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Orlando at Christmas:

Holiday Season Fun for Families

By

Orlando gets dazzling for Christmas and the holiday season, starting in November. The theme parks twinkle with lights, and guests can enjoy great concerts and shows included in regular park admission prices. Other attractions turn on the bright lights too.

1. Orlando Christmas, at Disney World

Orlando Christmas -  giant decorated tree - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

Yes, the theme parks are crowded, but for many families this is the best time to visit Mickey's theme parks. The decorations are beautiful, the parks are open late, and many special events -- both major and minor -- add highlights in all four theme parks. Below are some major holiday season events at Disney World, but guests will find much more.

2. Disney's Hollywood Studios: Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Orlando Christmas -  Osborne Spectacle ofLights - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Millions of lights sparkle in the falling snow at the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park during this annual display that runs from mid-November to early January.

3. Epcot: Holidays Around the World

Orlando Christmas - Epcot Holidays Around the World - photo courtesy of Disney World
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

At any time of year, it's fun to walk around the World Showcase Lagoon visiting the pavilions which are inspired by 11 different countries. During December, you'll also find holiday storytelling and celebrations from around the world.

4. Epcot: Candlelight Processional

Orlando Christmas  - Epcot Candlelight Processional, photo ©  Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
The Epcot theme park hosts this annual retelling of the story of Christmas, which features a celebrity narrator accompanied by a choir and a 50-piece orchestra. The Candlelight Processional has several showings nightly, and there is no extra charge for attendance. (Dinner packages are available for an additional charge.)

5. Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Orlando Christmas - Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Toy soldiers, snowflakes, dancing deer, and Santa and Mrs. Claus in a grand finale-- this parade is a Christmas highlight. Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade starts the season as part of Mickey's "Very Merry" party (see below), which is a ticketed event; but after the Party dates are finished, the parade marches for everyone.

6. Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Orlando Christmas -  Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Mickey and Minnie host this special-ticket party that includes a parade, snowfall on Main Street, character greetings and stage shows, cookies and hot cocoa, special Holiday Wishes fireworks, and access to popular Magic Kingdom attractions. The party takes place on multiple nights in November and December and tickets sell out early, so be sure to plan ahead!

7. Magic Kingdom: Holiday Wishes Fireworks

Orlando Christmas - Wishes fireworks - Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.

Nightly fireworks at Cinderella's Castle are always a highlight at Disney World, but at this time of year the display gets even more spectacular, with a special fireworks show titled "Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season".

With its four giant theme parks, Disney World has many more holiday season events and displays, such as Castle Dream Lights at Cinderella's Castle, nightly tree lightings, and seasonal parades... See more Orlando Christmas Events at Disney World.

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8. Universal Orlando: Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida

Orlando Christmas: Macy's Parade - photo courtesy of Universal Orlando

The other multi-day, multi-park theme park complex in town also celebrates the season big-time, with some terrific extras for guests at both the Universal Studios Florida and the Islands of Adventure theme parks.

In the Universal Studios Florida theme park, the Macy's Holiday Parade rolls every evening, with the authentic giant balloons that are a signature of Macy's annual Thanksgiving parade in NYC.

9. Grinchmas, at Islands of Adventure

Orlando Christmas - photo, Grinchmas, courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando.

If you've visited Seuss Landing (in the Islands of Adventure theme park) during summer, you may have wondered: "Where's the Grinch?" He's nowhere to be seen except at Grinchmas-time, when Seuss Landing turns into a winter wonderland, and features live performances of a musical show based on Dr. Seuss's beloved "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" book. The show has an original score was written by Mannheim Steamroller (see below).

10. Holiday Concert Series, Mannheim Steamroller, Universal Studios Florida

Photo of Mannheim Steamroller, with founder Chip Davis. Courtesy of Universal Orlando.
Christmas in Orlando means excellent added value in the theme parks, with special performances included in regular ticket admission. Universal's Concert Series is a prime example, headlined by Mannheim Steamroller, a group that has sold more than 40 million Christmas albums worldwide. (In case you're wondering, a "mannheim" is a musical technique from 18th-century Germany.) The band and co-founder Chip Davis will perform. See details at Holidays at Universal Orlando.

--check prices for Orlando hotels, at About.com's affiliate, Kayak.com

--continue to Orlando Christmas, p. 2: ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort, SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration, Christmas Day Parade...

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