2017 Holiday PLAYguide

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical at The REP

Whether you want to romp around at a festival or kick back and watch a holiday flick, we rounded up our favorite holiday events for your convenience!

Words by Anna Karasik

Theme Parks & Resorts

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Disney’s Magic Kingdom
November 9-December 22

During the holiday season, Disney’s Magic Kingdom becomes the merriest place on Earth. Frozen’s Anna and Elsa are heading up a special show in front of the castle, and the rest of the gang are putting on their most festive attire for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando
November 18-January 6

Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville is the most festive place of all to celebrate the season! See a live re-telling of the tale of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and maybe even get an autograph from the not-so-jolly green guy himself!

Macy’s Holiday Parade
Universal Studios, Orlando
November 18-January 6, various times

This event in itself is worth the trip out to Universal Studios. As a part of their holiday festivities, the park puts on a parade featuring larger-than-life balloons. This year’s procession features the ever-loved Minions from Despicable Me!

Holidays around the World & Celebrity Candlelight Processional
Disney’s EPCOT
November 24-December 30

The World Showcase at EPCOT transforms into a new kind of educational experience this time of year: guests can learn how each country celebrates the holidays. This park is also home to the Candlelight Processional, a concert of classic Christmas tunes featuring a celebrity speaker who reads the nativity story.

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld Orlando
November 24-December 31, select nights

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is the perfect way to make lasting memories this holiday season! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is back, along with the Sesame Street crew in an all-new live show. Families can also see aquatic animals in action or stroll through the Sea of Trees.

LEGOLAND Christmas Bricktacular
LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven
Saturdays and Sundays in December, Christmas Day

Master Builders will find no better holiday bash. There will be themed scavenger hunts and building activities, plus an appearance by LEGO Santa! Keep an eye out for the dazzling light displays, and the occasional snow flurry!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms
Gaylord Palms Resort, Kissimmee
November 21-January 7

Where else in Orlando can you walk through and around two million pounds of ice? The Gaylord Palms is back with the ICE! exhibition, ice tubing and our personal favorite—an oh-so-spectacular acrobatics show.

Santa’s Favorite Resort
Disney’s Swan & Dolphin Resort, Lake Buena Vista
Weekends November 24-December 23 & Christmas Day

Everyone knows that Orlando is Santa’s favorite place to vacation—and with this weather, who can blame him? He and Mrs. Claus are treating resort guests to crafts, movies, meet-and-greets and so much more.

Snow & Ice Skating

SNOWFEST at the RDV Sportsplex

Light Up UCF
CFE Arena, Orlando
November 17-December 31

The University of Central Florida’s annual holiday carnival gets bigger and better every year! Enjoy thrilling rides, ice skating and an ice show. If you need to slow down, let the kids ride the kiddie train or sit and soak in the light show!

“Now Snowing” at Celebration
Celebration Town Center
November 25-December 31, evenings

Evenings at Celebration Town Center are absolutely magical! Snow falls periodically through the night, and if that isn’t chilly enough for your family, there is also an ice skating rink. There will also be carolers and other festive entertainment, along with a visit from the Big Man in Red!

RDV Sportsplex, Maitland
December 16 from 2-6 p.m.

This snowy celebration at the RDV Sportsplex gets bigger and better every year! Families can “chill out” by ice skating, playing in real snow or riding down an icy slide. There will also be bounce houses and other games, plus meet-and-greets with the famous “Ice Queen and Princess.”

Holiday Shows, Movies and Exhibits

Gingerbread Lane
Orlando Science Center
November 24-January 7

During the holiday season, Orlando Science Center invites guests to walk through a wonderland made entirely out of yummy treats! Without any glass barriers, guests can smell the sweet spice of gingerbread all throughout the exhibit.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical
Orlando Repertory Theatre
November 18-December 30, various times

See what happens when the unruly Herdman kids demand parts in the Sunday school Christmas pageant! This funny musical is perfect for all ages.

It’s a Wonder Life: A Live Radio Play
Orlando Shakespeare Theater
November 29-December 30, various times

Go back to the time of radio broadcasts and be a part of the studio audience at this unique experience! Five actors will provide the voices for dozens of characters and even more sound effects. Arrive 30 minutes early for pre-show fun!

It’s a Wonderful Life
Enzian Theater, Maitland
December 9 at noon

Chill out in the Enzian’s comfy chairs and dine on their magnificent menu while watching the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen.

The Polar Express on the Farm
Southern Hill Farms, Clermont
December 9-10
Activities start at 5
Movie Starts at 6

This Southern Hill Farms tradition lets kids take a hayride to a winter wonderland! Play in real snow, get transformed by a face painter and meet a special visitor from the North Pole. The feature presentation is The Polar Express. Kids get a souvenir sleigh bell!

The Polar Express & Letters to Santa
Enzian Theater, Maitland
December 10

Activities start at 11 a.m.; movie starts at noon
The Enzian Theater does its own Polar Express movie night each year. Kids can arrive early and write a wish list to Santa while enjoying cookies and cocoa. After a showing of The Polar Express, Santa will arrive in person to pick up the letters and take photos!

Sleigh – A Family-Friendly Holiday Comedy
Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, Sanford
December 15 at 7:30 p.m.
December 17 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.

This hilarious stage show deals with all kinds of Christmas hijinks: while a young couple spends their first Christmas together, two shopkeepers compete for customers– all while the mail carriers scramble to get presents delivered on time!

Christmas is Comin’ Uptown
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando
December 15-17

This funky stage show gives a little “soul” to a story we all know and love. Set in Harlem in the early 70’s, this is “A Christmas Carol” as you’ve never seen it before!

Orlando Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando
December 21-24, various times
Family Show December 23 at 11 a.m.

A toy nutcracker takes a girl on a magical journey in this famous Christmas production. See a shortened one-hour showing on December 23—perfect for the little ones! This holiday tradition is brought to the community by Orlando Ballet and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.

Community Festivals

Winter in the Park
Central Park, Winter Park
November 18-January 7
Weekdays 3-10 p.m.
Weekends 12-8 p.m.

Head to beautiful Central Park in Winter Park to explore holiday carolers, festive games and outdoor ice skating!

Holiday Fountain Show
Crane’s Roost Park, Altamonte Springs
November 25-December 31 at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m.

Gather around Crane’s Roost Park’s Plaza fountain nightly for a synchronized show of music and lights.

Illuminated Christmas Parade
First Street, Sanford
December 9 from 6-9 p.m.

Head to Downtown Historic Sanford to see a spectacular array of parade floats all decked out in colorful lights.

Free Photo with Santa
tugboat & the bird, Winter Park
December 9 from 10-noon

This cute kid’s boutique is hosting complementary pictures with Santa Claus. Don’t forget to pick up an extra copy of PLAYGROUND while you’re there!

Family Workshops

Chocolate House Party
Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park
December 15 from 7-8:30 p.m.

Make a fragrant and festive Chocolate Holiday House at this family workshop by Peterbrooke Chocolatier. Work together in groups of up to 3.

Hot Cocoa and Christmas Ornaments
Super Awesome Cool Pottery, Orlando
All December long

Sit down to a table of clay and cocoa at this holiday crafting event! For just $15 (or $20 on weekends,) you can make three custom pottery ornaments to add to your tree– all while enjoying a holiday treat.

Know of an event that should be on our list? Email anna@playground-magazine.com.

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