Magical Holidays in Orlando | Castles and Dreams Travel

Magical Holidays in Orlando

If you haven’t seen it already, it won’t be long until you begin to see amazing holiday pictures of friends and family at Orlando theme parks. Huge Christmas trees, twinkling lights, cups of hot cocoa and our favorite characters dressed in their holiday best. Don’t you just love seeing those pictures? We sure do!

There are good reasons for all this holiday cheer in Florida. The Orlando theme parks have wonderful celebrations during this time of year. Lights, holiday treats, drinks, characters, parades, and more all transformed to make your holiday season the most magical ever. Starting in November with most running through early January, Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World all have fantastic holiday celebrations. Let’s look at what makes each one special and how you can make a holiday trip happen for your family this year or in 2020 and beyond!

Disney World, at any time of year, is already a favorite destination for many people. Spending the holidays at Disney World, however, can be a bucket list item for many families. Each of the 4 theme parks celebrate the holidays in fun ways that you won’t want to miss if going this time of year. The Magic Kingdom and Cinderella’s Castle is what most people think of and you would be right to do so. The Castle never looks as lovely as it does when shimmering during the holidays. The entire park is decorated, and you may catch characters in Santa costumes which makes for a really fun photo op.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held many nights in November & December and can be a great way to celebrate Christmas at The Magic Kingdom. This is a separately ticketed.

event with a limited number of tickets available, so be sure to check with your agent if you plan to attend. Here are some of the amazing holiday activities you can expect during the party:

  • Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade
  • Mickey’s Most Merriest celebration in front of the castle
  • Special Holiday Treats and drinks
  • A Frozen Holiday Wish – (Queen Elsa transforms Cinderella Castle)
  • A magical snowfall on Main street
  • A totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show
  • Minnie’s Wonderful Christmas Fireworks Show will end each night during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

The other 3 Disney parks get in on the holiday action as well. At Hollywood Studios you will not only find festive decorations covering the park, a special holiday version of the Frozen Sing-Along, and an Amazing Sunset Blvd projection show with SNOW, but also a show called Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam!

This show is so much fun and is held nightly from November 8th to January 5th in front of the Chinese Theater. The Fireworks and music are fantastic, and maybe the best part, this show is included with your regular admission to Hollywood Studios! No extra ticket required.

Epcot and Animal Kingdom are also celebrating Christmas with intricate decorations, festive foods and fun events. At Epcot, be sure to check out the retelling of the Christmas story at the Candlelight processional. There are different celebrity narrator’s depending on which night you attend, and the accompanying choir and 50-piece orchestra make this a truly moving event.

When visiting Animal Kingdom this time of year, it’s worth it to get up close to the Christmas tree. The details and decorations on the tree keep to the theme and tradition of the park while adding lots of Christmas spirit!

A new addition to the holiday magic at Animal Kingdome is also one of the most adorable. The magical menagerie of life-sized puppets walks around Discovery Island entertaining guests. They are so cute! And again, even the best pictures don’t do them justice.

Wondering how some of the Disney resorts get in the spirit? The Grand Floridian puts up this awesome Gingerbread house each year. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. If you can make a trip to see this one in person, do it! It’s worth it.


Some fun facts about what the Gingerbread house is made of:

  • Made with 1,050 lbs of honey
  • 800 lbs of flour
  • 600 lbs of chocolate
  • 140 pints of egg whites
  • 35 lbs of spices
  • And tons of spices, Disney Magic and Pixie Dust! (according to Disney)
  • If you go during operating hours (10:00am – 10:00pm until January 1, 2019 you can buy lots of Christmas goodies right from the Gingerbread house!


Disney’s Yacht club resort has one of my favorite Christmas decorations. The Gingerbread carousel with chocolate horses! This is also something you need to see in person. It’s easy to visit the Yacht Club on a Hollywood Studios day because you can take the boat over to the resort. Fun tip; while you are there try The Yachtsman Steakhouse and have one of the best meals on Disney property. In my opinion at least.


For me, Christmas at Disney World isn’t complete without visiting The Wilderness Lodge.  You have to see that gorgeous lobby and the gigantic Christmas tree that fits in perfectly.

Hopefully you are sensing a pattern here. You need to experience the holidays at Disney World to really appreciate the attention to detail, the enormity of the decorations and the magical feelings they evoke.

What’s the other reason to visit Disney World during the holidays? Oh yeah, The FOOD!

There are so many wonderfully sweet treats to be had during the holidays I could fill an entire blog with them. I won’t, but I could! Here are just a couple of the treats that are available this year.

Olaf’s Frozen Hot Chocolate Cake. Cute & tasty is a great combo!

If your holidays aren’t complete without eggnog, head to Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café for Frozen Eggnog with whipped cream!


If the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and thrill rides like the Incredible Hulk Coaster are more to your tastes, then you’re in luck. The holidays are celebrated at Universal Orlando Resort with lots of flare and Universal’s fun style. 

Universal’s holiday parade featuring Macy’s is a guest favorite and with floats like these, you can see why. You’ve got to see these big floats up close to really appreciate them! They are so huge!

Those who are in a, not so merry and bright spirit are probably fans of the Grinch. You can find him in Seuss Landing for the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the Grinch’s own story. The Grinch is a lot of fun even for little ones and I love a vacation destination that includes every member of my family, both young and young at heart.

The thrill rides alone at Universal make it a must do destination for many families, mine included. We love Rip, Ride, Rockit, Escape from Gringotts and the Incredible Hulk coaster any time of year. Adding in the holiday cheer just makes a Universal vacation more special. I feel like this is especially true for Harry Potter fans. The holiday décor has you feeling like you just stepped (or apparated) into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during Christmas!

You can expect to see both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley shining bright with Christmas decorations and special holiday entertainment. The biggest holiday show, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is a projection show that I really enjoy. It makes for a great end of night celebration in the parks.

While Universal Orlando and Disney World Christmas celebrations have a big impact that’s hard to miss this time of year, there is another park in celebrating in Orlando as well.

Sea World Orlando is unique in the theme park industry already. Most of us don’t get to see marine life up close on a regular basis. Sea World provides that opportunity. This time of year, Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer and his friends are on hand to help you celebrate Christmas while enjoying the close encounters with Sea Lions, Dolphins, Penguins, and so much more!

I always loved the Rudolph show as a child and it’s really fun to see the characters at Sea World.

This stunning Christmas tree displays really light up the park and make Christmas come alive.

I especially love the trees over the water! 

The holiday shows include O Wonderous Night, a wonderful retelling of the birth of Jesus and Winter Wonderland on Ice. 


Bringing more nostalgia and kid friendly fun is the new Sesame Street Christmas parade. You can grab some hot chocolate and stake out a spot to watch your favorite Sesame Street characters float by. There will be celebrating, dancing and enjoying fun music themed to the holiday season. Another great addition for the youngest members of your family. 

If Christmas at Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World Orlando is on your bucket list and you haven’t booked yet, contact us now to see what last minute plans we can help you make. Also remember, you can already book your holiday trip for 2020! By booking now for next year, you give your family the gift of knowing a one of kind vacation is just a year away!  

One of our Orlando  specialists can help you choose the perfect resort for you family, choose how many days will work for everything you want to see & do, and let you know how to get the most value out of your  holiday trip no matter which theme parks you choose.



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Kim Hogue

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