Busch Gardens Christmas Celebrations 2022
By James | Last updated December 28, 2023
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In 2022, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay holds their “Christmas Town Celebration” from before Thanksgiving on November 14 until January 9, 2023 with a preview November 13 for pass holders.
In earlier years it only ran on most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6 pm to 10 pm plus other selected nights but nowadays it is on every night though some attractions are still open only on select days.
Originally it was a separately ticketed after-hours event but from 2014 Christmas Town has been included in the regular park admission and features a range of Christmas attractions, shows and rides plus shops and restaurants.
Many of the signature thrill rides like Falcon’s Fury, Cheetah Hunt and SheiKra are open and the park is decorated throughout with millions of sparkling lights. A special light tunnel “Luminosity Lane” between Congo to Stanleyville is synchronised with music for an amazing display. You will also find wonderful light displays throughout the park including Morocco, Cheetah Walkway and Plaza, Flamingo Way and Bird Gardens.
Christmas Town Upgrades
Admission to Christmas Town is included with your regular ticket but you can purchase a number of upgrades to enhance your day as described below.
Christmas Town Meet & Greets
Busch Gardens has two main meet-and-greet photo opportunities:
- Santa Claus and his elves
- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and friends
Santa’s Merry Meet & Greet
You can meet with Santa Claus and his elves in a new outdoor “Santa’s Merry Meet & Greet” location at the Coca-Cola Canopy in the Bird Gardens. There are a range of photo package add-ons if you want an official 6×8 inch print.
Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland
New from 2016 is the “Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland” in Pantopia where you get the chance to meet the reindeers Rudolph and Clarice plus Yukon, Cornelius and Bumble.
Meet & Greet Priority Access
Both meet-and-greets are open from 3:00 p.m. daily, but closed on Wednesday December 2, 9, and 16. The meet-and-greets end on December 24.
You can buy a front-of-line “After 3 P.M. Priority Access Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland
and Santa’s Merry Meet & Greet” pass to both meet-and-greets from $29.99 plus tax per person and you are allowed up to 6 people in your group. Each pass gives you a single priority access to both Santa’s Merry Meet & Greet and Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland plus a 6×8 inch photo at each meet-and-greet. Note that places are limited.
Other photo opportunities can be found at Christmas Town in Morocco and the Bird Gardens with the Ice Princess, Poinsettia Princess and Sugar Plum Princess as well as jolly snowmen. Festively dressed Sesame Street characters can be found in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun.
Christmas Town Shows
Busch Gardens is well known for its Christmas shows and 2022 is no exception. All shows are included with the standard admission ticket including two different concerts (select nights).
All show times were correct at the time of publishing but you should check with the Busch Gardens schedule or on their park app for the latest times.
Note that some of the events only take place on the specified Christmas Celebration event days whilst others take place every day during the holiday season so it is worth checking before purchasing your tickets.
Luminosity Lane Light Tunnel
The “Luminosity Lane Light Tunnel” is an amazing pathway illuminated with tens of thousands of coloured pulsating lights that connects the Stanleyville and Congo areas. Festive Christmas favourites play as you walk through.
Christmas on Ice
This year, the long running “Christmas on Ice” returns to the Moroccan Palace Theater. Watch professional skaters dancing to Yuletide songs all set in a wintery scene.
Christmas on Ice takes place on select nights (most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays plus Thanksgiving and every day from December 24 to 31). There are usually four performances per night at 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Seating is complimentary on a first-come first-served basis so make sure you arrive early to guarantee admission to the theater.
In previous years you could see professional ice skaters performing “Angels of Peace: A Christmas Journey on Ice” in the Stanleyville Theater but during the pandemic it was performed outside on a bigger stage at the Festival Field next to Christmas Town in the Bird Gardens.
You could buy a “VIP Seating” package from $19.99 per person and Pass holders could get up to a 10% discount.
Each ticket gave you reserved seating to one performance on the selected date at the selected time. Also included in the price was a complimentary drink; either a cocktail, bottled water or a soda at the exclusive Polar Pavilion VIP bar.
Storytime with Mrs Claus
“Storytime with Mrs Claus” is located outdoors at the Coke Canopy near the Christmas Town Village.
Here you can listen to Mrs Claus as she shares traditional holiday tales and songs. It takes place hourly from 5:30 p.m. until park close.
Three Kings Journey
At the Dragon Fire Grill you can enjoy a festive meal whilst listening to the musical tale of the three wise men’s journey to Bethlehem in the “Three Kings Journey” show.
It takes place at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. each night plus 8:30 p.m. when the park closes at 10:00 p.m.
Elmo’s Christmas Wish
Over in Sesame Street Safari of Fun you can join up with Elmo, Cookie Monster, Grover, Zoe and Rosita at the outdoor Sunny Day Theater for a festive song and dance in the “Elmo’s Christmas Wish” show.
There are typically four shows a day at 12:30, 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. When the park closes later at either 9:00 or 10:00 then there is an extra show at 7:30 p.m.
Christmas with the Celts
The “Christmas with the Celts” show takes place in the Stanleyville Theater and is a fusion of modern holiday music with traditional Celtic Christmas carols and Irish Dance.
It takes place on select nights, December 16 to 18 and 23 to 25 at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Wizards of Winter
The “Wizards of Winter” features musicians from Def Leppard and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra plus singers from Broadway and the theatre in a Winter Rock Opera called “The Winter Dream”.
Based on music from their latest releases “The Christmas Dream” and “The Magic of Winter” it is performed on January 6 to 8, 2023 at the Stanleyville Theater.
Holidays in the Sky Fireworks Show
The “Holidays in the Sky Fireworks Show” presented by Bad Boy Mowers takes place on the Festival Field every Saturday plus other select nights around Christmas time, namely:
- November 19 to 23, 25 & 26
- December 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 to 31
- January 1
Fireworks start at 9:00 p.m. except on December 24 when they start at 8:00 p.m. and at midnight on December 31 to ring in the New Year.
Seating on the bleachers is complimentary. The Festival Field has plenty of space to watch the fireworks synchronised to all your favourite Christmas and holiday songs.
In previous years, you could buy a “VIP Seating Plus Fireworks” package from $24.99 per person. Each ticket gave you reserved seating to last Christmas on Ice performance followed by the fireworks show on the selected date. Pass holders could get up to a 10% discount.
Also included in the price was a complimentary drink; either a cocktail, bottled water or a soda at the exclusive Polar Pavilion VIP bar.
Holly Jolly Express
During the seasonal festivities the narrow gauge vintage steam locomotive train “Serengeti Express” is decked out with Christmas decorations as the “Holly Jolly Express”. As the trains chug around the park along the 2 miles of track, you can observe African wildlife like giraffes, rhinos and zebras whilst singing along and enjoying the many songs of the season including Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
There are three stations where you can board the train in the Congo, Nairobi and Stanleyville but capacity is limited on this 25 minute ride.
Busch Gardens Christmas Town Tours
In 2022 Busch Gardens are offering two special private guided tours to give you that truly memorable day.
Both tours also require that you purchase a regular admission ticket and prices are plus taxes.
Christmas Town VIP Tour
The VIP Tour is the shorter tour and operates on Fridays through Sundays starting at 4:45 p.m. at the Serengeti Outpost.
Minimum party size is two people as you accompany a guide on a four hour tour.
The tour costs from $139.99 per person (aged 3 and over) and includes the following experiences and amenities:
- front of line access to both photo opportunities at Santa’s house and Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland
- feed Flamingos at Animal Connections
- reserved seating at the Christmas on Ice show
- a complimentary photo
- a complimentary Souvenir mug with hot cocoa and a cookie plus a free refill
- a complimentary Christmas Town menu item
Christmas Town Elite Tour
The Elite Tour is longer and operates every day starting at 3:00 p.m. at the Serengeti Outpost.
Maximum party size is ten people as you accompany a guide on an up to seven hour customisable tour.
The tour costs from $399.99 per person (aged 3 and over) and includes the following experiences and amenities:
- Serengeti Safari Tour
- Aldabra Tortoise interaction
- dinner at one of the park restaurants
- reserved seating at the Christmas on Ice show
- front of line access to all the major attractions plus one time ride on Iron Gwazi
- preferred parking
Christmas Town Village
The “Christmas Town Village” offers plenty of seasonal food and drink options and opens at 4:00 p.m. each day. It is located near the Bird Gardens.
Here you will find nearly a dozen decorated cabins selling sampler treats from the specially created holiday menu. Several other cabins are located throughout the park including in Pantopia and Egypt
As well as the usual fare like cookies, mulled wine and hot chocolate there are also delights like:
- Jack Frost — coconut rum, blue curaçao and a splash of lime
- Specialty Hot Cocoa — choose from peppermint or gingerbread, served in a souvenir cup topped with whipped cream. You can also add Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlúa or Peppermint schnapps
- Pork Loin — served with apple demi-glaze and butternut squash puree
- Braised Beef — with roasted garlic smashed potatoes
- Smoke BBQ Chicken Slider — with pickled cucumbers
- Christmas Town Signature Cupcakes — choose from Raspberry Poinsettia, Nutella Nutcracker, Coconut Snowball and Peppermint Ganache
- Snickerdoodle Apple Pie — ala mode
Prices per item typically range between $5.99 and $14.99. If you are planning on trying more than a couple of dishes or drinks then it might be worth thinking about buying a Christmas Town Sampler Lanyard.
Note that the All-Day Dining deal cannot be used at the Christmas Town Village cabins.
A Christmas Town 5-Item Food & Beverage Sampler is $40.00 plus tax or $55.00 plus tax for a Christmas Town 10-Item Food & Beverage Sampler.
Annual pass holders can buy a 12 punch lanyard for the price of a 10 punch lanyard.
Each time you purchase an item using your lanyard, the cast member punches a hole through your card so a five punch lanyard entitles you to five food or drink items. They are good for the duration of the entire 2022 Christmas Town event so they do not have to be used up all on one night if you plan to visit again.
Note they are only valid in the Christmas Town Village and you will need to show ID to obtain alcoholic beverages.
As well as the food and drinks, there are special holiday merchandise and gifts, which are only available during the Christmas Town event. Located right outside of the Christmas Town Village is Xcursions, a one-stop-shop for all your holiday gifts including gifts made by local artisans.
You will also find holiday inspired merchandise at the Marrakesh Market, Emporium and Painted Camel.
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