WALKING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND: A Kissimmee resort shows guests that Santa’s not the only one bringing the magic.

About one hundred Gaylord Palms viewers and guests watched, captivated, as they were greeted by a juggler, a pair of aerial artists, a clown, a ballerina, an acrobat, and a young girl searching for the meaning of Christmas. I was one of them.

In Cirque: Spirit of Christmas, Young Noelle and her jester host guided the audience through a Nutcracker-inspired pursuit for purpose within the holiday season. Each act presented Noelle with a solid-colored ornament before commencing performances that had kids and adults bouncing and clapping in their seats. Little kids tapped adult shoulders making sure nothing was missed, and one pint-sized viewer commented, “This is the best show EVER!”

Between the upbeat music and the death-defying stunts executed in the air and on the ground, not to mention a rapid-fire snowball juggling exhibition, the audience was overloaded with endless entertainment. The music pounded and reverberated throughout the pavilion, creating an immersive experience for all involved. The audience got to look through Noelle’s eyes marveling at the fantastic costumes, and catching their breath with each flip, twist, lift, and turn, in this truncated version of a Cirque du Soliel show.

Watching alongside my children reminded me of sitting in a Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus back at Madison Square Garden. I was on the edge of my seat as much as any little kid in the grand hotel’s makeshift theater. The lights reflected off each costume as we marveled at every act. Each performer encouraged the audience to get involved, leaving everyone enveloped – even the greatest of Grinches. The show provided a blissful escape from the laundry list of tasks to take on as a mom and wife. A look at the other parents proved I wasn’t alone. The show truly brought out the child in all of us.

Gaylord Palms starts the showcase with traditionally costumed carol singers, their #Lit light show (which incorporates the hotel’s famous tree and surrounding LED strands), and last, but not least, Cirque: Spirit of Christmas. With the entertainment occurring on stage and in the air, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. The 40-minute show for less than 40 dollars (per person, weekdays) makes this event a fun and affordable way to spend your night.

For the more adventurous, check out ICE! This year’s theme is Peanuts. This was especially exciting as my husband, and I named our daughter after Snoopy: Flying Ace (her initials are A.C.E.). If you grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, get ready to see it all played out for you in life-sized ice sculptures.

There’s nothing better than donning the signature giant blue parkas as you enter sub-zero terrain to pose with your favorite character. You can even take a chance with the ICE! Slides or take in a drink at the ICE! Bar. You are reminded not to touch, stand, sit or lick the sculptures. Although the parkas are provided, word to the wise (as this is my eighth consecutive year ICE!-ing it): bring hats and gloves.
If you’re looking for more festive fare, check out Santa’s workshop and the Alpine ski exhibit. It’s free to walk around if you’re in need of a winter wonderland, but you can also buy hot cocoa and treats, throw snowballs, decorate gingerbread houses, paint ornaments, take a picture with Santa, get your Christmas shopping done, and go snow-tubing!

As an Orlando resident and Disney Annual Passholder, I assure you: this is the most cost-effective way to spend a holiday night. After paying dearly to trek around both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom for Christmas cookies and looking at the price of entry for Holidays at Universal Studios Orlando Resort alone, Christmas at Gaylord Palms is not only indoors (perfect for Florida’s fickle December weather) but it’s the biggest bang for your buck.

So, if you’re looking for the perfect way to usher in the holiday season, a night away at the Gaylord Palms might just be the right choice! Tell Santa I sent you.

Gaylord Palms is a Marriot Bonvoy Resort & Convention Center located at 6000 West Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee, FL 34746 USA, just before the entrance to Disney World.

Visit their website for more information on their Christmas events and offerings: https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/mcogp-gaylord-palms-resort-and-convention-center/overview/


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