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Orlando for Xmas and no theme parks

Rifkin

New Member
Original Poster
Hi all - I am thinking about taking the family to Orlando for Christmas week, but not going to Disney or Universal due to crowds. What would you do in Orlando outside of the major theme parks? I plan on booking one of the nicer non-disney hotels, but other than pool what can we do?
 

KaliSplash

Well-Known Member
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There is a very nice museum somewhere downtown but I don't remember the name. I do remember it was good, science theme if I remember correctly. There's a big Sky Wheel, there is shopping, there are good restaurants, There are plenty of things to do and I'm sure one of the locals will be along soon to answer your questions
 

Gainesvillain

Well-Known Member
There is shopping galore and most malls/shopping areas have "attractions" (like Crayola Experience), lots of B to D-list attractions on I Drive and in Kissimmee, other theme parks (like Seaworld), ICE! @ Gaylord Palms, and on and on and on.
 

drizgirl

Well-Known Member
Why aren't you doing any parks? It can be a real tease to be so close and not go at all. There are other things to do but if cost is an issue, those other things cost a decent amount as well.
 

nickys

Premium Member
Why aren't you doing any parks? It can be a real tease to be so close and not go at all. There are other things to do but if cost is an issue, those other things cost a decent amount as well.
This. ^^^

Would your family not be asking “why can’t we go to Disney”? With some planning and setting expectations you can have an amazing time. The resorts are gorgeous. Maybe compromise and do a couple of park days and give yourself some time elsewhere.

Is there a reason for going to Orlando specifically?
 

Wendy Pleakley

Well-Known Member
Why do you want to go to Orlando? What do you want out of this trip?

Warm weather and a pool? Orlando isn't your only choice. Are non-Disney things, like the Kennedy Space Center going to be crowded as well?

To me, it's a somewhat strange thing to consider going somewhere when you have to ask the question, "what will I do when I get there?".

Obviously there will be some bias on a board like this, where the concept of Orlando without Disney is just beyond our comprehension.

So, it comes back to my original question. What kinds of things, that aren't Disney, interest you?
 

drizgirl

Well-Known Member
There's nothing wrong with not visiting Disney, but I don't get the appeal of Orlando without doing something at a theme park of some sort. Honestly, if I wasn't going to visit the parks in Orlando, I'd probably go stay on a beach instead.
 

Rifkin

New Member
Original Poster
All great feedback, thank you! Some additional details that might help frame this based on some of the questions:
- We live in a cold weather place, so want somewhere warm with a lot of dining and entertainment options.
- Why not a beach? We have a beach house that we spend our entire summer at so don't always want beach when we travel (yes, I know 1st world problems)
- We go to Disney about once every 18 months at a deluxe resort for a week. So we get our fill of Disney, and quite frankly are somewhat tired of the crowds (Yes, again 1st world problems)
- We've never done anything in Orlando outside of Disney and the associated resorts.

We would do Disney Springs, some I-Drive, and a lot of pool and just relaxing. Maybe mix in a day at Sea World? I am seeing that it might be less crowded. We have been to Disney at the holidays before and yes while it is gorgeous, the crowds are just outrageous...no amount of planning can avoid that.
 

MissViv

Active Member
We are going 11/16 - 11/19 and staying at AKL. We are not doing the parks this time except for one night of Mickey's Christmas Party. I've had bi-lateral knee replacement and a lot of walking is not in the cards this trip. But … we are planning on visiting all of the Deluxe Disney resorts to see the Christmas Decorations. Really looking forward to a trip that is not just planned out but do what we want. No reservations at all except resort and Christmas Party.
 

larryz

Can't 'Member Anything
Premium Member
Why not stay in Tampa/St Pete and take a day trip to Orlando? The cost is likely lower and there are plenty of places to get good eats on the coast.
 

RememberWhen

Well-Known Member
Were planning to be in the area around the same time you are. We’re going to spend a week on the coast KSC and beach/relaxing time then three days in Orlando. We might try to go to Magic Kingdom or Epcot one of those days. We’ll see. We also looked at an aquarium in Orlando, various alligator places, lego land, sea world, that water park place... There are a million places to go. I’m leaning towards one day at Magic Kingdom (unless that space restaurant opens and I can snag an ADR...) and just relaxing at the hotel. We’ve got a big trip planned for next summer.
 

MrMcDuck

Premium Member
I'm amazed that some people never explore beyond the parks.

Some Christmas things you can do:

The Orlando ballet puts on The Nutcracker every year. Info here: https://orlandoballet.org/event/the-nutcracker-5/

The Gaylord Palms has a beautiful ice sculpture display every year. This year it's going to be themed around the Polar Express. In addition to ICE!, they have a lot of other Christmas events/activities. Vid here:
Tickets here: https://tickets.gaylordpalms.com/

The community of Celebration has a "snowing" event every year with fake snow , carolers, etc. More info here: https://orlandoinsidervacations.com/now-snowing-in-celebration-florida/
 

Zé_Carioca

Active Member
non Parks but Disney Related:
Disney Springs (on top of holiday shopping, many restaurants and booths will have special holiday treats PLUS I love the tree trail (it is free) and they have 20+ trees all decorated to disney themes, around the trail there is also fake snow and treat booths and a santa photo op. The tree trail does tend to get crowded though, so plan to go during a week day.

-Visit the Disney Resorts for the holiday decorations. I'd recommend doing the monorail loop and checking out the boardwalk area resorts.

Outside of Disney:
-Celebration: Around the holidays they have the "snow fall"in celebration and it's cute. They have three "snow falls" per day and there are also little Christmas booths and ice skating, it is a neat and free event.

-ICE at Gaylord. Ice sculptures and they also have different themed booths outside with holiday treats and activities.
 

Sirwalterraleigh

Well-Known Member
Hi all - I am thinking about taking the family to Orlando for Christmas week, but not going to Disney or Universal due to crowds. What would you do in Orlando outside of the major theme parks? I plan on booking one of the nicer non-disney hotels, but other than pool what can we do?
Orlando is what it is because of the build out around the parks...

I could see going to a rental in like reunion or something maybe? But most of town is feeder for the parks and I’ve never cared much for Christmas lights around palmetto trees. 🤔
 

Zé_Carioca

Active Member
Non Holiday Related:
-I'd visit winter park or winter garden (if you have a car), it is a nice half day trip to visit these quaint neighborhoods in the area. Both have a cool Farmers Market on Saturdays.

-As mentioned, Downtown has some museums and gardens to visit.

-ICON Park (the wheel mentioned above) has restaurants, a 360 wheel, a madame tussauds and an aquarium.

You mentioned Sea World: It is still busy during the holiday season but not as busy a the main parks. They do have a very cute christmas event at night with hot cocoa, treats and Rudolph as well as holiday shows.
 

got2lovedisney

Well-Known Member
About 10 years ago I scored an excellent rate at Wilderness Lodge at Christmas time ($129/night :eek:). My birthday is on the 25th so even though our passes were blacked out, I booked anyways. Most of the days were spent resort hopping. All the resorts have great holiday decor, themed gingerbread displays, lemonade and cookies in the afternoon. We did lots of pin trading, ate at different resorts, watched the fireworks and electric Water Pageant, spent time in the pool. They also have free nighttime movies. There's lots to do.
 
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