Christmas Town is in full swing at Busch Gardens Tampa and I had the opportunity to check out this year’s version of this wonderful nighttime holiday event, which runs select nights through December 23.

This year, Christmas Town features more nights, more lights, more snow and more fun for the whole family! Let’s start things off by breaking it down a little, shall we?

Christmas Town By the Numbers

6,000 – The number of candy canes that are used to make Christmas Town specialty drinks; that’s enough to cover the length of the 2,800-foot-long Sky Ride!

350 – The number of Christmas trees that adorn the 300-acre park.

108,000 – The number of cubic feet of snow that fills SnowWorld® presented by Coca-Cola®; that’s enough to make 3,000 6-foot snowmen!

30,000 – The number of cookies that are freshly-baked for Christmas Town. When stacked, they would be the height of five SheiKras!

24,000 – The number of cups of hot chocolate that will be served.

1,000,000+ – The number of lights that illuminate Christmas Town.

17,000 – The number of poinsettias that transform Poinsettia Parkway.

As you can see, a lot goes into making Christmas Town an event to remember!

Holiday Hills

Enjoy a trip back in time to celebrate Christmas of the good ‘ole days in Holiday Hills. In this nostalgic town, a live brass band sets the mood for seasonal fun with everyone’s favorite Christmas tunes.







Christmas Time Terrace

Journey into Jungala to see a nature-inspired Christmas, including a new tree light show in Christmas Time Terrace. A larger-than-life Christmas tree comes alive every 15 minutes with spectacular dancing lights.

Mistletoe Memories

Sneak a kiss with your sweetheart in the beautiful garden walkway of Mistletoe Memories. Here, romantic flowers and sparkling white twinkle lights fill the trees overhead and set the scene for sweet moments with loved ones and beautiful photos worth cherishing.

In addition, the Celebration Village, Ice Wonder Way, Jungle Jubilee, Penguin Point, North Pole, Miracle Way, Sesame Street Furry Christmas, Jingle Bell Junction, Poinsettia Parkway and Enchanted Flamingo Valley themed lighted areas have returned to delight and enchant guests.

Jingle Bell Junction


Jungle Jubilee


Penguin Point







Celebration Village

the Celebration Village



Ice Wonder Way





A living angel. Don’t blink!

North Pole








Miracle Way


Sesame Street Furry Christmas





Poinsettia Parkway



Enchanted Flamingo Valley


Enchanted Flamingo Valley
Enchanted Flamingo Valley
Enchanted Flamingo Valley
Enchanted Flamingo Valley


There are also three new shows just for Christmas Town!

Christmas Time Terrace Light Show (Jungala/Christmas Time Terrace)

Dancing lights bring to life a 40-foot tree every 15 minutes in Christmas Time Terrace.

Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation (Stanleyville Theater) 
A special holiday version of the popular Madagascar Live! show. Join the adventure as everyone’s favorite Madagascar friends, including Gloria the hippo, Alex the lion, King Julien and the penguins go on a vacation with a Christmas twist.














Elmo’s Christmas Wish (Sesame Street area)

Sing and dance along with Elmo as he makes a Christmas wish to Santa and learns the meaning behind Christmas.

The following shows also return: Angels of Peace: A Christmas Journey on Ice
(Moroccan Palace Theater), Carol of the Bells light show (Crown Colony) and Hallelujah Showcase (Marrakesh Theater).

Carol of the Bells light show (Crown Colony)
Carol of the Bells light show (Crown Colony)

Many rides are open during Christmas Town, including roller coasters such as Cheetah Hunt, SheikRa and Gwazi. And be sure to take a ride on the train, which transforms during the event into the Christmas Town Express, for the biggest Christmas carol sing-a-long on wheels! Guests are invited to join in singing traditional songs of the season like “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” while circling the park.

Snow World

Don’t forget to visit Snow World, presented by Coca-Cola, which is bigger and better than ever! Snow World has relocated to a backstage area (just before you enter Gwazi Plaza/Jingle Bell Junction) and brings 15,000 square feet of REAL SNOW to central Florida! We highly recommend bringing gloves/mittens if you plan to take part in the snow ball target practice or build a snowman (that stuff is COLD!). The snow slide area has been expanded this year as well with 8 slides. Also note that close-toed shoes are required to be able to experience Snow World. And for parents of little ones who have a little too much fun playing in the snow, you might want to bring extra clothes as snow is just frozen water and you don’t want them to be running around in cold, damp clothes all evening (especially now as nights in Florida are getting to be on the cooler side).







During Christmas Town, the restaurants throughout the park and the stands in the Christmas Town Village feature special menus and snacks just for the event and include goodies such as turkey legs with an orange/cranberry glaze, fresh made Belgian waffles that can be customized with various fruit toppings, hand carved turkey sandwiches, holiday salads, pumpkin funnel cakes, eggnog and Ghirardelli hot chocolate, Candy Cane Sprite Delight (Sprite blended with mint syrup and a candy cane garnish), full turkey dinners, and our favorite from last year, warm ham and swiss served on a pretzel bun with homemade potato chips on the side.






One of the biggest complaints/concerns I head last year about Christmas Town is that Busch Gardens Williamsburg includes their Christmas Town event with a day admission. While this is true, note that the Williamsburg park is not open year-round like the Tampa park is. They’re technically closed for the season and are only open the dates of their Christmas Town event. And some have said, “Well, SeaWorld includes their Christmas stuff with daytime admission and they and Busch Gardens are owned by the same company, so why doesn’t Busch Gardens do that too?” Well, even though both Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are run by the same company (Sea World Parks and Entertainment), each park is still a separate entity. Busch Gardens does offer daytime holiday entertainment that is different from what is offered during Christmas Town (such as the Christmas On Ice and Christmas From the Heart shows), which we covered in our last Busch Gardens update here on MiceChat.

Like with the tickets to the Christmas parties at Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens offers early entry to the park for Christmas Town. However there are some differences:

If you’re a Pass Member: As a Pass Member, come early to experience Santa’s House starting at 3:00pm, you can also enjoy early access to Snow World Presented by Coca-Cola and Christmas Town village starting at 5:00pm.

If you are attending Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast: With your ticket to Mrs. Claus’ Family Feast, your family is invited to come early to experience Santa’s House starting at 3:00pm, you can also enjoy early access to Snow World Presented by Coca-Cola and Christmas Town village starting at 5:00pm.

If you have a Daytime Busch Gardens Ticket: If you are already visiting Busch Gardens during the day, you can also experience Santa’s House starting at 3:00pm if you have a Christmas Town ticket.

TIP: If you’re planning on attending Christmas Town, GET THERE EARLY IF POSSIBLE. Last year saw a lot of traffic congestion and though the park has most likely addressed the situation and is prepared this year, be sure to plan ahead.

Please note that Christmas Town is a separate ticket event. Day admission to Busch Gardens cannot be used for admission to Christmas Town. There are various discounts available (there are special promo codes available from Coca-Cola and Fantastic Sam’s), with pass members (including Fun Cards and Sea World pass members) getting the deepest discounts. In addition, child tickets (ages 3-9) are available for $10 for any night of the event regardless if you are a pass member or not when purchased in advance online. For more information regarding tickets, please visit

Overall, Christmas Town is a wonderful event that’s worthwhile checking out and is a great alternative to the holiday offerings in nearby Orlando.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks for this great report Amy! It was awesome to see all of this laid out.

    The park looks amazing and it seems as if this might be a very unique Christmas time event from any other. I love the themed lighted areas and seasonal food items. As I read the article I was thinking “why wouldn’t a person want to do this?”. Then I saw the price. It seems a little steep to me. While I appreciate that some of these things are rare for Florida (snow and such) is it enough of a draw to attract people at that price? With only a couple of the rides running, and a number of shows as well, do people feel it’s worth the price? I thought if this was $30 – $40.00 I wouldn’t hesitate, but $50 – $60.00 seems a little high to me.

    What do others think of this pricing? Is there value for the experience?

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      Not sure where you’re seeing $50-$60 ticket prices because on the Busch Gardens site, it currently shows $40-$50 (depending on what night you go) for advance tickets. If you’re a passholder though (and like I mentioned, this includes if you have a Fun Card or even a pass to Sea World), tickets are $25-$35 depending on what night you go. If you buy tickets at the gate the day of the event, they’re around $80 I think.

      And in addition to some of the “big ticket” coasters running during the event, other attractions such as they Skyride and all the rides in Timbuktu (including the Phoenix, Carousel and Scorpion), the bumper cars and the Sesame Street area are also open. The only thing that disappointed me was I wish they’d also run the Montu coaster as would be amazing to ride it at night.

      So overall, honestly it’s much cheaper than Disney’s separate ticket parties. Sure there’s no free hot cocoa & cookies or a parade, but Busch Gardens does their event in a pretty classy way that outshines Disney in some aspects.

      • DuckyDelite

        Thanks for a great article!

        The pictures are great, I was hoping to do this next year. The pricing is a little crazy though. Glad I saw these comments first. I probably would have tried to purchase tickets at the gate thinking it was a $20-30 add-on.

        From the Busch Gardens FAQ page:

        How much is a Christmas Town ticket?
        General admission is $60 plus tax. You’ll only pay that rate if you wait until the night of the event and walk up to the front gate to buy your ticket.

        I doubt I would pay that price. Even if I pre-purchase, it looks like it is going to be $90/day ($50 daytime/$40 nighttime). We were hoping this would be an “if we have time side trip”. I really enjoy Busch Gardens, but with parking and car rental, this could be an expensive side trip.

  • Great update Amy. Thank you!!!

    I’d really like to visit this event. Though, I’m not a big fan of special tickets for things like this, I’d be willing to give it a try at least once.

  • Algernon

    It sure looks nice. And I never saw the word Christmas all over the place like that. Here, in California, everybody is getting ready for some sort of a “Holiday.” Still can’t figure out which one it is, but they put up “holiday” lights and have “tree lightings” for the occasion.