Looking for the best things to do in Orlando at Christmas?
Christmas is right around the corner, and with COVID easing up over time, many of you can’t wait to travel somewhere for Christmas. I can’t blame you. Amongst the top places to travel in the United States is Orlando, Florida. Warm, sunny, beautiful Florida.
For those of us who live in the more seasonal places, and by seasonal, I mean bitterly cold this time of year, Florida in the winter can be so refreshing. Orlando is by far the most entertaining city in Florida during Christmas. It has so many parks and adventures, and the community really bonds together every Christmas to make the city as beautiful and magical as it is.
From theme parks, to live performances, to light shows, to space, Orlando will not disappoint you this holiday season. Here are 19 ideas of what to do and where to go when visiting Orlando for a merry Christmas.
19 Best Things to do in Orlando at Christmas
When you opened this page I bet you already knew what would be at the top of the list. By far the biggest attraction in all of Orlando Florida, Universal Studios has everything you can ask for to make your Christmas vacay extra jolly for the whole family.
Universal Studios has rides, arcades, great dining, theaters, a gift store, a kids play area, and live encounters with your favorite TV and movie characters. They offer great deals for people traveling from anywhere in the world. It may be necessary to book your adventure with Universal Studios farther in advance than some of the other attractions in Orlando because of how popular Universal Studios is.
If you’re visiting Orlando, this is the one attraction you absolutely must visit before you leave. Your kids will thank you when they grow old. For Information on attractions, pricing, package deals, and availability see here.
For those of you who have more of a connection with animals, or the ocean, Sea World aquarium in Orlando, Florida offers a great experience year round, but a very special Christmas celebration during the holiday season. If you’ve been to Sea World before, it’s definitely worth going for the Christmas celebration this holiday season.
The whole aquarium is transformed into a winter wonderland every holiday season. They offer a wide variety of animals to visit, including penguins, orcas, dolphins, sharks, flamingos, manta rays, and sting rays. But, that’s not all they have to offer.
Sea World also has rides, gift shops, presentations, dining, and even a Sesame Street Land where you can meet Elmo in person. Sea World is one of the biggest and best aquariums in the world, and they offer great prices to anyone wanting to have a fun ocean adventure in Orlando. For more information on Sea World Orlando see here.
It’s been years since most of us have had the joy of building a Lego monument, and we all know deep down inside that we miss it. So what’s stopping you from doing it this holiday season? If you find yourself at Legoland during the holiday, nothing stops you.
Legoland offers more than just your favorite childhood building blocks. They have a theme park, a water park, meet and greets with your favorite Lego characters, dining, shopping, a 4D movie theater, and Brickbeards Lego stunt show. Holidays at Lego land is a reoccurring event held every weekend in December.
During the holiday at Lego land, you can expect to see Lego brick fireworks, Lego Christmas characters, a Lego Christmas tree, and you can send your letters directly to Lego Santa at the Holiday Village Postal Service. The Lego bricks fireworks are one of my favorite things about Lego land, I’d say they’re a must see. For more information on Lego Land see here.
4. Lake Eola Park
The theme parks of Orlando are a great attraction, but maybe they’re not for you, or maybe you’ve been to all of them and you’re burnt out on crazy rides and rollercoasters. If you’re looking for a more Christmas oriented activity to do in Orlando, there are plenty. I think the most cozy this year will be the lights at Lake Eola Park in the central business district of Orlando.
This won’t be the most grand or biggest light show in the city, but I can’t think of a better spot to be on Christmas in Orlando than smack dab in the middle of the city. Similar to a scaled down version of Times Square New York, New York, Lake Eola Park is a beautiful part of the city with access to the typical city experience you think of.
The city Christmas tree is beautiful and embodies the heart of Christmas spirit. I would recommend walking or taking other transportation to Lake Eola Park, because it will be crowded and parking is limited, but it’s worth going if you enjoy the cozy Christmas vibe.
5. ICE at Gaylord Palms
Perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more flashy and grand than the city tree, but you crave that Christmas vibe mentioned earlier. ICE at Gaylord Palms is perfect for you.
A real winter wonder land carved from 2 million pounds of ice. Featuring the classic Christmas story of Dr. Suess’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” this spot is guaranteed to lift your Christmas spirit with massive ice statues of the characters.
The best part about all of it, you won’t just be watching a performance of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” you’ll be living in the experience as you slide down colorful frozen ice chutes in a blue parka. This may be an event you don’t want to book on the spot, as availability may vary, but if you can get a ticket to this magical winter wonderland experience, I would very much recommend it. Be sure to dress warm.
6. A Christmas Carol
Do you want to rock the halls this holiday season in Orlando? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at Orlando Shakes is a nearly 2 hour long show from November 30th through December 24th that will be sure to jingle your bells. This show features an excellent cast of actors and actresses that can be found on https://www.orlandoshakes.org Unfortunately for some families, children under the age of 5 are not permitted to enjoy the show at Orlando shakes due to the content advisory of the director.
There will be hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies at intermission about half way through the performance. Who doesn’t love hot cocoa on Christmas eve.
Classical theatre isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great change of pace from the modern comfort of watching movies at home or in a movie theatre. If you’ve never been to a classical theatre performance, I recommend this be your first.
7. Christmas cruise at Winter Park
Everyone knows that Florida is the place to be for going on a cruise. But not everyone wants to cruise to the Bahamas during the holiday season. If you like cruises, but want to stay in Florida, the Winter Park Old Fashioned Christmas Cruise is absolutely perfect for you and your family.
The 80ish minute tour of the lakes and canals of winter park includes hot cocoa, Christmas trivia for the whole group, classic Christmas carols on the water, your own special goodie bag from Santa, a wonderful view of the mansions on the water with beautiful Christmas lights, and reading of “T’was The Night Before Christmas” and “The Christmas Story” on the cruise.
If you plan on attending the epic Christmas Cruise this winter, be sure to show up 15 minutes early, because the boat will leave without you if you’re late. Groups larger than 8 people may be split up in the seating of the boat, so keep that in mind.
8. Santas Christmas Tree Forest
If you live in the area and you’re not just visiting Florida, Santas Christmas Tree Forest is a wonderful farm to choose and cut your very own Christmas tree this year. Even if you don’t live in the area, I personally always end up having a good time at Christmas tree farms.
This farm specifically lets you cut your own Christmas tree which is pretty fun. For as low as $40 you can take home a tree in no time. They also offer hand crafted Christmas wreathes to match your lovely tree. This is a very popular farm in the area.
Due to its high demand, you’re required to purchase tickets for a reservation before entry onto the farm. Those tickets sell faster and faster as the season grows, so if you want to secure your spot at the farm, or more importantly, your Christmas tree, be sure to buy a reservation far in advance.
9. Christmas in Christmas
Okay, so technically it’s not Orlando, but it’s Christmas, and it’s Christmas in Christmas, Florida year round. Named after Fort Christmas, this small town is a great historical attraction in the Orlando area. If you’re a history buff, you can go to Christmas (any time of year) and see the preserved remains of Fort Christmas.
If you’re not a history buff, you can see “Swampy” the worlds largest alligator. Although the Christmas vibe is difficult to pull off in the summer in Florida, this town does a great job of it. And if they can rock it in the summer, you know they do it big in the winter.
One of the main attractions of this small town is the post office popular for the Christmas, Florida post cards. It’s worth stopping by if you’re already in Orlando, even if it’s just to say you were in Christmas on Christmas.
10. Winter Park
The park from the Christmas Cruise mentioned earlier, Winter Park is a gorgeous community in Orlando, right on the beautiful lakes and canals are a variety of expensive mansions that light up the night during the holiday season.
If you don’t want to do the cruise, that’s okay, but I would not skip out on seeing the true beauty of Winter Park in its prime during Christmas. You don’t have to pay anything to look at the houses, you can just observe them. Everyone has fond memories of looking at “that one neighborhood” near them during the holiday season when they were growing up.
This is THE neighborhood for pretty lights and holiday vibes. Don’t be shy, swing on by Winter Park, the home owners want you to see their lights, that’s why they decorate every year. And hey, maybe you’ll see the cruise ship while you’re in the neighborhood.
11. Movie Theaters
I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, I have fond memories of going to a movie theater on every single vacation I’ve ever had. You get to see the new Christmas time film that’s out, it’s cheap, theaters are easy to find, and it’s a great activity for the whole group any where you travel.
What you may not know, is that other cities movie theaters are regular movie theaters, but Orlando has the best movie theaters ever. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in any other city. The Fork and Screen dine in theater is amongst my favorite in Orlando.
It’s comfortable, good movie theater vibes, mixed with excellent restaurant quality food. And don’t be afraid to check out any of the other wide variety of movie theaters in Orlando, it’s one of the coolest things about the city in my opinion. Some even offer Christmas kettle corn during the holiday season.
12. Kennedy Space Center
The world famous Kennedy Space Center is a very neat attraction in Orlando, it has a space center with a lot of cool stuff to look at, and very sharp tour guides to tell you all about space and engineering. From December 16th to December 30th they host an event called Holidays in Space.
Unfortunately they’re closed on Christmas day, but any other day during that time, they will show you all of their cool space gadgets and telescopes, with speeches from actual astronauts.
You can try space food, look at the historic space crafts that have been to the moon and back, and if you’re lucky, and your timing is right, you might be able to see a live SpaceX space craft launch from the Kennedy space center viewing area. It’s difficult to plan exactly when the space shuttles launch and get tickets for it, because the schedule changes sometimes.
13. Citrus Bowl
So, you’re in Florida for the holiday season, that means you like college football now, and what better spot to watch college football than the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, home of the Citrus bowl.
Now called the Cheezitz-Citrus Bowl On January 2nd at 1 pm EST (Local Orlando Time) one of the biggest college football events of the year will take place in this stadium. Teams from all over the eastern half of the united states come to the Citrus Bowl to compete for the trophy.
What a way to start off the new year. Football isn’t for everyone, but anyone can attend the Citrus Bowl and have a great time with friends. If it does interest you, one thing I would recommend getting seats in the skyline suite, as it’s a bit more comfortable, and easier to get food and beverages there. Consider booking your tickets far in advance for the best seats
14. Universal Endless Summer
To make the most of your merry trip to Orlando this holiday season, you should feel comfortable and happy wherever you’re staying. You will be both comfortable and happy if you get a room in the Universal Endless Summer Resort Surfside Inn hotel.
Named after the massive surf board shaped pool, this vibrant hotel has some of the best reviews in Orlando and a reasonable price for a resort. If you decided to visit Universal Studios while in Orlando, you probably already know about this hotel and it’s sister hotel, the Dockside Inn.
Universal offers great package deals for those who wish to stay in their hotels and explore their theme parks in the area. But, even if you’re not interested in the theme parks, the Universal Endless Summer Resort is a great experience by itself. They take good care of you there, and it’s a very clean establishment with plenty of fun activities.
15. ICON Park
You find yourself in Orlando for Christmas break, everything is great, but you have one thing on your mind… Where is Santa? Look no further than ICON Park, an amazing destination featuring fun and games for the whole family this holiday season.
Home to a massive colorful ferris wheel, over 50 restaurants, including hit TV sensation Chef Gordon Ramsays Fish & Chips, bars and gift stores. ICON Park will have Santa Clause coming to town in from November 1st until December 26th, available to take orders for his elves in the North Pole.
The Santa Workshop Experience is a package deal at ICON Park that includes a free ferris wheel ride with the purchase of a Christmas photo. But not just any ferris wheel ride, during the Santa Workshop Experience, the ferris wheel will have a special Christmas capsule seat to make the experience that much more jolly for everyone.
16. All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914
If you’re looking for a different play, maybe something more musical to attend during your time in Orlando, you’re in luck. On December 23rd and 24th Opera Orlando will be presenting All is Calm: the Christmas Truce of 1914 at Stienmetz Hall. This is an amazing rendition of an old World War 1 tale. During the Christmas of 1914 the allied and axis forces ceased fire for the night of Christmas eve. Tired of fighting and exhausted from harsh winter conditions, the soldiers from both sides had a truce.
They shared rations, sung Christmas carols, and told stories of home. This is one of the most heart warming stories I’ve heard of, a true embodiment of the Christmas spirit. I recommend even if you don’t view this show, you look into this amazing story of what humankind is capable of during hard times. The show will begin at 7:30 pm and 2pm.
17. Colorful Christmas at Crayola
Similar to the Lego Land attraction in Orlando, we all know in the back of our head that we love coloring. At Crayola’s Colorful Christmas from November 19th until January 3rd you can find Edwin the painting snowman, Forest Green the singing Christmas tree, the Singing light show, and much more. This is the best bet for families with young children.
The most interesting attraction in my opinion is the life sized snow globe that you can go inside. Crayola has a fair admission price and plenty of activities for all ages.
They also have the famous Crayola store, which you guessed it, sells crayons and other Crayola accessories. For those of you who live near other Crayola establishments, or plan on visiting multiple times through out the year, Crayola offers a “Color Card” that gives you unlimited access to all five Crayola locations in the country for an entire year.
18. The Wizarding world of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an incredible chain of theme parks at Universal Resorts based on the Harry Potter movie franchise. I’ve always been a big fan of magic, and Hogwarts sounds like a good place to be on Christmas, doesn’t it?
I think it’s almost a requirement to go to Hogwarts if you’re given the option to. If you get a park to park ticket, you can literally hop on the Hogwarts express and ride from one location to the next with ease. I just hope you don’t try to run into the wall.
This attraction has the coolest pictures in my opinion. And this year with Hagrid’s Magical Creature Motorbike Adventure, you can ride through the magical forest visiting different creatures and abominations from the Harry Potter movies and books. This is another busy attraction though so be sure to preorder your tickets far ahead of time.
19. Walt Disney World Resort
Last but absolutely not least, The World’s Most Magical Celebration. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in Orlando. People argue year after year about which location is better, the one in Florida or the one in California.
But in my opinion, if you are at either Disney attraction, you will be having a good time no matter what. Featuring great dining, entertainment, attractions, interactions with your favorite Disney characters and even secret mysterious tunnels and buildings, Disney World is a must see for visiting Orlando any time of year. It’s perfect for all fans alike.
Disney’s broad spectrum of entertainment including Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, Disney princess’s, Tinker Bell, and much more is guaranteed to spark the whole family’s Christmas spirit this holiday season. Disney offers great discounts to shareholders and affiliates, and has a bunch of different deals for year round passes to their parks.
See more: Orlando Hotels with Shuttles to Disney