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Unique holiday experiences at venues, hotels & theme parks

Unique holiday experiences at venues, hotels & theme parks
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Clara Bosonetto |
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Enjoy these one-of-a-kind Christmas travel adventures!

There are several unique and fun ways to enjoy the holidays with friends and family at various venues throughout the country. Here are a few!

Home Alone for Christmas

Is it possible that the film “Home Alone” is almost 30 years old? A home in Winnetka, Illinois (a burb of Chi-Town) was the film’s setting for the kitchen, main staircase and the ground-floor landing scenes.

In keeping the spirit of the film alive, the boutique Whitehall Hotel, located in downtown Chicago is offering a “Home Alone” holiday package for stays now through January 5.

The package includes a holiday-decorated guest room, two Turtle Dove ornaments by the John Perry studio (who designed the same for the film), a minibar stocked with complimentary fresh baked cookies and M&M jars, a framed photo of Buzz’s girlfriend (WOOF!) and DVD copies of “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2.”Most importantly to the Kevin McCallisters of the world will be the food The Whitehall will have prepared during one’s stay. Fornetto Mei, the Italian concept cuisine at The Whitehall, will offer guests room service for two with a “Little Nero’s Pizza” (served in the same box as the movie), Mac n Cheese, Pepsi, and an ice cream sundae with all the toppings.

Rates for a family of four (two adults, two children) average $232 a night ($198-$289 per night).

If you can’t get to Chicago for the “Home Alone” stay package, take the family to see the film on the big screen and with the musical score performed live at venues across the nation! For instance, several dates (matinee and evening times) are offered at Atlanta Symphony Hall with a performance of the score by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Tickets from $39-$69.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

Make new holiday memories at the winter fun-derland of Universal Orlando and see the incredible transformation of Hogwarts castle during “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; meet The Grinch himself during Grinchmas and experience merry — and mayhem — with the Minions from Despicable Me and other beloved characters during Universal’s Holiday Parade and so much more.

Book a holiday getaway to Universal Orlando now with the Holiday Stay and Play package at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, available for stays now through December 31. Package rates start from $85 per person, per night and includes base admission to all three Universal Orlando theme parks and a minimum five-night hotel stay (based on a family of four sharing accommodations).

Purchase stay and play packages by December 19.

Christmas light mazes

The largest Christmas light mazes in the world will open in three cities this season — one in Seattle, one in St. Petersburg, Florida and another in Washington DC.

Enchant Christmas transforms three Major League Baseball stadiums into a holiday wonderland, complete with a bright light-mazes, a traditional market with dozens of local vendors, an ice skating trail, falling snow (yes, even in Florida!), holiday carolers and more.

Kids are tasked with finding escaped elves and reindeer inside the mazes, and experience plenty of crafts, toys and games along the way.

The Enchant experience runs from November 22 through December 29 in all three locations, and tickets are on sale online now. Adult tickets are $19.99; $16.99 ages 14-17 and $14.99 ages 4-13 (kids under 4 free).

Admission includes access to all the events, including the mazes, market, skating trail, meeting Santa and more. VIP tickets can be purchased to include front-of-the-line privileges and a special meal overlooking the thousands of sparkling lights.

Polar Express hour-long train rides

The magical Polar Express hour-long train rides bring scenes from the classic book to life. The train rides take place in over 50 locations across the country this month and throughout December.

Onboard, car hosts will work their way through the coach and punch golden tickets before hot chocolate and a delicious cookie are served by dancing chefs. Passengers then read along with the classic children’s book, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg.

Santa and his helpers board the train to greet passengers and each guest is given the first gift of Christmas. During the trip, characters on each car lead fantastic onboard entertainment – just like in the film! Each guest will take home a keepsake sleigh bell. And kids are welcome to wear their pajamas for the ride.

Ticket prices vary by city. The Tavares, Florida (Orlando) Polar Express rates, for example, start from $48 per person and up to $88 each for 1st class tickets.

Well, are you coming?