Living in Florida sometimes makes it hard to get into the holiday spirit when it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit outside. So we’ll look for unique ways to start our holiday celebrations. A great way to get in the mood is at Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Busch Gardens has made an extra effort to protect attendees in 2020. Employees and visitors are all required to have their temperatures taken before entry. Everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask at the park, except when eating or drinking. And reservations are required to help limit the number of people in the park each day.
I was provided with complimentary passes from Busch Gardens to experience Christmas Town. All opinions are my own.
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This year, from November 20, 2020 to January 3, 2021, Busch Gardens Christmas Town turns the park into a lighted wonderland. Voted a USA Today 10 Best Theme Park Holiday Event, it’s something everyone of all ages will enjoy.
Busch Gardens tickets include admission to Christmas Town. Having been to Busch Gardens with kids who aren’t into rollercoasters, I knew that we didn’t need to hop on all the rides to enjoy the night. If you love the rides though, you might want to go a few hours before sunset and then enjoy the lights and entertainment.
This year, Busch Garden has taken Christmas on Ice to an outdoor rink for the first time. There’s also the Three Kings Journey tells the story of the three wise men making their way to Bethlehem, a visit to Elmos’ Christmas Wish (with social distanced outdoor seating) and new fireworks on select nights. Carol of the Bells was a favorite of ours – located at the Serengeti Overlook Restaurant, tens of thousands of lights flashed to the holiday music.
Make sure you hop on the Holly Jolly Express. Decorated in garland and Christmas decorations, the train takes a 20 minute trip around the Serengeti while playing Christmas songs. This year there will be limited seating on the train, but it’s a must do.
As you wander around the park, you’ll see elves, princesses and fairies to meet and you can take pictures with them. Love Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer? He’s there with his girlfriend Clarice and Bumble the Abominable Snowman ready for self-distanced photos.
And of course, Santa is visiting from the North Pole! His elves are ready to greet you at Santa’s House. And don’t worry. Santa is socially distancing too, but you’ll still be able to get a photo with him in a safe way.
Food & Drinks
What are the holidays without great food and drinks? Not a whole lot of fun! So head over to Christmas Town Village – with food areas inside the village to explore, there is a wide variety of food and drink choices.
To be completely honest here – the lines for food and drinks were long. To be fair, we were there the very first night Christmas Town opened. The workers were all friendly, but it took so long to get the snacks. We ended up feeling that we missed out a little on some of the other fun things going on. Next time I’d head for food and drinks as soon as Christmas Town Village opened and then head out to see the lights once the sun goes down.
The best way to experience the food in Christmas Town is to purchase a Christmas Town Sampler Lanyard. Available with 5 or 10 samples, it allows you to get food and drinks in Christmas Town Village without having to deal with cash. Note that the alcoholic drinks are smaller sized when using the lanyard. Still, non-alcoholic beverages (including bottled sodas) and food are full-sized, so you’ll save if you want to try a variety of different things.
Where to Stay
There are a wide variety of places to stay in Tampa while visiting Busch Gardens. Staying near the University of South Florida puts you 5 miles away. But if you’re interested in staying near where the action is, there are plenty of hotels in the downtown area, which is 10 miles from the park.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a great way to get out of the house while being outdoors, taking safety precautions and enjoying the holiday season with your family.