Want to be somewhere warm this season without giving up the holiday cheer? We introduced some surprising destinations for getting into the spirit of things earlier this week, including some sunny locales, but we wanted to give Orlando — the third most popular holiday travel destination in America — a special spotlight today. Yes, it’s a balmy 70-plus degrees here this time of the year, but you’ll still find plenty of Christmas classics here. You can still throw a snowball or pretend you’re in a snow flurry — with palm trees and a swimming pool never too far away.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, step inside re-created worlds from the hit movie Frozen. If you want to build a snowman, head to Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Snowground and play in real snow underneath the Northern Lights. A less chilly but more musical encounter is the stage show, “For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” where guests belt out songs from the movie while it snows in the theater. Free with theme park admission ($94).
ICE! at Gaylord Palms
Two million pounds of brilliantly colored ice are hand-carved into scenes from the Nutcracker and showcased in a walk-through attraction kept at an arctic nine degrees. Slide down one of the ice slides inside ICE!, indulge in a drink at the ice bar, or try tubing down a snow-covered alpine run. No need to pack your winter coat — free parkas are provided to guests. (From $28.99.)
As part of the hotel’s holiday events, a professional ice skating show features an accomplished cast — most are former Disney on Ice alumni — skating to holiday lights and music. The rink is also available for public skating. (From $12.)
Light Up UCF
The second largest university in America, University of Central Florida, hosts a community holiday event for 50 nights until January 4, 2015. An 8,000-square-foot ice skating rink boasts real ice, as does the 100-foot Arctic Glide ice slide. Make plans to enjoy the free holiday light show with falling snow, and family film festival, too. (Free admission, skating $12.)
In this quaint community originally designed by Disney’s Imagineers, “snow” — the kind used in Hollywood films — falls four times each night until New Year’s Eve. The free Now Snowing event has a small town feel, with the main street being blocked off with snow drifts and a small (albeit synthetic) ice skating rink. Santa takes pictures in his toy shed, carolers serenade restaurant guests, and horse drawn carriages transport families around town.