Orlando Guide to Spending the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend in the City of Orlando

© Orlando Local Guide

As Thanksgiving day approaches in Orlando each year, the holidays are in full gear. From getting your table ready for Thanksgiving Dinner to planning out your Black Friday shopping, this is our guide to spending Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Orlando

If you are in charge of preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year or need to bring a few dishes to a potluck meal, you can always visit the Winter Park farmers market on the Saturday before Thanksgiving day or the farmers market in Downtown Orlando on Sunday to pick up your fresh vegetables.

In addition to the farmers markets listed above, Winter Park also has their annual Harvest Festival on the Saturday before Thanksgiving where you can stock up on your comestibles to help complete your Thanksgiving dinner or lunch. Also, click here to view our recommended produce stands around Orlando.

Turkey Trot 5K

On the morning of Thanksgiving day, get your family out of bed and start off the day healthy by running in the Turkey Trot 5k at Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando. Runners and walkers will start the race at 8 AM.

Black Friday in Orlando

Many of the big electronic stores will be opening their doors in Orlando on Thursday night and Friday morning at 12 AM midnight to get a jump start on Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days around Orlando that always comes with the mystique of a lot of shoppers with wall to wall shopping but I have found that the crowds at the Best Buys, Targets, and shopping malls are actually very reasonable after the early morning door-buster sales are over.

In recent years, I have been able to score great deals on digital cameras and GPS navigation systems at discounted price that are good until 1 – 3 PM on Black Friday without battling large crowds. Other stores include free gift cards with a minimum purchase amount. Although the stores are a little busier than normal on Black Friday, the bigger stores have the staff on hand to manage the crowds and my experience is that the crowds on Black Friday are not as bad in Orlando as the two to three weeks leading up to Christmas day.

Click here to read our article about going to Waterford Lakes at midnight on Black Friday.

Busiest Malls

The outlet malls that bookmark International Drive in Orlando will be very, very busy along with Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. However, there are several other malls within the area that have Macy’s, Dillard’s, Sears, and JCPenney departments stores that will have the great deals without the large crowds. Some of these malls include Fashion Square Mall, Oviedo Mall, Altamonte Mall, and West Oaks Mall.

2012 Thanksgiving Entertainment


Outside of eating, there are a lot of great local entertainment options to check out on Thanksgiving night with Hollywood Studios at Disney World showcasing their Christmas lights show and the Light Up UCF Christmas event going on at the UCF arena.


On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, Epcot begins their Candlelight Processional and SeaWorld also begins all of their Christmas shows and attractions. You can also see the Gaylord Palms ICE! event and Christmas Concert and light show that you can read about here.

Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday, we recommend the Orlando Philharmonic Home for the Holidays concert at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center. Junior Claus will be playing at the Orlando Repertory Childrens Theatre and an outdoor movie will be shown for free at Light Up UCF. The Magic Kingdom also has their after-hours Christmas party on Sunday night.

Parks and Recreation

Of course, if you want something a little slower pace and want to get outside to enjoy the great Fall weather, you can visit one of Orlando’s many parks. The picture above was taken in Orlando at Moss Park at Lake Nona in November 2009.

Happy Thanksgiving Orlando!

Moss Park Orlando

Moss Park Map

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