Orlando is a destination hot spot during the holidays, offering a surplus of festive activities in the forms of theme park celebrations, parades, seasonal events, top notch holiday shopping, and much more. In fact, so many tourists flock to the sunshine state during this time of year that of the top 25 busiest airports for the holiday season listed by NerdWallet, Orlando International Airport was ranked number 17, maintaining a whopping 98,583 total flights during the November and December months from 2009-2014. Orlando is a blossoming city that is continuing to grow in number of attractions as well as visitors. The number of tourists visiting annually continues to rise, with 2014 breaking a historic national record with 62 million visitors. This holiday season, thanks to both Orlando’s traditional and newest amenities, excellent spirited entertainment is sure to be delivered to a peak number of guests.
Theme Park Holiday Celebrations
Guests of all ages will be able to enjoy all that Orlando’s theme parks have to offer this festive season, with special dazzling light shows, parades, and musicals creating magical moments and inspiring visitors. Some of the most visited and famous spectacles this time of year happen at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort, which has hosted 250,000 guests at a time during the winter holidays according to Chief Executive Bob Iger. Disney transforms Cinderella’s Castle into a sparkling ice palace at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, offers a Frozen Sing-Along Celebration inspired by the film, and holds their famed Candlelight Processional at Epcot, which is narrated by celebrities.
2015 marks the 20th year as well as the final year of Disney’s premiere holiday attraction The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Hollywood Studios. For two decades, guests have been wowed by over 5 million dazzling lights that “dance” along to synchronized music during the magical parade. Thomas Smith, Disney Parks social media director, sourced that the decision to no longer present the spectacle stems from the preparation of some incredible new experiences coming to the theme park, including a Star Wars-themed land and recently announced Toy Story Land. He said “Our heartfelt thanks go out to the family of Jennings Osborne for letting us share their family tradition year after year.”
America’s biggest non-Disney park, Universal Studios Florida, also garners many visitors, rising 17 percent in attendance due to the success of its Harry Potter-themed mini-towns. Such famous holiday spectacles held at Universal Orlando Resort include the Macy’s Holiday Parade, which uses the same balloons featured in New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Universal’s Islands of Adventure features Grinchmas, bringing to life the classic film and book throughout Seuss Landing. Guests visiting SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration enjoy a watery winter wonderland featuring live shows and a North Pole journey on the Polar Express Experience.
Eclectic Holiday Shopping
A favored activity in the Orlando area is shopping. With a wide variety of boutiques, department stores, and 330 outlets, Orlando does not disappoint buyers, who are sure to find what they are looking for in the area. This has helped Orlando become a popular shopping destination during the holiday season as well as on Black Friday, where stores open early and close late, offering shoppers great deals for gifts and holiday décor all in close proximity. According to Fortune magazine, Orlando Premium Outlets and Mall at Millennia were ranked among the top 10 highest sales-generating shopping locations in 2014 in the United States. With new shops and an influx in visitors, the 2015 holiday shopping season looks promising.
From George Aguel President & CEO of Visit Orlando
It’s been a great year for tourism in Orlando. Sparked by major, multi-year expansions at our theme parks that were completed in 2014, as well as the strong, global marketing and sales efforts of Visit Orlando and its member companies, all indications throughout the year have suggested that 2015 will be another record-breaking milestone.
As we look forward with anticipation to the holidays and all of the fun and merriment in store for the next two months, we’re thankful for all the benefits that our local tourism industry provides our community. From direct visitor spending to job creation, tax revenue and great quality-of-life venues and experiences, the business of welcoming guests to our area for leisure or business travel is one that pays off incredibly well for us. Thanks to our more than 62 million visitors, tourism generates more than 60 billion of economic impact annually for our community.
Visitors from around the world come to Orlando to experience seven of the top theme parks on the planet – all in one place: our backyard. Our rides and shows are so immersive and so good at transporting our visitors into heart-warming and adventurous environments of feature films or novels that families around the globe look at a trip to Orlando as a rite of passage.
But what really differentiates our destination from the hundreds of others we compete against in the worldwide travel marketplace is the emotional connection Orlando makes with its visitors. Like the holiday season we’re about to enter into, travel – especially travel with family and friends – occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of many of us. It strengthens the bonds we have with those we love, rekindles our spirit and forms cherished memories that last throughout our lifetime. And nowhere does this better than Orlando!