We feel right at home at SeaWorld Orlando ... and it's not just the large amount of water for us to splash around in! SeaWorld Orlando has a way of making every holiday come alive with the perfect amount of festivities to make you feel like you're at an amazing theme park and your hometown, all at once. With decadent treats, impressive entertainment and millions of glittering lights, SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration is the perfect example of holidays done right. What more could a Frog Family ask for? We were lucky enough to hop in early in the season this year. Even with all of the event's health and safety modifications, the Christmas spirit is very much present (pun intended). After all, Elmo reminded us that spending time with loved ones is what the season is all about!
Here’s our lowdown on SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, taking place on select dates through Dec. 31. It's all included with regular SeaWorld park admission, but in order to manage capacity in 2020, you'll also need to make a reservation to attend — so you should definitely hop to it!
Entertainment at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld Orlando always blows us out of the water (so to speak!) when it comes to entertainment, and SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration is no exception. Showtimes vary by day, so be sure to check out the park hours and experience times before making your plans!
Sea Lion High: The Christmas Special
Clyde and Seamore’s year-round shows have become a staple in our SeaWorld visits. We love the goofy humor that makes this show so fun and unique. Plus, the mischievous otters that always make an appearance are Lily’s favorite! This year, Sea Lion and Otter Stadium takes you back to high school, as Sea Lion High is preparing for its Christmas pageant. When things go wrong, it's up to Clyde and Seamore to help the principal and fellow classmates in order to save the holidays.
Happy Holidays from Sesame Street Land - New!
The Sesame Street neighborhood is decked out in colorful wreaths and garland, setting up a festive backdrop for the all-new Happy Holidays from Sesame Street show. Join your favorite characters in celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa through dance and song. The 12-minute celebration hoppens randomly, but you can expect Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Grover to come out on a float, stationed right next to Elmo's Choo Choo Train. Crowds do form for this short show, so if you feel uncomfortable watching with others nearby, you can meet some of the characters inside the Photos with Elmo and Friends spot for a socially distanced selfie.
Sea of Trees
You’ll be singing “Walkin’ in a Water Wonderland …” while walking through SeaWorld’s immersive sea of holiday trees, which appear to be floating on water. This year, the trees stuck closely by the boardwalk, so it felt like there weren't as many trees as there have been in the past. But the trees still turn into different colors and patterns, making it a sight to see! This fun display is visible throughout the evening and great to appreciate in passing between shows.
Winter Wonderland on Ice
Nothing says “Christmas” like a little ice skating — and this show screams “Christmas,” with a full-blown extravaganza on ice at Bayside Stadium. Figure skaters will wow you with choreography to classic Christmas tunes. Enjoy the dazzling view of the Sea of Trees as they light up while the professional skaters amaze you with their show-stopping moves in group, couples and solo numbers. Lily especially enjoyed the life-size skating penguins.
It's a Wonderful Night: A New Story to Tell - New!
This year has been difficult for many people, but this new show reminds us that hope, faith and love are the true Christmas gifts that we give to ourselves and each other. The main character, Bailey, needs a bit of hope to tell the Christmas story and gets help from a new guardian angel, who needs to earn their wings. Watch as performers grace the stage with holiday surprises, modern-day references, lighthearted laughs and over 30 favorite Christmas carols. The show has limited capacity and social distancing markers in place.
Rudolph's Movie Experience
Rudolph and his friends take center stage in this special-effects movie at the Sea Port Theater. The show is about 10 minutes long and takes place every 30 minutes with social distancing and limited capacity.
Ice Skating at Bayside Stadium - New!
New for 2020, guests can skate alongside the water of SeaWorld's central lagoon for an additional cost (which includes skate rental). Crew length socks and gloves must also be worn, and can be purchased on-site. For the tadpoles, or anyone who has trouble on the ice, adorable, animal-shaped ice skating aids are available so you can avoid a crash and burn (or in this case, a freezing fall!). This experience is open from about 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Character Meet and Greets
Near Wild Arctic this holiday season, you can share your wish list with the big man himself at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration 2020. To keep everyone safe, one party at a time can hop into Santa's sleigh — a safe distance from Santa, who sits above and behind plexiglass. As seen in the pic above, you are allowed to take off your masks briefly for a photo if you want to, but you must put them back on before you leave the room. After meeting Santa, check out fascinating animal encounters, as you only can at SeaWorld. We love this not-so-typical visit to Santa. Santa is available from 12:30 p.m. to park close.
If you’ve already met up with Santa elsewhere, there are plenty more holiday friends to hang out with. Be sure to explore Rudolph’s ChristmasTown to stroll through a life-size storybook of Rudolph’s classic tale. Along the way, you’ll find Rudolph and Bumble of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" fame to play and take photos with you and your tadpoles. We highly recommend taking the time to meet these cute, fun, unique characters. Just like with Santa, you can remove your masks for a quick photo. (There's even a priority access meet-and-greet package for Rudolph and Friends and Santa Claus for around $40 per guest, depending on the day.) Rudolph's ChristmasTown has limited capacity to maintain social distancing. The experience is available from 5 p.m. to park close.
The Christmas Market at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration
There is so much fun to be had at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration that it can be hard to find the time to relax. Be sure to spend a few minutes moseying through the Christmas Market along Bayside Pathway. Not only is this the same area where you can find Rudolph and friends, but you can also munch on yummy treats, watch a miniature train set, play carnival-style games with holiday prizes and sit by a campfire while listening to carolers.
Dining at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is overflowing with special holiday snacks, treats and drinks. There are plenty of seasonal dishes that will have the whole family hoppin’ for more. In 2020, we tried out several items, including a new Impossible mac and cheese dish and a new s'mores cheesecake cone! The totchos dish at Tottin’ Around the Christmas Tree (food booth #10) was huge — Tad and Lily could easily share one portion.
What is Christmas without hot chocolate?! You're in luck, because there is definitely hot chocolate overload at the holiday Tasting and Brew locations. Many spots have either traditional, frozen or flavored hot chocolate. Our peppermint hot chocolate came in a souvenir cup! Be sure to keep the cup, as it costs less to refill it than to purchase an entire new cup of hot chocolate.
If your tadpoles want to get closer to their favorite characters, there's also a Sesame Street Christmas Breakfast and Dinner with Santa available. At the Sesame Street Christmas Breakfast ($32.99 per adult, $16.99 per child ages 3 to 9), you can join your Sesame Street faves at a safe distance for a breakfast feast. Dinner with Santa ($45 per adult, $20 per child) features a holiday meal capped off with a photo-op with the big man himself; you'll also receive special reserved seating for Winter Wonderland on Ice. Ho, ho, ho!
Tips for SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration 2020
- At Sea Lion High: The Christmas Special, there are designated “splash zones” where you are sure to get wet. Keep an eye out for these and sit a couple rows back if you have no interest in getting soaked … or even sprinkled on.
- Enjoy the wait before shows! Winter Wonderland on Ice has an impressive violinist and Sea Lion High: The Christmas Special offers a fun, interactive mime. Of course, these are subject to change ... but keep an eye out during your visit!
- To keep little ones busy, invest in a Christmas Game Pass to get six games for $20. There are tons of adorable prizes, and this was perfect for Tad and Lily to share!
- Certain SeaWorld’s Christmas exclusives don’t take place every day. We recommend going on a night the park is open later for maximum time to enjoy the fun.
- Plot out your night appropriately. Know that each show lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes and allow yourself plenty of time to get to your next destination. Some shows are located across the park from one another. Due to limited capacity, we suggest arriving at least 30 minutes (though the earlier, the better!) before showtime if you want a good seat.
- Tasting and Brew Samplers are a great way to sip and savor SeaWorld’s best treats without breaking the bank. You have two options: a 5-Sampler lanyard ($35) and a 10-Sampler lanyard ($50). We recommend the 10-Sampler lanyard so you can share sweets and treats with the whole family.
- The characters in Rudolph’s ChristmasTown meet separately. Lines open at 5 p.m. and attract longer wait times during the first couple of hours. Go later at night if you want to walk right in!
- Check out the decorations throughout the park, as they make the perfect family photo-op. You may even spot some stilt walkers!
SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is the perfect way to kick off (or close off) your holiday season. We love the classic tales and tunes being presented through every bit of the festivities. SeaWorld is the perfect Orlando destination for a more traditional take on Christmas. What’s your favorite part? Tell us in the comments.