Your Guide to the 2020 Holiday Season at America’s Theme Parks
[Updated] It’s November and that means the start of the Christmas holiday season at theme parks across the United States. We’ve got your guide to what is happening where in this most unusual of years, along with some stress-busting throwback videos at the end of the post to help you get in touch with the holiday spirit.
At Walt Disney World, holiday festivities start November 6 at the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and then on November 27 at Epcot. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and the Candlelight Processional are canceled this year, but Epcot will be staging a Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Holidays while Magic Kingdom will be offering a Christmas character cavalcade and new, rotating holiday projections on Cinderella Castle.
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort runs November 14 through January 3, 2021, with a new walkthrough “Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons” and the first-ever Holiday Tribute Store in Universal Studios Florida. Dr. Seuss’ Grinch and Who-liday Characters will appear in Islands of Adventure, and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will feature holiday music from Hogwarts’ Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. Get discounted tickets through our travel partner.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration runs select dates from November 14 through December 31 with Ice Skating at Bayside Stadium, a new “It’s a Wonderful Night: A New Story to Tell” musical show in the Nautilus Theater, and a new Hanukkah Celebration from December 10-18 and Kwanzaa Festivities from December 26 through January 1. The Christmas Market and Rudolph’s Christmas Town return, too. You can get SeaWorld Orlando tickets through our travel partner.
In San Diego, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration runs Thursdays through Mondays from 11am to 6pm, from November 13 to January 4, 2021. Through rides will not be available since major theme parks remain officially closed in California, the park will stage its Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special, Dolphin Island Christmas Presentation, Tunnel of Lights and other holiday displays and presentations. Tickets will be available through our travel partner.
Taste of Knott’s Merry Farm runs November 20-29, December 4-6, December 11-13, December 18-24, December 26-30, and January 1-3, 2021. Tasting cards are required for entry and cost $40 for five tastes with kids’ cards $20 for three tastes. Get them on the Knott’s website.
Busch Gardens Tampa Christmas Town runs November 14 and 15 then daily from November 20 through January 3 and features a new “Spark the Night” Fireworks Show and outdoor location for the Christmas on Ice show. Meet and greets with Santa and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will be safely distanced this year, but the Elmo’s Christmas Wish and Three Kings Journey shows continue, as does Holly Jolly Express. Tickets are available through our travel partner.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Celebration runs select dates from November 13 through January 3. This new, capacity-controlled event will feature 15 rides — including Alpengeist, InvadR, and Verbolten — plus new live entertainment, photo ops, a gingerbread scavenger hunt, and holiday food and shopping. Tickets start at $39.99 and reservations are available now on the Busch Gardens website.
Six Flags Holiday in the Park will return in one form or another at all Six Flags-branded parks in the U.S., save possibly Six Flags New England. (We are awaiting official confirmation on a holiday events at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Discovery Kingdom in California.) The events run select days from November 14 – January 3 at Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey) and November 27 – December 27 at Six Flags Great America (Chicago), and then November 21 – January 3 at Six Flags Over Texas (Dallas/Ft. Worth), Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio), Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags St. Louis, and Six Flags America. Visit SixFlags.com and pick your park for details.
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane will run select dates from November 13 through January 3, with Santa Claus greeting guests, more than five million holiday lights decorating the park and the holiday light show, Noel. Tickets are available on the Hersheypark website.
Carowinds is opening for Taste of the Season, a limited capacity event running select dates from November 21 through December 20. Tickets and required reservations will be available November 11 on the Carowinds website. (November 9 for annual passholders.)
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas begins November 7 and features more than five million lights throughout the park, which will be staging multiple holiday-themed shows and a new fireworks display on Friday and Saturday nights. Check Dollywood’s website for tickets.
Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas runs November 7 through December 30 and features 30 shows daily on outdoor stages plus more than 6.5 million lights and an eight-story, animated Christmas tree, plus holiday foods, Rudolph’s Holly Jolly? Christmas Light Parade, and The Frisco Sing-Along Steam Train. Tickets are available on the Silver Dollar City website.
To help you find the holiday spirit, here are today’s throwback videos, featuring holiday celebrations from top theme parks:
A Christmas Fantasy parade from Disneyland:
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle:
Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular from Universal’s Islands of Adventure:
Six Flags Holiday in the Park Light Display from Six Flags Magic Mountain:
And finally, the Country Bear Christmas Special from Tokyo Disneyland:
Happy holidays, everyone!
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