The Top 10 Things to Do in Orlando at Christmas

Toy soldiers at a Christmas parade

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is always full of exciting moments and unforgettable memories, and Orlando is one of the best places you could choose to spend your holidays. A region known for its incredible spectacles, Orlando transforms into a festive paradise throughout this period. If you’re planning your Christmas holiday to Orlando, here are some of the best festive activities you can get up to during your stay.

Visit Walt Disney World

Of course, if you’re visiting Orlando, you’ll want to discover the incredible theme parks! Walt Disney World is a magical place all year-round, but during Christmas time it is an extra special location. Festive cheer abounds at Walt Disney World, with the Magic Kingdom Park adorned with all manner of incredible sights and decorations. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party runs on select nights from November to 22nd December, complete with a brand new fireworks show: Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks! However, that’s only the start of Disney’s festivities!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s popular Tree of Life Awakenings nighttime show takes on a festive feel during December, as Pandora - The World of Avatar also gets in on the Christmas act. Meanwhile, Epcot hosts its Festival of the Holidays, which sees each diverse culture at the park show its spirit of Christmas with unique foods and celebrations. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, their nightly ‘Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!’ show boasts a dazzling array of lights and music, featuring classic Disney animations and famous festive songs.

It probably comes as no surprise that, given the number of exciting things on offer, Christmas is one of the park’s busiest times of the year! If you’re thinking of visiting Disney World during the holidays, you’ll need to take advantage of all the benefits available, such as their FastPass+ options which you can get for free when you book tickets with us. Check out our tips for your first trip to an Orlando theme park for help making your visit the best it can be!

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Castle with Christmas lights

Visit Universal Orlando

Orlando’s other major resort also gets into the festive spirit! Universal Orlando is transforming for Christmas with decorations and exciting shows, making their parks a must-visit for any fans during this period!

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is beautifully decorated for the season. Diagon Alley is awash with festive lighting and holiday-themed treats for you to enjoy, while Hogwarts is also beautifully framed by festive decorations and their special festive projection of The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. Universal’s Islands of Adventure hosts its Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular at multiple times every day throughout December, starring the lovable holiday villain himself. Meanwhile, Universal Studios presents their traditional Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, which sees giant seasonal floats lining the streets! As with Disney World, Universal Orlando will be notably busy during the holiday season, so bear that in mind when it comes to planning your trip!

Catch the Other Theme Park Festivities!

SeaWorld’s Winter Wonderland on Ice is one of the most popular Christmas shows in Orlando, featuring incredible skating performances, while their Sea of Trees experience is also worth checking out! An all-new Sesame Street Christmas Parade will also debut at the park on 23rd November, which is perfect for little elves.

If you want to visit somewhere else in the Florida area, there are even more festive celebrations to discover! LEGOLAND Florida’s festivities include giant Christmas trees, reindeer and all manner of other joyous delights built entirely with their famous blocks, perfect for a unique photo opportunity. Busch Gardens in Tampa is also hosting their Christmas Town event featuring a range of Christmas shows, alongside a giant tree adorned with lights.

Experience a World of ICE at Gaylord Palms

Away from the theme parks, another of Orlando’s most popular festive celebrations can be found at Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee. ICE featuring The Polar Express sees the famous animated film brought to life entirely through ice sculptures! Built using two million pounds of ice, this is a true wonderland that will put you in the Christmas spirit. What’s more, there is also an ice slide at the end that the young ones will love!

ICE runs throughout the festive period at multiple times in the day, from morning until the evening, so it’s easy to fit around your daily plans. A helpful tip is to wear warm clothing, including coats (which they can provide), gloves and shoes – being surrounded by ice makes this a very wintery experience!

Ice sculptures at Gaylord Palms in Orlando at Christmas

Step into a Winter Wonderland at Celebration, Kissimmee

For many people, snowfall is an essential part of a festive Christmas. That’s what makes Celebration, a small town built by Disney in Kissimmee, one of the most popular places to visit. Famous for their celebrations throughout December, Now Snowing sees their wide streets come to life with Christmas lights and fake snow showers every evening!

Now Snowing uses a non-toxic, biodegradable fake snow to create an incredible Christmas feel in the warm climate of Orlando. Beyond this visual spectacle, the town also has horse and carriage rides, a synthetic ice rink and Santa visits – a true Christmas experience!

Explore a Traditional Christmas Setting at Bok Tower Gardens

One of Orlando’s more quiet locations, Bok Tower Gardens is a beautiful, vast landscape full of stunning flowers, lush greens and their famous carillon Singing Tower. During December, they host a more subdued Christmas celebration in comparison to the bright lights of Orlando’s parks.

In the heart of the garden lies Pinewood Estate, an old, Mediterranean-inspired mansion that is traditionally decorated for the season. You can buy tickets to tour the home, enjoying the richness of their seasonal décor in such an enchanting setting. The Garden’s famous Singing Tower hosts Christmas-themed performances during the season, while there is also a concert with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra on the 7th December.

Watch a Movie in Lake Eola Park

From the UK, it might sound crazy to watch a movie outside during December. However, given the mild climate in Orlando, you can enjoy some festive cheer as the sun sets over Orange County at Lake Eola Park. On Friday the 13th, 20th and 27th December, giant movie screenings are taking place here featuring Christmas classics. The event is free – all you need is to bring a blanket or chairs and plenty of festive cheer!

Do Some Festive Shopping!

If there’s one thing we love about Christmas, more than spending it with family and friends, it’s the excuse to treat ourselves! Shopping is one of the holiday season’s most popular pastimes, and Orlando is full of places for you to discover, no matter what you’re after.

Orlando is full of outlets that are perfect if you’re looking to pick up the latest fashion or tech at a low price. The Orlando International Premium Outlets hosts brands like Armani, Apple, Converse, Swarovski and many more, all at great prices for the holiday season.

For something unique, head to Disney Springs, which hosts a range of speciality shops complete with that special Disney magic. If you’re after something a little more authentic for the holidays, then charming towns such as Winter Garden have many independent stores selling a great selection of Christmas gifts, from clothes to sweets to jewellery and much more.

Christmas presents by a tree

Follow the Christmas Trail at Disney Springs

The beautiful Disney Springs isn’t just about shopping, however! Disney World’s free admission destination is choc-full of exciting things to discover, including some fantastic dining experiences. During the festive season, this area gets fully into the spirit with that unique Disney Magic. Christmas sights and sounds fill your senses, including carol singers along their beautiful promenade.

The headline attraction at Disney Springs is their Christmas Tree Trail. Throughout the festive period, 22 Christmas trees decorated around some of Disney’s most famous films are a joy to explore no matter what your age! From Mary Poppins to The Lion King, these charming decorations make for a wonderful photo opportunity while discovering this vibrant location.

Enjoy a Christmas Dinner

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without that special dinner! If you’re staying in Orlando for Christmas, you’ll be pleased to know that many locations remain open on Christmas Day, although the majority of these ask you to book your table in advance. International Drive and the US192 have many restaurants serving their own unique Christmas dinners, but if you want something special and home-cooked for your family, why not make your own in your Orlando villa?

Staying with us, you’ll have the perfect setting for your own Christmas dinner. Choose your ingredients early and purchase them from any of Orlando’s many supermarkets; whether it’s the classic turkey and vegetables or American favourites on the barbecue, it’ll undoubtedly be an unforgettable moment!

A Christmas dessert

Here at Debbie’s Villas, we’ve been helping people create their perfect Florida villa holidays for many years and know just what it takes to make your next Christmas the best one yet! We offer a wide range of charming villas in prime locations, including near Orlando’s most popular theme parks! If you would like to know more about our properties, park tickets, car hire or want tips on Christmas in Orlando, why not get in contact with our friendly team today?