In recent weeks, we’ve shared looks at this year’s socially distanced holiday celebrations at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, but there’s a third theme park resort in Central Florida where the season is merry and bright. Come along as we attend an invite-only media event at SeaWorld Orlando’s 2020 Christmas Celebration, and explore everything this festive event has to offer.
Like all the theme park holiday events this year, the 2020 Christmas Celebration is included with regular admission to SeaWorld Orlando, featuring seasonal entertainment, decorations, and dining opportunities. Read on for a round-up of our thoughts on the event elements we were able to enjoy during our recent evening in the park.
It’s A Wonderful Night: A New Story to Tell
The headliner addition to SeaWorld Orlando’s 2020 Christmas Celebration is It’s A Wonderful Night, an all-new stage show inside the Nautilus Theater, substituting for the traditional O Wondrous Night nativity play.
The new show combines a comedic retelling of the Christmas story with an It’s a Wonderful Life-style subplot about a novice angel earning her wings.
The narrative is interspersed with high-energy contemporary gospel music numbers, performed by masked singers and dancers who are spread across the large stage.
This show was written and directed by Jason Surrell, one of the creators of Universal’s Bill & Ted shows, and it has a similar sense of humor, with lots of snarky pop-culture references to Star Wars, Princess Bride, and other Gen X touchstones.
The cast is tremendously talented, and the production takes pains to point out that they are taking pandemic precautions (although some audience members didn’t play along with the mask requirements). However, we look forward to the traditional show—and its menagerie of live animals—to return in 2021.
Winter Wonderland on Ice
This Christmas, SeaWorld is once again hosting its entertaining ice-skating show in the outdoor stadium.
We’d love to give you a review of this year’s edition of the ice show, but, although the outdoor stadium itself has seats blocked off to promote social distancing, there were no precautions being enforced around the entrances.
We had to pass by the stadium an hour prior to the performance, and large groups of waiting guests were already clogging the walkways, so we sadly chose to skip the show this year.
Sea Lion High: The Christmas Special
This year’s holiday edition of Pets Ahoy has been pre-empted while the Sea Port Theater is used to screen an edited version of the original Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer television special.
That means Sea Lion High is instantly upgraded to our favorite seasonal show at SeaWorld Orlando.
The Christmas Special script’s jokes are just as cheesy as the year-round version, but the pacing is a bit less frantic, and the added holiday gags always make us grin.
If you only see one show during SeaWorld Orlando’s 2020 Christmas Celebration, make it Sea Lion High!
SeaWorld Orlando’s signature Shamu showcase gets some special seasonal bookends at this time of year. Before the performance begins, a saxophonist entertains the crowd with a medley of holiday tunes.
In keeping with their commitment to make their killer whale shows more educational, this show sticks to its standard script, and thankfully doesn’t make the trainers and orcas dance about to “Jingle Bells.”
Instead, after the show has ended and the orcas exit, a masked vocalist appears, along with some candle-bearing backup dancers.
Together, they conclude the show with renditions of “When You Believe” (from Prince of Egypt) and “Are You Ready for a Miracle” (from Leap of Faith), which longtime SeaWorld visitors may remember from the finale of the former Miracles show.
Happy Holidays from Sesame Street Land
Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando looks spectacular this season, as the beloved characters have decorated their neighborhood in true Muppet style.
Last year’s Sesame Street holiday parade has been replaced with a new street show, where Big Bird, Elmo, and friends dance and sing about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
This year, a parade float is periodically rolled out from a backstage gate and parked as a backdrop for the character performances. Unfortunately, this location leads to guests crowding uncomfortably close together during the show.
The Sesame Street holiday street show is extremely charming, but we just wish it was staged in a less-congested configuration.
Sea of Trees
One show where you won’t have any problems finding a socially distanced view is the Sea of Trees. SeaWorld Orlando’s central lake becomes a floating forest after sunset, as scores of illuminated trees come to life with frequent choreographed musical displays.
A bridge cutting across the lake gives the closest view of the trees, but you can safely take in the vista from many uncrowded spots along the shoreline. Just keep an eye out for speaker locations because the soundtrack can be loud when it kicks in.
Starting at 5 p.m. each evening, SeaWorld’s Christmas Markets open up, serving a wide variety of holiday comfort foods from freestanding booths that ring the park.
If you plan on indulging in more than an item or two, you’ll definitely want to invest in a sampler card, which brings your per-cost item down to as low as $5 per dish or drink.
Here are a few of the dishes we tried from SeaWorld’s Christmas Markets:
Just in time for the holiday season, a new outdoor drinking establishment called Glacier Bar has opened next to the Wild Arctic attraction, which is currently serving as a Santa Claus meet-and-greet space.
The Ice Breaker roller coaster that Glacier Bar is themed to won’t open until 2021.
However, that delay isn’t stopping the new watering hole from serving up signature cocktails in color-changing souvenir cups.
Alcoholic drinks in theme parks tend to be under-powered and over-sweetened. On the contrary, the Sparkling Mojito (Flor de Caña Rum, Bar Draught Craft Mojito with Fresh Mint & Lime) and Glacier (Reyka Vodka, Coconut Cream, Ginger Beer, Blue Curacao, and Fresh Lime) we sampled were both well balanced and potent.
Christmas Decorations at SeaWorld Orlando
Finally, on our way out of the park, we took a lap around SeaWorld’s lake to capture some of the festive decor you’ll find.
To plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.