I knew beautiful holiday decorations awaited us at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida. I was surprised, however, by how many festive activities were available to guests. In addition to the DreamWorks Experience, here are some of the fun must-dos on a visit to this family-friendly resort during the Christmas season.
Look for polar bears
When you check in, you will receive a “Polar Bear Pursuit Hunt” pamphlet to help you find Coca-Cola bears hidden throughout the property. The pamphlet gives hints where to find the polar bears if you get frustrated. There are also 10 hidden bonus bears. Once you find all the bears, submit your answers online to be entered into a drawing for a prize. The bears are hidden all over the place so it took us all three days of our trip to find them.
This activity was a great distraction for my family! My husband and I have children that will hike for miles in the forest but complain about walking from the car into the grocery store. As we wandered the expansive property each day, my children were too busy looking for polar bears to complain about their feet hurting or ask how much longer till we get there. We found all 10 polar bears and five of the bonus bears during our visit.
Watch a holiday show
There is a stage set up in the middle of the property where four different free shows are performed several times daily. The shows begin around noon and are performed off and on until around 10 pm. If you are staying in a room that overlooks the atrium, you will hear each show. Though we could hear the shows throughout the day while we were in our room behind the stage, it wasn’t distracting once we got used to it.
My favorite activity by far was watching the Luminescence Live Musical Review. The band plays music that will be familiar to you if you are a fan of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. While the live music is playing you are treated to acrobats by a pair of aerialists. Arrive early to snag a seat in chairs or tables or you can just pick a spot on the stairs. We sat on the stairs and felt like we had a great view of the show. The stage is near Java Coast and Haagen-Dazs so you could grab a snack to eat while you watch.
Tell Santa what you want for Christmas
Santa is set up in his own little area of the property where you can tell him what you want for Christmas and get your picture taken. Each time we walked by, Santa was available and the line was short. Packages start around $20.
Have breakfast with Shrek and his pals
Each family member has a chance to become an honorary ogre at the Shrekfeast character breakfast. When you walk into Villa de Flora to be seated, you will pass a huge buffet area with many choices. The Town Criers will stop by and let you know what to expect. Children are given a menu that has an ogre oath and activities for them to complete while they eat. My kids, however, were too distracted by frequent visits from Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Puss in Boots. They were disappointed to miss Donkey, but apparently he was in the kitchen!
Food choices range from Shrek-shaped waffles, fruit, made-to-order omelets and more. A favorite is the green chocolate fountain. The breakfast is included in some packages or can be purchased separately. Reservations are recommended ahead of time.
Everyone received a set of ogre ears (the girls got princess ogre ears) upon completing the ogre oath. My kids loved that I forgot I was wearing my princess ogre ears for half the morning. In my defense, I thought they were my sunglasses on my head!
The Gaylord Palms Resort offers plenty of holiday activities to keep you and your family busy during your visit.
Which of these holiday activities would you most like to experience? Tell us in the comments!
Jennifer Close loves to explore and take new adventures with her family down the street, across the country and around the world. She writes about her adventures on her family travel blog, Two Kids and a Map, and writes about exploring Pensacola at Pensacola with Kids.
A Note from The Travel Mama: As a representative for Travel Mamas, Jennifer was invited to experience the holiday activities at Gaylord Palms as part of a complimentary media visit.