Laughing All The Way

Say woo-hoo to winter break with some of the merriest family fun of the year.

By Brett Ballantini - Monday, November 28, 2016

The kids are out of school, and family fun is on everyone’s agenda.

Take advantage of the downtime to enjoy one—or five—of our area’s many December-themed events.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Magic Kingdom, Orlando

Through December 22

Mickey leads the celebration with this fun, winter party, featuring a traditional mix of live entertainment (including Anna and Elsa from Frozen), fireworks and a special parade. Also at the Magic Kingdom are the live shows Here Comes Mickey and Santa and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration.

disneyworld.disney.go.com

(407) 939-5277

 

Holidays Around the World

Epcot Center, Orlando

Through December 30

Celebrate the month as Epcot always does, with traditions spanning the globe. Highlights include the International Yuletide Extravaganza (featuring traditions from the 11 World Showcase nations), Candlelight Processional (the story of the season told through celebrity narration, a choir and 50-piece orchestra), and IllumiNations, a special fireworks display.

disneyworld.disney.go.com

(407) 939-5277

 

Kirby Family Farm’s Christmas Express

Williston

Through December 30

Kirby’s is celebrating its fifth year running its Christmas Express train, the most popular holiday train in Florida for the past two years (so reserve your tickets early). The 20-minute ride takes visitors throughout the illuminated Kirby Farm, powered by an authentic, historic locomotive. (There are just three of its kind still active.) There’s also an imported Italian carousel for family rides, live entertainment, and a live show provided by Dance by Shelia. The farm also boasts craft and gift vendors as well as delicious food.

kirbyfarm.com/the-christmas-express

(352) 812-7435

 

ICE! Featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas

Gaylord Palms, Kissimmee

Through January 1

Charles Schultz’s classic comes to Alpine Village of Gaylord Palms in the form of interactive ice sculptures and displays. Scenes depicted within the 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice are Snoopy’s doghouse decorations, Charlie Brown’s search for the perfect tree and rehearsing the Peanuts Gang’s Christmas play. As usual, the Alpine Village boasts its usual chilly activities, including two ice slides, snow tubing and gingerbread decorating.

christmasatgaylordpalms.com

(407) 586-4423

 

A Dickens Christmas

Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala

Through January 1

Visitors can enjoy both the Dickens Villages and many of the Urban family’s themed trees scattered throughout. Additional community decorated trees will be displayed on the second floor. The Appleton’s “Family Day” takes place on December 3, when admission is free and families can enjoy making art, photo opportunities and hopping on carriage rides.

appletonmuseum.org

(352) 291-4455

 

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando

Through January 1

With music and comedy at center stage, this show should please even the Grinchiest member of the family. Set in Whoville’s whimsical wonderland, the expansive production is a live retelling of the classic television special.

universalorlando.com

(407) 363-8000

 

Let’s Skate Ocala!

Downtown square, Ocala

Through January 8

Want the excitement of downtown skating without all that messy snow and frostbite? Ocala offers an outdoor, synthetic ice rink for skating. Check in at ocalafl.org to keep up to date with all of this year’s theme nights.

ocalafl.org

(352) 629-2489

 

Mannheim Steamroller

Universal Studios, Orlando

December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18

Jam on! Rock and roll along with some squealing electric guitar, seriously heavy bass and eye-popping visuals, as these best-selling performers make their traditional return to Florida.

universalorlando.com

(407) 363-8000

 

Toytopia

Orlando Science Center

Through January 4

Here’s a fun take on history: a survey of the past 100 years of toys, tracing the development of board games, dolls and other go-to Americana toys. Toytopia boasts life-size toys and the world’s largest Etch-A-Sketch standing at 8 feet tall. Guests can also step into a larger-than-life dollhouse, which stands 20 feet and two stories tall—big enough to walk inside and play! There are toys to build with (LEGO, Lincoln Logs, K’nex), as well as a Retro Arcade featuring Donkey Kong and Missile Command. And before you leave, play a tune on the floor keyboard just like in that memorable movie scene from Big.

osc.org/experiences/toytopia

(417) 514-2000

 

Cookies For Santa

Toddler Time of Ocala

December 16

Cookies for Santa is a super fun toddler (ages 2-4) baking class starting at 6pm and limited to just 20 students. While cookies bake, families watch A Christmas Story and enjoy some “warm” chocolate (for young mouths). Rumor has it that Frosty the Snowman will be on hand to supervise! In case you miss this event, Toddler Time is hosting a similar class with gingerbread houses and Twas the Night Before Christmas on December 21.

facebook.com/events/1250925644919321

(352) 425-0385

 

The Nutcracker

Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Gainesville

December 16-18

Dance Alive National Ballet’s production of this all time family favorite entrances with the Sugar Plum Fairy, swirling snowflakes and toy soldiers led by their Nutcracker Prince. Dance Alive also offers two additional performances on December 17: Sugar Plum Tea matinee and A Holiday Affair evening feature.

performingarts.ufl.edu/events/

(352) 392-277

 

Movie On The Lawn: The Polar Express

Toddler Time of Ocala

December 17

Only in Florida can you enjoy an outdoor movie during December. Snuggle under a warm blanket, roast a marshmallow by the fire and then kick back with a classic movie on an outdoor screen.

facebook.com/events/1657852467871302

(352) 425-0385

 

The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra Holiday Concert

The Sharon, The Villages

December 19

Enjoying the beauty of the season calls for a stirring concert not once but twice with a matinee and evening show. Attendees are sure to be moved by the beauty of this renowned orchestra’s work.

thesharon.com/schedule.php

(352) 750-5411

 

A Christmas Carol

The Sharon, The Villages

December 20

Nebraska Theatre Caravan is staging this Charles Jones adaptation of A Christmas Carol, rich with ensemble music and exquisitely staged with Broadway-style scenery and costumes. Listen for classic tunes like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Away in a Manger,” “Greensleeves” and more.

thesharon.com/schedule.php

(352) 750-5411

 

Silver Screen Fun

Whether you can’t take the chill of an outdoor activity or just want to kick back with a tub of popcorn and laugh with the family, here’s the skinny on the top movies this season.

•Doctor Strange: A Marvel superhero movie that uses more magic than muscle. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title character.

•Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: OK, it’s not exactly a Harry Potter movie, but this J.K. Rowling work is a sort of prequel to the series.

•Moana:Disney’s latest princess film features a South Pacific Islander who becomes a hero during her ocean travels.

•Rogue One—A Star Wars Story: A spin-off from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the film follows a group of rebels trying to steal the plans for the Death Star.

•Sing:Called the family/animated/musical comedy version of Birdman, the film takes you backstage at a theater run by a koala and a black sheep.

•Trolls: A musical comedy about Troll dolls? Yep. Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick explore what life is like outside of the troll community.



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