Jolly Creek Holiday Festival and Marketplace Through January 2, 2021



Looking to attend a masks mandatory, socially distanced, music-filled, Santa-on-an-airboat, Florida fun Holly Jolly Christmas event? The Jolly Creek Holiday Festival and Marketplace at Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures in Kissimmee hits all the right notes (figuratively & literally) and runs through select nights through January 2, 2021.



My family and I were invited to visit the Jolly Creek Holiday Festival*. The Music Festival was created and performed by furloughed entertainers of Disney and Universal, headlined by The Jolly Creek Society Orchestra.



The Jolly Creek Society Orchestra, comprised of former members of Disney’s Grand Floridian Society Orchestra, performs most nights. Jazzy arrangements of holiday favorites have fingers snapping and toes tapping. Lots more happy holiday music provided by The Vocalitas, a swingin’ trio and The Mistletones, by Caroling Co. Consult the event calendar for all the entertainment particulars.

Hungry? Bring your appetite for Florida favorites. On the menu: Feast Fries (think Thanksgiving meets French Fries), Florida Frosty (a vodka cranberry toast to the holidays), eggnog, hot chocolate and more. We tried the BBQ Beef Brisket sandwich, fried pickles, and Gator Bites, which I can confirm are some of the best, most tender, we’ve ever had!

For dessert, S'mores Close Upmake some s’mores (I feel like I’m repeating myself!). For an additional fee, you can cozy up to the fire pit with marshmallow-on-a-stick in hand, and make the quintessential outdoor family treat. Additional craft kits are available, too.

Local goods can be found at the Merchant Village. We picked up some Elf Sweat (yes Elf Sweat, LOL) candles from Machado Farm Foundation and dog treats from Pet Wants Kissimmee for our neighborhood pups.

Since the event IS at Boggy Creek, you know you’ll see Florida’s past and present. In the Native American Village, you may see the Big Mountain Family members crafting or see a canoe that was hulled using primitive tools. Modern boats, airboats, are there including one piloted by none other than Santa, himself. An adventure package is offered, combining admission and a night-time airboat tour. We opted to arrive before the events, and scheduled a sunset airboat ride.

Tickets start at $10 for kids (under 13), and $18.99 for adults, with a portion of proceeds supporting Second Harvest Food Bank. Dog tickets are available, too ($10), so fur babies can get their “paw-liday” picture taken, or just to stroll the holiday lights with their humans.

As a family, we’ve committed to attending only outdoor events this year, which has seriously limited our options. Jolly Creek Holiday Festival has been a welcome BRIGHT spot and festive find that provided a relaxed, Florida-forward evening to cherish.

Enjoy a short video preview here.

*Disclosure: We were provided 3 admission tickets to attend, in exchange for an honest review. All other expenses were paid personally. 

Give Kids The World Village — Night of A Million Lights

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Give Kids The World Village is an 89-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida. Here, children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.

But what could the Wish Families’ favorite Florida destination do when a global pandemic shut its doors temporarily to a) safely celebrate the holidays despite Covid-19; b) raise awareness of their life-affirming mission to grant wishes to families facing medical uncertainty; and c) raise much-needed funds to ensure the doors re-open once it’s safe to do so?!

They imagined and made possible Night of a Million Lights! Click —>here to see the magical holiday display.

Thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours, over 3 million lights donated by Walt Disney World, and contributions provided by community sponsors made Night of a Million Lights become a reality.

For the first time ever, guests can experience the childlike wonder of a magical, whimsical Village during a walk-through, fully immersive holiday light spectacular. Stroll the Avenue of Angels, aglow with more than three million lights; savor delicious treats; and enjoy the accessible rides and storybook attractions that have brought happiness and hope to critically ill children and their families from around the world for 34 years.

Our family has volunteered at GKTW for a number of years. It’s truly been a joy working alongside some of our family members, blogging buddies and friends. We consider ourselves blessed that we “can” be at Give Kids The World Village with our child, but we don’t “have” to be there. We don’t take for granted the fact that we have a healthy child.

On one of our Night of a Million Lights volunteer days we met Mike Esmonde, Universal Studios AVLP team member, who shared the reasons why he is proud to volunteer (and has been for close to two decades!).

Click —>here to see the Dino Putt Holiday transformation & to hear Mike’s encouraging words.

Give Kids The World Village has created an experience unlike any I’ve seen. It’s a whole lot of holiday happiness that’s an unexpected positive wrap up of 2020.

Tickets are available through this link. Your purchase brings hopes to wishes.

Thank you, Sponsors. Your generosity brought the magic to “light.”

Advent Health 
American Airlines 
Barcana 
Bob’s Space Racers 
Boston Market 
Boston Whaler 
Buca di Beppo
Crayola Experience
Don CeSar 
Dreams Unlimited Travel
Enterprise 
Fun Spot 
Hasbro 
HNTB 
Holiday Bright Lights 
Holiday Inn Club Vacations 
IAAPA
IHGOA
ITEC 
Kennedy Space Center  
LandCare 
LEGOLAND
Lost Bros
LoTemp 
Margaritaville 
Mattress Firm 
Mears 
Mix 105.1 
Orlando City Soccer 
Pepsi 
Perkins 
PGA Tour 
Planet Hollywood 
Ripley’s 
S4 
SeaWorld 
Servalli Foundation 
Sunbelt Rentals 
Synergy Equipment 
Unilever 
Wheaton 
Winterland, Inc.
WonderWorks
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts

I Danced with a Snowman at SeaWorld

I’m thinking about the last few weeks and pondering which things specifically have brought me the most joy. I have to say, without a doubt, that our family has enjoyed our time at SeaWorld the most. It’s quality time together where we wonder at the miracle of life, are wowed at the beauty of nature and all of God’s creatures, and sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

As season pass holders we try to visit every weekend during December. There is so much to do and see that you can’t see it all in one trip! Yes I enjoy the “big” things (O Wondrous Night is glorious, Shamu Christmas Miracles is breathtaking, The Polar Express is a wild ride, and the Ice Skating show “Winter Wonderland on Ice” is top notch), but my favorite moments are the small, simple pleasures.

My son is particularly fond of the elves who play with children near the dolphin nursery on your way to the waterfront and Seafire Inn. All children are invited to participate in their shenanigans that vary throughout the day. I’m always a little sad, though, when I hear someone rushing their child past them when the child SO wants to play for a moment. (And isn’t that the reason for visiting a theme park?) Those who do participate, get lots of giggles, a few tee hees, and an occasional oh-gee-shucks. I thought it was hilarious when Flaky tried to tell my little guy about mistletoe kisses. He wasn’t having any of that nonsense!

He also laughed at the toy soldiers who march back and forth by Christmas Village. You never know if their going to follow you, encircle you, or try to swipe a sip of your hot chocolate. If you see them, try to march along. They don’t mind. It’s actually encouraged!

After the Sea of Trees lighting, it’s a great time to stroll by the water to see what holiday baubles and goodies are available in the village, but it’s also a good spot for character spotting (and photographing!). While my husband and son took off to buy an ornament, I saw the snowman at water’s edge, just watching all the children. Gallantly he accepted my request for a dance, and we swayed to holiday music for a bit. What Christmas is complete without a dance with a snowman?!

Sure there a lot of people enjoying the parks, too, but it doesn’t seem crowded. The lines are not excessive, the shows are spectacular, and all the “little touches” SeaWorld has added this year make it even more special for us.

Come on down for a leisurely day of holiday fun. You may go inside a snowglobe, or be snowed ON along the shore. And if you’re luck, you too might get to dance with a Frosty Friend.

 

Starting tonight SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration takes place nightly through Dec. 31!  Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration. With everything from elves to Elmo, and Santa to Shamu, lifelong memories are made in a watery, wintery wonderland that only SeaWorld could create. Don’t miss out on the spectacular holiday shows, including: Winter Wonderland on Ice, Shamu Christmas – Miracles, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, A Sesame Street Christmas, and the all-new “O Wondrous Night – the Greatest Story Never Told”, as well as the festive holiday décor and amazing Sea of Trees.

Holiday Magic at SeaWorld

‘Tis the season… to visit SeaWorld, Orlando weekend nights (Friday through Sunday) November 25 to December 11, then nightly December 16 through the 31st.

The halls are decked, the lights are glowing, and I for one am excited to re-visit old holiday memories as well as making some incredible new ones.

Snow is falling in Orlando. FUN!

First up on the “new and amazing” things to do: Go INSIDE a snow globe. Yes, it’s a photo op, but it’s also taking a flight of fantasy. My 4-year-old wasn’t sure about this huge domed thing when we walked up to it. It seemed rather scary looking up, up at it and he was content to let me go in and have all the fun. Later, however, he gathered his courage… and was hooked. The grin on his face was huge! He wasn’t happy we had to leave, however, and could have tossed that “snow” up in the air all day!

Next stop for us: The Polar Express Experience! What child (or adult, for that matter?!) doesn’t love trains and who is not enthralled by Chris Van Allsburg’s book come to life? The Wild Arctic attraction has been transformed into the North Pole where the sights and sounds (and the smells!) of the season immerse you. My newly height-requirement-met son enjoyed the ride, although during the first big “bump” of the simulator made sure to ask “are we really leaving SeaWorld?” “No,” I assured him. And “NO, we didn’t have to purchase an extra ticket” I thought to myself. I do love all the activities around town for the  holidays, but it’s a great bargain to buy either the SeaWorld Fun Card or a season pass and get to go on these amazing adventures over and over again…. (And, for the record, no, I don’t work for SeaWorld and we buy our own passes, LOL.)

New this year is “O Wondrous Night – The Greatest Story Never Told.” With more than 30 carols and told thorough the eyes of a menagerie of live animals, this light-hearted production is certainly going to be a must-see!

New, too (although only for the holidays we were sad to learn) is a train ride over in Shamu’s Happy Harbor called The Holly Jolly Railway. My son has long-since told me that the only thing that would make SeaWorld better would be a train you could ride on for “real.” This one should fit the bill for a while, but he’s hoping for one around the park a la Busch Gardens. We can hope!

Returning this year is Winter Wonderland on Ice. It’s a fun, festive celebration with gorgeous music, talented skaters, fountains, fireworks, and some adorable characters. The Quartet (who we affectionately call the Polar Express Singers, due to their attire) started off the show with a series of favorites. Here’s a little taste: http://youtu.be/IICRGxmUjOI  And speaking of taste, last year we made sure we had a big cup of hot chocolate before siting down to this holiday sensation of ice, music, and all-around holiday fun. (Read that blog by clicking HERE.)

Also back is Shamu Christmas… Miracles. You know Shamu Rocks, but this is something else! Always breathtaking, the killer whales are the stars in a salute to the season.  Not to be outdone, Clyde and Seamore have their own special, too. Santa? They’re looking for you. ♫

We’re big fans of the Sesame Street gang and we’re ready to learn what Christmas means to each of the fuzzy monsters. Abby Cadabby learns a lesson in holiday traditions through dance, music, and plenty of songs for the little ones in your family. My favorite singer hopes “Jingle Bells” will be played a lot. (Somehow I think this is a given….)

So, grab your coat, or sunscreen, or whatever our typically UN-typical Florida weather deems, and visit SeaWorld for the holidays. OH, and when you see the Longshoremen’s Holiday Pie routine (they can be found yucking it up along the shore most days), please tell them SeaWorld Mommy sent you. 🙂

Firefly Moments at SeaWorld

Little boys are more like fireflies than kittens… lightening in a bottle, elusive to catch, a joy to behold, and radiating with a glow from within. Kittens are also a blur of motion, and tough to pin down, but sometimes, just sometimes they slow down enough to be held. I had that joy the other morning when my usually wiggly 3 1/2-year-old snuggled up with me in my bed and let me rub down his back, his arm draped over my neck.

Moments of pure unadulterated warmth and joy are ones to cherish. I’ve been thinking about special times like that a lot lately with the holidays fast approaching. We’ve had many of our special memories of the season at SeaWorld.

I think we’ve either spent Christmas day, or the day before or after, at SeaWorld my son’s entire life. (Not to mention at least two or three times during the month of December!) The crowds are not bad, and everyone is in a good mood. Holiday sounds and music echo through the air. And most importantly, I have beside me the most amazing little boy, holding my hand, curling up next to me as we watch the dolphins from the underwater viewing area, or giggling like mad at the cold, cold riders of Journey to Atlantis as they get soaking wet from the splash at the end. It’s especially magical to romp through the Polar Express.

At my son’s age trains, as you can imagine, are of paramount importance. (A certain little blue cheeky engine and his friends take center stage, um, I mean floor, at our house.) Christmas trains, however, hold a special fascination. Unlike the warm climate our mild winter offers trains and their passengers, the winter wonderland of the Polar Express Experience allows that train to chug chug through ice and snow in a place so cold you need hot chocolate to warm your insides. I smile watching my son’s chubby red cheeks try to grin and drink at the same time, his jacket now dribbled and dotted with cocoa.

Of course the train isn’t real, and you can’t actually ride on it except through either the visual and physical sensations of the simulator ride (this is, mind you, my son’s only complaint about SeaWorld: no “real” train), or by watching the movie in the non-motion version. It is, nonetheless, a place to imagine Chris Van Allsburg’s vision… followed by a chance to meet Santa Clause, adorned in the glorious costume depicted in the Caldecott  Award-winning book and Oscar-nominated film.

I look forward to the new wonders SeaWorld’s dreamed up this year. The Sea of Trees, 74 in all, will be lighted within and without, synchronized waters arcing over and through them as the seas around them come alive as they “dance” to the holiday music.

There will be an ice skating show, which I’m anxious to see, and fireworks to cap off the evening. My little guy will be, no doubt, snuggled up on my lap as we watch. I’ll rub his back and as he drapes his little arms around me and his dad. We’ll drink in the magic and enjoy every blessed minute. I’ll bet the sparkles and flashes above our heads look like fireflies in the sky….