Holiday Sleighs, Trains and Carriage Rides
Cannonball Christmas Express
Departures through December 23
Enjoy hot chocolate and cookies on the Tavares train station platform, and then board the Cannonball Christmas Express for a trip to see Santa. Sing along with Eugene the Elf and Mrs. Claus on board Central Florida’s historic train on the Tavares, Eustis and Gulf Railroad. Santa will say hello to each child and deliver a special gift. Adults: $28; children (ages 3 to 12): $20; toddlers (ages 2 and under): free. www.orangeblossomcannonball.com
Sleigh Ride at Disney’s Fort Wilderness
Nightly, December 1–30
Gallop your way over to the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and take the ultimate holiday sleigh ride. This 25-minute horse-drawn sleigh will take you along the lit pathways of the wooded resort. The sleigh rides are offered every 30 minutes nightly in December. Reservations are recommended. Bring snacks, sip warm drinks, and sing carols as you ride along with the majestic steed. All ages are welcome! www.disneyworld.disney.go.com
Celebration Town Center 17th Annual Now Snowing Event
Nightly, November 28–December 31
Join in on the holiday fun in Celebration for traditions such as caroling down the streets, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice skating, pictures with Santa Claus, and faux snowfall every evening starting at 6 p.m. www.celebrationtowncenter.com
Moss Park’s Light Up The Wild
Moss Park is holding this 4th annual event with a huge holiday light display to drive through nightly from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13th – Saturday, Dec. 19th. Cost is $5 (cash only) per car for up to eight people ($1 per additional person) and you can drive through it multiple times. “Wild Santa Saturday” on Dec. 19th from 1 – 9 p.m., includes giant airboat rides by Wild Florida Airboat ($10 per person), free photos holding a baby alligator (bring your camera), Santa’s Market featuring vendors, crafts, and last minute shopping for stocking stuffers, hot chocolate and marshmallow roasting (nominal fee to benefit the local Girl Scouts), food trucks and more. https://www.facebook.com/events/909335329149122/
Special Santa (and Mrs. Claus) Meetings
Sensitive Santa for Children with ASD
With the prevalence of autism quickly increasing, the number of children who struggle to process sensory information also grows. At the Florida Hospital for Children Outpatient Rehab (615 E. Princeton St, Suite 104, Orlando, FL 32803) on December 8 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. these children will have the opportunity to enjoy a sensory-friendly visit with Santa. This event was designed to eliminate long lines and avoid overwhelming crowds to ensure an evening of heartfelt, stress free fun. Click here for more details on this event. Please email Tessa Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a registration form.
Breakfast (or Brunch!) with Santa at Central Florida Zoo
Join Santa and his furry friends for breakfast (or brunch). Not only will you get to sit and snack with Santa, but you will also get up-close with the animals. Be sure to make your reservation early before Santa’s tummy gets too full with milk, cookies, and pancakes. Register by December 11. www.centralfloridazoo.org
Letters to Santa and ELF showing at Enzian
This is a special holiday event and screening of the holiday flick ELF at Enzian Theater. Doors open at 11 a.m. and film starts at Noon. Bring your family to the kid-friendly December matinee screening of ELF (2003). Get there early for special holiday treats and fun activities! Children receive a letter writing kit to craft their wish list for Santa! A special menu including cookies and hot cocoa. Santa will swing by the theater to pick up all the letters and will be available for purchasable photos after the movie. Admission (Adults and Children): $11
Enzian Members: $8.50 http://www.enzian.org/film/elf
Teddy Bear Tea
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando is offering a Teddy Bear Tea that is now open to the public, on Saturday, December 19 at 12 p.m. While Santa is busy making toys with all of the Elves, Mrs. Claus will be the special guest of honor during this event. The Teddy Bear Tea will also include treats, crafts, story time and photos opps. It is $50 per person. For more info, view the Facebook event. For reservations call 407-313-6925.
Ice Ice Baby: Celebrate wintertime at these events that bring in real ice and snow (even in Florida)!
Light Up UCF
November 13 through January 3
Visit this quaint, carnival-style holiday festival outside of the CFE Arena on the UCF campus. Enjoy holiday snacks and cider, a Ferris wheel, Santa train ride, and an ice-skating rink. Don’t forget the ice slide, which is a memory maker for sure! This experience is all about family, friends and sweet fun. The best part? There isn’t a huge crowd or long wait times for rides. Ice-skating: $12; ultimate ride and ice tickets: $19.95. www.lightupucf.com
ICE! and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing at Gaylord Palms
November 24 through January 3
Every year, families flock to Gaylord Palms’ winter wonderland village. Grab your yearly Santa photo, pick up some holiday ornaments and gifts, enjoy sweet treats and cocoa, decorate a gingerbread house and ride (or watch people ride!) the snow slide. All of this is centered around the ICE! exhibit, where visitors enter a gallery of ice sculptures. Make sure your camera is charged and layer on the clothing because baby, it’s cold inside! At 9 degrees, you’ll still need that blue, shiny (fashion faux pas) jacket that they provide. ICE! also features the Frostbite Factory, where you can watch ice being carved in real time, ride the ice slide (separate from the snow tubing activity) and end in the life-sized nativity scene that is also made completely of—you guessed it—ice! There is a separate cost for snow tubing, gingerbread making and ICE!, but you can browse the village and watch people go down the snow tubes for free. ICE! is $30 for adults and $17 for children; combo package for ICE! and snow tubing is $45 for adults and $34 for children. www.christmasatgaylordpalms.com
SnowFest at RDV Ice Den
December 19, 2 to 6 p.m.
Consider this your carnival of snow! Enjoy ice skating, snowball-making and a mini-me snow slide. Adults: $9; children (ages 3 to 17): $15. www.rdvsportsplex.com
Snow Mountain at Oviedo Mall
The forecast calls for snow in Oviedo this December. Go early to this family event for the holiday parade and stay for the snowballs! This event features bounce houses, snow slides, zip lines, recreational games and contests, and yummy food trucks. We recommend going early and getting the VIP tickets (if they have them this year) so your kid can be the first to enter the snow area before it gets all slushy and the crowds come!
Winter in the Park
November 20 through January 10
Bundle up in your winter clothes to enjoy an evening of ice-skating in Central Park West Meadow in Winter Park. Heck, book a group outing for a special winter celebration. Bonus! There will also be games, caroling, snacks and more! The ice rink will be open from 3 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $12 per person. www.cityofwinterpark.org
Curtain Call: Take the elves to the theater and give them memories that will dance in their heads for the rest of the year.
Holiday Family Book Party
Barnes & Noble at Colonialtown Center
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical
Orlando Repertory Theater
November 9 through December 27
Rudolph is back with his holiday spirit and bright, shining nose and is giving you the performance of a lifetime at the Orlando Repertory Theater. The REP is also offering a sensory-friendly performance (for children with sensory processing disorders or special needs) on November 29. Tickets start at $14 per person. www.orlandorep.com
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Dr. Phillips Center
December 8 through 13
Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage at the Dr. Phillips Center in downtown Orlando. Tickets start at $33.75. www.drphillipscenter.org
Dr. Phillips Center
December 17 through 23
Dress up the little ones and take them to a cultural kid-friendly performance (shorter performance time) of The Nutcracker performed by the Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Let your kids buy a nutcracker memento after the performance to add to your home holiday decor. www.drphillipscenter.org
How the McPinch Stole Christmas!
Inspired by the How the Grinch Stole Christmas, “McPinch” is an Florida Film Academy (FFA) original character that students can use to recreate their own original Christmas Story! The FFA Club Night is a new program running on select Friday nights throughout the school year. This is a drop-off event on Friday, December 11 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. for kids ages 6-12. The event costs $35 per child which includes child care, a pizza party (and candy) and movie making fun. Kids can bring costumes. Note: drop off & pizza party is from 5:30-6 p.m. Pick up is 9:30 p.m. sharp! http://flfilmacademy.com/how-the-mcpinch-stole-christmas/
Free Memories: No need to break the bank. These free activities are just as memorable.
Meet the Grinch! story time
December 8 at 11 a.m.
Meet the star of the hit Broadway show Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical at Pottery Barn Kids in the Mall At Millenia! Enjoy a reading of hte famous story, take pictures and mingle with the only WHO who hates Christmas. Plus, enter for a chance to win four tickets to see the musical that weekend at the Dr. Phillips Center! www.potterybarnkids.com
Holiday Movies in the Park
Don’t be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins. We’ll see you at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park (99 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801) on December 11. Bring a blanket and enjoy your favorite holiday movie.
Sanford’s Illuminated Boat Parade
December 19 from 6-7 p.m.
Come down to Sanford’s Riverwalk and watch or join the lighted parade of sailboats and powerboats in celebration of the holiday season. Viewing locations: North side of Marina Island, St. Johns River Steak and Seafood Restaurant, Veterans Memorial Park, Wolfy’s Bar & Grill, and along the Riverwalk in Sanford from Park Ave to 17-92.
Bass Pro Shops
Now through December 24
Bass Pro Shops is the place for adventurous kids who like to race cars, shoot crossbows, challenge dad to target practice, or sit on Santa’s lap—all for free. Bonus: they give you a FREE 4-by-6-inch photo with Santa! www.basspro.com
Christmas at the Casa
December 2 through 6 from 6–8:30 p.m.
Feast on cookies, sip cocoa and listen to Christmas Carols at Casa Feliz, a beautifully restored Spanish farmhouse in Winter Park. www.casafeliz.us
Holiday on the Drive
December 3 from 5–9 p.m.
Get your ugly Christmas sweaters out for another starry night along Edgewater Drive (from Smith Street to Bryn Mawr Drive). Admission is free. Entertainment includes Santa, karaoke, a Christmas tree lighting in Albert Park and more!
Light Up Winter Garden
December 4 at 6:15 p.m.
Join residents of Winter Garden in ringing in the holiday season with live music, kids’ activities and crafts, and shopping. Don’t be late because at 6:15 p.m. they will hold the annual Street Lighting Ceremony.
Winter Park Christmas Parade
December 5 from 9–10:30 a.m.
Winter Park’s annual “Ye Olde Hometown” Christmas Parade is free to watch and features many well-designed and beautifully decorated carts, trailers and floats.
Theme Parks: Make the most of living near the country’s most coveted family destinations.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
November 8 through December 18
Join Mickey and his crew for a holiday experience in the Magic Kingdom! There’s nothing more magical than snow falling on Main Street amid the holiday light display. Meet the characters and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies as you explore the park. This limited ticket special event means shorter wait times—what a great gift! www.disneyworld.disney.go.com
Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure
Do you like your holiday season with a side of sarcasm? Then Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure is the place you need to visit. The park turns into a Christmas-themed wonderland with WHO-LIDAY Spectacular, Meet the Grinch photo ops, and The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast. Don’t miss out on the one time of year that the Grinch comes down from his snow-covered mountain to spread holiday cheer. www.universalorlando.com
Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios
December 5 through January 2
Always wanted to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but can’t make it to New York City? You are in luck. Universal will be hosting their own Macy’s Holiday Parade that has balloons straight from the parade in New York! Don’t miss this super experience with balloons bigger than some buildings. www.universalorlando.com
Christmas at SeaWorld
November 21–22, 27–29; December 4–6, 11–13, and 18–31
Visit SeaWorld for their Christmas Celebration. Their wavy, winter wonderland will introduce you to Christmas carols, bright lights, live shows, and even visits from Santa. There will also be a Winter Wonderland on Ice show, the beautiful Sea of Trees light show, The Polar Express Experience, Elmo’s Christmas Wish performance, and more. www.seaworldparks.com
Holiday Traditions Around the World at Epcot
November 27 through December 30
Broaden your cultural holiday horizons by visiting Epcot to celebrate special seasonal traditions around the world, and the highly anticipated Candlelight Processional hosted by a celebrity each night. www.disneyworld.disney.go.com
At the Resorts: Want to make a weekend of it? These local resorts offer special holiday activities.
Disney Cruise Line’s Very Merrytime Cruises
A one-of-a-kind combination of theme parks, resorts and travel is the Disney Cruise Line. Holiday celebrations set sail on this 3-night, 4-day getaway leaving Port Canaveral on Friday afternoons and returning early Monday mornings (love that work- and school-friendly schedule). Sailing now through Christmas the Very Merrytime Cruises feature some serious holiday magic. Disney Cruise Lines is by far the best way for families to cruise. In addition to all that these fantastic ships have to offer, Very Merrytime Cruises features special events such as a tropical holiday party (candy-cane limbo anyone?), a tree lighting ceremony with Mickey, holiday storytelling, caroling, holiday crafts, a life-size Gingerbread house and more. To celebrate the winter holidays with Disney Cruise Line, book online, call 800-370-8046 or contact your travel agent.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando
This holiday season, enjoy palm trees and infinity pools at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Guests can enjoy a decadent gingerbread display and complimentary hot cocoa and cider daily from 2 to 5 p.m. in the lobby. Also, the Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) complimentary kids camp, open daily for ages 4 to 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., has an array of organized activities like candy cane scavenger hunts, animal visits, timed races in the Lazy River, balloon art, and face painting. Families will love watching the weekly holiday movies (like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Home Alone and Elf)¸ making jingle bell necklaces, and writing letters to Santa. www.fourseasons.com/orlando
Gaylord Palms Resort
Marvel at dozens of lavish holiday displays that include more than 2 million twinkling lights and acres of larger-than-life decorations. Enjoy a heartwarming visit with Santa, experience the free Cirque Dreams UnWrapped Live Stage Show, check out the ICE! exhibit and Alpine Rush Snow Tubing experience, enjoy Breakfast with Mrs. Claus, visit the Gingerbread Decorating Corner, and join an Elf on the Shelf® Scavenger Hunt throughout the resort to get you in the spirit of the season!
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Holiday Happenings
Throughout December, Santa, Mrs. Claus and their favorite elf, Kandy Kane, are jetting off to Florida to escape the cold and join guests for Holiday Happenings at Santa’s favorite resort – the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel. During this month-long celebration, children and kids at heart can enjoy a magical holiday experience at the Epcot Resort Area hotel with special themed activities and decor including Santa and Mrs. Claus meet and greets, tree lighting ceremonies, a life-side chocolate holiday display, dancing lights show, in-door snow fall, dessert decorating and more. For more information and specific times and dates, please visit www.santasfavoriteresort.com.
New Year’s Eve: Ring in the New Year with your kids at these parties.
Nickelodeon SLIME Drop
The holidays don’t end after Christmas and Chanukah; Nickelodeon Suites Resort will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with their annual SLIME Drop! Check out the pool party to kick off the New Year with poolside games. There are also seven water slides to enjoy at the Lagoon Pool, and the most important part of the event is getting slimed by Nickelodeon’s famous green slime! Don’t miss the ewwy, gooey green madness and ring in the New Year with some sticky fun! www.nickhotel.com
Kids and Family New Year’s Eve Party
Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
December 31, 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Join Rosen Shingle Creek on New Year’s Eve for a rocking good time! There will be a live DJ, so you can tear it up on the dance floor. Try out the photo booths, or challenge your family to a game of pool, pinball, foosball, or ping-pong. Want to go solo? Check out the arcade games. The party will have fun for all ages. Wristbands for party favors and unlimited soda are $10 per person. There will be food and drinks to purchase at the event. The ball drop will be televised on a big screen, so all attendees can count down to the New Year. www.rosenshinglecreek.com/holidays
Legoland Brick Drop
December 31, 7 p.m.
Legoland wraps up 2015 with the ultimate Kids’ New Year’s Eve Celebration, featuring a Lego Brick Drop and a spectacular fireworks display that the whole family can watch with special viewing glasses. The Brick Drop is included with standard park admission. florida.legoland.com