Halloween's over, which means it is time to move on to Christmas at the nation's theme parks. Here is when holiday events will kick off at several popular parks, and what you can expect from each event.
Silver Dollar City — An Old Time Christmas, Thursdays through Sundays November 3 – 18, and Wednesdays through Sundays November 21 - December 30. New Year's Celebration, December 31 - January 1, 2019
The Branson, Missouri park kicks off the theme park holiday season this year, with six and half million lights decorating the park. Highlights include a five-story Special Effects Christmas tree, an evening light parade, two Broadway-style original musical productions, and 1.5 million LED lights in the one-acre Christmas in Midtown display. If you miss Disney's Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, this is where you want to go this holiday season.
Walt Disney World — November 8 - January 6, 2019
The upcharge Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party starts its run one week from today, but daytime guests can enjoy the holiday decorations every day at the Magic Kingdom through the start of the New Year. At Disney's Hollywood Studios, Sunset Seasons Greetings projection show returns, as does the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! fireworks. Disney's Animal Kingdom is celebrating Diwali (the holiday Festival of Lights in India) this year, in the new Up! A Great Bird Adventure show. At Epcot, the Festival of the Holidays food and drink event starts November 18, following the conclusion of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival on November 12. IllumiNations gets its holiday finale, and the Candlelight Processional show in the America Gardens Theater runs from November 22 through December 30, with three shows nightly featuring a live orchestra, choir and celebrity narrators.
Disneyland — November 9 - January 6, 2019. Festival of the Holidays continues through January 8, 2019.
The Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay continues from Halloween at Disneyland, while the It's a Small World Holiday returns, joining the Believe...in Holiday Magic fireworks and A Christmas Fantasy parade. At Disney California Adventure, the Festival of the Holidays offers 12 food and beverage marketplaces serving holiday fare from around the world. (Disney released the menus today.) New items include Turkey & Stuffing Tamale with Cranberry Relish, Lox & Everything Bagel Nachos, Pumpkin Soup with Maple Cashew Cream, and Shrimp and Grits with Andouille Sausage. The Three Caballeros also host Disney ¡Viva Navidad! and Cars Land's two flat rides transform into Luigi's Joy to the Whirl and Mater's Jingle Jamboree. Finally, Santa welcomes guests at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail through Christmas Eve. Santa Goofy takes over after Christmas morning because, well, he's Goofy.
Dollywood — Smoky Mountain Christmas, November 10 - January 5, 2019
Dollywood has added more than one million lights to its Glacier Ridge expansion of Smoky Mountain Christmas this year, which will feature a 50-foot Christmas tree, a recreation of the northern lights and a return for the park's musical productions, including Christmas in the Smokies, It’s a Wonderful Life, and 'Twas The Night Before Christmas. The Parade of Many Colors also returns.
Knott's Berry Farm — Knott's Merry Farm, November 16 - January 6, 2019
The Merry Christmas, Snoopy! ice show returns at the Charles M. Schultz Theatre on select dates, along with the It’s the Merriest Christmas Show Ever, Charlie Brown. In Camp Snoopy, the A Peanuts Guide to Christmas show plays daily. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and O. Henry’s A Gift of the Magi will play on select dates in the Bird Cage Theatre, which also will host Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies. Santa will greet kids in the Wilderness Dance Hall in Ghost Town, which becomes Santa's Christmas Cabin for the holidays, also serving a variety of themed treats, including a Cheesecake "Tree" on a Stick, dipped in chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. Ghost Town also will host a "Snow and Glow" experience nightly every hour from sunset until park closing.
Hersheypark — Christmas Candylane, November 16 - 18, 21 - 25, and November 30 - December 2, 7 - 24, and December 26 - January 1, 2019
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Hersheypark's Christmas event will feature four million lights decorating the park, along with the NOEL light show, Up on the Rooftop musical, a meet and greet with Santa and his reindeer, plus hot chocolate, S'mores, and other sweet holiday treats for sale.
Universal Orlando — November 17 - January 6, 2019
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle projection show returns at Islands of Adventure, as does the Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's at Universal Studios Florida. Grinchmas also returns at IOA, as does Mannheim Steamroller on select nights at USF.
Universal Studios Hollywood — November 17 - January 6, 2019
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle also plays at the Wizarding World in Hollywood, which will add nightly snowfall in Hogsmeade this year. Grinchmas returns to the Universal Plaza on December 1 - 2, 8 - 9 and 14 – 30.
SeaWorld Orlando — Christmas Celebration, November 17 - 25, 30 and December 1 - 2, 7 - 9, 14 - 31; Three Kings Celebration, January 1 - 6, 2019
SeaWorld adds a Dine with Santa at Shamu Stadium buffet this year, with prices starting at $40. Elsewhere, the O Wondrous Night live nativity returns, along with the Sea of Trees, Winter Wonderland on Ice, the Sesame Street's Elmo's Christmas Wish show, Clyde & Seamore's Countdown to Christmas, Pets Ahoy Christmas, and the Shamu Christmas Miracles performance. Rudolph's ChristmasTown and The Christmas Market also return this holiday season, which extends into the New Year with the Three Kings Celebration.
Busch Gardens Tampa — Christmas Town, November 17 - December 31
The new "Christmas Is..." contemporary musical show at Dragon Fire Grill joins the line-up this year, which also features Rudolph's Winter Wonderland, the Sing-A-Long Train, Christmas on Ice, Elmo's Christmas Wish, the Holiday Hills Band, and the Carol of the Bells light show. Also new is Brunch with Santa, which includes unlimited mimosas or "build your own Bloody Mary" upgrades for the grown-ups.
Six Flags Magic Mountain — Holiday in the Park, November 17 - 25 and December 1 - 2, 8 - 9, and 15 - 30
Magic Mountain caps off its first year of every-day operation with an expanded holiday event, which includes light displays, Santa's workshop, holiday-themed live entertainment, and seasonal treats for sale.
SeaWorld San Diego — Christmas Celebration, November 17 - December 31. Three Kings Procession, January 1 - 6, 2019
Rudolph’s Movie Experience debuts in the Mission Bay Theater this year, joining Rudolph's Christmastown, Santa's Christmas Village, Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special, the Dolphin Island Christmas show, and O Wondrous Night, The Greatest Story Never Told — the Christmas story told through the eyes of the animals, including camels, a donkey, llamas, sheep and doves. Overlooking it all is the 320-foot Skytower Tree of Lights, the largest "Christmas tree" in Southern California.
What is your favorite theme park holiday tradition? Please tell us about your favorite events, in the comments.
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