While you might think summer is the best time to visit your favorite amusement parks, a number of parks across the US contend winter might be the best season. From the small to the big, many theme parks turn up the volume for the holidays, adorning in millions of lights, revving up their best rides, and spreading plenty of good cheer and a festive spirit to all who visit. So go on, leave your inner Scrooge behind and head for these festive theme parks around the US!

Santa’s Workshop, Wilmington, New York

Image via Flickr CC- Jeff Kern

Opened in 1949, Santa’s Workshop is proud to be one of the first amusement parks in the US. Located in Wilmington, New York, this holiday-themed park hosts a number of events for this festive time of year. Its Village of Lights celebration consists of caroling, fire pits, shops, reindeer, roast marshmallows, and even talks with Santa throughout the month of December. You can also partake in Yuletide Family Weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas with tree trimming parties and stops at Santa’s workshop. Resembling that of a storybook village, Santa’s Workshop also offers rides like the Candy Cane Express and Santa’s Sleigh Coaster.

Disneyland, Anaheim, California

Image via Flickr cc-Michael Saechang

If you love visiting theme parks around the holidays, it’s hard to miss a visit to bigger parks, especially Disneyland. Celebrating Christmas from November through January, the entire park come to life with Christmas lights and holiday decor from Main Street, U.S.A. to Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Disneyland even orchestrates magical snowfall over locations throughout the park, proving it can in fact snow in Southern California for the holidays. Disneyland also hosts a wealth of holiday events for this festive time of year including a Festive Foods Marketplace where you can sample delicious food and drink, visit with Santa, bask in the towering Christmas tree in Town Square, or watch the Christmas Fantasy Parade.

Santa’s Village, Jefferson, New Hampshire

Nestled in the mountains of Northern New Hampshire, Santa’s Village predictably loves the holiday season. The Christmas amusement park boasts mostly winter-themed rides such as Rudy’s Rapid Transit, the Great Humbug Adventure, and the Reindeer Carousel. Open largely on the weekends throughout December, Santa’s Village sweetens visits with its Christmastime events. After dark, the park is lit up with half a million Christmas lights. Visitors can meet Santa, feed the reindeer and hop aboard 18 rides including the Skyway Sleigh Monorail and the Christmas Ferris Wheel.

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Image via Flickr CC- Chanter52

Perched in the Great Smoky Mountains and owned by legendary entertainer Dolly Parton, Dollywood rolls out the holiday red carpet with its Smoky Mountain Christmas. Considered easily one of the area’s best holiday events, Dollywood shines bright with more than 4 million lights. Running November through January, the Smoky Mountain Christmas consists of a whole lineup of live Christmas shows including Christmas in the Smokies, Dollywood’s musical Christmas tradition, and the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. Throughout the 150-acre park, you can even partake in the Parade of Many Colors, meet Rudolph and his friends, or pay a visit to Santa Land.

Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, California

Image via Flickr CC- Jeremy Thompson

From November through January, Knott’s Berry Farm takes on a new name. The amusement park in Buena Park, California becomes Knott’s Merry Farm. Boasting live entertainment, a Christmas Crafts Village, festive food, holiday decorations, and nightly snow in Ghost Town, the park makes visitors really feel the holiday spirit. As traditional live Christmas carolers roam the streets of Calico, you can experience the park’s nightly tree lighting ceremony, catch the holiday Ice Show featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang, or even see Santa’s Christmas Cabin.

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Want to go to Candyland for the holidays? Hersheypark just might be it around Christmastime with its Hersheypark Christmas Candylane events. Running select dates from November through January, you can get some thrills in more than 50 rides including 6 coasters, visit with Santa and all 9 of his reindeer, and even have breakfast and lunch with the man himself. The park outfits in more than 4 million lights and includes choreographed light shows and live entertainment for the holidays too. 

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

If you want to visit a park that truly goes all out for the holidays, you can’t beat Walt Disney World. Throughout November and December, the amusement park radiates good cheer and a festive spirit. The holiday-themed events are endless and include Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (running select nights in November and December), the Magic Kingdom holiday parade, the Cinderella Castle lighting ceremony, and fireworks for the Jingle Belle, Jingle Bam! Event.

These amusement parks across the US have never heard bah humbug. From the millions of Christmas lights to the holiday shows and events, the magic of the season can be felt no matter your age and stage.

Feel one of these theme parks is perfect for you and your family? Why not plan a trip there?

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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.