how defiant Thanksgiving fans might hack their own in-park Thanksgiving food festival.

Turkey dinner from Holiday World
We give thanks for Holiday World, where Thanksgiving dinner is served throughout the operating year.

Perhaps one day, a park not named Holiday World will recognize that Thanksgiving has its fans... and it will give us a food festival or other appropriate celebration to celebrate Thanksgiving in the days or even weeks leading up to the real thing. In the meantime, though, join us on a hunt for Turkey legs, pumpkin pie, roasted corn and whatever else we can find in the parks to celebrate T-Day, in between all the Christmas stuff.

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Replies (6)

November 18, 2015 at 9:58 PM · I actually consider Thanksgiving as part of the Christmas season and look forward to it as much as Christmas.
November 19, 2015 at 4:39 AM · Disneyland is getting rid of Big Thunder Ranch to make way for Star Wars Land, right? Cause I've just figured out what they can do with the turkeys...
November 19, 2015 at 5:31 AM · Hmmm. That's a great idea. I would be all about Thanksgiving every day at The American Adventure in Epcot. Or at least a nice way to celebrate it for the week of Thanksgiving!
November 19, 2015 at 8:34 AM · I think a big reason for the "lack of thanksgiving love" comes from the fact that the parks attract so many non-American fans, and Thanksgiving is just an American holiday.
November 19, 2015 at 9:27 AM · Thanksgiving is usually celebrated at home with family and friends. It keeps you away from the theme parks. On some occasions when my family didn't want to cook, we may go to a restaurant that's usually open because it didn't serve American food. Plus, Thanksgiving is spent at home so you can enjoy Macy's Thanksgiving parade and the many football games.

Why wait for Thanksgiving at Disneyland when you can enjoy the smoked Turkey legs all the time? Delicious.

November 19, 2015 at 12:24 PM · Both Thanksgiving and Christmas are about giving thanks to God for various reasons (a bountiful harvest / the gift of his son), and as such, they really do run hand in hand as anonymous poster noted.

If I had to choose one or the other, which I don't, but I will, I like Thanksgiving better just because the meal is my favorite of the year. And as Robert noted, at Holiday World you can eat a surprisingly delicious Thanksgiving feast every day during its normal operating season!

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