The Polar Express Experience Archives

December 9, 2014

A touring plan for SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration


SeaWorld Orlando offers so many attractions for the holidays that you easily could spend the better part of a day focusing on just the Christmas activities. So, in that spirit, here is touring plan to map out just how to do that.

My plan has an arrival time of 12:30 p.m., and I am assuming you have already eaten lunch. If you want to eat on property, arrive sooner. Also, my plan is for about 9 hours in the park. If your party is up for a longer day, arrive at park opening to experience some of the other attractions.

Here we go!

12:30 p.m.: Enter SeaWorld Orlando and go straight to the Polar Express, which is an overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction. This experience typically has long lines during the holidays, so be prepared. The Singing Conductors (seen below) perform regularly in front of the queue to keep crowds entertained. Polar Express starts with a short film, and then visitors enter a simulator for the train ride to the North Pole.

Upon arrival, they will see the Beluga whales and, around the bend, Santa Claus dressed just as he is in the popular movie. There may be a short line to meet him, so I'm allowing extra time at this attraction. There also is a beautiful Christmas tree in this area that is a great backdrop for family photos.

Moving on, you can purchase the hot chocolate made popular in the movie and see the walruses before exiting the attraction.

2:45-3 p.m.: Head to Seaport Theater to grab a seat for Elmo's Christmas Wish. This is a must-see for families with little ones. Although my own children are well past the age at which they enjoy Elmo, when they were into the red muppet, they could not get enough of him. The first show starts at 3:15 p.m.



4:30 to 5 p.m.: Time to get in line for the 5:30 p.m. 'O Wondrous Night' performance. This is SeaWorld Orlando's most popular Christmas production, so you may want to check on the queue even sooner if you want to see a particular show. 'O Wondrous Night' is a retelling of Jesus' birth that includes gospel-style singing and dancing, puppeteers and a live Nativity. The finale with three large camels truly is a sight to behold.


6 or 6:35 p.m.: Walk to any spot with a view of Bay Harbor and enjoy the short Sea of Trees show during which the lights on the Christmas trees in the water "dance" to music. If you view the trees from the shops at The Waterfront at 6:35 p.m., you can experience "snow flurries" afterward at that location.

6 to 7 p.m.: Stroll through the Christmas Market, the pathway that runs from the dolphin nursery to Bayside Stadium. This area is jam-packed with fun holiday offerings. See large-scale trains travel through an elaborate display; warm up by a fire pit; listen to roaming carolers; take holiday-themed photos; try your hand at games of chance; shop at the toy kiosks; and sample holiday food and beverages, including hot toddies for the adults.



7 to 7:15 p.m.: Start making your way to Shamu Stadium for the night's only performance of Shamu Christmas Miracles at 7:45 p.m. Although the killer whales make an appearance at 7:45 p.m., there is an amazing pre-show by a solo saxophonist that you won't want to miss. The orca show itself is worth seeing, combining the animal's feats with an engaging holiday story.


8:15 p.m.: Don't delay after the Shamu show - make your way straight to Bayside Stadium for the best show of the night, Winter Wonderland on Ice, which begins at 8:30 p.m. There is a pre-show here, too, but you likely will miss it if you go to Shamu Christmas Miracles. The main production, which features ice skating to traditional Christmas songs, is my family's favorite holiday experience at SeaWorld Orlando. It's such a feast for the senses that you won't want to look away. Stay seated after the finale for Holiday Reflections, a fountains and fireworks show.

Please be sure to check a daily schedule sheet when you arrive at SeaWorld Orlando because show times are subject to change. Remaining dates for SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration are Dec. 12-14 and Dec. 19-31.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.

Related links:
Santa's Fireside Feast:


December 11, 2013

What not to miss at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


Though the weather outside is a frightful 82 degrees, SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration is in full swing in Orlando. My family and I recently attended the holiday event and experienced a show we didn't see last year and a few new things along the way.




We started the evening for bloggers with a welcome from SeaWorld President Terry Prather. "Christmas at SeaWorld is not like any other place in Central Florida," he said. "In our world, we say that we own Christmas."

Despite the hyperbole, Prather's comment has an element of truth. There are so many Christmas-themed activities each evening at SeaWorld that it's impossible for a guest to view them all in one night. So, for first-time guests and those who only have one night, here's a look at all the experiences to help make your selections.

Last year, my son and I enjoyed dining at Santa's Fireside Feast, a traditional holiday meal with entertainment that included a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and reserved seating for "A Sesame Street Christmas." On multiple visits, we also experienced "Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas" and "Shamu Christmas -- Miracles," two shows we definitely recommend. (You can read all about them plus see videos here.)

Although most of the Christmas activities take place in the evening, The Polar Express Experience is open all day long, so be sure to make that part of your early touring plan. The Polar Express Experience is a Christmas overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction, and it even includes a visit to Santa once you arrive at the North Pole and the opportunity to purchase hot chocolate (like in the movie) inside the attraction. (See a full report here.)

At dusk, Bayside Village opens along the walkway to Bayside Stadium. This area, which often serves as the centerpiece for other special events at SeaWorld, has expanded offerings for the 2013 holiday season. There are Christmas-themed games; photo opportunities; food vendors selling treats, including the new Hot Toddies and Hot Chocolate S'mores Cobbler; a large fire pit with seating; and an expansive model train display. Plus, the walkway overlooks the gorgeous, lighted Sea of Trees in the bay.




Along the Waterfront, visitors will find additional Christmas snacks and shopping, plus the life-size snow globe is back. This photo opportunity allows guests to step inside an inflatable holiday prop with pretend "snow" that actually makes it appear as though you are standing inside a huge snow globe. If you see a short line, be sure to take advantage because this is a popular holiday attraction. A professional photographer will take your photo, but you also can use your own camera, as well.



This year, my family and I made it a point to see "O Wondrous Night," a retelling of the Christmas story that is sure to be a hit with younger audiences. Our performance started with a violinist playing popular Christmas carols, much to the delight of the audience, of which many in attendance sang along. The actual show features live gospel-style music from singers with powerful voices. Using humor and song, some of these performers also use puppets to tell the story of the baby Jesus' birth from the perspective of the animals in the stable. The finale is an amazing sight with live animals, including camels.




"We're very proud of how we use Christmas as a platform to not only celebrate what Christmas is all about -- the reason for the season is really the birth of Jesus Christ and we talk about that -- but more importantly, we use it as another way of celebrating, connecting, and showing people that we care," Prather said. "When you go to the shows, whether it's the ice show or "Shamu Miracles" or "O Wondrous Night" "� you'll see that we're all about connecting people to the natural world."

Speaking of the ice show, "Winter Wonderland on Ice" is a unique way to wrap up your holiday evening. Be prepared to be wowed by numbers with pairs and ensemble skaters. Many of the songs are the same as in previous years -- including classics and even the popular hot chocolate song from "The Polar Express" -- but the skaters have donned new apparel for the 2013 season.



Don't jump up to leave at the end of the ice skating show, unless you want to miss the Reflections Fireworks. Bayside Stadium is aptly named, and the beautiful fireworks show over the water also includes water jets and laser lights.


With so many wonderful holiday attractions like these and more at SeaWorld Orlando, it's easy to be in the holiday spirit. Just leave the scarves and snow mittens in your suitcase.


DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.


November 27, 2012

Polar Express, Shamu and Clyde & Seamore at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


Today, I'm going to pick up where Deb left off in our coverage of SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. As she mentioned, at the media event, we had to choose among the holiday attractions and shows because of the timing, so we decided to divide and conquer!

The Polar Express Experience

When we arrived at the park, my family and I headed immediately to The Polar Express Experience. (This is a holiday overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction.) I think I may have been more excited than my children, remembering how quickly my family fell in love with the movie when it was released in 2004.



In front of the attraction, guests will find a replica of the steam engine, where they can pose for photos and a conductors quartet performs Christmas carols periodically. Visitors can choose between two queues -- one to walk straight into the arctic animal exhibit and one to board the Polar Express. While they wait, guests can watch clips from "The Polar Express."




If you choose to board the train, your experience begins in Billy's bedroom, just like in the movie. You'll watch that scene on a screen before moving to lines for the ride. The inside of the simulator really does feel like a seating compartment on the Polar Express with its re-imagined decor. Despite the images of steep hills and cracking ice, the simulator feels smoother than when it operates as Wild Arctic. (That ride makes me a little queasy.)


Once you arrive at the North Pole, you'll be able to meet Santa Claus; he's waiting just around the bend from a giant decorated Christmas tree. Don't delay if you want to meet Santa, though, because that line grows quickly when passengers debark the train. Elves will be happy to take photos, and there also is a professional photographer on hand.


Then it's off to see all the amazing animals of the arctic -- polar bears, beluga whales and walruses. Along the way, you'll find a hot chocolate stand, where the sweet treat is sold for $1.99 a cup, and a place to purchase Santa photos.


"Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas"

Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas is, like all their other themed shows, filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud theatrics as the loveable sea lions, their human friends, otters and even a walrus get ready for Santa's visit. The jokes are corny, and the pratfalls and physical humor are really just a variation of what the characters do in other shows -- yet the audiences love it as always, and for good reason. It's a show that doesn't take itself -- or, in this case, any holiday tradition -- too seriously.


Of course, the show's mime gets the laughs started even before the show, and he carries it through to the big finale. My 8-year-old daughter was doubled over in laughter for most of the show. And, when she wasn't laughing, she was admiring the cute stage antics of the animals. This show is a great antidote for any holiday stress.


"Shamu Christmas -- Miracles"

My 10-year-old son is a big fan of all the variations of the Shamu performances, so he could hardly wait to see the Christmas show. This one begins with a live saxophone player who meanders through the audience, drawing viewers into the show. As with summer's Shamu Rocks!, music is a driving force for Shamu Christmas -- Miracles. The show blends solemn songs with joyful tunes and finishes with a Gospel-style soloist. At the same time, trainers take the killer whales through their paces, amazing the audience with their feats.

The theme of "Shamu Christmas -- Miracles" is family -- within the Shamu family and with human families. The performance strives to show how precious children are to today's parents who desperately want them. It also explores everyday miracles, delivering an upbeat message of hope and appreciation. The show concludes with a rousing number that is designed to get the audience moving in their seats.

This is my first year experiencing SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration, and I have been impressed. My only complaint is that there are too many holiday shows to see in one night!

You can read Deb's blogs about "O Wondrous Night" HERE and "Winter Wonderland on Ice" and "Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains!" HERE. I described our experience at Santa's Fireside Feast at Seaworld HERE.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.

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About The Polar Express Experience

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the The Polar Express Experience category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Shamu Christmas - Miracles is the previous category.

Winter Wonderland on Ice is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.