There were some big changes last year to the Lake Lanier Lights at the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. While at the same time, some old favorites are returning to this annual holiday extravaganza at the Lake Lanier Resort, Lake Lanier, Ga. So what new, what’s old that is new again, and what can you expect when you go? Read on for to get the scoop.
The Lake Lanier Christmas lights, as well as all the Lake Lanier holiday events are under new management. Safe Harbor Development has invested 3.5 million into Margaritaville at Lanier Islands and transformed the summertime destination into a winter wonderland – License to Chill, Snow Island.
Lake Lanier Lights: A Christmas Lights Show
On our previous visits to the Lake Lanier night of lights we’ve done the carnival, holiday village and ice skating first, waiting until it got dark outside and then finish up in the warm car with the lights. As a bonus, the ‘attractions’ are generally less crowded earlier in the evening.
You’ll notice the 26th annual Lake Lanier Magical Night of Lights has been refreshed with a Margaritaville twist. In total, there are 19 new displays, including our cover photo ‘It’s 5 o’clock somewhere’, as well as multi-colored lights through the tunnel to Paradise Beach, a snowflake display, Christmas train, surfboard Christmas tree, giant candy canes, hanging snowflakes, multi-colored tunnel lights, and you can’t do anything Margaritaville without a parrot (with a Santa hat of course).
And for traditionalists, the seven miles of lights also includes the return of some classic displays such as the ’12 Days of Christmas’. Make sure you tune your radio to hear the holiday music while you drive through.
Lake Lanier Christmas Snow Island
In addition to your Magical Night of Lights admission, you can visit Snow Island’s carnival area. Walking around is free, but if you want to go on any rides, you must purchase tickets. Each activity has a different number of tickets. Add on a snow tubing pass, or if all this confuses you (as it does me) then just purchase an all access pass which gets you on the snow tubing hill, ice skating and all the carnival rides.
Play in the Snow on the Sledding Hill
Trying to create a snow experience in warm Georgia always intrigues me. The Snow Island sledding hills are brand new this year, so if you’ve been in the past – this is an entirely new attractions. Unlike in other years where you sled down a carpet, the 10 sledding hills are all real snow!
In addition to the 10 hills, there will also be summertime waterslide Cat4 will be transformed to a winter ride. Zoom downhill on real snow, over the Boardwalk, and across Big Beach. Question is, do you end in the lake for this ride like you do in the summer?? If you’d rather just play in the snow there will be snow play areas as well.
Note: You must reserve a time for the sledding hill. Time slots are in 90 minute increments.
In addition to traditional carnival rides, expect the kids to beg to play in the snow area, go ice skating (it’s back to real ice this year — Yeah!! I hated the plastic stuff), or take the hay ride. Get your family photo in a snow globe, or stop for a unique picture with Santa beneath the Fin Dunker.
There are lots of holiday treats too. Stop by the Landshark Bar & Grill for s’more kits and marshmallows to roast over the open fire pits. Adults can also grab a themed beverage. At Santa’s Shop you can find lots of delicious baked good too.
Lake Lanier Christmas Lights Live Nativity
The live nativity is in a different location than the carnival. It’s actually a stop along the lights route. Be sure to catch this production. If you aren’t into the live animals there is a manger scene in bright lights along the driving route.
I’m not much for sponsored lights, but the Medieval Times jousting knights was pretty great. The light display is quite extensive. We especially enjoyed the Wizard of Oz sections. Before you head through the ticket booth, be sure to tune your radio to the special Magical Night of Lights radio station. The audio makes the lights even more festive. It’s free and had us singing Christmas tunes all the way home.
Tips for the Lake Lanier Lights at the Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort, Lake Lanier, Georgia
1. Lake Lanier Islands Lights Coupon. Lake Lanier Island Magical Nights of Lights is magical, but it’s also expensive. However, your best deal is to purchase your ticket online before you go and check out the winter promos. Be sure to follow Lake Lanier on social media for discount announcements.
2. Magical Lights and Winter Adventure Pricing. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to just the Magical Lights, but pricing confuses me. The entire experience, the Lake Lanier lights, carnival, live nativity, shopping and snow adventures are all part of the Winter Adventure.
There is a gate fee per carload to enter the park. This price includes the Magical Lights, access to LanierWorld to visit Santa, watch movies on the Spectacular Screen or visit the gift shops, restaurants and snack bars. If you would like to participate in the snow tubing runs, winter play areas, and carnival rides you’ll need to purchase an additional wrist band. Often parents will just buy the wristbands for the kids, so they can play, because it’s free to watch. Packages are available.
3. Bring your own. There are picnic tables at the Holiday Village at Lake Lanier and lots of different choices for food and treats. To ease the burden on your wallet, pack a picnic, including a thermos of hot chocolate and s’more fixings for the huge fire pits. You’ll get all the ambiance without all the expense.
4. Go early. As in early in the season and early in the evening. It’s less expensive, but it’s also less crowded, which I find especially important on the ice skating rink if you have kids who aren’t experienced skaters. My children are off the entire week before Christmas, so we visited on a Tuesday afternoon. There were no lines at all and the kids were able to ride the carnival rides, the sledding hill and play in the snow area without waiting.
5. Tips to See Santa. The line for Santa can get really long too, so see the lights just after sun set and then do the photo with Santa as soon as you arrive at the Village, or go during daylight hours to see Santa, then do the lights.
5. Dress Warmly. It can get really cold spinning through the air on the carnival rides. My son thought a simple sweatshirt would do, but as the night wore on, he got cold and wanted to leave well before the others were ready.
6. Tune In. When you stop to pay at the entrance gate, change your radio station to the Lake Lanier Lights station. It’s a mellow Pandora-like station of holiday tunes to get you into the spirit. It had us singing out loud all the way home.
Staying at Lake Lanier Islands
To make a visit truly magical, spend the night at the Legacy Lodge at Lake Lanier Resort. Although we have not done this, we asked the PR folks for some tips, and here is what they said.
When you stay at the resort, your front gate fee (which is for the magical lights and everything else excluding the rides) is free. Many people rent a golf cart to ride around and look at the lights before stopping down at the rides for Snow Island.
If you stay at the Lodge, take the Margaritaville Trolley for a tour of the lights in the evenings. Resort guests also have access to Legacy Kids at the Lodge where kids can decorate cookies, watch a children’s movie, etc. Many staying at the Lodge will also book Breakfast with Santa or an Elf Tuck-in during their stay.
What: Magical Nights of Lights
Where: Lake Lanier Islands, Resort, 7000 Lake Lanier Islands Pkwy., Buford, Ga. 30518 | 770-945-8787
Opens: Nov. 22, 2019 Snow Island stays open until February 23, 2020 | Magical Lights is open 5 pm – 10 pm.
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