Come the holiday season and every tourist attraction around the world is looking to maximize the festivities and so, enter the Christmas theme parks. But, Christmas theme parks aren’t just our usual parks dressed up for the occasion. They also include some theme parks that exist just for the holiday season, only to be packed away in the New Year until next Christmas. If you want to treat the kids, or yourself, to a great festive experience, here are some of the best Christmas theme parks around the world for 2012.
1. Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Florida
It would be fair to say that no one does Christmas quite like Disney, earning them the top spot on my list of the best Christmas theme parks. The attention to detail from the decorations to the shows and the merchandise is incredible. Special 2012 Christmas events in the Magic Kingdom include the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It runs on selected nights throughout November and December and is quite a spectacle. Guests are treated to cookies and hot chocolate to keep them warm while they watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, featuring all of their favourite characters and Santa Claus. There is also an amazing firework display and light show projected onto Cinderella’s castle. And just to really get you into the holiday season, there is a magical snowstorm on Main Street, USA.
2. Winter Wonderland, London
Hyde Park in London plays host to the amazing Winter Wonderland festival each year. From the end of November to the beginning of January, wrap up warm and come and enjoy all that is on offer in this beautiful environment. Attractions include an outdoor ice rink, carnival rides, Zippo’s circus, a gigantic Ferris wheel, the spectacular Magical Ice Kingdom, Santaland, with the opportunity to meet the man himself, and a Christmas market to stock upon presents and festive food. Entrance to the Winter Wonderland is free, although there is a charge for some of the attractions. Easily one of the best Christmas theme parks in the UK.
3. Santa Claus Village, Finland
If you are looking for a genuine Santa experience then travel to the Santa Claus Village Christmas theme park in Rovaniemi, Lapland. Located within the Artic Circle, you will be able to see Santa Claus in his hometown. This delightful village is the epitome of Christmas with real snow, reindeer and elves. In addition to meeting Santa, you can post letters to your loved ones at the Santa Post Office, hand stamped with a special Santa Claus postage stamp, and shop for beautiful traditional Finnish and Christmas gifts in the many shops.
4. Six Flags Fiesta, Texas
Meet Bugs, Sylvester and their Looney Tune friends in the Six Flags Christmas extravaganza. In addition to the thrilling rides, all of which are given a festive make over, there are Christmas parades, cookie decorating, Santa’s Castle, ice-skating and a Texas-sized Christmas tree to enjoy. There will be similar events at All Six Flags theme parks for Christmas.
5. Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen
Get into the traditional Christmas spirit at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. This delightful historic park has old world charm as well as up to the minute rides to enjoy. It becomes one of the best European Christmas theme parks with an additional 6 rides to be enjoyed, including the Christmas Express, the Siberian Railroad and the Music Carousel. For 2012, the theme park has incorporated a new Nordic Christmas spectacle, to compliment the existing fairy tale Russian Christmas experience. The whole park is decorated in a charming rustic style and has over 50 stalls selling fresh Christmas treats and hand crafted gifts.
6. Dreamworld, Australia
It may be summertime in the southern hemisphere, but that doesn’t stop the Christmas spirit flowing in abundance at Dreamworld on the Australian Gold Coast. It may seem strange celebrating Christmas under the blazing sun, but Dreamworld holds special events where a ticket will give access to all the usual fabulous rides as well as holiday entertainment and traditional holiday food. At night, the park is transformed as pyrotechnics take the centre stage for an awesome light and music show, accompanied by a festive feast. Dreamworld is one of the few real Christmas theme parks in Australia.
7. Portaventura, Spain
Take a trip around the world at Portaventura in Spain. This wonderful theme park is laid out in areas designated as specific lands and they all embrace the Christmas festivities. From a ballet in the North Pole, to an ice show in Polynesia and a Christmas Country Band in the Far West, visitors will not be disappointed by the Christmas celebrations. It must be one of the most surreal of Christmas theme parks because Santa’s Grotto is hidden in a Mexican forest and Polynesian hut roofs have a dusting of snow. Don’t expect real snow, as this area of southern Spain enjoys sunshine in December.
All around the world, Christmas theme parks light up the holiday festivities with their magic. The extra effort made is very evident with brilliant illuminations and fabulous holiday-themed shows. I’m off to Winter Wonderland – where would you go?