Earlier this week I had the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in July at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. We were greeted by employees wearing festive red shirts with “Christmas Town” embroidered on them all wishing us “Merry Christmas”. As we entered the theater we were offered festive coffee or chocolate milk drinks and candy canes. Once inside the theater the anticipation built as the crowd of media and passholder families waited for the presentation to begin. Here is a shortened version of the presentation.
Busch Gardens Tampa is getting ready to launch the biggest Christmas celebration ever! Christmas Town will transform the park into a nighttime holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas, filling guests’ senses with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors, and creating a beautiful new tradition for Tampa’s families.
For the first time in the park’s 53-year history, visitors to Christmas Town will experience all-new evening attractions, shows and shopping from 6 to 11 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, Nov. 30 through Dec. 23.
Even Busch Gardens’ most familiar fans will barely recognize the portions of the park that convert to Christmas Town through special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and thousands and thousands of twinkling Christmas lights:
- Celebration Village brings together the rich, warm colors of Christmas and heartfelt voices lifted in song to welcome guests as they enter Christmas Town. Draped in jewel-tone ornaments and glowing lights, the Moroccan Village comes alive with local choirs in the Marrakesh Theater and shops full of holiday gifts.
- Family and friends will cozy up to brave the chill in the air along Ice Wonder Way. The frozen pathway sparkles and shimmers in the night as snowflakes dance down the front of the Moroccan Palace, welcoming guest for special performances of the all-new Christmas Town ice show.
- Wild colors, exotic decorations and intricate animal patterns create the kind of Christmas found only in nature! Stretching along the Cheetah Hunt walkway, Jungle Jubilee welcomes guests to Florida’s only triple-launch coaster and the iconic Crown Colony restaurant, featuring special holiday fare and the new Carol of the Bells light show.
- Just around the bend, Candy Cane Lane gives Christmas Town a peppermint twist. Red and white lights twinkle in the trees throughout the Nairobi area, calling to mind the beloved Christmas confection and pointing guests down the path to the Christmas Town Express and Santa’s House.
- Experience the humble magnificence of that first Christmas night and remember the real “reason for the season” and along Miracle Way. Guests will marvel at a topiary representation of the Holy Nativity and illuminated angels, set along the Stanleyville Bridge in the warm glow of Christmas lights and sacred holiday music.
- Christmas has come to Sesame Street! Elmo and his friends are all dressed up in their holiday best at Sesame Street Season of Fun, ready to pose for pictures and plenty of hugs with kids of all ages who stop by to wish them a funny, furry Christmas.
- When it’s warm in December and there’s more sand than snow, celebrate a Floridian Christmas with a touch of the tropics in the Enchanted Flamingo Valley. Guests will be “thinking pink” as they encounter decorated palm trees and a flock of festive flamingos created from thousands of twinkling pink lights.
- Christmas is in full bloom along Poinsettia Parkway, where guests can lose themselves among hundreds of the traditional holiday flowers and feast their senses on delicious holiday treats.
- On your way to play in the snow, stop by Jingle Bell Junction and climb aboard a pint-sized train for a holly-jolly ride designed especially for young guests, located at the crossroads of Christmas Town in Gwazi Plaza.
- Guests can find the perfect holiday gift or indulge in a delicious seasonal treat as they explore Christmas Town Village. Set along the Gwazi Park walkway, tiny Christmas cabins will scent the air with seasonal treats like apple pies and strudels, gingerbread cookies, eggnog and roasting nuts, as well as a delicious array of flavored popcorns, roasted nuts, waffles with ice cream, fruit-filled crepes, rustic sandwiches, homemade potato chips and Starbucks coffees and hot chocolate.
- Enjoy a nostalgic white Christmas – in Florida! – in Christmas Town Park. Guests can experience real, frozen snowdrifts in the Snow Wonderlandsnow play area, meander among quaint cabin shops, pose for pictures with strolling snowmen, and finish off the night with an exclusive concert with the Grammy Award-winning group Jars of Clay.
And while Christmas Town will offer guests the opportunity to ride some of Busch Gardens’ most popular roller coasters, including Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra and Gwazi, the special event will also offer some equally special rides and attractions exclusive to the nighttime experience:
- All aboard the Christmas Town Express for the biggest Christmas carol sing-a-long on wheels! Friends and family are invited join in singing traditional songs of the season like “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” while circling the park on a beautifully lit vintage-style steam locomotive.
- The Claus family invites you into their North Pole home at Welcome to Santa’s House. While the elves are busy preparing for Christmas, Mrs. Claus is in the kitchen baking holiday treats, but even Santa himself will take a break from his busy holiday schedule to meet and take photos with families in his private study.
- Straight from the South Pole, the Christmas Town Penguins have brought a bit of ice and snow all the way to Florida! Come chill with these dapper little creatures and marvel at their underwater antics at the penguin habitat, located near Candy Cane Lane in the Nairobi area.
Guests who have come to love Busch Gardens’ traditional holiday shows will still be able to see Christmas on Ice, Christmas from the Heart and Christmas Celebration during the day. But at Christmas Town, new shows and surprise guests who will provide a very special evening of family-friendly entertainment:
- Busch Gardens’ Crown Colony House restaurant sets the stage for a stunning ballet of music and light each night under the stars. The Carol of the Bells features tens of thousands of Christmas lights covering the façade of the stately building, set in motion to a choreographed presentation of stirring seasonal songs.
- World-class skaters will bring to life favorite Christmas songs both traditional and contemporary, in a cool, all-new snow-inspired ice show, produced especially for Christmas Town by the creators of Christmas on Ice and Iceploration.
- Jimmy Osmond’s Christmas Jukeboxfeatures Jimmy Osmond and his family singing favorite Christmas tunes and sharing special holiday memories each night in the Stanleyville Theater. In the true spirit of Christmas, Busch Gardens is joining Jimmy in his work with the Children’s Miracle Network, and will be making a donation to local Tampa Bay-area kids in need.
- For those who can’t wait to get their night at Christmas Town started, guests are invited to pull up a chair at Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast for a special evening filled with stories, songs, a delicious buffet of traditional holiday fare, plenty of opportunities for holiday hugs and photos with Mrs. Claus and her favorite elves, and exclusive no-wait access to Welcome to Santa’s House and Snow Wonderland after dinner.
“When Christmas Town opens in November, it will be the beginning of a unique holiday tradition for Tampa Bay area,” says Jim Dean, Busch Gardens Tampa’s park president. “We are creating a season-long celebration for family and friends unlike any other event our guests have ever seen – the kind of Christmas fun only Busch Gardens can provide.”
Similar to the park’s popular Halloween event, Christmas Townwill be a separate-ticketed night event, and regular daytime admission is not required or included. General admission for Christmas Town is $39.99 plus tax. Buy your tickets in advance and save! For a limited time, save $10 when you purchase your tickets online. Admission starts at $9.99 for children (3-9) and $29.99 for adults. Busch Gardens annual pass members will receive the deepest discounts, and special offers are available for guests wishing to upgrade their paid daily admission to Busch Gardens and through promotional codes from select retail partners. Families with children ages 3 to 9 will enjoy a special advance-purchase price of $9.99 for their youngest members.
Christmas Town will also offer some magnificent new opportunities for groups looking to book a unique holiday party. For details, call the Busch Gardens Events Team at (813) 987-5523. For the latest park news, “Like” Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on Facebook.
I cannot wait to add this to our family holiday traditions!! What about you? Which show or attraction are you most excited about seeing? Leave me a comment and let me know.