Christmas 2016 at Florida Theme Parks

Disney World, Universal Orlando, Legoland, Busch Gardens, and SeaWorld Orlando

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- at Florida's theme parks. Disney World and the Sunshine State's other parks are magical throughout the year. By adding an overlay of Christmas and holiday cheer, the parks supersize the magic and fun between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

Of course, supersized fun can also mean supersized crowds. The week between Christmas and New Year's is among the busiest -- typically THE busiest -- of the whole year at Florida's theme parks. For more info about crowds, read my article, "The Best Time of Year to Visit Universal Orlando."

But bustle is part of the holidays, right? Besides, the parks extend their hours, increase the capacity of attractions, and offer a bunch of special events. So, put on your Santa hat and your matching red shorts while we check out the holidays in the theme park capital of the world.

For the latest discounts and special offers, visit my Florida Theme Park Deals page.

  • 01 of 05
    Cinderella Castle at Christmas
    ••• © Arthur Levine.
    • Lake Buena Vista, FL
    • 2016 dates: November 7 to December 31
      The events at each park have different dates. See Christmas at Disney World overview for details.
    • Included with admission, except Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which requires a separate ticket.

    The entire resort gets decked out for the holidays. Special events include Epcot's Candlelight Processional and the new Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! nighttime fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

  • 02 of 05
    Universal Studios Hollywood Christmas event, Grinchmas.
    ••• Universal Parks
    • Orlando, FL
    • 2016 dates: December 3 to January 1 (2017)
    • Included with admission

    Universal Studios Florida offers the Macy's Holiday Parade, complete with floats and balloons from the famous New York parade as well as special holiday shows from Barney (the purple dinosaur dude) and The Blues Brothers. The band Mannheim Steamroller will perform holiday classics on select weekends.

    At Islands of Adventure, visitors will be able to celebrate Grinchmas at Seuss Landing. A musical presentation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will be part of the fun.

  • 03 of 05

    SeaWorld Orlando

    Christmas at SeaWorld Orlando
    ••• SeaWorld Orlando

    SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

    • Orlando, FL
    • 2016 dates: Select dates, November 25 to December 31
    • Included with admission

    SeaWorld adds some holiday cheer to its marine park in the form of special shows, festive decorations, and live holiday music from classical musicians and carolers. "O Wondrous Night" tells the Christmas story. Younger kids will enjoy the show, "Elmo's Christmas Wish." The skating show, "Winter Wonderland on Ice," promises holiday cheer. (It must be expensive to keep the ice frozen in sunny Florida!) New this year, visitors can meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

    Other features include Sea of Trees, a display of decked-out Christmas trees with lights that are synchronized to carols. The park also presents "Shamu Christmas Miracles," a nightly holiday-themed show featuring the killer whale.

  • 04 of 05
    Christmas Bricktacular at Legoland Florida
    ••• Legoland Florida

    Christmas Bricktacular and Kid's New Year's Eve

    • Winter Haven, FL
    • 2016 dates (Christmas event): December 17, 18, and 24 to 30. New Year's Eve event is Dec. 31
    • Included with admission

    The park offers a low-key holiday event with a huge Christmas tree made out of Lego blocks, appearances by a Mr. S. Claus, and a Kids' "New Year's Eve" (that will actually take place at a kid-friendly 7 p.m.) featuring fireworks and music.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa
    ••• Busch Gardens Tampa

    Christmas Town

    • Tampa, FL
    • 2016 dates: November 25 & 26, December 2,3, 9-11, and 16-31. 
    • Included with admission

    As at sister park, SeaWorld Orlando, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will fly into Busch Gardens. Visitors can meet him and his friends at Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland. They can also meet Rudolph's boss, Santa, and check out loads of twinkling lights and other festive decorations.