The first sighting is downright magical. As you climb the steps into the stadium of Tropicana Field, a baseball field when last we saw it, you’ll find a twinkling village called Enchant Christmas, the “world’s largest Christmas maze.”
The best view is midway up the stadium seats so you can take in the 80-foot lighted “pine” tree in the center. (It actually has a steel core.) See the lighted tunnels, the globe where Santa welcomes kids, the ice skating trail and huge reindeer and switchbacks and mirrored walls that will later make you feel lost.
It’s pretty overwhelming and some kids were actually asking to leave when the crush of crowds got to be too much. The biggest hurdle, besides finding the nine reindeer embedded throughout the maze, was dodging all the couples taking selfies and the family portraits underway.
The true spirit of Christmas — commercialism — is well represented. There are bars and food stands with drinks starting at $8 and a market with a variety of goods, including a Florida-friendly stand where swim trunks are sold. The “ice bar” is actually made of plastic, but the hot chocolate is pretty good at $5 ($10 if you want a shot of Kahlua or Baileys in it).
The tunnels of lights are pretty trippy to walk through, and there are dressed-up “villagers” throughout who cheerfully pose for pictures and point out where to find the giant Rudolph light sculpture.
The next two Saturdays are sold out, and many of the nights are close to selling out at enchantchristmas.com.
It’s not a cheap night. Parking at Tropicana Field is $10, so you might consider parking around the neighborhood and walking. Admission starts at $20 and rises to $36.99 on the more popular weekend nights. Entry includes access to the ice skating trail. You can bring your own ice skates, but if you don’t have them, rentals are $4.67 for kids, $9.35 for adults.
Some advice from organizers: Consider reserving your skates online in advance to make sure they’re ready for you, and you can save time by filling out the waiver form online. Both are found under the “ice skating trail” section of the event’s website.
A family four-pack is $58 to $88 depending on the night, and you can get a season pass for $75.99. Tickets for animals on dog-friendly nights Dec. 1 and Dec. 16 are $18.99 and must be purchased in advance online. Dec. 3 and 10 are date nights, when professional photographers will be on hand for free portraits during the final arrival window of 8 to 10 p.m.
You’ll find cheaper tickets and lighter crowds on weekdays or the last two hours of the evening, when the price is discounted.