‘Tis the season for hot cocoa, festive gatherings . . . and theme parks? Believe it or not, taking the family to an amusement park is the perfect way to kick off the holidays. Theme parks around the Bay Area (and beyond) have hauled out the holly and filled up the stockings to bring families the coolest holiday celebrations around. Their special holiday decorations, attractions, and entertainment are sure to warm the coldest grinchy heart. Flip through to see all the holiday happenings at theme parks from Marin to SoCal.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

This holiday season, you won't have to travel to the North Pole to reach a winter wonderland. With their annual Holiday in the Park extravaganza set to start on November 24, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has enough snow, lights and magic to make the season bright.

Festive Decor

The holiday fun kicks into high gear as soon as you enter the park and come face to face with a brilliantly lit, 65-foot holiday tree. Themed holiday wonderlands are scattered throughout the park. Visit Toy Land and feel as though you've shrunk to the size of a toy as you meet a giant Nutcracker and teddy bear. Wander through the giant lollipops and sweets along Candy Cane Lane. Inhale the fresh scent of pine at Christmas Tree Forest. Make sure you stop by after dark so you catch the full effect of all the dazzling lights!

Seasonal Attractions

Holiday lights line the lift hills of the Kong and Medusa roller coasters, so thrill seekers riding at night can experience a special holiday rush. Those who prefer a smaller but cooler drop can sled down the park's giant snow hill. There's also a snow play area at the top of the snow hill and fire pits nearby for people to warm their frosty hands. No visit during the holidays is complete without a visit to Santa's Workshop, where children meet with Santa for a photo and a chat. Kids can also decorate cookies and enter a giant snow globe.

Holiday entertainment

The animal residents of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom are celebrating the season with a series of holiday-themed wildlife shows. Check out the Christmas show at Sea Lion Stadium as well as the spectacular nighttime dolphin show, "Drench! Celebrates". In addition, watch out for dancers and prancers in the Main Plaza's Festival of Lights, as well as performances by Looney Tunes characters. You won't want to miss the nightly tree lighting ceremony, it's a beautiful sight!

Six Flags Holiday in the Park runs on weekends Nov. 24-Dec. 17 and daily from Dec. 22-31.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
1001 Fairgrounds Drive
Vallejo, CA
707-643-6722
Online: holiday.sixflags.com

photo: Six Flags

Do you plan to visit an amusement park this holiday season? Which one? Tell us about your experience in a comment!

—Ana Picazo