• Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Guide to Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Orlando

It’s safe to say everyone is looking forward to welcoming in a new year. Unfortunately, many of our favorite ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Orlando are not happening this year. However, there are still several ways to make December 31 extra special before ringing in 2021!

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World parks will be operating at different hours on December 31, with most parks closing well before the countdown to midnight.

  • Magic Kingdom: 8 AM – 11 PM
  • EPCOT: 10 AM – 10 PM
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9 AM – 9 PM
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7 AM – 8 PM

Usually, you’ll find dance parties, fireworks displays, and other festivities around the parks for New Year’s Eve. This year, December 31 is just a regular day at the parks and the NYE celebrations can be found elsewhere around the resort.

At Disney Springs, select dining locations will have special food and beverage offerings to make New Year’s Eve a little more indulgent. At Terralina Crafted Italian, you can enjoy a dish of frutti del mare ($45) made with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, seafood, and fresh bucatini in a rich saffron butter broth.

Paddlefish is celebrating both New Year’s Eve and National Champagne day by serving up a free glass of bubbly with every purchase of the New Year’s Eve special. The holiday entree is a New England Boil ($80) with lobster, chorizo, littleneck clams, corn bread, red potatoes, and sweet corn. New Year’s Day Specials

At City Works Eatery & Pour House, “Brew Year’s Eve” brings exclusive menu pairings and specials from December 24 – 31. Offerings include

  • Filet Medallions – $36: Filet Medallions, Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Baby Arugula, and Red Wine Demi-Glace (Pairs with Blonde Ale or Pilsner)
  • Short Rib – $26: Braised Boneless Short Rib, Creamy Grits, Bacon Tomato Jam, Crispy Pickled Fennel, and Au Just Gravy (Pairs with Brown Ale)

Guests of Brew Year’s Eve at City Works can also enjoy a complimentary champagne toast. The restaurant’s full menu and rotating beer selection will be available as well.

Select Disney World locations will be open until 1 AM. People staying on the property or looking for a magical place to celebrate can head to the following places to ring in the new year:

  • AbracadaBar – Disney’s BoardWalk
  • Ale & Compass Lounge – Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
  • Beaches Pool Bar & Grill – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Courtyard Pool Bar – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Dahlia Lounge – Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Enchanted Rose – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Gurgling Suitcases Libations & Spirits – Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Martha’s Vineyard – Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Outer Rim – Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Sanaa Lounge – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village
  • Tambu Lounge – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
  • The Turf Club Lounge – Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • The Wave Lounge – Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Although the lounges and bars will be open after midnight, any attached dining rooms will close earlier.

SeaWorld Orlando

At SeaWorld Orlando, kick off the New Year’s Eve festivities by enjoying the park’s Christmas Celebration. Starting at 6 PM, parkgoers can enjoy music played by a live DJ and dancing along with delicious food, cocktails, beer, wine, and champagne.

Later in the night, a park-wide countdown and a gorgeous firework finale will make for a spectacular way to ring in 2021. Fireworks can be viewed from anywhere in the park, but reserved seating is available for guests who want to take it all in from Bayside Stadium.

Reserved Show Seating – Early Entry

Cost: $49.99 per person

Early entry for Bayside Stadium includes reserved seating for the 11:30 PM performance of Winter Wonderland on Ice, the fireworks celebration, and a New Year’s Eve glow lanyard. You must arrive at least 60 minutes before showtime for early entry.

Reserved Show Seating – Regular Entry

Cost: $29.99 per person

With regular entry reserved seating, you can enter Bayside Stadium 15 minutes prior to showtime along with the general seating audience. Reserved seating is still valid for both Winter Wonderland on Ice and the fireworks finale.

Additional recommended viewing locations around the park include:

  • Spice Mill (Tiered-level and Wheelchair Accessible Viewing)
  • Orca Encounter Pathway (Standing Viewing)
  • Bayside Pathway (Standing Viewing and Grass Seating)
  • Wild Arctic Plaza (Standing viewing next to Wild Arctic and the new Glacier Bar)
  • Park Entrance Plaza (Standing viewing at the front of the park + easy access to the park exit after the show!)
  • Sea Harbor Pavilions (Standing viewing and grass seating behind bayside stadium + easy access to the park exit after the show)

Social distancing measures will still be in place, so it’s a good idea to pick your ideal viewing spot early!

The Holiday Reflections Fireworks display will also take place three additional times at 6:30 pm, 8:00 pm, and 9:30 pm, so you can still celebrate the start of the new year even if your little ones won’t make it to midnight!

Universal Orlando

Universal Orlando normally goes all out with an epic New Year’s Eve celebration all through CityWalk and into the parks. However, this year’s festivities are much lighter.

While there’s not much happening in the way of big celebrations, there are special menu items and prix fixe meals available at select CityWalk restaurants that will make for a special holiday dining experience.

  • Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food: Special menu items include Tamale Fritters with Pork Belly, Achiote Marinated Top Sirloin, and Seasonal Flan
  • Bigfire: Prix fixe menu options include Bison Filet, Dry Aged Porterhouse, Cedar Plank Lobster Tail, or Farmers Vegetables
  • Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom: Special menu items include Ackee & Saltfish Wontons, Rum Braised Lamb Shank, and Rum & Raisin Bread Pudding
  • The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar: Prix fixe menu options include Shoyu Miso Salmon, Waygu, Duck, or Tofu
  • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Orlando: Special menu items include Tequila-Spiked Shrimp Ceviche, Crab-Crusted Florida Snapper, and Passion Fruit Mousse
  • NBC Sports Grill & Brew: Special menu items include Lobster Corn Dogs, Surf & Turf Wagyu Burger, and Praline Chocolate Crunch Cake
  • Pat O’Brien’s: Special menu items include Pork Belly Wedge Salad, Blackened Beef Filet “Oscar”, and Butterscotch Pudding
  • The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen: Prix fixe menu options include New York Strip Steak au Poivre, Pan Roasted Salmon, Wild Mushroom & Truffle Risotto, or Coq au Vin
  • VIVO Italian Kitchen: Prix fixe menu options include Lobster Risotto, Piedmontese Beef Tenderloin, Pistachio Grouper, or Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

Busch Gardens Tampa

It’s not quite New Year’s Eve in Orlando, but just a ways away you can ring in 2021 at Busch Gardens Tampa. Festivities at the park include music, thrill rides, fireworks, and more! There will be two reservation sessions on December 31 in order to manage capacity and maintain social distancing in the park. You can choose to celebrate early from 9 AM to 5 PM, or spend the evening from 6 PM to 1 AM.

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

During the day, you can enjoy all of the park’s thrill rides, animal encounters, and other fun attractions. Select elements of Christmas Town will also be available, including Elmo’s Christmas Wise and Christmas Town Village, which opens at 1:00.

6:00 PM – 1:00 AM

Guests with evening reservations can enjoy all of the Christmas Town fun including the Three Kings Journey show, millions of holiday lights, and more!

You can also enjoy a showing of Christmas on Ice at 7 PM, 8:30 PM, or 11:30 PM. The Spark the Night Fireworks show follows the 8:30 PM and 11:30 PM performances, and separate reservations are required to view the show at those times.

Fireworks Field View Access

Cost: $6.99 per person

To guarantee a good spot for the countdown to midnight, you can purchase one-time field access for the New Year’s Eve fireworks finale. The firworks display immediately follows the Christmas on Ice performance.

Reserved Seating for Christmas on Ice

Cost: $19.99 per person

Reserved seating can be purchased for Christmas on ICe during the showtime of your choice. In addition to premium seating, you’ll also receive a complimentary beverage from the exclusive Polar Pavilion VIP Bar. It’s important to arrive 15 minutes prior to showtime to get to your seats!

Reserved Seating for Christmas on Ice + Fireworks Finale

Cost: $24.99 per person

This upgrade includes one-time reserved seating for Christmas on Ice, a complimentary beverage from the Polar Pavilion VIP Bar, and access to the Spark the Night Fireworks spectacular.

The fireworks display can be seen from other locations throughout the park as well. Check out the best viewing areas on this map!

LEGOLAND Florida

LEGOLAND Florida is the perfect place to go for an early kid-friendly celebration. You can enjoy the park’s holiday festivities during the day before the Kids’ New Year’s Eve Fireworks lights up the sky at 8 PM. During the epic evening finale, brilliant fireworks will burst into millions of LEGO bricks right in front of your eyes.

When making your plans for December 31, keep in mind that Disney World, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens are all still operating under a reservation system. How are you planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Orlando?

UPDATED 12/23/20

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