International Drive Resort Area Sparkles for the Holiday Season!

Dazzling theme park events, spectacular decorations, Santa, nonstop entertainment
The International Drive Resort Area pulls out all of the stops each December to make this Orlando destination one of the most popular in the country for holiday travelers. Filled with fun for the entire family, the area's 100 hotels and resorts, five of the world's great theme parks, more than 150 restaurants, more than 485 shopping outlets and entertainment complexes are all decked out for the season.
Decorations, special holiday entertainment and visits from Santa at many hotels and restaurants greet visitors who are celebrating their holiday in the area. Meet the Grinch, have a holiday dinner with Pirates, have a photo taken with Santa, shop at the area’s world-famous retail outlets, visit the area’s world-famous theme parks. The options are as endless as the decorations along I-Drive!
The nostalgic I-Ride Trolleys, decked out in wreaths and garland, travel throughout the I-Drive area and are a yearly Central Florida tradition in Orlando’s tourist corridor. Visitors will enjoy parking the car and using the popular trolleys to travel throughout the area from 8 a.m. until 10:30 pm daily. Special hours for Christmas Eve: 8 am to 8 pm; Christmas Day: 10 am to 10:30 pm; New Year’s Eve: 8 am to 1 am. During the ride, visitors may stop for shopping, dining, entertainment or attractions. Affordable for the entire family, the trolley fare is $1.25 per person, per ride with accompanying children riding free (age 12 and under). Unlimited ride passes are also available. For additional information and downloadable maps, click “Trolley” on this site.
For holiday vacation planning, the following is a sampling of the area’s not-to-be-missed holiday events:
Orlando Christmas Celebration events: Friday through Sunday Nov. 26-Dec. 12 and nightly
Dec. 17-Jan. 2, 2011
The Polar Express Experience at SeaWorld Orlando
This enchanting experience surrounds guests with the true spirit of the holiday season through laugh, thrills and animal encounters. Classic scenes are recreated in a multi-sensory experience immersing passengers in special lighting, scent, sound and motion effects from the smell of Christmas cookies to bright lights glistening on a festive tree. 407-351-3600.
Also don’t miss:
Shamu Christmas – Miracle
A festive atmosphere of sight and sound, where thrilling holiday music soars throughout the night as Shamu tells a story of reflection and understanding.
Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas
SeaWorld’s prankster-loving pinnipeds Clyde and Seamore put a comical twist on some of their favorite holiday moments in this holiday-themed show.
A Sesame Street
Favorite friends from Sesame Street come to SeaWorld for a festive and fun musical celebration at Seaport Theater! The holidays have arrived, but Abby Cadabby doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. She’s never heard of Christmas. Elmo, Telly Monster, and the rest gather to share the true spirit of the holiday. Through engaging choreography, gentle humor, and interactive sing-a-longs, the Sesame Street friends teach Abby what Christmas means to them.
Winter Wonderland on Ice
Christmas comes to life on a stage of ice, jewels and light. This extravaganza is a don’t miss experience!
Sea of Trees
This wonderland of trees sparkles with holiday spirit!
Holiday fun at the theme parks!
Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios
Dec. 4--Jan. 1, 2011
The world’s most famous parade in New York has become a holiday experience at Universal Studios. The Macy's Holiday Parade features some of the most popular balloons and floats direct from the famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Complete with a tree lighting ceremony by Santa Claus each day of the holiday season. 407-363-8000.
Dec. 4- Jan. 1, 2011
Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure is transformed into a bah-humbug haven by the Grinch. The entire Seuss-themed island is colorfully decorated for the season and guests are invited to meet the Grinch in his lair, which is outfitted with authentic movie props and gadgets. Grinch fans enjoy a live, musical stage show that tells the world-famous story of the grumpy Grinch. 407-363-8000.
New for 2010! Stroll through the new Holiday Village at Universal Studios, bustling with laughter and cheer. Then sing along with holiday music, performed live every night, featuring Mannheim Steamroller on December 4, 11, and 18 and beautiful a cappella arrangements by Sounds of the Holidays on other evenings. And don’t forget to visit Santa and enjoy tree lightings at all three of the Universal resort properties.
Holiday entertainment
Rosen Shingle Creek’s Fourth Annual Holiday Showcase Celebrating Central Florida's Performing Arts includes performances of The Nutcracker Dec. 3, 10 and 17 at 6:30 by Elizabeth Parsons School of Dance, Windermere Ballet and Community Dance Theatre. Holiday sing-a-longs and dance takes place Dec. 4, 11 and 18 at 6:30 p.m. Entertainment includes the Valerie Pernice band and contemporary holiday dance entertainment with Miriam and Valerie’s School of Dance Arts, Soda Pops and Ballet Guild. The free events take place in the resort lobby and are open to the public. 407-996-9939. .
The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra hosts its annual "Home for the Holidays" concert Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre. Guest conductor Dirk Meyer leads the Orlando Philharmonic in this program of holiday classics, which features soprano Susana Díaz and baritone Thomas Potter. 407-896-6700.
The Pointe Orlando Performing Arts Center
Fantasyland Productions presents the 8 Reindeer Monologues Dec. 1-23. 407-374-3587.
Nov. 28 through Jan. 6, 2011
It’s a holiday Yo Ho Ho with this yuletide celebration that only pirates could provide! Food, entertainment and more as the entire family participates in the swashbuckling fun! 407-248-0590.
New Year’s Eve at SeaWorld Orlando
Dec. 31, 2010
SeaWorld Orlando is throwing a New Year’s Eve party complete with live music and fireworks. At the stroke of midnight, witness the Orlando sky radiate during a brilliant fireworks show that will light up the night. 407-363-2259.
New Year’s Eve at Universal CityWalk
Dec. 31, 2010
This 30-acre entertainment complex with themed restaurants, nightclubs and shops, will host one of Orlando’s hottest New Year’s Eve parties from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. Bret Michaels live in concert. Gourmet cuisine. Admission to seven clubs. Champagne toast! 407-363-8000.