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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

Christmas and New Year in Florida

Picture a traditional Christmas and New Year at home - turkey and Christmas pudding, the decorated Christmas tree, presents, cards, the family gatherings and if you are lucky the cold crispy mornings. Then try and picture what it might be like to spend the festive season in Florida.

Orlando is a magical playground throughout the year so imagine spending this special time of year at a family destination where magic embraces generations. Every theme park in Orlando has something to offer both children and adults and it will make your Christmas and New Year a holiday to remember for years to come.

Although the parks are busy you will experience an electric atmosphere with everybody being in a party mood especially on New Year’s Eve. There is no need to arrive at the crack of dawn as we found on our first visit 5 years ago. On New Year’s Eve we arrived at Magic Kingdom at 7.30 in the morning thinking unless we arrived early we might not get in. People were still entering the park at lunchtime, although the following year they did close the park at 1pm. The next two years we spent this special evening at Epcot and even though there was a thunderstorm with pouring rain on one of these occasions, this did not dampen people’s spirits, with all ages dancing to the music in the rain.

We were expecting to pay extra to enter the parks as everywhere else charges more money on special occasions. However, we were very surprised to find the cost was the same as the rest of the year.

Both parks had special parades throughout the day and at Magic Kingdom, Mickey and Minnie appeared on a moving sledge dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Father Christmas and snow falls in Main Street to give a festive feel. The fireworks on New Year’s Eve at both parks are awesome. An early display presented for the younger generation is followed by a spectacular second display at midnight. At Epcot each country sets off fireworks according to who celebrates midnight first before the main display takes place. They also erect extra stands all round the park so different types of music can be played at each of them. Be warned though if you want to eat in the evening at one of the countries you have to make a booking well in advance. We ate at Italy but I booked this a couple of days before our visit to Epcot.

If you enjoy a little, or in my case a lot, of retail therapy, you certainly won’t be disappointed at this time of year. Sales!!! Sales!!!! Sales!!! and what good bargains if you are prepared to shop around. The advice is, take a half empty suitcase on your outward flight so you have plenty of room to bring all those bargains home.

The weather can be a little mixed at this time of year. During the 5 occasions we have been, two have been quite cool but sunny and 3 have been nice warm sunshine. Last time we visited, which was in 2003 we lazed by the pool for some of the days in swimming costumes and even sat during the evenings in sun tops and shorts. In contrast to this, on our first visit at this time of year, we needed scarfs, gloves, warm coats etc. At Magic Kingdom they were selling socks for people to wear as gloves as they had been caught out with the cold snap. We even had to scrape ice of the windscreen when we came out of the parks in the early hours of the morning. Of course we hadn’t gone prepared for this so we improvised by scraping the ice with a credit card. We were told that this type of weather was very unusual because Florida does not get frosts!!! I think the moral of this though, is to go prepared both for warm and cold weather. In terms of rain in the 5 years we have been, it has only rained for I day and that was on New Year’s Eve.

If I was asked the question – Would you spend Christmas and New Year in Florida? My answer would definitely be yes! yes! yes! I can’t think of better place I would rather be at this time of year.

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Page added on: 27 November 2005
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