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Florida Thanksgiving & Christmas 2020

Christmas parade in Winter Garden
Christmas parade in Winter Garden

Florida is a truly magical place during the holiday season. Most theme parks start the holiday season after Halloween, incorporating Thanksgiving and then continuing on through Christmas to the start of the New Year.

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year in Florida so it is important to make sure you arrive at the parks early as often they will close when they reach capacity and it also makes sense to make dinner reservations well in advance.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic all parks have had to reduce capacity and most are insisting that guests book their dates in advance, no just turning up at the gate.

Most of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are free or included in the standard ticket admission, others are by separate ticket (as described below)

Walt Disney World

Disney holds Christmas holiday events in all their parks, the biggest event being separately ticketed “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” at the Magic Kingdom.

Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party was cancelled in 2020. Other casualties include the Candlelight Processional and [Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!.

In 2020 the celebrations run from November 6 to December 30 and Disney has made changes to their entertainment schedules to cope with the social distancing requirements. This means no scheduled parades and no fireworks. A lot of dessert parties, stage shows and character meet-and-greets have also been suspended.

Read more about the Christmas celebrations in:

Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas celebrations at the Universal Orlando Resort take place between November 14 and January 3, 2021. Unlike the other parks in 2020, Universal has not introduced an admission reservation system and because it is still limited by social distancing constraints, it often reaches capacity at this time of year.

Like other parks it has had to suspend its signature parade, the “Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s” in Universal Studios Florida. Instead some of the parade floats are being displayed in one of the sound studios.

Other casualties include the live music concerts with “Mannheim Steamroller”, “Star Toons Holiday Show”, “Barney’s Holiday Show” and the “Blues Brothers Holiday Show”.

A lot of the entertainment centred around Harry Potter is still going ahead including “Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees”, “Holiday Frog Choir” and “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”.

Read more about the Christmas celebrations at Universal Orlando Resort.

SeaWorld

From just before Thanksgiving, from November 14 to December 31 except for Tuesdays between November 17 and December 15, SeaWorld is specially decorated for the holiday season.

To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic there are a number of changes this year including social distancing and contact-free visits with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

To visit SeaWorld Christmas Celebration you must make a reservation as capacity is limited, even if you are a pass holder or have a Fun Card and closing times have been extended at weekends.

Read more about the Christmas celebrations at SeaWorld.

Busch Gardens

In 2020, Busch Gardens holds their “Christmas Town Celebration” from before Thanksgiving on November 20 until January 3, 2021 with a preview weekend on November 14 and 15.

In previous years it only ran on most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6 pm to 10 pm plus other selected nights but for 2020 it is on every night though some attractions are still only on select days.

To cope with the COVID-19 pandemic there are a number of changes this year including reservations, social distancing, contact-free visits with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, moving the “Christmas on Ice” show outdoors for the first time ever and new holiday fireworks.

Read more about the Christmas celebrations at Busch Gardens.

Gaylord Palms Resort

Between November 13, 2020 and January 3, 2021, the Gaylord Palms resort hotel in Orlando presents their annual Christmas event. For many years the highlight was a spectacular walk-through holiday attraction called “ICE!” carved from over two million pounds of ice but due to the COVID-19 pandemic ICE! has been cancelled for 2020 due to travel restrictions from China but will return in 2021.

Despite the cancellation of ICE!, the Gaylord Palms has still put together an amazing collection of holiday activities, shows, and events.

Read more about the Christmas celebrations at the Gaylord Palms Resort.

Disney’s Celebration

In Celebration, the town that Disney built, the “Now Snowing” event has been renamed as “Celebration’s Winter Wonderland” for 2020. It begins after Thanksgiving on November 28 and continues until New Year’s Eve.

Read more about Celebration’s Winter Wonderland.