Frontyard Festival at the Dr. Phillips Center

Dr Phillips Center Front Yard Festival - Logo

The Dr. Phillips Center has kicked-off the Frontyard Festival, a series of live entertainment events featuring local artists designed to bring people together to enjoy the arts.

“COVID-19 has created significant challenges for performing arts centers and stages around the world,” said Dr. Phillips Center President and CEO Kathy Ramsberger. “To keep our mission moving forward, our team has come up with a unique way for guests to re-connect and re-engage with one another and enjoy live entertainment and culture again. This big idea is gaining fantastic support by sponsors, partners, and artists.” 

The Frontyard Festival transforms the outdoor areas in front of the Dr. Phillips Center’s three front parcels, including the Seneff Arts Plaza, into the region’s most unique, dedicated outdoor entertainment venue that will showcase a diverse mix of music, comedy, films, health and wellness programs, and local community arts performances.  

Dr Phillips Center Front Yard Festival - view

“Fully activating the arts center’s front parcels and Seneff Arts Plaza has always been part of our long-range plan,” said Ramsberger. “We had intended to complete Phase 2—Steinmetz Hall and The Green Room—then turn our attention to conceptualizing how we could transform the plaza into a vibrant, active outdoor space for the arts, entertainment, and wellness.”

In addition to the live entertainment plus health and wellness programs, several local restaurants and popular food trucks will be on-site each day offering seasonal menus, beer, wine, and cocktails for purchase. 

Many performances will require the advance purchase of tickets, allowing artists and arts groups to generate much-needed revenue. There are also additional daytime programs showcasing professional musicians at no cost to attend.  

“More than anything, we’re excited to produce a platform that will reunite artists and wellness instructors with live audiences,” Ramsberger said.   

Health & Safety First 

To keep guests properly distanced from one another, the arts center has built 380 elevated seating “pods” inspired by a similar outdoor venue created at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle, UK.  

Each 5’ x 7’ pod, which can seat up to five guests, has been built using metal scaffolding materials with six feet of space between each pod.  

Additional health and safety protocols, developed with guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities and the Dr. Phillips Center’s partner, AdventHealth, include a mask requirement, temperature checks prior to admission, and mobile purchasing options for tickets and Food Trucks. 

“Arts and events not only help provide needed jobs and employment for our residents but also food for our souls,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “That’s why we are proud to partner with the Dr. Phillips Center as they create a new outdoor venue in our downtown. The space will help bring our arts back and bring our community safely together to gather, celebrate, relax, and be inspired.”  

For more information and to purchase tickets to the Dr. Phillips Center Frontyard Festival, please visit their website.

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A Visit To Historic Clermont with Gail

This week we decided to take a walk through historic Clermont and the waterfront there. It was such a beautiful breezy day for Central Florida so we had to go out and enjoy it!

At the corner of West Avenue and Osceola Street, is Clermont’s Historical Village. The houses were individually moved from their original locations to sit where they are now, for visitors to come and learn about the City’s history. The Kern House was built in 1885, the Townsend House was built in 1895, and the Depot building around 1925.

The village also features the original Cooper Memorial Library, built in 1914, and it also has a Quonset Hut which is used as a World War II Museum. Clermont’s Historic Village open hours are Friday from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Clermont was founded in 1884 and incorporated in 1916. Right now, the City is undergoing a Downtown-Waterfront Master Plan, so you will see a lot of construction going on around the Downtown area and around the Historic Village. There are some wonderful additions coming, some have already been built like Victory Point, Kehlor Recreation Center and the new boat ramp.

Currently, they are working on a Wi-Fi Trail to enhance safety and navigation for trail users, plus, it will be able to support events with data and live broadcasting in key areas. The streetscape is also in progress all around the area, to create a focal point at City Hall. I am most excited about their Art Walk area, this is still under construction downtown and due to be completed at the end of this year. If you want to take a look at any of the improvements and what’s coming you can visit https://www.clermontfl.gov/MasterPlan

After the Historic Village, we took a walk down to the waterfront as it was such a beautiful day, you can often catch sight of gators and many different native birds down here.

There’s a bike trail going right past the lake (part of the upcoming Wi-Fi Trail) and many picnic benches, so it’s a perfect location to bring the family or friends and catch up with a great view! Today we just walked around staying outside, enjoying the views. But Clermont has some amazing places to eat and drink, with many new places opening all the time. Next time you are thinking of visiting a local town, consider Clermont as there’s something for everyone here.

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Gaylord Palms Announces Partnership with Wild Florida

Gaylord Palms Partnership with Wild Florida

The Gaylord Palms is pleased to announce Wild Florida as the resort’s new wildlife partner, providing brand-new educational and interactive guest experiences, including up-close animal encounters and live shows.

For almost two decades, Gaylord Palms has become known for its 4.5-acres of atrium-enclosed gardens with thousands of tropical plants and several species of animals that are native to Florida. With this new partnership, Wild Florida is providing access to many of these unique species including alligators and snakes. 

“We are very excited that Wild Florida is our new wildlife partner because they provide a one-of-a-kind experience for our guests,” said General Manager of Gaylord Palms Johann Krieger. “Their family-friendly experiences allow our guests to learn more about Florida’s diverse ecosystem and get up-close with unique animals, all while exploring the rest of our resort’s distinctive environment.”

Gaylord Palms Partnership with Wild Florida

Educational and interactive guest experiences Wild Florida is providing include:

  • 20 alligators that live inside the resort’s St. Augustine atrium habitat, Gator Springs
  • Six hatchlings, also known as baby gators or “grunts,” that have a home in the Everglades atrium
  • Four snakes that guests can see in Sawgrass Place, located within our Everglades atrium
  • Live gator feedings with a Wild Florida representative at Gator Springs at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Saturday
  • Up-close animal encounters with critters from Wild Florida’s nearby zoological park on select days

Plus, each experience is complimentary for overnight guests, allowing them to enjoy the lush gardens and native species at any time throughout their stay.

“Gaylord Palms Resort is an amazing world-class facility,” said Sam Haught, Co-owner of Wild Florida. “We are grateful to partner with a company that shares our same passion for inspiring visitors to make a connection with Florida’s wildlife.”

Gaylord Palms Partnership with Wild Florida

In accordance with Marriott’s “Commitment to Clean” practices, the resort provides enhanced cleaning technology, hospital-grade disinfectants, attendants dedicated to sanitizing frequently throughout the day, social distancing protocols, and hundreds of new cleaning processes to take care of guests while they enjoy the resort’s amenities. 

For more information about Wild Florida’s new educational and interactive experiences, visit the resort’s website.

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Holidays in Space Return to Kennedy Space Center

Holidays in Space Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center December 2020

The North Pole is taking up residence in the cosmosphere this December as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex unveils this year’s Holidays in Space from December 21 – 30*, as the visitor complex will be transformed into a holiday wonderland – snow included.

“This has been a difficult year for all of us. We wanted to create a holiday-themed escape for our guests, reminding us all that the joy, light and warmth of the holiday season is alive and well at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Holidays in Space Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center December 2020

From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., guests will delight in the festive holiday décor that has taken over the visitor complex. From the NASA meatball turned holiday ornament, to shooting stars adorning light poles, a mosaic holiday tree, and walk-through ornaments in the Rocket Garden – seasonal spirit abounds. Beginning at 1 p.m., snow will begin to fall and a dance party will commence.

The Holidays in Space experience is included with daily admission. For more information and to book a visit, go to www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

Holidays in Space Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center December 2020

*Holidays in Space will not be open December 24 or 25. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed on Christmas Day, December 25.

Trusted Space

 As always, the health and safety of crew members and guests is the highest priority for Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has implemented safety protocols to ensure a trusted space for the well-being of our crew and guests.

 In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations, the visitor complex will continue all precautionary measures, including limited capacity and encouraging advance daily admission purchases; requiring face coverings and temperature screening for employees and guests; accommodating social distancing queues, restaurants, show viewing areas, and other facilities throughout the complex; and implementing increased frequency of sanitization and disinfection.

Additional details are available at: www.kennedyspacecenter.com/info/coronavirus  

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The Chick-Fil-A Christmas Spectacular at the Citrus Tower

The Citrus Tower in Clermont has brought back its light show for the first time since they stopped the show 2 years ago. The new light show this year features 50,000 lights on the 226-foot tower, synchronized to music and snowfall.

Owners Scott and Heather Homan reached out to the community for help and support in funding the return of the show. They were seeking people to purchase $100 annual memberships, and the proceeds from those sales would go toward the light show. Then, Chick-Fil-A of Clermont’s owner Rocky DeStafano contributed 20-free chicken sandwich vouchers per membership, and sales spiked. With the support of other local business groups and the Real Life Church, they were able to meet the funding needed to make the show happen.

This 360-degree light show truly is one of a kind, and something we felt is very safe to be able to go view during these times of Covid-19. As you can see, it is really easy to social distance from people here. At first, we stayed in our car, but then we got out to view it better since the parking lot gives you plenty of space to stay away from others safely. They do have an announcement asking that children are monitored since it is a working parking lot.

Back in March this year, they had some lights attached to communicate hope amid the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. But bringing back this light show was so magical, they even have snow machines set up and have a little closed off area right up front for people to stand closer away from the parking lot.

The owners have recently transformed the inside of the building adding a coffee shop, arcade, and a board game store. They also added free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a new seating area at the top of the tower to sit and enjoy the views, maybe with a coffee from downstairs.

The show will run until January 1st from 6-10 pm every night. Their Facebook page suggests you wear a mask at all times, social distance when possible, and to remain in your car to view the show if you are at risk for Covid. If you are comfortable heading inside (wear a mask please) the Citrus Coffee Company inside the lobby has a limited-time Christmas Drink: Ginger Snap S’More Latte available for purchase among other sweet treats.

The Florida Citrus Tower is located at 141 S Hwy 27, Clermont FL 34711.

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Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida Bring Holly Jolly Fun

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
Chip Litherland, Merlin Entertainments Group

The Cheerful holiday spirit is filling the LEGOLANDFlorida Resort this season during Holidays at LEGOLAND, select dates November 27 through December 31.

The theme park built for kids will be transformed into a holiday wonderland with unforgettable live, seasonal entertainment, unique LEGO activities, twinkling lights, and specialty treats that are included in general admission to the park. ​

This year’s Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida feature several new experiences families will want to check out!

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
Photo: LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

Mrs. Claus’ crew of holiday helpers find themselves in a delicious dilemma as they sing, dance, and work together through some frosty fun in the new, original musical stage show, The Very Merry Mix-Up.

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

Explore the all-new Holiday Village Postal Service where children can handwrite letters to LEGO Santa himself. At this interactive post office, children will watch through digital screens as their special letters travel directly to the North Pole!

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

Then, the whole family can hop aboard Fun Town’s multi-level carousel and join in a new holiday singalong!

Returning guests will delight in the return of Holidays at LEGOLAND’s favorite traditions, including the LEGO Sleigh and Reindeer photo spot.

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

Dancing lights and music bring your perfect holiday visit to a festive close “Rockin’ Around,” a 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree spectacular that comes to life with dazzling lights and sounds to celebrate the season.

North Pole Nonsense will also return to LEGO City Stage with holiday hijinks featuring some of Santa’s silliest elves and their wacky juggling and slapstick fun.

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020
PHOTO / LOCK + LAND, Chip Litherland

Colorful characters are around every holly-packed corner with socially distanced selfie spots with LEGO Santa, LEGO Gingerbread Man and LEGO Toy Soldier. Unikitty will also don her jolliest attire for festively fun photos to delight guests of all ages. Please note that all character and performer interactions will be staged using generous spacing, of six feet or more.

Families can grab a brick and help build a themed LEGO mosaic to celebrate the holidays from around the world, or journey to DUPLO Valley, where iconic holiday symbols have been sprinkled throughout the farmland. Grab the scavenger hunt clues to solve the riddles and find each one! 

Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida 2020 New Year's Eve CHRISTMAS BRICKTACULAR Legoland Florida Resort
PHOTO / LEGOLAND Florida, Merlin Entertainments Group, Chip Litherland)

Then make sure to mark your calendars to say goodbye to 2020 with Kids’ New Year’s Eve fireworks! Guests can ring in 2021 at the kid-friendly time of 8 p.m. as fireworks transform into bursts of LEGO bricks right before their eyes, exclusively on December 31, 2020!

For more information on the Holidays at LEGOLAND Florida and more, make sure to visit LEGOLANDFlorida.com.  

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Wekiva Island Winter Wonderland 2020

Wekiva Island will be hosting its beloved Winter Wonderland celebration from December 1 to January 1. In its fifth year, the event will be adjusted for the “elf” and safety of guests and staff—but it will still bring the holiday cheer with daily “snow” flurries, thousands of lights, festive décor, and plenty of events for the whole family.

Wekiva Island Winter Wonderland 2020

To officially kick off the event, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 7 p.m. December 4, bringing the first “snow” of the 2020 holiday season with them.

“We’ve put a lot of thought and hard work into making sure this event is as safe as possible for all of our guests,” said Carrie Vanderhoef, manager. “This is always a favorite event, and we’re happy to be able to keep the holiday spirit alive this season.”

Guests will have plenty of opportunities to soak in that spirit and capture the perfect holiday photo on the Island.

This year’s Winter Wonderland will feature a breathtaking Christmas tree forest full of decorated trees that will serve as the perfect backdrop.

The schoolhouse will be made up to look like a giant gingerbread house, and “snow” flurries will fall nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. and 12 to 9 p.m. on weekends.

Guests can also take a “sleigh” ride down the river for $20 for adults and $10 for children on Saturdays and Sundays.

Families looking for the Santa experience with the kids also won’t be disappointed. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make a socially distanced appearance for photos on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

This year, rather than sitting on Santa’s lap, guests are encouraged to leave letters for Santa in a special mailbox or via email. These letters will be read live at 7 p.m. every Tuesday on Wekiva Island’s Facebook.

Wekiva Island Winter Wonderland 2020

Winter Wonderland features many socially distanced holiday activities for children of all ages to enjoy:

  • Breakfast with Santa – Enjoy the most important meal of the day with Jolly Old St. Nick himself! Bring the entire family for the chance to take socially distanced photos with Santa while enjoying a delicious plate of breakfast eats. 9 a.m. to noon on December 13 with ticketed seating by the hour. $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 10 and younger.
  • VIP Winter Wonderland Party – Get the VIP treatment at the Island’s exclusive ticketholder-only holiday party. Enjoy craft beer and wine, gourmet small plates, live music and more from 7 to 11 p.m. on December 19. $50 per person, $90 for couples.
  • Holiday movies – Bring the whole family out to watch holiday classics at the Island! Bring your own lawn chair to social distance in style while enjoying the popcorn and hot cocoa available to purchase. 7 p.m. Sundays starting December 6.
  • Cocoa, stories & cookies with Mrs. Claus – Spend some time with Mrs. Claus and enjoy some tasty treats! This event is limited to the first 20 children in person but will also take place virtually. Reservations required. 6 p.m. December 10 and 17. $10 per child.
  • Reindeer feed box workshop – Join Santa and Mrs. Claus to learn how to make reindeer feed from the pros. For $10 a child, guests will receive all necessary ingredients to make the feed, a keepsake box and a cup of hot cocoa. If parents prefer a virtual experience, boxes can be purchased from The Tooting Otter General Store for $10. 6 to 8 p.m. December 14.
  • New Year’s Day Brunch – Ring in the New Year with a delicious brunch and river views on January 1.

To give back to the community, Wekiva Island will be filling canoes with toys to donate to Toys for Tots starting November 27. Marines will visit from 1 to 5 p.m. December 12 to collect the toys.

Wekiva Island also offers gift options at its General Store, and those who purchase a $100 gift card receive a $20 gift card free. The Island offers free gift wrapping on ALL gifts, even those not purchased there, so guests can kick back and enjoy a relaxing beverage while the Island elves do the hard work.

Winter Wonderland is open to the public. There is a $2 admission fee. A full calendar of daily events is available here. Tickets can be purchased for select events here.

Wekiva Island is requiring masks for guests at the entrance and whenever they are outside the boundaries of their small, socially distanced group. Temperature checks are required at the gate.

For more information, visit wekivaisland.com or call 407-862-1500.

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Our Christmas at Gaylord Palms Adventure

Disclosure: I was invited by the Gaylord Palms Resort to experience Christmas at Gaylord Palms, but all opinions and overuse of exclamation points are all my own!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms has become a valued holiday tradition in my family over the years, and the holiday season begins for us when we walk through the revolving doors of the resort.

There’s a special magic to their larger-than-life celebrations!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

And with it being 2020 we were nervous about what that would mean for our beloved tradition, but I’m BEYONDDDD excited to say that their magic is still there and even more joyful than before. 

Commitment to Clean

The Gaylord Palms Resort STARS really have gone above and beyond when it comes to making their guests feel comfortable with enhanced cleaning procedures and new contact-less service options.

There’s absolutely NOTHING like waking up to this view…

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Or taking a moment to sit on your atrium balcony at the end of your day. 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

See? That’s some holiday Magic right there!!!

I Love Christmas Movies 

This year the new I Love Christmas Movies takes you through 17,000 square feet of holiday movie magic.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

A Production assistant takes you and another party through iconic movie scenes from THE  POLAR EXPRESS, A CHRISTMAS STORY, ELF, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, and THE YEAR  WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

We had a great time enjoying the interactive elements, and went through several times during our stay!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

It’s a unique experience chocked full of fun movie facts, movie replicas, special effects, and fun photo opportunities. 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020
Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

We had a great time, and our PA was awesome at helping us snap family photos!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Just make sure to hit your mark!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020
Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

I do have to say that I was super excited to see the Nativity scene they created to keep the tradition going…

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

And for the return of ICE! in 2021!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Snow Factory 

While the Snow Factory has looooong been a favorite stop for us, this year the area has been completely been redesigned.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Let’s start with the slides!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

This year 6 slides made of REAL ice let guests can choose their thrill experience! There’s the speed slide for a race to the bottom or the opportunity to brave the “ice coaster” plummet.

Then our favorite…the Snowball Build & Blast lets families compete to see who can make the best snowballs out of ice AND how accurately they can throw them. 

We are a SUPER competitive family, so we played as much as we could during our stay!!!

Explore the Alpine Village 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

The Alpine Village is really the heart of Christmas at Gaylord Palms, and this year the village has been designed with more room for social distancing with the same amount of fun!

Zoe was stoked for her annual visit to the Build A Bear Workshop! She always makes a special friend, and this year it was awesome to see costumes that tied to the movies in I Love Christmas Movies!

Why yes…that is a Cousin Eddie outfit for your Build A Bear!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

And you can’t sleep on the outfits that are exclusive to the Gaylord Palms Resort!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Also tucked into the Alpine Village are fun, hands-on experiences. 

We had a blast in the Elf Training Academy making ornaments.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

You seriously aren’t shocked that I monogrammed mine…right?

And we created our annual Gingerbread house with Nutmeg the Gingerbread Man!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

PRO-TIP: At the entrance to the Alpine Sweet Shop, you will find bags of candy to purchase. Our bag was less than $3 and having the extra options made the decorating process less stressful. It was AWESOME!!!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Help the Grinch

A staple of every event at the Gaylord Palms Resort is their scavenger hunt, and this year you get the explore the beautifully decorated resort to help The Grinch. 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

The Grinch’s Wonderful Awful Idea Scavenger Hunt lets families solve puzzles together for a great prize. 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Time together + holiday fun + the opportunity to walk-off and earn more holiday treats = Priceless

Amazing Entertainment 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms has gone out of its way to maintain its fantastic entertainment schedule in a safe environment for performers and audience members.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2019

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped is once again filling the St. Augustine Atrium Stage with thrilling acts several times a night. 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

The Greatest Story, a multicultural, musical journey celebrating the story of Christ, will fill your heart with the holiday spirit.

Christmas atChristmas at Gaylord Palms 2020 Gaylord Palms 2020

And you won’t want to miss the #LIT light show featuring thousands of sparkling lights, a larger-than-life Christmas Tree, and holiday music.

Tickets and Packages 

Christmas at Gaylord Palms 2020

Tickets and overnight Christmas packages including admission into the I Love Christmas Movies experience are available now at ChristmasatGaylordPalms.com and ILoveChristmasMoviesExperience.com.

Online advance reservations are required for all ticketed Christmas at Gaylord Palms events and face-coverings must be worn at all times during activities. 

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Holiday Fun at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

This year, Santa will bring the North Pole experience to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort with a new Santa’s Village themed area for guests to enjoy a socially distant, yet festive holiday experience – without the North Pole weather!

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elf, Kandy Kane, return for their annual holiday vacation to Santa’s favorite resort as part of the resort’s 2020 holiday season celebration.

On select nights beginning November 27, the new Santa’s Village experience will give the young and young-at-heart a chance to experience the sights, scents, and sounds of the holidays.

Playful elves will host socially distant reindeer games and guests will enjoy specialty drinks from Santa’s ho-ho-hometown in the hotel’s restaurants, take part in holiday cookie decorating and meet and take socially distanced pictures with the big man himself.

The full slate of Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort holiday activities include:

Santa and Mrs. Claus Meet and Greets

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Christmas Santa and Mrs. Claus on the balcony

Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Kandy Kane, decked out in their favorite Florida vacation attire, will meet guests on select nights Nov – Dec. This unique, socially distanced holiday photo opportunity is filled with Florida flair, featuring reindeer, palm trees, flamingos, and holiday cheer.

Event dates: November 27-28, December 4-5, December 11-12, December 18-19, and December 21-22.

Cookie Decorating

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Fun has never tasted so sweet! On select nights, families can participate in a favorite holiday tradition – cookie decorating.

Kids and parents alike can unleash their creativity on frosted sugar cookies from the hotel’s award-winning food and beverage team, then devour their delicious creations.

The cookie decorating will be arranged with special health protocols in place. 

Life-Size Chocolate Holiday Santa Scene

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel Christmas Largest Santa

Constructed entirely of chocolate, this life-size sculpture weighs approximately 2,000 pounds!

The sculpture, created by a two-time world pastry champion and the resort’s executive pastry chef, Laurent Branlard, is showcased in the Swan Hotel.

It features chocolate Santa sitting in his chair; a 7-foot-tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker; a chocolate fireplace; a chocolate Christmas tree, and chocolate toy train.

The scene will be displayed throughout December and is 100 percent edible.

However, any chocolate lovers thinking of taking on the challenge of consuming this enormous sweet should consider that it is 4 million calories! (And unfortunately, the sculpture is not available for tasting.)

Dancing Lights Show

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

A dazzling musical light show transforms the outdoor causeway each evening into a holiday spectacle with dancing illuminated palm trees and favorite holiday tunes. The performances occur regularly from sunset through 10 p.m.  

Magic Keys for Santa on Christmas Eve

How will Santa deliver presents to each guest room without a chimney? With a magic key of course!

Children can hang a magic key on their door to help Santa find his way on Christmas Eve. Magic keys are available on December 24 at the concierge desk.

Deck-The-Halls Decoration Packages

Extend the hotel’s festive décor to your guestroom. Guests can order a Deck-The-Halls decoration package, where elves will transform their room with holiday-themed décor and leave behind some tasty treats and a specialized holiday note for the kids.

This is an ideal way to surprise the family after returning from a fun day in the theme parks! Hanukkah packages are also available.

Advance reservations required. Fees apply. 

24/7 In-Room Holiday Movies

Families can enjoy round-the-clock holiday cheer with a variety of free holiday-themed movies available in-room.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

Guests can join all the holiday excitement with rates starting at $167 per night. And, if they are on the nice list, they can also enjoy a special bonus: up to 50% off a second room. Just use the code: SANTA. 


For more details about all the holiday excitement, including a full schedule of activities, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort or to make room reservations, please visit www.santasfavoriteresort.com or call 1-800-227-1500.

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Universal’s Holiday Tour Debuts

Starting November 22, guests can take their holiday celebrations at Universal Orlando Resort to the next level with the all-new Universal’s Holiday Tour, a specially guided tour filled with exclusive access to holiday experiences across the theme parks.

Available on select dates this holiday season, the guided experience will give guests the opportunity to:   

Universal Orlando Resort Universal's Holiday Tour
  • Enjoy priority access to Universal’s Holiday Experience Featuring Macy’s Balloons, where they can get up-close with larger-than-life parade balloons and stunning floats inspired by everything from iconic holiday staples to characters from popular animated films – and enjoy a special appearance by Santa Claus
Universal Orlando Resort Universal's Holiday Tour
  • Embark on a tour of the first-ever Holiday Tribute Store, featuring four incredibly-themed rooms – including one inspired by The Grinch – stocked with a variety of new merchandise
Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020
  • Meet and greet The Grinch at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous in Seuss Landing, where they can encounter the mean, green one himself and enjoy a delicious Hot Cocoa Bar
  • Cap off the evening in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure with an exclusive showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – a stunning projection of holiday spirit and Christmas moments inspired by the beloved “Harry Potter” stories
Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020
  • And, guests will also receive a special, themed gift during the tour to commemorate their experience

Universal’s Holiday Tour is available on select dates beginning November 22  through January 3, 2021, and can be booked by calling 1-866-346-9350 between 9 a.m.-7 p.m. EST daily, or going online and visiting www.universalorlando.com/HolidayTour or by writing an email to VIPExperience@UniversalOrlando.com

Pricing starts at $59.99 (plus tax) and separate theme park admission with a 2-Park 1-Day Park-to-Park ticket is required.

Universal Orlando passholders receive a special discount on the tour with pricing starting at $49.99 (plus tax) per ticket, per passholder. Passholders can book and take advantage of their discount through the VIP Call Center and in-park at the UOAP Lounge.

Universal Orlando continues to implement its enhanced health and safety procedures and guidelines focused on “screening, spacing, and sanitization” across its entire destination, and those practices will be applied to all experiences taking place during Universal’s Holiday Tour. Key measures include requiring face coverings, enforcing social distancing, limiting capacity in each tour group and at each experience throughout the tour, including at “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle,” and more.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays

Universal’s Holiday Tour has limited availability and advanced reservations are required. For more information about this offering and all of Universal Orlando’s Holidays experiences, plus incredible deals for guests to take advantage of this season – including the limited-time “Get 3 Days Free When You Buy 2 Days” offer that is available for purchase through January 6, 2021, the “Get 3 Days for $55 per Day plus tax” offer for Florida residents, and $100 savings on select annual and seasonal passes – visit www.UniversalOrlando.com.

You can find more information about the holidays in and around the theme parks by subscribing to our YouTube Channel and following @onthegoinmco on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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Dazzling Lights transforms Leu Gardens

Dazzling Lights Harry P. Leu Gardens Holidays 2020

Orlando’s Harry P. Leu Gardens will transform into a magical wonderland featuring a million dazzling lights, shining forests, magical displays, and beautiful sculptures during Dazzling Nights, a new family-friendly adventure that gives guests the opportunity to embark on a three-quarter-mile interactive holiday experience.

Created by the team who brings the IMMERSE Festival to Downtown Orlando every Octoberand presented by AdventHealth, Dazzling Nightsis an awe-inspiring holiday event.

“When we began dreaming about a holiday experience, we knew it had to be more than just lights on trees,” says Creative City Project Executive Director, Cole NeSmith. “We’re always asking how we can create unique, creative experiences that will inspire our guests. Some of the installations are breathtakingly epic, and others are quite intimate. We think adults and kids, alike, are going to want to make this an annual tradition.”

Dazzling Lights Harry P. Leu Gardens Holidays 2020

A few snapshots of the Dazzling Nights fun:

  • When guests arrive at Leu Gardens, they will have a photo opportunity in front of a unique, 30’ tall towering Christmas tree.
  • Interactive lights on the ground light up and ring-like holiday bells when stepped upon.•Guests journey through a forest of light and fog, as if walking through the aurora borealis.
  • Visitors immerse themselves in a 65’ long tunnel of wondrous light.
  • The evening event also features snow and holiday tunes.
  • And so much more!

The outdoor event is designed to ensure adequate social distancing and safety amid theCOVID-19 pandemic, and visitors will be required to wear masks.

“Our holiday traditions may look a little different this year because of COVID, and that gives us an opportunity to find new ways to discover joy, feel whole and find inspiration this season,” said Sharon Line Clary, vice president of marketing at AdventHealth. “We encourage our neighbors to visit Dazzling Nights, take in the fresh Florida air, and celebrate the holidays at the beautiful Leu Gardens with your loved ones.”

Dazzling Nights will feature lights, music, and interactive elements to complete the transformation of the 50-acre, Harry P. Leu Gardens into a stunning holiday wonderland.

“AdventHealth is the perfect partner for Dazzling Nights,” says NeSmith. “They are committed to the wholeness and healing of all people, and I think Dazzling Nights will do just that. I’m excited to see spirits lifted among families and groups of friends as they share this meaningful experience together.”

You can find more information about the holidays in and around the theme parks by subscribing to our YouTube Channel and following @onthegoinmco on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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Dockside Inn and Suites Announces Opening Date

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, the newest hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, will open to guests for the first time on December 15, 2020, with an impressively low starting rate of $79 per night.

Dockside Inn and Suites will be the second hotel in the destination’s Value category, joining sister property Surfside Inn and Suites.

The extra-affordable resort will add 2,050 guest rooms, featuring standard rooms and spacious 2-Bedroom Suites. And with the low $79 per night rate, the all-new hotel creates a value experience that is unmatched in the Orlando area.

Brought to life by the award-winning Universal Creative team, Dockside Inn and Suites will make guests feel like they have escaped to the perfect sunset with the cool, calm feeling of a beach retreat. It’s the destination’s eighth property in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co, providing Universal Orlando guests with a variety of hotel options for every style and budget, complete with exclusive theme park benefits and a seamless vacation experience.

At Dockside Inn and Suites, guests can experience all that the hotel and Universal Orlando have to offer, including:

  • 2Bedroom Suites – These suites, which make up more than half the rooms at both Dockside Inn and Suites & Surfside Inn and Suites, sleep up to six and offer guests an unrivaled value. With two separate rooms, families no longer need two connecting rooms for extra space. There is also a kitchenette area, a picnic table for meals and hanging out, and a bathroom with separate bath and vanity areas so multiple people can get ready at once. The 2-Bedroom Suites begin as low as $120 per night based on a four-night stay.
  • Exclusive Theme Park Benefits – Hotel guests receive exclusive benefits including Early Park Admission to the theme parks, complimentary and convenient shuttle bus transportation, charging privileges with their room key, and more.
  • Pier 8 Market – The all-American Pier 8 Market offers casual dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu will feature extra-affordable options with most dishes under $12, ranging from themed comfort foods to convenient on-the-go options.
  • Awesome Amenities – The lobby bar, Sunset Lounge, serves specialty cocktails and is the perfect place to unwind after a day at the theme parks. The hotel will feature two pools and two pool bars as well as a Universal Orlando Vacation Planning Center, Universal Studios Store, and more.
Universal Endless Summer Resort Dockside Inn and Suites Rendering
Universal Orlando Resort

To learn more about this brand new hotel or to make a reservation, call 1-888-464-3617 or visit http://www.universalorlando.com/dockside.

Universal Orlando continues to implement its enhanced health and safety procedures and guidelines focused on “screening, spacing, and sanitization” across its entire destination, including its hotels. Key measures include requiring face coverings, requiring temperature checks for guests and team members, enhanced cleaning of guest rooms and public areas, managing capacity at food and beverage outlets, offering several contactless experiences, and more. For more details on our safety measures, please visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/plan-your-visit/safety-faqs.

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The Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace, taking place select nights until January 2nd, is full of holiday fun for the entire family including the Holiday Village complete with thousands of dazzling Christmas lights, live music, snow, and Santa Claus!

You can even dine on specialty food & beverage or shop at the Christmas Marketplace. Food, beverage, and merchandise are available at an additional cost.

Society Orchestra

Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace

Fresh off their 32 year run at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Society Orchestra has found their new Holiday Home at Jolly Creek.

The Jolly Creek Society Orchestra plays nightly at Jolly Creek, every hour for 20 minutes.

See it Snow

Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace

The whole family will love the artificial snowfall each hour of the Jolly Creek Holiday Festival!

Meet Santa Claus

Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace

No visit to a Holiday Village is complete without meeting the big man himself.

Santa Claus will be available on a socially distanced stage and you can interact with him from a distance of 6 feet.

All guests are permitted to take selfies with Santa, but may not approach or stand on the stage.

Marketplace, Specialty Food & Beverage, Crafting, & More

Available at additional cost, guests can indulge on unique Christmas shopping, some festive Holiday bites, or try their hand at Christmas Crafts, all with the aid of Santa’s Helpers.

Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace

The best part is that a portion of the proceeds of this event goes to benefit the Second Harvest Central Florida food bank.

Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace

Tickets for the Jolly Creek Holiday Festival & Marketplace are available now online.

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Christmas Town 2020 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Christmas Town, the park’s award-winning holiday event is kicking off with a preview weekend with light displays and select entertainment elements on November 14 and 15 with the full Christmas Town running daily with park-wide festivities from November 20, 2020, through January 3, 2021.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020

To bring the merriment to life, Busch Gardens’ creative team has consulted with medical experts to offer a modified event with required reservations and limited capacity that celebrates the spirit of the season safely.

This seasonal event features open-air entertainment and experiences as well as enhanced health, safety, and sanitation measures, including temperature checks, face-covering requirements, and physical distancing.

Included in park admission, park guests can enjoy holiday traditions with a twist, from millions of twinkling lights throughout the park’s 335 acres to physically distant holiday shows, breathtaking animal encounters, and contact-free visits with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020

Christmas Town Holiday Entertainment

A warm-weather winter wonderland awaits park guests with a variety of holiday programs offered throughout the event. Guests are encouraged to check the park’s website before visiting to learn which programs are available each date.

  • NEW “Spark the Night” Fireworks Show: This year, guests will have several opportunities to enjoy festive bursts of Christmas colors as they cover the sky in a dazzling display. Fireworks are offered select nights throughout the event at the Festival field, offering plenty of space for guests to spread out and enjoy the sights.
  • “Christmas on Ice”: For the first time ever, park guests can enjoy Busch Gardens’ longest-running holiday show at a NEW outdoor location on the Festival Stage. This fan-favorite skating production will perform awe-inspiring delights on real ice for physically distant audiences every Friday through Sunday and additional holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020
  • Elmo’s Christmas Wish: Families can sing and dance with their favorite furry friends in this fun holiday show. Celebrate the Christmas spirit with Sesame Street in the outdoor Sunny Day Theater with physically distant seating.
  • Three Kings Journey: The musical tale of the famed journey to Bethlehem is now offered alongside festive eats at the spacious Dragon Fire Grill.
  • Holly Jolly Express: All aboard for Christmas Cheer! With limited capacity, this locomotive is on track to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with favorite songs of the season as guests venture through the park in a festive fashion.

Card-Worthy and Contact-Free Photo Opportunities

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020
  • Santa’s Merry Meet & Greet: Jolly elves guide guests to see Santa for a physically distant photo at a spacious new outdoor location this holiday season.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Jingle all the way to Pantopia to Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland to find the most famous reindeer of all and snap some contact-free pictures with Rudolph and Clarice.
  • Original Christmas Town Characters: For moments that sparkle, guests will encounter the Poinsettia Princess, Sugar Plum Princess, Ice Princess, and jolly snowmen throughout their Christmas Town journey.
  • Sesame Street Friends: Enjoy physically distant photo opportunities with everyone’s favorite furry friends in their festive holiday attire.

Holiday Eats & Unique Gifts

As guests dash through the night between iconic rollercoasters, they can explore the Christmas Town Village: a delicious destination filled with drinks and dishes from an all-NEW chef and mixologist crafted holiday menu.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020

Beyond a selection of fan-favorite seasonal beers and mulled wine, guests can also choose from a variety of NEW holiday-inspired beverages rooted in classic Christmas traditions.

These unique, limited-time options include specialty cocktails like the “Winter Wonderland Hot Toddy” made with winter cider, honey whiskey, and a chai infusion and the festive “Spiked Hot Cocoa” with gingerbread crumbles, caramel, and whipped cream.

The spirit of the season is in every bite of holiday dishes throughout the park such as sliced pork tenderloin, smoked turkey legs with pumpkin cider glaze, harvest turkey and prosciutto sliders, and a variety of peppermint desserts. 

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020

The best way for guests to savor and save during the holidays is with a Christmas Town Sampler Lanyard, starting at ONLY $34.99 for a 5-punch lanyard. Pass members can enjoy an extra special offer with an exclusive 12-punch lanyard for the price of a 10-punch lanyard to sip and savor throughout the event.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town 2020

After fueling up for festive fun, guests can check everyone off their holiday shopping list from dazzling ornaments to charming nutcrackers with Busch Gardens exclusive 2020 holiday merchandise which is only available during this special event. 

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Holidays at the Universal Orlando Resort

The Universal Orlando Resort is unwrapping details on their 2020 Holiday celebrations, happening daily from November 14 through January 3, 2021, and it is going to be EPIC!

This holiday season the Universal Orlando Resort is spreading holiday cheer with some of their most beloved holiday traditions and characters returning in a reimagined way that align with the destination’s enhanced health and safety procedures as well as the debut of experiences such as the all-new “Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons”.

The best gift of all is that these holiday offerings are all included with your theme park admission!!!

Let’s take a look at what you can experience this holiday season at the Universal Orlando Resort!

2020 Holidays at the Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020

The streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will become beautifully adorned with themed decorations, garlands, and lights as the sounds of special holiday-themed performances fill the air throughout the lands. Guests can hear both magical and Muggle Christmas carols from the Frog Choir comprised of Hogwarts students and their giant croaking frogs, as well as the unique holiday hits of one of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensations, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. There will also be seasonal treats, holiday eats, and beverages – including the highly-anticipated return of the fan-favorite, hot Butterbeer.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and Who-liday Character Appearances at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020

It wouldn’t be a holiday celebration without the mean, green one himself! While visiting Seuss Landing in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, holiday-goers will enjoy appearances by the maven of mischief, The Grinch, as he continues to try and find ways to steal holiday cheer and the merry Whos from Whoville.

Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons at Universal Studios Florida

November 2018 Theme Park Events - Universal Studios Florida Universal Orlando Resort Universal's Macy's Holiday Parade Minion Despicable Me
Universal Orlando Resort

New this year, guests will have the opportunity to get up-close with larger-than-life parade balloons and floats like never before during “Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons.” Guests will stroll along a picturesque pathway where they’ll encounter elaborate floats and stunning balloons inspired by everything from iconic holiday staples like reindeer and the Nutcracker, to characters from popular animated films, including the mischievous Minions from Illumination’s “Despicable Me” and “Minions” films, Gingy, The Gingerbread Man, from DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” movies and the penguins from DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar” franchise. And it all culminates with a special appearance by Santa Claus and the opportunity to take a socially-distanced portrait with the big man himself.

Universal’s Holiday Character Celebration at Universal Studios Florida

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020

During “Universal’s Holiday Character Celebration,” guests can celebrate the holiday season with the Minions and other beloved characters from Illumination’s “Despicable Me” and “Minions” films, and with DreamWorks Animation’s treasured family of Shrek characters and King Julien and the crew from the “Madagascar” franchise. Guests will sing and dance along with some of their favorite characters as they arrive aboard incredibly-festive parade floats, then perform special holiday show moments that the entire family will enjoy. Afterward, guests will have the chance to take socially-distanced photos of themselves with the characters and floats.

First-Ever Holiday Tribute Store

A brand-new Tribute Store dedicated to the Holidays will debut at Universal Studios Florida for the holiday season. Located in the New York area of the park, guests will come dashing through the store into a winter wonderland featuring four immersive rooms – including one inspired by Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch – stocked with a variety of new merchandise that will make perfect holiday gifts, plus delicious seasonal food items. Guests can also browse Universal’s assortment of Holidays merchandise and make purchases online by visiting www.shop.UniversalOrlando.com

Holiday Tree Hunt

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020

Guests who purchase the Holiday Tree Hunt will embark on a search for 16 holiday-themed trees scattered throughout various merchandise locations in the theme parks and CityWalk. Guests will receive a brochure that outlines the participating locations, where they’ll have to collect stamps to mark their visit to each stop. Those who successfully complete the entire hunt will receive an exclusive Holiday Tree Hunt-branded ornament.

Holiday Treat Trail

Guests can participate by grabbing a complimentary Holiday Treat Trail brochure that outlines a list of specialty food and beverage menu items across select dining venues. Those who purchase all qualifying items will receive a special sweet treat.

Universal Orlando continues to implement its enhanced health and safety procedures and guidelines focused on “screening, spacing, and sanitization,” and those practices will be applied to all experiences taking place during the destination’s Holiday celebration. Key measures include screening guests and team members, enforcing social distancing, requiring face coverings, limiting capacity at the parks, attractions, and hotels, and increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures, and more.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2020

I am BEYONDDDDD ready to start celebrating the holiday season with these holiday offerings!!!

You can find more information about the holidays in and around the theme parks by subscribing to our YouTube Channel and following @onthegoinmco on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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