Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party: The Magic Kingdom will host Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party featuring 19 magical nights beginning at 7 p.m. through Dec. 20. Guests with special event tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party can enjoy all the holiday splendor with lively stage shows featuring Disney characters all dressed up for the holidays, a unique holiday parade and favorite holiday traditions including complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, and snow flurries on Main Street, USA. The nights include a holiday "Celebrate the Magic" castle projection show and Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season nighttime fireworks spectacular. Party dates are Dec. 12-13, 15, 17, 19-20. The park is at 3111 World Dr., Lake Buena Vista. For park hours, tickets and detailed information visit www.disneyworld.com/christmasparty.
Wild Wonderland at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo: Meet Santa and his merry mammals, real reindeer, at Wild Wonderland featuring animated displays, a million twinkling lights, free Zoo rides and traditional holiday treats creating a whimsical world of holiday magic 6:30-10 p.m. Dec. 13-15, 17-23, and 26-30. On Dec. 13 zoo visitors can also celebrate the season with the Zoo's primate family as the primates open special presents from Zoo staff and docents as part of their enrichment program. The "Presents for Primates" is included free-of-charge- with Zoo admission. For location, hours and tickets, call 813-935-8552 or www.lowryparkzoo.com.
"Santa Jaws at Mote Marine": 'Tis the season to meet Gilly, Santa's helper shark at Mote Marine Laboratorium and Aquarium noon-2 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21. Guests can take pictures with Mote mascot Gilly the Shark, who will be dressed for the holidays as Santa Jaws. Photo ops with Santa Jaws are free with admission to Mote. Aquarium visitors can also see more than 100 marine species, including sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and fish of all shapes and sizes. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is at 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota. For hours, and ticket prices, call 941-388-4441 or www.mote.org.
"Star of Bethlehem" Live Star Talk: South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton
Visit the Planetarium and explore the question "What was the Star of Bethlehem" 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18 presented by Howard Hochhalter, one of South Florida Museum's staff astronomers. The public will journey to Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago using the Planetarium's ability to travel through time and space and take a look at the skies to see if the star was a comet, a supernova or something else entirely. Admission: $8, $3 museum members. Reservations are required. Information: 941-746-4131, ext. 0 or www.southfloridamuseum.org.
Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions Homepractice performances: Herrmanns' Royal Lipizzan Stallions will begin their homepractice performances 3 p.m. Dec. 19 at 32755 Singletary Road, Myakka City. See these magnificent white stallions as they continue their homepractice performances 3 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. Saturdays through April 2014. Donation: $5 at gate. Information: 941-322-1501 or www.hlipizzans.com.
Florida Aquarium Holiday FantaSea: The Florida Aquarium in Tampa will host Holiday FantaSea, a family-friendly celebration featuring real snow, dazzling holiday lights and more Dec. 26-30. Santa and his swimming elves, as well as special holiday mermaids, will swim throughout the massive tanks alongside all the amazing aquatic creatures each night during Holiday FantaSea. In addition, the Florida Aquarium will host two dazzling light shows each night, a huge holiday model train display, and extended hours during the event. For location, hours and ticket prices, call (813) 273-4000 or www.flaquarium.org.
Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Weekday Tickets Offer: Explore Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin and the wonders of the sea at SeaWorld Orlando, or experience thrilling attractions and amazing land animals at Busch Gardens Tampa with the all-new $50 weekday ticket Mondays-Fridays through Dec. 20. For park location, hours and tickets, visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com or BuschGardensTampa.com.
Christmas Town at Busch Gardens: Christmas Town transforms Busch Gardens into a holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas for 18 select nights through Dec. 23. Special Christmas entertainment, live music, festive treat, holiday shopping and thousands of twinkling lights will fill the senses with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors to create a memorable new family tradition. Everyone's favorite tradition, SnowWorld presented buy Coca-Cola, returns with three times as much snow. Christmas Town is a separate-ticketed night event, and families and children ages 3-9 will enjoy special $10 advance tickers for their youngest members. For park location, hours and tickets, visit www.BuschGardensTampa.com.
Bank of America "Museums on Us": Bank of America's "Museums on Us" is offering cardholders free admission to some of the most exciting cultural venues in the United States Jan. 3-4. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders can get free access to more than 150 participating museums in 94 cities and include the Florida Holocaust Museum and Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. Present your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card along with a photo ID to gain free general admission. The offer is valid for cardholders only, guests are not eligible. The program excludes fundraising events, special exhibitions and ticketed shows the first full weekend of each month. Information: http://museums.bankofamerica.com.
Preview Rates to New Cabana Bay Beach Resort Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort is celebrating its 2014 opening with a preview offer, allowing guests to be among the first to experience Universal Orlando's new moderate and value-priced property, inspired by iconic beach resorts of the 1950s and 1960's. For a limited time the whole family can experience Cabana Bay Beach Resort's new family suites with rates starting at $104 per night for a seven-night stay to $134 a night for a three-night stay. The offer is available now for purchase for stays from March 31-June 14, 2014. The offer is available for booking until Jan. 31, 2014. Conditions apply. To learn more, or to make a reservation, call 888-273-1311 or www.universalorlando.com. The park is at 6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando. For
Tampa Bay History Center: "Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps," an exhibition featuring over 150 rare maps, documents and other artifacts from the 16th Century through today, will be on display now through Feb. 16 at The Tampa Bay History Center. The maps are on loan from the Library of Congress, the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University, the University of Florida, the Matheson Museum in Gainesville, and other collections and include the first printed map to use the name "Florida," the first printed map to use the name "Tampa," an earliest known map of the City of Tampa, an earliest plat of St. Petersburg, the first map of Miami Beach, and the first map of Ybor City. The history center is at 801 Old Water St., Tampa. For hours and admission, call 813-675-8985 or www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.
Leonardo Da Vinci "Machines" exhibit: The Da Vinci "Machines" exhibit, featuring more than 60 hand-crafted inventions built from Da Vinci's 500-year old designs and the life work of three generations of Florentine artisans will be on display through April at the Bradenton Municipal Auditorium, 1005 First Ave. W., Bradenton. The exhibition models are presented in four themes: Military machines, Flying machines, Nautical and Hydraulic machines as well as devices and inventions illustrating the Principles of Mechanics. The uniquely interactive machines are a popular aspect of each exhibition as visitors can touch and handle these models to gain a first-hand appreciation of how they work. Explanatory notes and illustrative panels with Leonardo's drawings from his codices accompany each model. The exhibit is a ticketed exhibition and will pair with the South Florida Museum with one ticket allowing entrance to both with a discount. For details on exhibit hours, tickets and detailed information, call 941-932-9484 or visit www.discoverdavinci.com.
Big Cat Habitat: Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary, a nonprofit safe haven for big cats, bears and other animals in need. Visitors can have an up-close view of the exotic and other animals in the sanctuary on self-guided tours. Regular admission: $15 adults, $7 children ages 12 and younger. Reservations are not required. Parking is free. Refreshments are available for purchase. Winter hours: 12:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. The sanctuary is at 7101 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota. Information: 941-371-6377 or www.bigcathabitat.org.