Theme parks aren’t just where you go during hot summer days to cool off as you ride fast and get soaked on water rides. Theme parks are the place to be during the holidays as well. No place embraces the holidays like theme parks do. They put up massive Christmas trees and thousands of twinkling lights, put on holiday-themed shows and serve tasty holiday treats. Even cooler states partake in the festivities. These parks take on the chance to elaborately decorate their park and draw in hundreds of families bundled up in their coats and gloves to see the jolly decorations, watch shows and drink some hot cocoa.
Take your family and celebrate and decorate for the holidays to make new family traditions and memories you will always cherish:
Travel to the other side of the country and you’ll see that this Disney theme park is just as festive as its West Coast partner. Sing along and celebrate with Mickey and Santa during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom Park. Look in awe as Cinderella Castle turns into a frozen magical wonder, and be sure to stop in to see Elsa from Frozen make a glittery, icy holiday centerpiece.
Pigeon Forge, TN
Fun at Dollywood in the Great Smokies awaits at this celebrated theme park co-owned by Dolly Parton. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a live performance by the country music songstress! Roller coasters, kiddie rides, craft shops, train rides, an interactive museum and plenty of restaurants and snack stalls make this a great family-friendly attraction. The water park features more than 23 rides, from plunge pools and white water rafting to body slides and lazy rivers. Located about 30 miles from Knoxville in Pigeon Forge, Dollywood makes an easy day trip. Cabins are available for those planning a longer getaway (but book in advance).
Knott’s Berry Farm
Buena Park, California
Knott’s Berry Farm turns into Knott’s Merry Farm from the end of November until the beginning of January. Watch Snoopy on ice as he and other skaters glide across the ice in a fun holiday show. Twirl around to holiday music and synchronized lights as snow falls in Ghost Town. And don’t miss out on getting your picture taken with Santa Claus and sampling some of Mrs. Claus’ holiday treats to help commemorate this special occasion.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Los Angeles, California
Experience Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood this season. Besides enjoying the holiday cheer with the park’s decorations, take your picture with the Grinch and his dog Max, have story time with Cindy Lou-Who and join along with the Whos as they sing and dance through Who-ville. Decorate ornaments and cookies at Universal Plaza, and see how your tree compares to the 60-foot Grinchmas tree.
The holidays at Universal Orlando involve the Macy’s Holiday Parade, which fills the streets with fun, festive floats, and amazing live performances by the Mannheim Steamroller. Like Universal Studios Hollywood, the Florida theme park also celebrates Grinchmas, headlined by the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular. At Universal Studios Florida®, the joy and wonder of the Macy’s Holiday Parade™ fills the streets with floats and more.
Bring your kids to Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Florida. During weekends in December, this family-friendly park lets its visitors participate in building holiday-themed LEGO figures. You can also interact with a LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldiers, let snow fall on and around you in Fun Town and watch fireworks light up the sky over Lake Eloise every night starting on Dec. 26. There’s also a Kids’ New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31, with a LEGO brick drop and a fireworks display that requires you wear special glasses to see all the cool effects.
Hersheypark turns into Hersheypark Christmas Candylane during the happiest time of the year. See the Hershey’s Product Characters adorned in their festive holiday get ups as you float through the park under the cheerful and colorful decorations and the 2 million strung up gleaming lights. Listen to the seasonal sounds at one of the holiday shows and make sure to visit Santa’s reindeer. And you can’t go to a theme park without riding the rides, so catch a ride on the Twilight Express and one of the other 30 offered rides.
Silver Dollar City
When you’re in the heart of the U.S. (Branson, Missouri), there isn’t a more enjoyable place to celebrate the holidays than at Silver Dollar City. The seasonal theme of this theme park is An Old Time Christmas, which brings out the Christmas spirit in everyone with more than 5 million scintillating lights, two Broadway-like productions, a 5-story special effects tree and another 1,000 decorated trees. New to the scene this year is a Holly Jolly Christmas Light Parade, highlighted by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This Midwestern park is also known for its living Nativity scene and hearty, home-style holiday feasts.
So don’t just stay inside your home this holiday season!