With snow on the ground and spirits high, Busch Gardens Tampa has captured the best of holiday season in their new Christmas Town event. Inspired by the event of the same name at their sister park in Williamsburg, Virginia, Christmas Town decks all the park’s halls with tens of thousands of lights and continuous entertainment each evening.
Taking place after regular park hours from 6 - 11pm (requiring a separate ticket), Christmas Town covers every aspect of the holiday, from the festive to the religious. The park is sectioned by different groups of colored lights, some blue and white, others red and green, some even pink. And beyond the park’s many decorated trees and paths, highlights of Christmas Town include a dancing light show, sledding and snowballs, and even a visit to the North Pole to see Santa himself.
Every visitor to Christmas Town will want to see Santa and Busch Gardens has crafted a walk-through experience worthy of his presence. The line can be extremely long to meet the big man in red, so guests should be prepared to endure a long wait outside his house. Cheery elves entertain those in line with over-the-top antics, continuing into Santa’s living room, where children are invited to help decorate the tree. Further inside, Mrs. Claus offers cookies fresh from her kitchen while sharing songs and stories before the North Pole adventure continues. After a magical journey down a mirror-lined hall, visitors find themselves face-to-face with Santa, who asks all good girls and boys what they want for Christmas, snaps a few photos, and sends them on their way. It’s an immersive experience that’s sure to put smiles on everyone’s faces, but getting there early to beat the crowds will surely help.
Anyone traveling from other parts of the country might not be impressed by Snow World, but local Floridians will love the chance to throw snowballs and sled down icy slopes amidst the warm winter weather. Bouncy oversized snowmen take pictures with guests, but the highlight of Snow World is getting close contact with real snow, something rarely found around this town.
Carol of the Bells dancing lights
The exterior of the Colony House restaurant dazzles every 15 minutes with lights dancing to a rendition of “Carol of the Bells,” illuminating every wall, pillar, fence, tower, clock, window, tree, and bush in the area. The show is loud and unmissable from just outside the entrance to Cheetah Hunt.
Near the rear of the park, one of the most eye catching displays of the entire Christmas Town event doesn’t involve bright colors or characters but instead offers a simple elegance representing the religious meaning behind the holiday. All guests, no matter their religion or lack thereof, can appreciate the hundreds of flickering candle lights strung high throughout trees and adorning a covered walkway leading to a nativity scene.
Other Christmas Town entertainment also includes an ice skating show, singers, and plenty of food, some of the best the theme park has ever served. The Colony House’s turkey pot pie and roast beef are hearty and among the best choices, though plenty of snacks and sweet treats are available in the Christmas Town Village.
Christmas Town continues at Busch Gardens Tampa on select nights through December 23.
More photos from Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa:
(Photos by Michael Gavin and Ricky Brigante)