Bowl bits: Five things to do in Orlando beyond theme parks

12/26/2013 9:12 PM

12/26/2013 9:18 PM

If you’re headed to next week’s Capital One Bowl and you’ve already hit the ground here in O-Town, there’s plenty to do over the next five days before the New Year’s Day game between South Carolina and Wisconsin. Let’s take a look at some of the different options that fans can explore.


Sure, it may be 70 degrees and sunny here in Florida, but in the land of make-believe, anything is possible. If you still haven’t gotten your fill of the holiday season, you can head over to the Celebration Town Center and watch the snow fall.

That’s right, snow.

The nightly snowfalls take place on the hour from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. all the way through Dec. 31. The festive spirit in Celebration also includes photos with Santa Claus, strolling holiday carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, train rides, and an ice-skating rink.


If you’ve never made it to the legendary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, you can catch the next best thing in central Florida. Every night through New Year’s Eve, Universal Studios recreates the spectacle at 8 p.m. with many of the same iconic balloons and floats that were sent here straight from NYC. This holiday parade also features marching bands, clowns, an appearance from Santa, and a tree-lighting.


Bowl season is so big in Orlando that one game just isn’t enough. The Russell Athletic Bowl will be played Saturday at 6:45 p.m. at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium between Miami, Fla., of the ACC and Louisville of the American Athletic Conference. That means another potential first-overall pick in the NFL draft – Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater -- will be in town along with USC defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. And former USC assistant coach Charlie Strong is Louisville’s head coach.


The huge annual parade begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 30 and rolls through downtown Orlando. Football fans can grab their curbside seats to see the signature floats made of citrus fruit, high school marching bands that come from across the nation, and the participating bowl game college marching bands, including USC’s. It should get you right in the mood for a little football, especially with former Heisman Trophy winners, South Carolina’s George Rogers and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne, serving as VIP guests of the parade.


It should not be hard to find a good spot to ring in 2014. There will be celebrations at Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and downtown Orlando. The theme parks will stage big fireworks displays and offer plenty of musical entertainment, while downtown will stage what it’s calling an ultimate block party at Wall St. Plaza, where revelers can access nine different venues on two city streets for one ticket price.


11 a.m.: South Carolina team practice, Celebration High, Kissimmee

11:15 a.m.: Wisconsin team practice, Freedom High, Orlando

3 p.m.: USC players will visit Walt Disney World

Neil White


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