It’s that time of the year again ~ when theme parks and stores deck the halls from top to bottom for Christmas and the holidays. For someone who absolutely adores Christmas, I have no objections whatsoever. I mean, I love my autumn decor and smells, but I also love when theme parks like Busch Gardens begin to decorate for this particular season. Speaking of Busch Gardens, they just recently kicked off their Christmas Town celebration and our family had the chance to attend the very first night. Curious to find out what festivities there are to enjoy?
My family and I were invited as media to attend this event in exchange for coverage and our personal experience. All opinions expressed are honest, genuine and 100% mine and mine alone. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Get Into The Holiday Spirit With Busch Gardens Christmas Town Village
When it’s the most wonderful time of the year, people love to celebrate wherever they go. Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay knows this and is completely decked out for the holiday season. There are lights everywhere and festive shows are being performed in front of ginormous audiences. Not to mention, the park has the food thing pretty well squared away (wink, wink). In fact, I didn’t know this until recently (maybe you did), but Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has been voted one of USA Today’s Ten Best Theme Park Holiday Events in recent years!
So, Let’s Talk Christmas Town Village 2019
When our family of four arrived, it was still daylight. I did that intentionally so that I could see where everything was and snap some photos while I was still able to see. Of course, the boys weren’t as interested in snapping photos with me. No sooner did we walk through the front gate were they completely focused on riding a coaster or two. To his credit, it was the first time our youngest had been to the park, so he was eager to tackle some of the more thrilling coasters.
I admit I was reluctant, but we sent them off for a bit while Hubby and I walked around to see what else the park had to offer.
Snapping the Perfect Photo Memory!
The first thing we tackled were some photo opportunities. Scattered throughout the park are numerous set-ups where Guests can snap a holiday photo with their friends and loved ones. We captured a few, but the lines were beginning to grow quite quickly. These were quite popular! They are definitely worth the wait, but I was just too curious to see what else there was to enjoy.
Of course, aside from the wreaths and penguin photo opps, there are a few famous characters waiting around to snap a photo with guests. From Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and even Santa himself (Santa’s House presented by Coca-Cola®), there was certainly no shortage of memories for families to create.
Finally Back Together…
At one point, our little crew came back together and jumped into line to walk the Merry Mint Lane (through the Animal Care Center). This was fun merely because, after taking a photo with a life-sized “penguin,” we were able to snap a photo with a REAL screech owl!!
Oh, my goodness – he was soooo tiny and soooo cute!! I wanted to take him home.
Enjoy a Spectacular Holiday Show…or Six.
There are at least six shows to enjoy at Busch Gardens during the holiday season. From live bands and gospel celebrations to ice skating and choreographed seasonal light displays, there is something around every corner to enjoy.
While the boys were off on another coaster adventure, Hubby and I had the chance to take a seat inside the Moroccan Palace to watch Christmas on Ice. In fact, we were pretty lucky because we were the last two people allowed to enter that evening. It was quite the popular performance!
Christmas on Ice consists of a group of very talented ice skaters who fascinate the audience with both their grace and daring stunts. They perform their choreographed routines to holidays favorites, leaving us feel both spirited and amazed. While it’s a very family friendly show, I nearly lost my jaw as it dropped to the floor with some of the stunts they carried out on that ice. For instance, the one where the woman is being swung by her feet and her head comes so very close to the ice?? I mean – Umm ~ WOW!
It was definitely an entertaining way to spend about a half hour and a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Add this to your must-see list!!
Need To Get A Ride Or Two In?
Let’s cut to the chase. This was the primary reason our boys came with us that evening. Of course, it is, right? They’re teenagers and the thrill of the ride is where their heart is.
During the holidays, many of the rides have a spectacular view of the twinkling lights that cover the park. Riding the coasters can give you feeling of soaring like Santa in his sleigh. Perhaps you’re daring enough to enjoy the feeling of dropping straight down from Falcon’s Fury. The rides still have a magnetic attraction to those visiting the parks during this time of the year.
For families with younger ones, there is a festive train ride that takes you around a particular section of the park. The train at night is all lit up and the journey is filled with Christmas music as Guests enjoy a sing-along during their 20 minute adventure.
While we were there, the rides were hit or miss when it came to length of the line. Hubby and I didn’t venture onto anything that evening, as we were more interested in hot cocoa, photos and Christmas lights. The boys rode a few coasters, though ~ despite the unseasonably chilly Florida weather. Honestly – we were wearing coats!!
The boys loved every second of it, though, and even did one coaster twice. Just keep in mind that the crowds may be thick at certain points during the holidays. Otherwise, enjoy – it will provide for a spectacular view!
Now – I took long enough to get to this part. Didn’t I? Well, that’s because I found this the primary focus of the entire event. It may be different for you, but we were all about sampling some of the delicious foods we had been hearing and reading about.
Throughout the park, Guests can find various specialty holiday treats. However, the primary location to find the sweetest of treats was in Christmas Town Village. In this one area of the park, which opens at 4 PM, there are at least eight different Christmas Town Village cabins serving up delicious culinary delights. Whether you were looking for something warm, something cold or something to get you into the holiday spirit, there was truly something for just about everyone.
Food allergy note:
Yes, I said “just about.” I will confess that we did not ask questions about food allergy accommodations while we were there. We brought food for our son to eat on his own. Therefore, I cannot say one way or another as to whether or not they would be able or willing to accommodate for food allergies at the Christmas Town Village cabins. Please be sure to contact Busch Gardens Customer Service to ask if you are curious.
To help you save a little cash on your food purchases, there are two types of lanyards you can pre-purchase and use during Christmas Town Village hours (which start at 4 pm). One lanyard offers five food options ($24.99) and the other ten ($39.99). We had the one for ten and certainly did not walk away hungry.
We enjoyed treats such as waffle sandwiches, dessert pretzels and donut skewers. And don’t forget the hot cocoa!!
We could not walk away without purchasing a souvenir mug! The mug this year costs $7.99 and then each refill is $2.99. That worked for us because we shared the cup between three of us. So, instead of purchasing three different drinks on several occasions, we just used that one cup to sip. Thankfully, none of us were sick.
All in All…
Busch Gardens has the right to boast about being one of USA Today’s 10 Best Holiday Theme Park Events! I know they are going for a third, but the competition is definitely fierce. We will say the lights are beautiful, the food is festive and sweet, and the holiday shows are spectacular. If I had to say anything needed some work, I would just have to say that the efficiency of the lines in Christmas Town Village and for characters could use a little tweaking. We did spend close to an hour in one line and close to thirty minutes in another. However, the entire event itself is a fun, jolly way to enjoy an evening during the holiday season. It’s popularity is definitely contagious.
If you’re heading towards Tampa or Central Florida this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or break, is Busch Gardens on your must-visit list? Busch Gardens Christmas Town Village will be celebrating the holidays now through January 6th. It’s a festive celebration packed with food, fun and photo opportunities!
For more information on Busch Gardens Christmas Town Village, be sure to visit their site at: Busch Gardens Christmas Town Village
Have questions about Christmas Town Village that I didn’t answer? Check out their Frequently Asked Questions page on their site: Christmas Town Village FAQs
Here are some Amazon favorites to inspire some Christmas gift ideas!
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