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Behind the Scenes at Universal, Candlelight Scrooge and Lasers: Cultural Holidays Worth the Miles

| December 16, 2011

Christmas at Kennedy Space Center.

A Rare Look Behind the Theme-Park Experience

Artists in Florida have a well-earned advantage in finding “work” at the theme parks that employ hundreds of fine Artists to create sets, costumes, floats, and larger-than-life environments for the millions of guests who visit Central Florida every year. Our artists, illustrators, costume designers, FX creators, and make-up artists, collaborate with one goal – to entertain. Now the Orange County History Center presents The Serious Art of Make-Believe through April 29, 2012. The exhibit goes ‘behind the scenes’ at Universal Orlando to show more than 200 original drawings, architectural plans, and models among the 1,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts from the Resort’s events including Halloween Horror Nights and Mardi Gras. This collaboration between the Museum and Universal is the first of its kind, providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Universal Orlando’s archives and warehouses. The artwork shows the attention to detail every element of these events requires. The History Center’s goal for this exhibit is to show Florida’s youth that they can dream big – showing how story-telling and technology come together to create something real, but also something extraordinary. The History Center is at 65 E. Central Blvd. in Orlando. Visit or call 407.836.8500

Scrooge by Candlelight


My favorite re-telling of the Dickens’ classic ghost story of Christmas is the Robin Olson production in which three actors portray dozens of characters as they perform among the audience. Audience members are seated at tables enjoying home-made Christmas cookies and a pot of tea while the actors perform around us … coming just “this close” to touching us. REALLY! This year’s production of Dickens by Candlelight: A Christmas Carol will be staged in the main hall of the Dr. Phillips Center for 10-performances-only from December 16 to 23. The audience feels like part of the production, especially as an actor suddenly speaks from directly beside you – just as you bite into a tasty home-made cookie. The cast is made up of Florida’s finest actors – John DiDonna, Morgan Russel and Monica Tamborello – who have each acted in this beloved story of Scrooge and his awakening before.  Performances are at the Dr. Phillips Center on Lake Ivanhoe at 1111 N Orange Avenue in Orlando. Caroling and wassail begin ½ hour before the show. Call 407.491.4663

Holidays (and More) at the Morse Museum

Every Friday evening through Dec. 30, we are invited to the Morse Museum for Free from 4 pm to 8 pm.  In addition, those evenings will feature live music and live Curator Tours of the magnificent new Tiffany wing.  Admission will also be free all day on Christmas Eve, with a program of live music set for the afternoon. The holiday music includes: Dec. 16: Lynn Peghiny, pianist; Dec. 23: Three Flutes Only; Dec. 24: Open House, 9:30 am to 4 pm with Raintree Chamber Players; Dec. 30: Beautiful Music—Sweet Sounds Jazz Trio. The Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, leaded-glass lamps and windows, and the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Tiffany Studios’ Christmas Eve window, c. 1902, will be on view throughout the holidays. Visit

Laser Light Holidaze

Building on the success of their Rock n Roll Laser Light Shows, the Orlando Science Center introduces Holiday Laser Light Shows. Bright lasers, Holiday music and fun graphics provide a sensory experience that is a whole new way to enjoy traditional classics from Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy to Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You. The Light Shows play through December in the Science Center’s Dr. Phillips CineDome. Call 407.514.2000 or visit

Artists Get to be Winners!

For months I’ve been telling you that THIRD THURSDAY is the time to join the “Gallery Crawl” through the Art Galleries of Downtown Orlando.  Lately, the Thornton Park area has joined in this tradition of changing exhibits and introducing new Artists on that date.  The excitement of December’s 3rd Thursday will come from Downtown’s “anchor gallery,” The Gallery at Avalon Island.  The reception there on December 15 from 6 to 9 pm, is based around the “Members Juried Exhibit” in which the Artwork is judged by an outside expert – for monetary prizes.  It’s always fun to see which of our Artists are recognized, because the tastes of the Judge’s vary as much as we do.  And it’s always wonderful to see Artists being recognized for their talent. The Gallery at Avalon Island is at 39 S. Magnolia Avenue in downtown Orlando. Visit

Holidays in Space

Through January 1, guests at the Kennedy Space Center can celebrate the holiday sights, sounds and tastes of the International Space Station’s 15 partner countries as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex presents its first-ever Holidays in Space. For years our Astronauts and Cosmonauts have shared their holidays while circling the Earth.  Now your family can learn about (and celebrate) the holiday traditions of each of our international partners: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. And while weightlessness is difficult to simulate on Earth, the rush of ice skating is easy for non-astronauts to enjoy. Throughout the Holidays, a section of the Rocket Garden is transformed into a Space Skating Rink with an all-weather polymer surface while Santa Claus hears wish lists and poses for photos in Santa’s Launch Control Center. Call 877-313-2610 or visit

“Joy to the World” – a Community Concert
A first-ever combination of the Central Florida Community Choir, Orchestra and Dance Team will present Joy to The World, a celebration of the holiday season with Christmas songs from around the world – with a special twist! From traditional Nigerian and Celtic Christmas tunes to Frosty the Snowman sung with a Motown beat, they plan something for everyone in this fun concert. The Central Florida Community Arts concerts will be held December 14th and 15th at Northland Church, 530 Dog Track Road in Longwood, Florida. Doors open at 7 pm and the concerts begin at 7:30. General Admission tickets are $10. Call 407.474.7909 or purchase via Paypal or at Tickets will be available at the door.

From The History Center\’s behind-the-scenes exhibit.

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1 Response for “Behind the Scenes at Universal, Candlelight Scrooge and Lasers: Cultural Holidays Worth the Miles”

  1. Liana G says:

    Thanks for sharing! We are so going to some of these :) I do miss living out there…so much to see and do…and I had country in my back yard too – horse farm, dirt road with happy sunflowers planted along the side, orange groves, beautiful lake with ducks, and friendly Disney and Universal folks…aah the good life …

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