Winter in the Theme Parks - Florida

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Winter in the Theme Parks


Winter time is a great time to visit some of the US better known theme parks in Florida and California.  Crowds are smaller – except around holiday weeks.  The weather in Orlando and Los Angeles is generally pleasant.  There are plenty of new attractions this year, especially if you haven’t been to a theme park in a few years.  We are going to go on a quick coast-to-coast tour in the next pages as we explore what the parks have to offer over the winter.

All prices listed include the cost to finance and are based on 26 bi-weekly payments.


Walt Disney World

With 4 theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom – and 2 Water Parks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – Walt Disney World is always changing and growing.

It is not too late to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom Park which runs through December 22.  You will need to purchase a separate ticket to the “Party”.  Be prepared for more events than you can handle in one evening – from shows and parades to extensive character greetings and many of the rides remain open through the night.

Below is a recap of some of the new “stuff” that is happening at Disney World.

Hollywood Studios

·         Star Wars: Galaxy Edge – opened in September 2019 featuring Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run as the main attraction.  Now, get ready for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opening December 5, where guests will be taken hostage and a battle between the First Order and the Resistance follows.  One of the most anticipated openings of the last few years featuring the next generation of all-electric life-like animatronics called A1000s.  For more info go to https://vacationwiser.com/star-wars-galaxy's-edge/

·         Municiberg – opened January 18, 2019.  Hometown of The Incredibles with a party in their honor

·         Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sulley Meet-and-Greet

·         Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy – NEW - rides namesake showcases his tricks of the trade

·         Wonderful World of Animation – honoring 30 years of Hollywood Studios, a new nighttime show


·         Takumi-Tei -- an artisan, table-service restaurant in the Japan pavilion. 

·         Space 220 opening winter 2019 – dine in a space-station themed table-service restaurant next door to Mission: SPACE. 

·         Epcot Forever -- fireworks show

·         Regal Eagle Smokehouse – fast casual barbecue restaurant replaces Liberty Inn

·         Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience – see Disney’s future plans for Epcot in a new experience center

Animal Kingdom

·         Rivers of Light: We are One updated version of regular nighttime pageant with imagery from Disneynature films and animated films.

Disney Hotels

·         Gran Destino Tower – in Coronado Springs Resort, a 15 story tower that serves as the main entrance and adds 545 guest rooms, including 50 suites.

·         Bibbidi Bobiddi Boutique – now open in the Grand Floridian Resort.  The place to transform your 3-12 year old into a princess or knight

·         Enchanted Rose – a “Beauty and the Beast” inspired bar and lounge

·         Disney Riviera Resort – opening December 2019.  Offers 300 family-friendly vacation homes of various sizes, some that can sleep up to 12 guests.

Disney World Transportation

·         Walt Disney World Skyliner – now open.  A gondola system that connects Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and future Disney's Riviera Resort to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.  


Universal Orlando Resort

Universal is often considered Disney’s little brother.  And just like in the family, the little brother must work harder to outshine the older brother.  Universal has been adding numerous attractions to put it on a par with Disney for multi-day fun.

Universal has taken the “park-within-a-park” concept to new heights when they opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a few years ago.  (See our Guide to Universal Orlando Resort)

Islands of Adventure Is made up of: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade; The Lost Continent; Seuss Landing; Marvel Super Hero Island; Toon Lagoon; Skull Island: Reign of Kong.  Universal’s Islands of Adventure has been named the #1 amusement park in the world by TripAdvisor for 5th year in a row.

·         Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – now open, this wild roller coaster ride fully immerses guests in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – including the Forbidden Forest! – and at speeds up to 50 mph.

Universal Studios Florida contains: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley; Springfield: Home of the Simpsons; New York; San Francisco; Hollywood.

·         TODAY Café—now open inside a recreated Studio 1A, home of the TODAY Show live broadcasts

·         The Bourne Stuntacular – all new live-action stunt show coming Spring 2020 will blur the lines between stage and cinema

What’s new at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

·         Harry Potter Vacation Package

o   Stay at one of any Universal Orlando hotels

o   Early admission to all 3 parks and park-to-park tickets

o   Breakfast at an iconic eatery

o   Special Themed Keepsake Box – Harry, Ron and Hermione luggage tags; Hogwarts Railways Lanyard; Travel Planning Guide

o   Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio – choose from 12 iconic scenes and unlock an exclusive background; receive a complimentary 8x10” photo

Holiday events at Universal – you do not need a separate ticket for any of the holiday attractions

·         Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – both lands are covered in Christmas decorations; special concerts with Christmas songs from the spell books and a projection mapping show on Hogwarts Castle “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts”

·         Holiday Parades – straight out of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade featuring some of your favorite Universal characters and, of course, Santa Claus to light the beautiful Christmas tree.

·         Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure – a Christmas Who-liday Spectular at Seuss

·         Festive Food & Drinks – Hot Butterbeer is only served during the holiday season

Mardi Gras Parades from February 1 to April 2 – come party New Orleans style, join the parade, feast on Cajun specialties and party to the sounds of the Bayou.

Deals for Florida Residents

·         2nd Day Free – book a 2-Park Park-to-Park ticket and get an additional day free.  Does not have to be used consecutively.  Book by December 19 and use by January 31,2020

·         Add Day at Volcano Bay for only $25

At Universal Volcano Bay the focus is the spectacular volcano towering over the sun swept beach. Volcano Bay is a South Seas oasis in the heart of Universal.  Home of the Krakatau Aqua Coaster and Waturi Beach.  Use your Tapu Tapu to skip the lines – it tells you when it is your turn.

Universal City Walk – unforgettable family fun meets “Wow” restaurants.  Something for the entire family.  Hit movies, karaoke, live music and Blue Man Group shows.  Choose between an assortment of quick and full-service restaurants with everything from churros to a celebrity chef kitchen.  Great places to shop for all your Universal merchandise.  Dance the night away with celebrity DJs.

Universal Hotels

Value Hotels ($) - Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts

·         Surfside Inn and Suites – sunny beach-themed rooms and spacious two-bedroom suites that sleep six.  Lowest rates on site.

·         Dockside Inn and Suites (opening March 2020) – a cool, calm coastal retreat with plenty of standard rooms and two-bedroom suites.  A few dollars higher than Surfside

Prime Value Hotels ($$)

·         Universal’s Aventura Hotel – great views of all 3 theme parks, mid-priced escape where clean, open spaces and casual comfort meet sleek style

·         Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – vibrant, retro style.  Architecture inspired by the classic Florida beach resorts of the 1950’s and 60’s.  With two massive pools, a winding lazy river, and a bowling alley

Preferred Hotels ($$$)

·         Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – step into paradise in the heart of the tropics.  Blue waterfalls cascade over lush grounds.  Features numerous Caribbean-themed dining options

Premier Hotels ($$$$)

·         Loews Royal Pacific Resort – a luxurious South Seas escape.  Sparkling lagoon-style pool surrounded by a white sand beach.  Enjoy a classic luau.  Includes FREE Universal Express Unlimited Pass. Starts at $40 bi-weekly for a 4 night stay.

·         Hard Rock Hotel – live like a rock star.  Impeccable accommodations in a sweeping California mission-style design.  Swimming pools featuring underwater music, acclaimed restaurants, incredible rock memorabilia and amped-up recreation.  Includes FREE Universal Express Unlimited Pass.  Starts at $45 bi-weekly for a 4 night stay.

·         Loews Portofino Bay Hotel – relax in surroundings inspired by beauty and the charm of a seaside village of Portofino, Italy.  Includes FREE Universal Express Unlimited Pass.  Start at $48 bi-weekly for a 4 night stay.

SeaWorld Orlando

It's Christmas Every Day at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration November 23 through December 31.

SeaWorld transforms into a winter wonderland sparkling with holiday cheer, excitement and over 3 million beautiful lights.  Experience award-winning entertainment, from the all-new Sesame Street® Christmas Parade to spectacular seasonal shows like O’Wondrous Night and Winter Wonderland on Ice. Rub noses with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and pals, or head to Wild Arctic and visit with Santa himself.

SeaWorld Orlando

A theme park focused around the many animals that make their home in the water.  SeaWorld is best known for its shows and exhibits where the marine animals are the stars.  There are a variety of other attractions that make this an extremely family-friendly vacation.  For thrills, there is Mako, the tallest and longest coaster in all of Orlando, or plunge down the lost jungle river of Infinity Falls. 

Single park adult ticket costs about $6 per person bi-weekly.  Numerous add-ons are available, such as All Day Dining.  Parking is extra.

Discovery Cove

Reserve an unforgettable day at Discovery Cove, an exclusive, all-inclusive day resort where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel with stingrays, hand-feed tropical fish, let your cares drift away along a lazy river and more. Admission is limited to only around 1,300 guests per day.  Day Resort Admission includes snorkeling and gear, shark viewing, various animal experiences, beaches and grottos, float in scenic river, breakfast and lunch, unlimited snacks and beverages, parking.


Tickets are sold by the day since park attendance is limited.  Prices can be vastly different depending on the day you choose and how far in advance you purchase.  Discovery Cove is not generally open Tuesday through Thursdays in December, January and February, except for holiday weeks.


Discovery Cove Day Resort Admission- $10 - $14 per person per day bi-weekly

Signature Dolphin Swim Package -$13 - 17 per person per day bi-weekly

Day Resort plus 2-parks: $11 - $15 per person per day bi-weekly

Day Resort plus 3-parks: $12.50 - $17 per person per day bi-weekly



From thrilling water slides and rides to a carefree winding river to your own private cabana for the day, Aquatica has just your speed of fun in the Florida sun.

Single park adult ticket costs about $3.00 per person bi-weekly.   Add All Day Dining brings it $4 per person

Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is the ultimate family adventure, combining world-class thrill rides, live entertainment and more than 12,000 animals. Challenge a 335-foot drop tower, Falcon's Fury, or race like a cheetah on Cheetah Hunt. Cobra's Curse is a one-of-a-kind spin coaster.

Single park adult ticket costs about $6.00 per person bi-weekly.   Add All Day Dining brings it $4 per person

Multi park pricing for SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island (Tampa)

Florida 2-park ticket would be $7 per person per day bi-weekly.  Good for 2 visits to any of the 4 parks.

Florida 3-park ticket would be $8 per person per day bi-weekly.  Good for 3 visits to any of the 4 parks.

Florida 4-park ticket - unlimited admission and free parking would be $12 per person per day bi-weekly.


Legoland Florida

Awesome Awaits at LEGOLAND Florida Resort

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is the ultimate vacation destination for families with kids, located just 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa. The resort includes an interactive, 150-acre theme park featuring more than 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by popular LEGO® and DUPLO® brands and based on family favorites like “LEGO NINJAGO®: Masters of Spinjitzu,” LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS™, LEGO City, LEGO Technic and LEGO Friends.

LEGOLAND Water Park is open seasonally for fun in the sun and includes a wave pool, lazy river, water slides, multiple water-play areas and lots of food and beverage for everyone!

In 2019, guests can visit the all-new THE LEGO MOVIE World where the immersive world of THE LEGO® MOVIE™ comes to life! Experience new rides, including a flying theater and family-friendly Unikitty-themed drop tower, grab a bite to eat at Taco Everyday or meet Emmet and Wyldstyle at the only Central Florida theme park built just for kids.

Multiple fun, kid-focused events take place throughout the year and are included with admission, such as Brick or Treat, a “lightly frightful” Halloween party, and Holidays at LEGOLAND, a holiday celebration featuring a giant tree made out of thousands of LEGO® and DUPLO® bricks.

Extend the fun with a stay just steps away from the park entrance at one of these LEGO themed hotels.

Legoland® Beach Retreat

Features a village-style layout of brightly colored, beach-themed bungalows, each centered around an outdoor play area, with fully-themed rooms designed around relaxation and fun! Each bungalow sleeps up to five people and includes an outdoor patio, a separate kid’s sleeping area and picturesque views of Lake Dexter throughout the resort.  Located less than a half mile from the LEGOLAND® Florida park.

As low as $73 bi-weekly for a 3 night stay in January, or $90 for a 3-night stay in May, with 2 adults and 2 children, includes park ticket for length of stay.

Legoland® Florida Hotel

Located steps from the main entrance of LEGOLAND Florida, this hotel features MORE interactive areas, MORE entertainment and MORE surprises around every corner.  All stays at LEGOLAND Florida hotel include interactive LEGO features throughout the property, a FREE hot breakfast buffet, nightly children’s entertainment and an in-room treasure hunt that leads to even more fun for the kids. PLUS meet a Master Model Builder and follow step-by-step instructions as you build your own LEGO souvenir in the Master Model Builders’ Workshop – an experience exclusive to hotel guests!

Features 5 “themed” room types – Kingdom, Adventure, Pirate, Friends and THE LEGO MOVIE

Rates as low as $76 bi-weekly for a 3 night stay in January, or $108 for 3-night stay in May, with 2 adults and 2 kids, includes park ticket for length of stay.

Legoland® Pirate Island Hotel (opening April 17, 2020)

New, fully-themed hotel will soon open its doors to LEGO fans and mischievous seafarers alike! Pirate Island Hotel will transform your family vacation into a unique pirate adventure with immersive themed rooms, a resort pool (with a massive deck for the pirates’ sake, of course) and a boat-load of interactive activities and live entertainment for the kids (and parents) to experience during their stay. And, in true LEGOLAND style, we take the theming to the next level with an in-room treasure hunt – swashbuckling young pirates will discover treasure daily IN THEIR OWN ROOM!

The Pirate Island Hotel will be located adjacent to the LEGOLAND Hotel, and that means just 130 kid-steps from the LEGOLAND park front gates!

As low as $108 bi-weekly for a 3-night stay in May with 2 adults and 2 children, including LEGOLAND/Water Park combo tickets and PirateFest Weekends.

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