Florida Resorts Dressed In Holiday Style
By Georgina Cruz
Each year beginning in November, “in the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas” at Florida resorts. This year is no exception, with a flurry of special activities, themed attractions, majestic holiday trees and festive decorations.
Here are some major festivities in popular Florida destinations convenient to the Treasure Coast for the holiday season:
The magic of Christmas comes to Gaylord Palms Resort from Nov. 21 to Jan. 7. The resort is decorated to the nines. With more than six million lights, an abundance of poinsettias, a 54-foot Christmas tree and other decorations. ICE! Is a great attraction on site celebrating the season with sculptures. They are created from almost two million pounds of ice, slides, an ice bar for adults, and a station to see how some of the 140 sculptors from China create the sculptures. The theme of ICE! this year is “Christmas Around The World.”
Other activities in Gaylord Palms include snow tubing. It is on an 18-foot snowy hill at “Alpine Rush Snow Tubing” with eight slices Then there is breakfast with Charlie Brown and other characters of the “Peanuts” strips, the live show Cirque Dreams Unwrapped, and gingerbread house decorating. Info: www.ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.
Lake Buena Vista/Orlando
The resorts at Walt Disney World mark the Christmas season spectacularly with majestic Christmas trees, lights, poinsettias, garlands and other decorations including gingerbread houses. The Disney Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a Victorian dream with a gorgeous Christmas tree and a 16-foot-high gingerbread house in the lobby. It requires 800 pounds of flour, 600 pounds of sugar and 1,050 pounds of honey to build and boasts even a chimney –that actually spews out smoke every so often! And if visitors are tempted by the sight of so much sweetness there is a shop behind the house that sells gingerbread treats.
The Grand Floridian is on the line of the Magic Kingdom monorail –the park is itself decorated dramatically with millions of lights, Christmas trees, poinsettias and the Castle Dreamlights (more than 300,000 white lights on Cinderella Castle that give it the aspect of an ice palace!). Special events at Disney World include “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” in the Magic Kingdom, a special event with separate ticket and a Christmas parade, “snowfalls” on Main Street, and live entertainment themed to the season on select nights in November and December. Another lovely special event, this one at Epcot, is the Candlelight Processional with an orchestra, massed choir and celebrity narrators who relate the Christmas legend (included in park admission). Info: www.disneyworld.com.
Another option in Lake Buena Vista/Orlando is “Holiday Happenings” at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin within walking distance of Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (free launches also take there). This resort, that recently completed a three-year, $140 million renovation. They offer a variety of festive activities and events beginning at the end of November and continuing through December with appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Activities include visits with Santa; illumination of the 45-foot Christmas tree in the lobby of the Dolphin with Mrs. Claus on select nights. Meet-and-greets with Santa and Mrs. Claus also take place on select nights. Other attractions include a 2,000-lb. chocolate sculpture of Santa (possibly the world’s biggest chocolate sculpture) and chocolate sculptures of a festive chimney, Christmas tree, toy train and seven-foot-tall Nutcracker in the lobby of the Swan on display during December. Info: www.santasfavoriteresort.com.
Christmas At Sea from Florida ports
On select voyages to the Bahamas and the Caribbean from Florida ports, including Port Canaveral in November and December, ships from Disney Cruise Line present special festive sailings called “Very Merrytime Cruises.” These voyages feature Christmas decorations. This includes a 24-foot-high Christmas tree and a large gingerbread house, activities and entertainment with Santa and Mrs. Claus, meet-and-greets with characters in their Christmas finery and many other festive events for the whole family.