Top 10: Holiday Theme Parks
by Matt Cohen on December 22, 2013
Who doesn’t love a theme park? From the rides to the shows to the snacks, I can’t think of a better way to spend a day.
Oh, wait- I just did.
THEME PARKS DURING THE HOLIDAYS!!!
Our beloved amusement centers transform into seasonal destinations sure to delight and amuse any visitor. Here is a look at some of the best holiday theme parks (in no ranking order).
Tis’ the season…
The Disney Parks
The happiest place(s) on earth get into the holiday spirit and then some! From special seasonal theming of rides (Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, etc), to wintry and wondrous displays all over the park, to the annual bi-coastal Christmas Day parade; Disney has the market cornered on big-bold-American style fun… and churros.
Deep in the heart of Tennessee, country-music legend Dolly Parton brings you the aptly titled Dollywood, the premiere theme park destination in that part of the U.S. Every winter, this slice of Americana gets a snowy makeover, as Dollywood transforms into a Smoky Mountain Christmas. From decorations around the park, to live caroling each night, this park has it all; including its own holographic Dolly that performs in several of the shows!
It’s should come as no surprise that this park made the list; it’s America’s premiere year-round holiday themed amusement park. Located in Santa Claus, Indiana (natch), this park caters to the Christmas fan in all of us. Previously known as Santa Claus Land, this theme park’s name may have changed, but its dedication to all things Christmas has not. Ride Rudolph’s Round Up or try Comet’s Rockets. They also have a waterpark.
Located, of course, in North Pole, Colorado, this family friendly amusement park has been in operation since the 1950s and has entertained countless guests with its variety of holiday themed fun to be had. Guests can meet Mr and Mrs. Claus on a year-round basis, and bring home some goodies from one of the parks many Christmas themed gift shops. Also- there is a weird tower thing. Yay!
Knott’s Merry Farm
This Southern California amusement park staple gets the holiday treatment as well, changing from Knott’s Berry Farm to Knott’s Merry Farm for the occasion. Not only does the beloved park get a seasonal overhaul, but its most famous denizens, the Peanuts gang, also get into the Christmas spirit, with shows, meet-and-greets, and merchandise galore.
Busch Gardens (Christmas Town)
Did you think Colonial Williamsburg was boring? Well, you were kind of right, but also- you’ve probably never been to Christmas Town. Located at the Virginia Busch Gardens, this popular theme park is born anew as a celebration of all things Christmas. From dazzling light displays to seasonal snack and holiday spectaculars, this park may not have the best rides, but you sure can’t beat the setting.
The home of chocolate becomes the home of seasonal fun for a few months each year, as Hersheypark welcomes “Christmas in Hershey”. Starting with awesomely elaborate light displays, this place is a perfect spot to spend a family trip around Christmastime. The whole place is in the spirit of things, and… did I mention the chocolate?
A land of LEGOs? Yes- it’s as good as it seems. This popular park, though aimed mostly at the younger set, goes all out for its holiday celebration each year, from, of course, Christmastime LEGO displays, to a nightly firework show, to the single coolest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen. I’ve also got a sneaking suspicion the park may have a gift shop or two.
Yes, it’s another park that’s best suited for kids under the age of 10 or so, but hey, it’s also got Muppets. This childhood mecca gets into the Santa swing of things by turning the entire park into a Christmas wonderland. A fuzzy Christmas wonderland. The highlight of the season has to be the daily parade, starring all your favorite Muppets from The Street, getting down in a very seasonal sort of way.
Like most other big amusement park chains in the country, Universal Studios gets a holiday make-over as well, with particular emphasis on everyone’s favorite green baddie with a heart two sizes two small, the Grinch. The “Grinchmas” celebration lasts through the holiday season and can be found in almost every detail in the park, from decorations to Grinch-tastic stage shows.