Wekiva Island’s annual Winter Wonderland brings safe, outdoor fun to Central Florida

Posted by Lauren Sedam | November 17, 2020

Many things have changed this year with COVID-19, but the holidays aren’t cancelled—at least, not at Wekiva Island.

Wekiva Island will still be hosting its beloved Winter Wonderland celebration from December 1 to January 1. In its fifth year, the event will be adjusted for the “elf” and safety of guests and staff—but it will still bring the holiday cheer with daily “snow” flurries, thousands of lights, festive décor and plenty of events for the whole family.

To officially kick off the event, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 7 p.m. Dec. 4, bringing the first “snow” of the 2020 holiday season with them.

“We’ve put a lot of thought and hard work into making sure this event is as safe as possible for all of our guests,” said Carrie Vanderhoef, manager. “This is always a favorite event, and we’re happy to be able to keep the holiday spirit alive this season.”

Guests will have plenty of opportunities to soak in that spirit and capture the perfect holiday photo at the Island. This year’s Winter Wonderland will feature a breathtaking Christmas tree forest full of decorated trees that will serve as the perfect backdrop. The schoolhouse will be made up to look like a giant gingerbread house, and “snow” flurries will fall nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. and 12 to 9 p.m. on weekends. Guests can also take a “sleigh” ride down the river for $20 for adults and $10 for children on Saturdays and Sundays.

Families looking for the Santa experience with the kids also won’t be disappointed. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will make a socially distanced appearance for photos on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This year, rather than sitting on Santa’s lap, guests are encouraged to leave letters for Santa in a special mailbox or via email. These letters will be read live at 7 p.m. every Tuesday on Wekiva Island’s Facebook.

Winter Wonderland features many socially distanced holiday activities for children of all ages to enjoy:

  • Breakfast with Santa – Enjoy the most important meal of the day with Jolly Old St. Nick himself! Bring the entire family for the chance to take socially distanced photos with Santa while enjoying a delicious plate of breakfast eats. 9 a.m. to noon on Dec. 13 with ticketed seating by the hour. $12.95 for adults and $9.95 for children 10 and younger.
  • VIP Winter Wonderland Party – Get the VIP treatment at the Island’s exclusive ticketholder-only holiday party. Enjoy craft beer and wine, gourmet small plates, live music and more from 7 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 19. $50 per person, $90 for couples.
  • Holiday movies – Bring the whole family out to watch holiday classics at the Island! Bring your own lawn chair to social distance in style while enjoying the popcorn and hot cocoa available to purchase. 7 p.m. Sundays starting Dec. 6.
  • Cocoa, stories & cookies with MrsClaus – Spend some time with Mrs. Claus and enjoy some tasty treats! This event is limited to the first 20 children in person but will also take place virtually. Reservations required. 6 p.m. Dec. 10 and 17. $10 per child.
  • Reindeer feed box workshop – Join Santa and Mrs. Claus to learn how to make reindeer feed from the pros. For $10 a child, guests will receive all necessary ingredients to make the feed, a keepsake box and a cup of hot cocoa. If parents prefer a virtual experience, boxes can be purchased from The Tooting Otter General Store for $10. 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 14.
  • New Year’s Day Brunch – Ring in the New Year with a delicious brunch and river views on January 1.

To give back to the community, Wekiva Island will be filling canoes with toys to donate to Toys for Tots starting Nov. 27. Marines will visit from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 12 to collect the toys.

Wekiva Island also offers gift options at its General Store, and those who purchase a $100 gift card receive a $20 gift card free. The Island offers free gift wrapping on ALL gifts, even those not purchased there, so guests can kick back and enjoy a relaxing beverage while the Island elves do the hard work.

Winter Wonderland is open to the public. There is a $2 admission fee. A full calendar of daily events is available here. Tickets can be purchased for select events here.

Wekiva Island is requiring masks for guests at the entrance and whenever they are outside the boundaries of their small, socially distanced group. Temperature checks are required at the gate. For more information, visit wekivaisland.com or call 407-862-1500.