Welcome to another Christmas holiday season! Celebrations began today at Walt Disney World's Epcot, Universal Studios Hollywood, and other U.S. theme parks that held back until after Thanksgiving day.
The year-end holidays bring the largest crowds of the year to Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort, while also extending the season at many regional parks, including Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, which go all out for the Christmas events. So, yeah, the holidays are popular at theme parks.
But what do theme parks' holiday celebrations mean for you and your family? I was thinking about this question when re-reading one of my all-time favorite cast member stories, My Christmas morning at Walt Disney World.
Not every family gives up their Christmas presents to visit Disney, but many families have made theme park visits part of their holiday traditions. With the decline of shopping malls, theme parks have become perhaps the most prominent public spaces in which people come together - across faith and cultural communities - to celebrate the holidays in the United States.
That's not necessarily the case everywhere, of course. On the road to Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, my family started talking about Christmas markets in Europe and how much we wanted to go see them. One of us asked if there were any Christmas markets here in Southern California.
"Sure," I replied. "At Disney and Knott's."
With its food and drink marketplaces, Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure leans more into the "stuff your face" side of Christmas markets, while Knott's Christmas Crafts fair leans more into the "trim the tree" and "buy your presents" side. And while many European Christmas markets can offer history and tradition that American theme parks cannot match, no temporary Christmas market is going to have the line-up of rides and shows you can find at American theme parks. So we've got some good stuff going over here.
What is your favorite theme park holiday tradition, and why? I invite you to share yours in the comments, and also would like to remind you that we are taking nominations for Best Holiday Event and the rest of our annual Theme Park Insider Awards right now. Just subscribe to our weekly email to see how to submit your nominations.
Best wishes to everyone this holiday season, and thank you for reading Theme Park Insider.
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