The festive sights and sounds of the season are here – and Orlando is the perfect place to experience holiday cheer. This year brings new magical experiences as well as some returning classics, all guaranteed to get you into the holiday spirit. Here's our list of the top five Christmas events at the Orlando theme parks for 2017.
All-new holidays at Universal Orlando
For the first time, you can experience Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will be fully decked out with festive decor, plus there will be special shows and seasonal treats at both lands. When the sun goes down, Hogwarts Castle will come to life with an incredible new projection show. In addition to the new Harry Potter offerings, the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida is getting new floats and balloons that feature some of your favorite animated characters, including those mischievous little Minions. And don't miss the live retelling of Dr. Seuss's classic story starring The Grinch at the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular in Islands of Adventure. The festivities begin November 18 and run through January 6. They're all included in your park admission.
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
This Yuletide festival takes over Epcot's World Showcase and features holiday traditions from around the world. Indulge in traditional holiday foods at fifteen Holiday Kitchens offering decadent desserts, savory snacks and merry libations. Be moved by the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story with a full orchestra, choir and celebrity narrators. This year's event welcomes Matt Bomer, CCH Pounder and Pat Sajak, in addition to returning favorites Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg and Jaci Velasquez. End your day of joy with a special holiday version of the IllumiNations fireworks show each night. The Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (previously known as Holidays Around the World) runs from November 19 through December 30 and is included with regular park admission.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom lights up with excitement when Mickey Mouse and all his pals come together for this amazing holiday celebration. Children of all ages will love the live entertainment, spectacular fireworks and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade featuring dancing gingerbread men, elves and of course Santa. Meet your favorite Disney characters all decked out in their holiday best including rare appearances from Scrooge McDuck (Bah humbug!) and Jack Skellington dressed up as Sandy Claws ready to deliver gifts. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes place on select evenings from November 9 through December 22. Separate admission is required for this special event.
New seasonal festivities at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Sunset Boulevard comes alive during the all new Sunset Seasons Greetings, an immersive nighttime experience featuring lively decorations, merry treats and spectacular projections of Mickey and his friends directly onto the Tower of Terror. The famous Hollywood Tower Hotel will be transformed into different scenes of the season like a gingerbread house and a frozen winter wonderland. Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! will be returning this year. This popular holiday show is a spirited adventure featuring Santa and his elves that utilizes projections, special effects, Christmas music and fireworks. It even includes a special message from Santa himself. These events kick off November 9 and run through December 31 and are included in regular admission.
SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration
Make holiday memories this season at SeaWorld Orlando with special live shows, festive food and a dazzling display of lighted trees. Meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his friends at the lakeside Christmas Market while sipping a specialty hot cocoa with your choice of delicious toppings. Watch the incredible O Wondrous Night featuring over 30 carols and a real animal nativity scene. And Christmas comes to life during the spectacular Winter Wonderland On Ice and the Sea of Trees nightly shows. SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration brings the season to the sea on select nights November 24 through December 31, and is included with regular park admission.
(Photos: Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando)