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VacationWiser.com Guide to
Winter in the Florida Theme Parks
Winter time is a great time to visit some of the US better known theme parks in Florida. Crowds are smaller – except around holiday weeks. The weather in Orlando 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 Florida 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.
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 Disney's Very Merriest After Hours at Magic Kingdom Park which runs through December 21. You will need to purchase a separate ticket for the festive, fun-filled 4-hour event. 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.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – the highly anticipated Star Wars hotel will open on March 1, 2022. This immersive hotel will bring guests into the Star Wars universe for an interactive, 2-night stay. Price will include food and drinks, admission to Hollywood Studios, a quick service meal, valet parking and an exclusive Magic Band. Don’t get too excited just yet, price for a family of four starts at $6,000 for 2 nights.
A new, interactive Magic Band will be introduced in 2022 and change how guests interact in Disney Parks.
Disney has discontinued the Magical Express airport transportation service, which was free for guests staying at a Disney on-site property. Mears Connect will now provide paid transportation service between Orlando International Airport and DisneyWorld.
Most “meet and greet” attractions are temporarily unavailable as of 12/1/2021 due to Covid-19 precautions.
· Star Wars:Galaxy Edge – featuring Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of theResistance as the main attractions. For more info go to https://vacationwiser.com/star-wars-galaxy's-edge/
· Roundup Rodeo BBQ coming to Toy StoryLand
· Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway -- abrand-new attraction unique to Walt Disney World Resort and Disney’s HollywoodStudios—and the first ride at any Disney park that stars Mickey Mouse andfriends.
· Lightning McQueen’sRacing Academy – Get pumped for a high-octane, first-of-its-kind showthat’ll put you in the middle of the Disney and Pixar Cars universe.
· DisneyEnchantment -- Behold a nighttime spectacular with Disneymusic, stunning fireworks and immersive projection effects extending fromCinderella Castle down Main Street, U.S.A.
· TRON: Lightcycle Run – expected to open in 2022,based on the 1982 movie TRON with guestsriding on two-wheeled lightcycles.
· Remy’s Ratatoille Adventure -- Feel likeyou’ve shrunk down to Chef Remy’s size for a 4D culinary adventure based on theDisney and Pixar film Ratatouille.
· Harmonious -- xperience this nighttimespectacular and discover how Disney music and stories have the power to bringpeople together.
· Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind –Coming in 2022. A new omnicoaster,indoor roller coaster that will rotate 360 degrees so riders can see every parto the ride’s storyline
· Journey of Water, inspired by Moana – aninteractive, magical watery trail where guests can play with water just likeMoana does in the movie.
· PLAY! Pavilion – immersive space forguests to interact with Disney characters, physically and digitally.
· Space 220 – dine in a space-station themedtable-service restaurant next door to Mission: SPACE.
· Disney'sKiteTails -- Look to the sky foran all-new, high-flying performance featuring Disney character-themed kites andbeloved Disney songs.
· FindingNemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! –opening 2022. Dive into a spectacularstage show—filled with puppets, singers, and other performers—set in theunderwater world of Disney and Pixar’s Finding Nemo.
· GranDestino Tower – in Coronado Springs Resort, a 15 story tower that serves asthe main entrance and adds 545 guest rooms, including 50 suites.
· BibbidiBobiddi Boutique – now open in the Grand Floridian Resort. The place to transform your 3-12 year oldinto a princess or knight
· EnchantedRose – a “Beauty and the Beast” inspired bar and lounge
· DisneyRiviera Resort – opening December 2019. Offers 300 family-friendly vacation homes of various sizes, some thatcan sleep up to 12 guests.
Disney World Transportation
· WaltDisney World Skyliner – now open. A gondola system that connects Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney's PopCentury Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and future Disney's RivieraResort 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 OrlandoResort)
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 Adventurehas been named the #1 amusement park in the world by TripAdvisor for 5thyear in a row.
· Hagrid’sMagical 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.
· TODAYCafé—now open inside a recreated Studio 1A, home of the TODAY Show livebroadcasts
· The Bourne Stuntacular – all new live-action stunt show will blurthe 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-parktickets
o Breakfast at an iconic eatery
o Special Themed Keepsake Box – Harry, Ron andHermione luggage tags; Hogwarts Railways Lanyard; Travel Planning Guide
o Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio – choose from12 iconic scenes and unlock an exclusive background; receive a complimentary8x10” 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 spellbooks and a projection mapping show on Hogwarts Castle “The Magic of Christmasat Hogwarts”
· Holiday Parades – straight out of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade featuring someof your favorite Universal characters and, of course, Santa Claus to light the beautiful Christmas tree.
· Grinchmas Who-liday Parade – at Seuss Landing
· Universal's Holiday Tour -- separate ticket for a guided tour thourgh all of Universal Studios
Rock the Universe from January 28 to 30 – Fans can once again come together at Florida’s biggest Christian music festival to enjoy gripping performances by some of Christian music’s top artists, powerful worship experiences and thrilling theme park attractions during an unforgettable weekend of faith and fun
Mardi Gras Parades from February 5 to April 24 – come party New Orleans style, join the parade,feast on Cajun specialties and party to the sounds of the Bayou.
Deals for Florida Residents
· 2ndDay Free – book a 2-Park Park-to-Park ticket and get an additional dayfree. Does not have to be usedconsecutively. Book by December 19 anduse by January 31,2020
· Add Day atVolcano Bay for only $25
At Universal VolcanoBay the focus is the spectacular volcano towering over the sun swept beach.Volcano Bay is a South Seas oasis in the heart of Universal. Home of the Krakatau Aqua Coaster and WaturiBeach. Use your Tapu Tapu to skip the lines– it tells you when it is your turn.
Universal City Walk– unforgettable family fun meets “Wow” restaurants. Something for the entire family. Hit movies, karaoke, live music and Blue ManGroup shows. Choose between anassortment of quick and full-service restaurants with everything from churrosto a celebrity chef kitchen. Greatplaces to shop for all your Universal merchandise. Dance the night away with celebrity DJs.
Value Hotels ($) - Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts
· Surfside Inn and Suites – sunny beach-themed rooms and spacious two-bedroom suitesthat sleep six. Lowest rates on site.
· DocksideInn and Suites – a cool, calm coastal retreat withplenty of standard rooms and two-bedroom suites. A few dollars higher than Surfside
Prime Value Hotels ($$)
· Universal’s Aventura Hotel – great views of all 3 theme parks, mid-priced escape where clean, open spaces and casual comfort meet sleek style
· Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – vibrant, retro style. Architecture inspired by the classic Florida beach resorts of the 1950’s and 60’s. With two massive pools, a winding lazy river, and a bowling alley
Preferred Hotels ($$$)
· LoewsS apphire Falls Resort – step into paradise in the heart of the tropics. Blue waterfalls cascade overlush 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 ExpressUnlimited 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. Startsat $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.
It's Christmas Every Day at SeaWorld's ChristmasCelebration November 23 through December 31.
SeaWorld transforms into a winter wonderland sparkling withholiday cheer, excitement and over 3 million beautiful lights. Experience award-winning entertainment, fromthe all-new Sesame Street® Christmas Parade to spectacular seasonal shows likeO’Wondrous Night and Winter Wonderland on Ice. Rub noses with Rudolph theRed-Nosed Reindeer and pals, or head to Wild Arctic and visit with Santahimself.
A theme park focused around the many animals that make theirhome in the water. SeaWorld is bestknown for its shows and exhibits where the marine animals are the stars. There are a variety of other attractions thatmake this an extremely family-friendly vacation. For thrills, there is Mako, the tallest andlongest coaster in all of Orlando, or plunge down the lost jungle river of InfinityFalls.
Single park adult ticket costs about$6 per person bi-weekly. Numerousadd-ons are available, such as All Day Dining. Parking is extra.
Reserve an unforgettable day at Discovery Cove, an exclusive,all-inclusive day resort where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel withstingrays, hand-feed tropical fish, let your cares drift away along a lazyriver and more. Admission is limited to only around 1,300 guests per day. Day Resort Admission includes snorkeling andgear, shark viewing, various animal experiences, beaches and grottos, float inscenic 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 onthe day you choose and how far in advance you purchase. Discovery Cove is not generally open Tuesdaythrough Thursdays in December, January and February, except for holiday weeks.
Discovery Cove Day Resort Admission- $10 - $14per person per day bi-weekly
Signature Dolphin Swim Package -$13 - 17 perperson per day bi-weekly
Day Resort plus 2-parks: $11 - $15 per personper day bi-weekly
Day Resort plus 3-parks: $12.50 - $17 perperson per day bi-weekly
From thrilling water slides and rides to a carefree winding riverto your own private cabana for the day, Aquatica has just your speed of fun inthe Florida sun.
Single park adult ticket costs about$3.00 per person bi-weekly. Add All DayDining 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 12,000animals. Challenge a 335-foot drop tower, Falcon's Fury, or race like a cheetahon 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 DayDining 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 personper day bi-weekly. Good for 2 visits toany of the 4 parks.
Florida 3-park ticket would be $8 per personper day bi-weekly. Good for 3 visits to anyof the 4 parks.
Florida 4-park ticket - unlimited admission andfree parking would be $12 per person per day bi-weekly.
AwesomeAwaits at LEGOLAND Florida Resort
LEGOLAND® FloridaResort is the ultimate vacation destination for families with kids, locatedjust 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa. The resort includes an interactive,150-acre theme park featuring more than 50 rides, shows and attractionsinspired by popular LEGO® and DUPLO® brands andbased on family favorites like “LEGO NINJAGO®: Masters of Spinjitzu,” LEGO NEXOKNIGHTS™, LEGO City, LEGO Technic and LEGO Friends.
LEGOLAND Water Parkis 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 foreveryone!
In 2019, guests canvisit 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 andfamily-friendly Unikitty-themed drop tower, grab a bite to eat at Taco Everydayor meet Emmet and Wyldstyle at the only Central Florida theme park built justfor kids.
Multiple fun,kid-focused events take place throughout the year and are included withadmission, such as Brick or Treat, a “lightly frightful” Halloween party, andHolidays at LEGOLAND, a holiday celebration featuring a giant tree made out ofthousands of LEGO® and DUPLO® bricks.
Extend the fun witha stay just steps away from the park entrance at one of these LEGOthemed hotels.
Legoland® Beach Retreat
Features a village-style layout of brightly colored,beach-themed bungalows, each centered around an outdoor play area, with fully-themedrooms designed around relaxation and fun! Each bungalow sleeps up to fivepeople and includes an outdoor patio, a separate kid’s sleeping area andpicturesque 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 3night stay in January, or $90 for a 3-night stay in May, with 2 adults and 2children, 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 MOREsurprises around every corner. All stays at LEGOLAND Florida hotelinclude interactive LEGO features throughout the property, a FREE hot breakfastbuffet, nightly children’s entertainment and an in-room treasure hunt thatleads to even more fun for the kids. PLUS meet a Master Model Builder andfollow step-by-step instructions as you build your own LEGO souvenir in theMaster 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 a3 night stay in January, or $108 for 3-night stay in May, with 2 adults and 2kids, 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 LEGOfans and mischievous seafarers alike! Pirate Island Hotel will transform yourfamily vacation into a unique pirate adventure with immersive themed rooms, aresort pool (with a massive deck for the pirates’ sake, of course) and aboat-load of interactive activities and live entertainment for the kids (andparents) to experience during their stay. And, in true LEGOLAND style, we takethe theming to the next level with an in-room treasure hunt – swashbucklingyoung pirates will discover treasure daily IN THEIR OW