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!
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.
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
Ice Wonder Way
Sesame Street Furry Christmas
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).
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.
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 http://seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-tampa/sitecore/content/Events/ChristmasTownBGT/Home/Book-Online
Overall, Christmas Town is a wonderful event that’s worthwhile checking out and is a great alternative to the holiday offerings in nearby Orlando.