SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration Remembers to Keep Christ in Christmas and Here’s How
Let me start first by saying this article in no way is criticizing Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando. All three companies, those mentioned and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, offer excellent Christmas activities and attractions. Universal Orlando has its Grinchmas, which I personally love. The Grinch show they provide is excellent; a slightly grittier and even more sarcastic telling of Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas film. And then in the name park, they have Christmas decorations everywhere and the “Macy’s Day Parade,” a mini replica of the one in NYC. Even the Blue Brothers show transforms into a Christmas show.
Disney on the other hand goes pretty much all out with its decorations at every park, including a big Christmas tree, even at the resorts. They have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, complete with their Christmas parade with Santa and all you care to eat sugar cookies and hot chocolate. Epcot has Christmas Around the World in its World Showcase, showing off how Christmas is celebrated in each country. And then on select nights, they perform the Candlelight Processional, complete with a guest speaker and full chorus. This show recites the story of the Nativity and is an excellent tradition at Disney. I, myself, will be attending it again this year with Neil Patrick Harris as the guest speaker. And let’s not forget The Osborne Family’s Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrating its 20th and final year at Walt Disney World. All are great options!
As I said, every park does a great job with its Christmas activities and decorations, etc. But if you want something a little more, perhaps not as mainstream and definitely more about Christ and Christianity, SeaWorld is the place to go! SeaWorld Orlando provides the best Christian infused event in the area theme park wise and it is a surely a must-see for Christians of all ages! In today’s world of political corrections and the “War on Christmas,” it can be challenging to still find public displays of Christian Christmas. Whether you believe there is a so called War on Christmas or not, a term that comes up every single year for one reason or another, this article is not about that, but merely praising SeaWorld’s efforts to keep Christ in Christmas.
Beginning this coming weekend, November 21st, SeaWorld opens its SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration to all guests and continues each weekend and Christmas Week up to New Years Eve. The event is not a hard ticket event, and is included in park admission. The event is so huge, they recommend attending it two separate nights to guarantee you get to see everything! It really is impressive how much they offer to guests for this event. We attended the event last year and were blown away at the quality, as well as the number of things to do!
The event usually hosts five specialty shows, but for last year and this year, Clyde and Seamore’s Sealion Christmas show was/is not being presented. Last year, the theater was under refurbishment for its new show, Sealion High, and this year, SeaWorld decided to only offer the new show due to it being so new. However, the other four shows are shown each night during the event. Although the Christmas Celebration is mainly at night, there are still a few things open during the day, so there is no reason not to make a full day of this!
The first show I want to talk about is definitely my favorite out of everything offered. O Wondrous Night is their indoor show that is inside the Nautilus Theatre located in the back of the park by Shark Encounter. This show is sure to become a family tradition among many and here’s why. It is similar to Epcot’s Candlelight Processional due to its telling of the Nativity story. However, where children may or may not find Candlelight to be slightly boring for them (let’s be honest here, most of Epcot is generally for older audiences, teenager and above), O Wondrous Night tells the story through the eyes of animals! I’m sure this is no shock with it being SeaWorld and all.
The show is perfect for families and especially children! The story is told with animal puppets remembering how they witnessed the birth of Christ. It is a very cute show with some funny jokes and great music all woven together and complete with a full chorus. For the finale, real animals are brought on stage. O Wondrous Night is incredibly popular among SeaWorld guests. When we went last year, we actually didn’t get to see the first show of the night due to the long line and filling to capacity. We made sure to come back early for the second and final showing of the night to wait in line. From my understanding, there are only two shows a night of O Wondrous Night (at least, there were only two when we attended), so be sure to get there early to guarantee a spot. There is no question in my heart that this show will become a staple for the SeaWorld Christmas Celebration event.
If O Wondrous Night isn’t enough to get you into the Christmas spirit and believe in something a little more than Santa Claus, then head over to Shamu’s Christmas Miracles. This is another show that is only presented at night, but it is definitely something you do not want to miss. Shamu’s Christmas Miracles helps remind us all that miracles are possible if you believe. Beginning with one of my all time favorite songs from The Prince of Egypt, When You Believe, the show incorporates many Christmas songs, lighting and pyro effects, along with a live saxophone player and singer. It mixes in video of people telling us their miracle and then we see a miracle right in front of it, a baby killer whale which was recently born at SeaWorld Orlando.
Both of these shows do an excellent job at infusing Christianity into their Christmas Celebration and remind us that Christmas is about much more than just Santa and presents. Shamu’s Christmas Miracles again has limited shows, so be sure to check the times guide when you arrive and plan your evening around these two shows. These shows are largely needed in today’s world and they’re the reason I’ll be sure to return to SeaWorld every Christmas season, but don’t think that is all that SeaWorld offers for their event!
For younger children out, SeaWorld transforms its Seaport Theater, which regularly shows its animal show Pet’s Ahoy, into Elmo’s Christmas Wish. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to experience this show last year, so I can’t say much about it. But if how SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment handles it’s Sesame Street entertainment at its other parks is any indication, I have no doubt this is an excellent show for anyone who is a fan of the show. Elmo’s Christmas Wish brings the title character to the stage along with Zoe, Grover, Rosita, and Cookie Monster for a fun Christmas adventure. The show begins in the mid/late afternoon after a few showings of Pet’s Ahoy and the theater is not overly big, so be sure to arrive early after selecting your show time from your times guide!
The last show to discuss, but certainly not the least, is the Winter Wonderland Ice Show located in Bayside Stadium. Each year, the stage is turned into an outdoor ice rink for ice skaters to perform excellent figure skating set to some of your favorite Christmas songs! The rink is decorated beautifully with its set pieces and the skaters perform some pretty quick costume changes between songs. During the show, you’ll also get to witness some fun fireworks, which is why it is a great way to end the evening. At the end of the night, you’ll be full of the Christmas spirit while humming your favorite song! The Winter Wonderland Ice Show is only presented during night time, so once again be sure to check your times guide!
EDIT: Unfortunately, SeaWorld decided to not renew The Polar Express IP for this years event. Instead, they gained the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer characters for some very fun meet and greets in Rudolph’s Christmastown! You can read all about it here! Now, there are a few other attractions at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration that are not shows. The first, which appeared way back in 2007, is The Polar Express Experience. I’m sure we all remember the classic story book which was adapted into a movie starring Tom Hanks. This is a great way to experience it yourself! Each year, SeaWorld completely transforms its Wild Arctic helicopter simulator ride into The Polar Express Experience. When I got the chance to experience it last year, I was blown away at the attention to detail SeaWorld took when completely transforming the Wild Arctic. If I hadn’t known any better, I would’ve thought that this was a permanent year round attraction! Everything is different, from the queue line, to the pre-show room which is made to look like the bedroom at the beginning of the film, to even the ride simulators themselves. The outsides and insides look just like the Polar Express trains! It was very impressive. The ride itself is very fun. It uses all of the wild track riding moments from the film and compiles them into one single ride, so in a way, it is a roller coaster simulator.
Now, you may be wondering what do you see when you get to the North Pole? Well, Santa Claus is there, of course! If you so choose, guests will have the opportunity to meet Santa and get a photo taken with him! This is highly popular, so be prepared for a wait time, but it’s perfect for children of all ages. And while wandering through the North Pole, you’ll be able to see animals that live there. It is a great, immersive experience.
UPDATE! Returning this year is Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas show! Last year, this show took a vacation so that Guests could continue to see their brand new show, Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High. This year, the Christmas show returns in all its glory. Join Clyde and Seamore this season in this hilarious Christmas comedy. Those goofy, but loveable sea lions invite you to join in on their holiday celebration with a comical elf, a few of their mischievous otters, and even a jolly old walrus. Be sure to check out this fun filled show, located in the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium.
Located on the other side of Bayside Stadium is the Christmas Village. This is an area only opened seasonally for SeaWorld’s events. For the Christmas Village, there are shops of all kinds, games to play, and many places to enjoy some holiday foods and treats, or catch a nice drink of hot chocolate, or an adult beverage. SeaWorld loves its craft beers! There is also a detailed train set which is incredibly fun to watch. This pictures only shows about a third of it! The Christmas Village is a great place to explore while you have some down time between shows.
And finally, the last thing you must witness during this wonderful event is the impressive Sea of Trees. Located throughout the lake that Bayside Stadium and Shamu Stadium sit on the shore of are numerous Christmas trees of all sizes. During the day, they merely look like decorations, but at night, they come alive with color! Similar to The Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the trees shine and shimmer throughout the night, only to come alive to Christmas music. Thanks to them being in the wide open lake, you can view the show from almost any area along the lake. Two of the best locations to watch are the Christmas Village and the wooden bridge which crosses the lake itself. The trees dance periodically throughout the night with no set show times, so you’ll never know when you might see them!
Now, all of this may seem like a lot to get done in one night. It’s not impossible, but it definitely is a challenge. This is why SeaWorld suggests coming more than one night. But in case you only have the one night to attend, they do offer some dining packages that make it a bit easier. The first package is the Christmas Celebration Reserved Seating Package. It comes with reserved seating for each of the big shows (O Wondrous Night, Shamu’s Christmas Miracles, and Winter Wonderland on Ice), as well as a dining certificate good at several of the restaurants in the park. The package starts at $29 per person, which is an excellent price!
The other dining package is Santa’s Fireside Feast. Located inside the Sea Fire Grill, this experience gives guests the ability to have an exclusive meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as receive a complimentary family photo! The food at the event is all-you-can-eat and includes holiday favorite entrees and desserts. Reservations are required and the package starts at just $34.99 per person, which is another great price for families when compared to other Disney dining experiences!
With all that SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration has to offer, it is sure to become a family favorite among locals and is a great addition to both Disney’s and Universal’s offerings each year. Here in Orlando, there is no lack of ways to celebrate Christmas and every attraction is great in its own way, but SeaWorld has it all in one, from Christmas lights & trees and Santa Claus to Christmas miracles and the birth of Christ. It is definitely a Christmas Celebration not to be missed!