It’s not as unusual to see “snow” in the Sunshine State as you might think. After all, this is Orlando, home of a “sea world,” a “gator land” and a “magic kingdom.” And it’s also a place where we Floridians like to pretend we have all the elements of a traditional white Christmas, however improbable that may sound.
Each year, the town of Celebration, which is located in Walt Disney World’s back yard, hosts “Now Snowing Nightly” from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve. The snow — um, soap bubbles — falls at daily 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. on Market Street. We’ve been going to this event for years, but it was a little different this year. Despite the cold temperatures, it didn’t seem as wintry because the “snow” was not allowed to accumulate on the brick street. That was disappointing because it certainly affected the make-believe wintertime look of the street.
Still, the Celebration Town Center is festive with Christmas music playing during each snowfall, Santa waiting to greet children, and even carriages and a train standing ready to take guests for rides to see the holiday lights.
Our family outing usually consists of eating dinner and then enjoying the entertainment. There are some wonderful places to dine, such as Cuban treasure The Columbia Restaurant, but for an inexpensive family meal, we like the Market Street Cafe. Through the years, we have learned that planning to have an early dinner helps avoid a long wait for a table (and also makes street parking, which is free, easier) on weekend nights during Now Snowing Nightly. The later it gets, the more crowded the streets become and the harder it is to find a close parking spot.
After dinner, we check out the snow and, perhaps, the live music. On several Saturdays in December, the town hosts performances, including Radio Disney’s Holiday Concert, which features the winners of its annual N.B.T. (Next Big Thing) contest.
My children also have enjoyed the “ice skating” rink, which really is a hard plastic surface that kids use skates to glide on. The Endless Ice offers them the traditional winter experience without as many painful spills. This rink even encourages beginning skaters to use supports (that look a lot like walkers) while they learn. Skating, which includes skate rental, is $10 per 30 minutes and it’s open from 4 to 10 p.m. daily.
For the less athletic, like me, there are various ways to see the sights of Celebration. Horse and carriage rides are $25 for the first two passengers and $10 for each additional person. Group wagon rides are $5 per person. Plus, Holiday Home Tours can be booked by calling 321-624-6380.
When my son and daughter were younger, they couldn’t wait to ride the Holiday Train on a short trip through town. It’s $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased for $4 before 4 p.m. at Confetti, Market Street Gallery or Sanrio Surprises.
Speaking of Sanrio Surprises ” This little store sells everything you can imagine related to Hello Kitty and even hosts birthday parties. Certainly, this sweet character is enjoying renewed popular among girls, and even adults. On most nights of “Now Snowing Nightly,” Sanrio Surprises hosts story time with Hello Kitty, and then guests have the opportunity to take their photos with her. The free 10-minute activity is at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. and is limited by space, so be sure to line up a few minutes early. My 8-year-old daughter was thrilled to meet the “real” Hello Kitty.
The last “snowfalls” of the season happen on New Year’s Eve. In between, guests can hear DJ Tami perform. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Katty Shack will entertain crowds, and the new year will be celebrated with a fireworks show at midnight.