SeaWorld Orlando presents its visitors with so many holiday entertainment choices that they could easily spend a day at the theme park getting in the holiday spirit. And there truly is something for everyone — from the toddler set to those who want to celebrate the religious meaning of Christmas. SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is included with regular admission to the theme park and takes place on these upcoming dates: Nov. 27-29 and Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-3.
Not sure where to get started? If you have a full day at SeaWorld Orlando, you might want to check out my touring plan for the Christmas Celebration, which will help you experience most, if not all, of the holiday activities at the theme park. Perhaps you just want to spend an evening dedicated to seasonal endeavors. In that case, here are my family’s picks for what not to miss:
** Winter Wonderland on Ice. Of the five Christmas shows that SeaWorld presents, this is my family’s favorite, hands down. The ice skaters perform beautifully choreographed numbers set to classic holiday songs. Keep an eye out for some favorite SeaWorld characters, too! Fireworks also have been incorporated in the ice skating show. Unfortunately, Holiday Reflections, the separate fireworks show that followed Winter Wonderland on Ice, has been discontinued, however. A tip: Arrive early to get seats at Bayside Stadium because this is a popular evening show. Pre-show entertainment will help the time pass quickly.
** Polar Express. This is a holiday overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction that starts with visitors entering the boy’s bedroom, like in the story, for a short film. Then they board the train (a simulator) for a ride to the North Pole. Upon arrival, guests will see the Beluga whales and, around the bend, Santa Claus dressed just as he is in the popular movie. Families can take photos with Santa and a beautiful Christmas tree in the area. Afterward, they can purchase the hot chocolate made popular in the movie, as well as the professional photos with Santa. (Guests also can purchase a package for $25 that includes front-of-the-line access to Polar Express, one 6 x 8 photo and a souvenir mug with hot chocolate.) This is a really fun experience for anyone who enjoys the classic Christmas story. Outside, don’t forget to take a photo in front of the steam engine and listen to the Singing Conductors who perform periodically in front of the attraction’s queue.
** Shamu Christmas Miracles. There is only one performance of this show, so be sure to check your times guide for the day you are visiting and plan to be early not only to get a good seat, but also to experience an amazing pre-show by a solo saxophonist. The orca show itself is worth seeing, combining the animal’s feats with an engaging holiday story.
** Sea of Trees. More than 100 lighted trees in Bay Harbor are featured in this display, which usually begins at 6 p.m. each day with the first performance of the lights “dancing” to music. Afterward the lights stay on, and the “dancing” takes place several times each night. Visitors can see the Sea of Trees from any spot with a view of Bay Harbor, but they are especially beautiful when you’re walking through the middle of them on the bridge over the lake.
** Christmas Market. Stroll along the pathway that runs from the dolphin nursery to Bayside Stadium. This area is jam-packed with fun holiday offerings. See large-scale trains travel through an elaborate display; warm up by a fire pit; listen to roaming carolers; take holiday-themed photos; try your hand at games of chance; shop at the toy kiosks; and sample holiday food and beverages, including hot toddies for the adults.
DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinion is my own.