Staying at UCF for Thanksgiving

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haveuheard thanksgiving ucf

Make it a Friendsgiving

Although UCF is officially closed from November 27-30th, 2019, not all students will be going home for the holiday. Flights can be incredibly expensive around this time. Some students may have to work and others may go home with a local friend for a little turkey dinner. Perhaps, instead, you’ve decided to switch things around a bit and this year go to Orlando for Thanksgiving. Whichever way it works out; there is plenty to do if you are going to be at UCF for Thanksgiving this year. For instance, the Knights are playing USF in Orlando on Friday, November 29th.

Here are some fun things going on near or on campus:

November 22, 2019-  7:00pm Thanksgiving Potluck Dance Party

November 23, 2019- Tea Party in the Park

November 23, 2019- The Table in the Park

November 28, 2019- Celebrate Thanksgiving at Rosen Plaza

November 28, 2019- 4:00pmThanksgiving Feast at The Alfond Inn


November 28, 2019- 2019 Gobble Til You Wobble 1M, 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2 – Orlando


Disney is open on Thanksgiving for just $88 from November 24-29th and $130 for November 30th! Students can pick up tickets at the SGA ticket center. On Thanksgiving Day, various restaurants throughout each park will be serving holiday-inspired meals, so be on the lookout for special menus.

UCF’s Outdoor Adventure Program- Waterfall trip in Northern Georgia! The trip is from November 27th-December 1st and is just $50 for the trip.  Outdoor Adventure will provide experienced leaders, transportation, accommodation, meals and gear. Those who wish to join need to be registered before the pre-trip meeting at 8 p.m. November 20th, 2019 in the Outdoor Adventure Center.

Let Someone Else Do the Cooking!


Many restaurants put together a great traditional meal for Thanksgiving. Some are less traditional but sound delicious. Check out some of these:

Seasons 52 – It is about a 30-minute drive to Altamonte Springs, but the food is delightful. Indulge in their traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, but leave room for Pumpkin Pie Mini Indulgence. Now accepting reservations.

Tapa Toro  – is hosting a Thanksgiving meal at 8441 International Drive, No. 260 on November 28th from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for just $27. It is best to call ahead or visit their website to make a reservation.

Andretti Grill at Andretti Indoor Karting & Games – will have special Thanksgiving food and beverages, while broadcasting the day’s football action on more than 100 high-definition televisions. It certainly will be different and probably a lot of fun.

Boston Market – Go casual. They even have pick-up and delivery options.

Gaylord Palms Hotel – has a Thanksgiving brunch starting at 10:30 am.

Bahama Breeze- Thanksgiving dinner, reservations can make be made online.

310 – Reservations at one of their 3 locations, Lakeside, Nona and Park South can be made online.

Buca Di Peppo – also has catering available. They open at 11. Reservations or orders can be made online for a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Peach Valley Café – Serving traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Cracker Barrel- Turkey dressing special

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Rosen Plaza Thanksgiving – traditional meal hosted in the Rosen Plaza Grand Ballroom. Call to make a reservation, 407-996-0256. Seriously, check out the menu; it is incredible and includes wine, champagne and parking.

TooJays – 8-12pm for preorder dinners only

The Capital Grille- Thanksgiving special: traditional Thanksgiving meal 

Maggiano’s Little Italy – Family style menu

Cafe Tu Tu Tango – great for small plates (tapas) and sharing with close family. Open for reservations

Wine Bar George – small menu, but nice for wines, Charcuterie boards, and small plates. Large family plates are also available 

Mama Della’s Ristorante – available for Thanksgiving with a traditional Thanksgiving meal with a reservation

Vegan and non-vegan Thanksgiving dinner at Drunken Monkey – November 28, 2019 with limited seating at 1, 4 and 7 p.m at 444 N. Bumby Ave. It is $29.99 for adults, $16.99 ages 12 and under and kids under 5 eat free (with the purchase of an adult meal). The meal includes: “traditional turkey, turkey alternative, mashed potatoes and gravy (with a vegan option), stuffing, creamy green peas, ginger carrots, soups, pumpkin pie and other holiday desserts, and beverages. Make a reservation!

The Palm Orlando – located in the Hard Rock Hotel and is a classic steakhouse

Dinner at one of the Disney resorts. For instance, you might like Thanksgiving dinner under the sea at the Coral Reef in Epcot or in the Colonial-themed Liberty Tree Tavern. There are many others, but my choice would, of course, be at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. Whichever you choose; make reservations early. You don’t have to be a resort guest to dine there. If a long dinner doesn’t appeal to you, grab a turkey leg at one of the parks and keep going.

For a list of other restaurants offering Thanksgiving menus, click here.

For Students Who Are Staying

UCF is also hosting a Friendsgiving at UCF in the Neptune Multipurpose Room from 12-2 for students who will still be on campus. Check it out here. RSVP by November 2nd. Or maybe your student will plan a Friendsgiving with some of their friends who decided to stay at UCF. Cooking a turkey meal is ambitious so don’t be surprised if they call home to have mom help them out (or they can call 1-800-Butterball). Have each person make a dish or order your turkey and sides from Publix, Lucky’s Market, The Fresh Market or Whole Foods and decorate the table (Pinterest has some great suggestions for decorating on a budget). They can grab some great disposable tableware at Party City, making clean up a breeze! Many parents in the Orlando area open their homes up to UCF students for Thanksgiving. Check the Facebook UCF parents page to find postings.

There is always Football…

With the track record, the Knights have going, you may want to check out the football game against USF on November 29th, 2019. It is a home game and free for students but $60 or higher for guests.It is sure to be exciting!

Consider The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom or Universal

The parks will undoubtedly be less crowded than most any other day of the year, except perhaps Christmas. Most will be decorated for the holidays already. It is still a great day to take advantage of FastPass, single rider lines and the rider switch program so you can get in as much as possible.

The Magic Kingdom doesn’t just have a Thanksgiving Day parade; they have the Thanksgiving Parade of Bands or the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Epcot celebrates at this time of year with their International Festival of the Holidays. It is also the first day of the Candlelight Processional with a storyteller, choir and 50-piece orchestra.

Giving Back…

Perhaps you prefer to spend your Thanksgiving giving back to the community. There are many organizations, churches and synagogues, and homeless shelters that would be happy to have your help. If you are affiliated with a religious organization in Orlando, you may want to start by asking if they have any plans; if not, perhaps you would like to read our blog about local places of worship. My family and I have delivered meals quite a few times on Thanksgiving and I assure you the feeling we walked away with was fantastic.

Hands On Orlando is looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner to a group of homeless men at the Central Care Mission.

Central Florida Thanksgiving Basket Brigade – Friends Feeding Friends – Volunteer to contribute and delivered Thanksgiving meal baskets to families in need.

The Salvation Army in Orlando – Volunteers are needed to serve on Thanksgiving Day for various shifts between 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Housing is Open…

School is officially closed, but the housing communities will not be closing for Thanksgiving. If your student will be staying on campus and has a meal plan, they can contact Dining Services for more information about what areas are would be open during the holidays, but as of right now they have announced that they are closed from November 22nd-24th.

Getting To the Airport…

If your student does decide to head home, during Thanksgiving, winter break and spring break, UCF provides a free shuttle service, Knight Flight, which takes students from UCF to the Orlando Airport and back to UCF after the holidays. Register early here.

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2019-11-11T15:17:13-05:000 Comments

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