Will you be celebrating the holiday season in Central Florida? You might be surprised! If you’re visiting Orlando’s theme parks anytime between November 1st and New Year’s Day, you’ll probably find them decked out for the holidays. Since we’re used to celebrating the season in our sandals and swimsuits, starting our season before the leaves have begun to fall (at least, here in Florida) makes perfect sense here. You might as well join us! (Feature Photo: Disney/Ryan Wendler)

The theme parks make it easy to get into the holiday spirit, with decorations, seasonal snacks and beverages, and holiday-inspired entertainment. Here are some of our favorite Orlando-area choices for celebrating the holidays:

Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort: Seuss Landing is full of whimsical fun all year, but it seems just right to add a dose of Grinch-ness when the holidays roll around. From December 3rd through January 1st, families can enjoy the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” complete with a soundtrack by Mannheim Steamroller. Afterwards you can meet the Grinch himself, a fun alternative to the traditional Santa photo!

Music, Macy’s Holiday Parade and More at Universal Studios Florida: Speaking of Mannheim Steamroller, Universal Studios Florida hosts multiple concerts with the masters of electronic Christmas classics each December. Included with your park admission, these limited-time concerts fill up fast, so check the website for times and dates before you pick your day to visit the park.

Universal Studios' Macy's Holiday Parade

Directly from New York City, balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are a daily highlight of Universal Studios Orlando’s holiday celebration. Photo: Universal Orlando Resort.

If you’ve ever watched the giant balloons floating down Manhattan’s Seventh Avenue on Thanksgiving morning, then the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios will hold a special thrill for you. Balloons from the parade come to Universal Studios Florida for a daily celebration, complete with marching bands and Santa Claus! Watching the parade is a blast, but Universal will even let you take it up a notch: they accept volunteer balloon handlers! A limited number of balloon handler spots are available to sign up for each day, so check with the park’s guest services for details on the day you arrive.

Other holiday shows join the Universal Studios fun with A Barney Holiday and The Blues Brothers Holiday Show – both aimed at very different age groups, of course! Don’t worry, Jake and Elwood don’t get too grown-up here; everyone can enjoy their classic holiday songs like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” along with the snowfall that ends each show.

For an in-depth look at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure holiday offerings, try this post from TouringPlans.com.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration shines on cool December evenings, when the visually stunning Sea of Trees sparkles on the park’s massive centerpiece lake. The park welcomes holiday-exclusive shows, with ice-skating spectaculars and family favorites like characters from Sesame Street and The Polar Express. Watch the SeaWorld blog for upcoming dates and information on their 2016 holiday offerings, or check our Facebook page for the latest news.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: At Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, Mickey and friends turn up the nostalgia with an after-hours party featuring holiday stage shows, parades, fireworks, character meet-and-greets, and even a nightly snowfall on Main Street U.S.A. We also have to mention the treat stations set up around the park, ready to pass out as many complimentary cookies and cups of cocoa as you can handle.

Added on select nights from November 7th to December 22nd as a separate admission from the regular day’s park ticket, the party gets rolling at 7 PM and lasts until midnight – and you can arrive as early as 4 PM with the party ticket, giving you a few extra hours of theme park fun-time. This is your exclusive chance to see Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, unless you’re visiting during Christmas week itself, when the holiday parade replaces the regular day-time parade. Check the dates and buy your tickets at the Disney website.

Cinderella and Prince Charming wave to Magic Kingdom guests as snow falls on Main Street, U.S.A., during "Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade" at Walt Disney World Resort. The festive processional is one of the happy highlights of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, a night of holiday splendor with lively stage shows, a unique holiday parade, Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season nighttime fireworks, and snow flurries on Main Street, U.S.A. The special-ticket event takes place on select nights in November and December at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Ryan Wendler, photographer)

Disney favorites join the holiday fun in Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Photo: Disney/Ryan Wendler

Not sold on adding the extra ticket? Don’t worry, the Magic Kingdom will still feel like a holiday wonderland. The decorations start taking over the moment Halloween ends, so quickly that it feels like the pumpkins turn into holly leaves at midnight! You’ll definitely feel the Christmas cheer throughout the park, and each night at sunset you’ll see Cinderella Castle lit with thousands of shimmering lights.

Holidays Around the World and Candlelight Processional at Epcot: Holidays Around the World features traditional holiday celebrations, scattered throughout the eleven host nations of Epcot’s World Showcase. The showings are included with your park ticket, making them a fun addition to your day at Epcot. Storytellers, musicians, and even acrobats share their seasonal celebrations.

Presented in the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot, Candlelight Processional is one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World Resort. Featuring a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a glorious mass choir, this festive performance takes place annually in November and December. Show times are at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Epcot is one of four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

Presented in the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot, Candlelight Processional is one of the most beloved holiday traditions at Walt Disney World Resort. Featuring a joyous retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator, accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a glorious mass choir, this festive performance takes place annually in November and December. Show times are at 5, 6:45 and 8:15 p.m. Photo: Disney/Kent Phillips

Most nights from Thanksgiving through December 30th, the America Gardens Theater is host to Candlelight Processional, a traditional Christmas story presentation with a celebrity narrator, a 50-piece orchestra, and a mass choir featuring Disney Cast Members and invited choirs from around the United States. It’s a Disney tradition dating back to 1958 at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California!

Arrive early, or look into the dining package, which includes a meal at one of Epcot’s restaurants along with reserved seating for one of the evening performances. You can enjoy Holidays Around The World and Candlelight Processional included in your regular theme park admission from November 25th through December 30th, 2016. Find out which celebrity narrator will be in town during your vacation at Disney’s website.

Are you ready to celebrate the holiday season in Central Florida? Bring the whole family and spread out in one of our vacation condos or villas at Summer Bay Orlando By Exploria Resorts. Visit the Destinations tab on this website to find out more about accommodations, recreation and amenities fit for a perfect holiday celebration.

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