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Orlando theme parks seek lift during peak Christmas tourist season

Orlando theme parks seek lift during peak Christmas tourist season

Tucked away in a corner Sea World Orlando were a pair of musicians playing holiday songs as people walked around. The space seemed quieter away from all the big rides and the rest of the festivities, but something happened on a recent Friday night. It was one of those moments—unexpected and joyful—at amusement parks during the holidays.

A large family stopped by to listen to the duo perform “Feliz Navidad.” The matriarch and the patriarch started dancing. Others have joined us. More visitors came to watch. Soon there was a crowd, dancing and laughing together.

Orlando’s attractions are in vacation mode, and Visit Orlandowhich manages the tourist marketing of the region, plans a great tourist season.

Visit Orlando said Orlando’s leisure hotel bookings for Christmas/New Year’s week are down 7% from 2019 and 5% from 2021, a sign the holidays are progressing back to a pre-pandemic normal.

“As short booking windows persist, we expect the gap to continue to narrow as we get closer to the holiday season,” said Visit Orlando President and CEO. Casandra Matej said Friday in a statement.

The hottest ticket is for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which sold out the entire calendar last month. The special ticketed event runs select nights until December 22. Guests can see a special festive fireworks display over Cinderella’s Castle and a holiday parade heading down Main Street, USA.

The Magic Kingdom is an attraction in its own right, adorned with Christmas lights and a giant Christmas tree. Meanwhile, several rides, including Space Mountain and the Mad Tea Party, have holiday overlays just for the party to give the attractions a different feel. Partying doesn’t come cheap. The most expensive tickets cost $199 per person depending on the date.

At Universal and SeaWorld, park festivities are included in the price of admission.

Back this year, the giant balloons for Universal’s Holiday Parade with Macy’s at Universal Studios. You can see Christmas decorations at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a special screening show called The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

At Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Seuss Landing children’s area is decorated for the holidays, and the Christmas reformer, the Grinch himself, is available for encounters with “Grinchmas.” The holiday season runs through January 1 at Universal Orlando Resort.

On select dates through January 3, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration features plenty of live entertainment throughout the park. At Bayside Stadium, skaters perform and fan-favorite O Wondrous Night, the retelling of the Christmas story that features live animals, music and life-size puppets, returns this year for the first time since the pandemic. .

Around the park there are stalls selling holiday food and drink as well as musicians, street performers and ballet dancers performing in the park decorated with Christmas lights and Christmas trees. For children, encounters are available from characters based on the 1964 classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a special holiday parade takes place on Sesame Street grounds.

For those looking for a break from the parks, what has become another Orlando tradition is the Dazzling Nights show at the city’s Harry P. Leu Gardens. The 50-acre gardens are transformed by a million lights and interactive play areas, including a giant snow globe.

Guests can explore their gardens on their own at night where the feel of the light displays range from romantic to dance party or modern fashion. Meanwhile, vendors sell hot chocolate, snacks, and drinks. Performers sing Christmas carols in the rose garden for live entertainment. Dazzling Nights runs until January 1. Tickets are on sale at www.dazzlingorlando.com.

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