If you are planning to travel to Orlando during the holidays, this is the post for you! We just got back from an action-packed weekend in Orlando full of fun holiday activities. 2020 might look different but it doesn’t mean it can’t be festive. Here is all the information you will need when planning your next trip with the best Christmas Events in Orlando.

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A Christmas Vacation in Orlando

When trying to figure out where to take the family on a holiday vacation or just a weekend jaunt within the state, there are lots of things to consider.

Where will you stay? What Christmas events in Orlando will you prioritize? Are the events taking proper safety precautions? (Hello 2020) Where should we eat? Is there outside seating available? 

In this post, I’ll highlight the best Orlando has to offer this Christmas Season and more…

christmas events in Orlando

WHERE TO STAY IN ORLANDO

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Our family recently stayed at this wonderful resort and had an absolute blast!

One of our favorite things about staying at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel is the proximity to several of the Disney parks. You are actually walking distance to Epcot and Hollywood studios, which makes getting in and out of the park a breeze. That alone is a huge reason why we pick this hotel when staying in Orlando. One night we craved one of those big Mickey cookies after dinner and we walked to the boardwalk and got one! It’s the little things ;)

One of the questions I get all the time is how we stay in a hotel as a family of 5. At the Swan and Dolphin hotel, the rooms are extremely spacious so we are able to all stay in one room. We had two double beds and were able to request a rollaway bed as well and it was perfect. We didn’t feel cramped at all.

Also, the amenities are incredible on property. There is a gorgeous pool, several restaurants, and the girls even spent some time in the game room. We loved the convenience of the quick service restaurants and would stop by every morning for a yummy cup of coffee.

There is always something new going on at the Swan and Dolphin and you can keep up with it all right on their own mobile app.

During the Holidays, the Swan and Dolphin is “Santa’s Favorite Resort” and there are so many activities offered. With festive bright colored light shows and other awesome entertainment, it’s one of our favorite places to stay during the holiday season. You have to check out the life-size Santa made of chocolate in the lobby of the Swan!

Be sure to explore both properties when you stay with them, as there’s something special about each one and lots of Christmas Events.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Masks are required in all public areas of the resorts, including the pool area and guest hallways.
  • Maintaining social distancing is required as marked in all lines and queues about the property. 

Santas holiday hangout

Santa’s Holiday Hangout and Cookie Decorating, Swan Resort

Meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their special elf Kandy Kane by the Swan poolside from 6-8 pm on select nights.

Take photos with Santa in his Florida-themed attire. Chat with Mrs. Claus as she shares stories and tells her cookie baking secrets. Laugh with their elf Kandy Kane as she talks with the kids about their interests and talks to them about their Christmas wishes. 

Then the children can have more fun as they decorate their own festive holiday cookies.

Finish up poolside with a refreshing Winter Cocktail and some delicious Hot Cocoa while enjoying your cookies.

Safety Guidelines:

 

Holiday Dining, Fresh at Dolphin Resort

There are many excellent restaurants to choose from, along with coffee shops and marketplaces to buy quick snacks and drinks.

Our family enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at Fresh, where we dined socially distant from other guests. They had a great selection of fresh food made to order like pancakes, Mickey waffles, eggs, bacon and sausage. There was also a delicious assortment of pastries, yogurt parfaits and fruit bowls to go along with a selection of juices.

We had an excellent experience and appreciate the great customer service and friendly staff. 

Safety Guidelines:

  • Tables are spaced out in the restaurant well beyond social distancing guidelines.
  • All food and beverage are served by staff only and can be picked up by guests in a socially distanced line.

Opting for a Vacation Home instead of a hotel stay? Read all about our Orlando vacation home experience here

THE BEST HOLIDAY EVENTS IN ORLANDO

Dazzling Nights at Leu Gardens

This was a stunning outdoor event, perfect for the current climate of social distancing. 

The entire 50-acres of Harry P. Leu Gardens is transformed into an engaging interactive wonderland of lights created by local artists.

It’s a three-quarter-mile magical journey through lighted tunnels and forests while listening to cheerful holiday music.

My entire family really enjoyed this experience and our night was made when we came upon the snow flurries. If you have little kids this event is for you. My girls had plenty of space to run and explore along the path. 

Be sure to make time for this one of a kind Christmas event in Orlando and get your tickets early!

Safety:

  • Your ticket has a specifically timed entry so you and your group can enjoy sufficient time at each installation while distanced.
  • Masks are required at all times during the exhibit and while entering and leaving the garden.

 

The Mall at Millenia, Santa Photo Experience

This was another highlight of our trip to Orlando. This was not your average Mall Santa photo shoot.

We were cheerfully greeted by some of Santa’s Helpers to check if our girls made the Nice List this year. Then we entered a beautiful arena of whimsical Holiday characters to join Santa in his Toy Shop for some playful interaction.

The staff was excellent with direction and safety precautions. Santa was unmasked and at a very safe distance at the back of his shop. Santa engaged with the kids individually and as a group from a distance and the photos were absolutely adorable.

The experience is free, but with no photo purchase please consider a $10 donation to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

There was also a special mailbox where the children can mail their letters and lists directly to Santa at the North Pole.

Mall at Millenia has so many great things going on for the holiday, including added services and store promotions.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Advanced reservations are required to see Santa and added measures have been taken to ensure safe distancing.
  • Social Distancing and Masks are required by all Mall patrons throughout their visit.
  • The Mall also requires all employees to undergo screenings and temperature checks daily. 

Mall at Millenia, Holiday Wander

Holiday Wander is a photo opportunity experience like no other. Located on the second level near the Grand Court.

Immerse yourself in candy cane swirls or amid an arctic penguin adventure. Color on a giant coloring book wall.

Take a picture inside a magic snow globe or with an enormous wrapped gift.

If you’re looking for a fun and easy Christmas event to do with the family, put this on your list.

Open Wednesday through Sunday. $10 donation per 2 admissions or $20 donation per family.

100% of donations benefit Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Social Distancing and Masks are required by all Mall patrons throughout their visit.
  • The Mall also requires all employees to undergo screenings and temperature checks daily. 

Going to Orlando and not visiting the Theme Parks? Read my Theme Park Free Orlando Travel Guide Here

Universal Orlando Resort

Get in the spirit at Universal Orlando Resort. There’s enough excitement at both parks to keep every member of the family fully engaged and wanting more. Holidays at Universal Orlando features festive shows and beautiful decorations.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a spectacle all of its own that will not disappoint even those new to the books or movies. The main attraction at Diagon Alley in Universal is The Escape from Gringotts that starts in the bank beneath a fire-breathing dragon. This multi-dimensional ride takes you underground below the bank vaults on a thrilling journey past creatures and villains. The ride is designed for older children, as the height requirements restricted my 4 and 6-year-old, but there was a great child swap available.

The holiday decor in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter added that extra special touch. Make sure you don’t miss the holiday merchandise, hot butterbeer, and special seasonal shows as well!

All the shops within Diagon Alley are so intricate and filled with eye-popping tricks. My girls loved exploring Ollivander’s and Gregorovich’s Wand Shops, Shutterbutton’s Magical Photos, Sugarplum’s Candies, and Borgin and Burkes.

If you want to easily get from park to park try the Hogwarts Express train from King’s Cross Station to Hogsmeade Station is the coolest. This is no ordinary train. This is another cleverly crafted interactive adventure like no other, it was the highlight of my day!

Other than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there are festivities all around the parks. At Universal Studios, you can get up close and personal to larger-than-life Macy’s balloons and colorful Christmas floats. You can even meet Santa Claus himself.

Seuss Landing and Toon Lagoon are such great places for kids, with lovable characters and festive rides. They even have Grinchmas! Which is the perfect holiday must-do.

While there check out the Holiday Treat Trail. Buy each of the five designated treats throughout Universal CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure on the Holiday Treat Trail and get a complimentary sixth treat to enjoy.

Our day at Universal Orlando Resort was the perfect way to get in the Christmas Spirit and one of our favorite events in Orlando.

Safety Guidelines:

We were extremely impressed with the safety measures put in place by Universal Orlando Resort. While we were there we saw constant cleaning, staff dispersing hand sanitizer before each ride, and serious mask enforcement. In the areas where masks could be removed (eating) social distancing was enforced. In regards to capacity, we did find the park to be not as busy as expected when we arrived when the park first opened (on a weekday) but as the day went on the crowd levels increased. I would suggest visiting the most popular areas of the park first thing in the morning if you are looking to avoid crowds. If you are able to visit on a weekday I would definitely try for that versus a weekend.

Crayola Experience, Colorful Christmas 

My kids absolutely love going to Crayola and our recent trip there while in Orlando was one of our favorites.

Right now they are running their Colorful Christmas Event, where families can enjoy some additional holiday fun.

There is a Singing Light Show and animatronic friends, Randy the Reindeer and Edwin the Painting Snowman. 

Kids can participate in some great holiday crafts, like molding a Christmas Penguin or making a 3D Gingerbread Ornament.

Of course, there are still many wonderful activity stations that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

The girls especially love doing spin art with melted crayons and they now have a Scribble Scrubbie Pet decorating station.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Masks are required at all times, except when eating or drinking while seated.
  • They’ve implemented timed entry and capacity restrictions.
  • Guests and employees are temperature checked prior to entry.
  • All bags must be clear for contactless security checks.

Disney Christmas tree stroll

The Disney Springs, Christmas Tree Stroll 

This free holiday event was still one of our favorites, as we all chipped in to play a fun little game of “find the trees”.

Beautifully decorated Disney Christmas trees are spread throughout Disney Springs neighborhoods. You can pick up a map and stickers at Guest Services or other designated stroll headquarters. Once you’ve found and correctly labeled all of the trees, you turn in your completed map for a special gift.

We had such a fun time wandering around looking at all of the festive decorations and listening to Christmas music.

The stroll probably takes about an hour or so to complete, but is well worth your time!

Safety Guidelines:

  • Disney Springs requires masks to be worn by all guests and employees at all times with exception of stationary eating or drinking.
  • All Guests are required to undergo temperature screenings upon arrival at Disney Springs.
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection in high-traffic areas such as elevators, handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms, and more.
  • Additional Important Safety Guidelines for Disney Springs

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration Event

Right now, SeaWorld has transformed into a Winter Wonderland of holiday excitement throughout the park.

There are special holiday treats, stunning live shows like Winter Wonderland on Ice, and added attractions like Meeting Rudolph and friends. There is so much here for the whole family at the SeaWorld Christmas Celebration Event.

It really is a wonderful experience during the holidays, as they have done a great job with the lights and entertainment.

Our family really loves SeaWorld and all the wonderful marine mammals and ocean friends that there are to see.

The live family-friendly entertainment is one of a kind and features Orca Whales, Dolphins, and Sea Lions to name a few.

There are also many animal experiences that they offer. One of our absolute favorites is the Empire of the Penguin habitat.

On our most recent trip to SeaWorld, we were able to see a baby penguin and an egg that was nestled in the rocks nearby. So cool!

Sesame Street Land is also a great place for children, with fun rides and awesome interactive games and activities. 

Certainly cannot forget to tell you about the amazing rides and roller coasters that they have at the park.

The Mako, the Manta, and the Kraken are some seriously thrilling coasters that will humble the bravest adventurers. 

Safety Guidelines:

 

WHERE TO EAT WHEN IN ORLANDO

California Pizza Kitchen, Mall at Millenia

This is a staple for my family when we are shopping or visiting Santa. They have such a great selection of pizzas and salads.

We have a hard time not getting the BBQ Chicken Pizza, as it is one of a kind and the Thai Crunch Salad is always a must.

Our girls love all of their pizza, but really can’t get enough of their Classic Caesar salads as well. Always a parenting win!

From spicy buffalo cauliflower appetizers to great soups, outstanding pizzas, and fresh salads, you cannot go wrong at CPK.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Adhering to all Mall safety requirements and regulations.
  • Contactless and Curbside Pickup Available.

Chicken Guy, Disney Springs

This place blew us away! We’ve all had a chicken sandwich or some tenders at our favorite drive-in, but this was something special.

Guy Fieri has done it again, with a hot new chicken concept that is simple and mouth-watering good called Chicken Guy.

We tried two of the Signature Sandwiches, the Southwestern and the Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ, and we were savoring every bite.

They have excellent fries and the Loaded Fries are insane. they also have Loaded Mac Daddy Mac ‘N’ Cheese as a shareable.

The kids had the Tenders, Fried Pickle Chips and the Mac Daddy Mac ‘N’ Cheese and little was left.

What could be considered the best part of the meal, are the Flavortown Shakes. We had three of the best shakes I’ve had in a while.

The Triple Double Mint, Apple Cinnamon Cereal, and the classic Oreo that nobody could take away from me!

Safety Guidelines:

  • Disney Springs requires masks to be warn by all guests and employees at all times with exception of stationary eating or drinking.
  • All Guests are required to undergo temperature screenings upon arrival at Disney Springs.
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection in high-traffic areas such as elevators, handrails, benches, tables, handles, restrooms and more.
  • Additional Important Safety Guidelines for Disney Springs

WEATHER IN ORLANDO DURING THE HOLIDAYS

It is sunny in Florida all year round but the best time to visit Orlando is in the winter months.

There is much less rain and the temperatures are perfect in the evenings for all of the outdoor Christmas Events going on. 

Dress in layers for the warmer temps during the midday, but be sure to have a light jacket for the evenings.

Always check the weather before you go, as we do get occasional swings, though they are rare.

The Best Orlando Christmas Events

We had one of our favorite trips to Orlando and it’s events this holiday season and cannot wait to get back again soon.

Thank you so much to Visit Orlando and Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for hosting us on this vacation.

Everything from impeccable customer service to the family-friendly amenities made this a very special trip for us all.

I highly recommend either the Swan or the Dolphin Resort for your next vacation, no matter what time of year!

Want an insider look into what it’s really like to vacation in Orlando, watch my IG stories here.

 

     

 

Have you been to Orlando before?   What was your experience like?  What are some of your favorite things to do in Orlando with kids?

I would love to hear about it in the comments below…

 

Want to read more about our family travels. CLICK HERE