Merry Christmas: Today, plenty of nearby haunts are still open for business - East Valley Tribune: Apache Junction

Merry Christmas: Today, plenty of nearby haunts are still open for business

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Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 10:34 pm, Sun Aug 4, 2013.

It’s become tradition in recent years — or at least the programmers at a certain cable superstation would like us to believe — to find the holiday cult-classic “A Christmas Story” on the tube at any odd hour of the day each Dec. 25.

But if gathering around the RCA set to partake in the glory of Ralphie Parker’s pink bunny outfit — or if the agony of his longing for the bearded one to present him with that illustrious carbine-action Red Ryder BB gun — isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps there’s one iconic scene from the film that might offer hope to those of us who woke up this abnormal Sunday morning with no family in town, a burnt holiday bird, or simply a desire to change it up a little bit from the predictable Christmas fare.

In the spirit of the Parker family’s foray to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant for their most memorable of holiday meals, the Tribune presents this list of to-dos, to-sees, and to-eats — all open today, Christmas Day, and waiting for you to start a new holiday tradition.


Winter Wonderland

Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. Thanks, Weather Channel, for ruining our dreams of a white Christmas. But fret not, those of you wishing you could lace ‘em up and take a mid-day skate around the backyard pond. Today, the Arcadia Ice Arena and the outdoor temporary ice rink at downtown Phoenix’s CityScape — both just minutes from the East Valley — are welcoming Christmas Day visitors for public skating. (Note: For those “observing” Christmas with a day off Monday, Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek, Polar Ice in Chandler, and the Ice Den in north Scottsdale will all resume their open skating schedules tomorrow.)

DETAILS: Arcadia Ice Arena: 2-4 p.m., 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. $8 (includes skate rental).  3853 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix. (602) 957-9966 or CityScape’S NRG Ice Rink: 3-11 p.m. $10 (includes skate rental). Washington and 7th Streets, Downtown Phoenix.

Dinner gone wrong?

The Peking Duck scene in the aforementioned “A Christmas Story” is arguably the film’s most underrated moment. Did your holiday bird or ham not turn out like you hoped? A pair of Chandler Chinese restaurants — C-Fu Gourmet is practically across the street from China Magic Noodle House — are open to help recreate that infamous movie moment. But for those looking for more traditional holiday fare, a number of East Valley hotels — such as Ahwatukee’s Arizona Grand Resort and the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort in Chandler — have you covered as well.

DETAILS: C-Fu Gourmet: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 2051 W. Warner Road, Chandler. (480) 899-3888 or China Magic Noodle House: 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 2015 N. Dobson Road, Chandler. (480) 899-1590. Arizona Grand Resort: Buffet (Rosemary and garlic crusted prime Rib, Gremolata-rubbed rotisserie chicken and more) 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $44.95 (adults), $16.95 (5-12). 8000 S. Arizona Grand Parkway, Phoenix. (602) 438-9000 or Crowne Plaza San Marcos: A.J’s Café and Ballroom Brunch (roasted prime rib, ham, cranberry walnut stuffed chicken breast and more). $38.95 (adult), $18.95 (4-12). 1 San Marcos Place, Chandler. (480) 857-4401 or

Starlight, star bright

While you’ll have to wait until Dec. 26 for the Desert Botanical Garden’s breathtaking Las Noches de Las Luminarias (it is worth it, though), the famed ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo is open for Christmas Day visitors. If a true East Valley flavor is more up your alley, today marks the final day of the Christmas Lights and Concert Series at the Mesa Mormon Temple Gardens.

DETAILS: ZooLights: 6-10 p.m. $10. 455 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix. (602) 273-1341 or Mesa Temple Gardens: 5-10 p.m., 30-minute outdoor concert at 7 p.m. Free. 525 E. Main Street, Mesa.

Santa ‘Claws’

Sea Life Arizona aquarium at Tempe’s Arizona Mills mall has transformed it’s “Claws” exhibit — featuring creatures of the deep blue sea — into an underwater winter wonderland. Storybook readings of the clever “A Fishman Carol” will continue Christmas Day every half hour while the doors are open.

DETAILS: Sea Life’s ‘Santa Claws’: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $18 (adult), $11 (3- 12). 5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Suite 145, Tempe. (480) 478-7600 or


Go see the show!

For a more traditional holiday show, try Broadway Palm Dinner Theater’s rendition of “A Christmas Carol” instead. Seats should still be available for both the matinee and evening performances of Charles Dickens’ tale of curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge — and a menu of pot roast or oven-roasted turkey will be served for those purchasing a ticket with meal. If a Hollywood blockbuster and some salty popcorn is more palatable, Christmas Day has long been considered one of — if not the — busiest day of the year for the local megaplex. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “We Bought a Zoo,” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” all went wide this week, catering to a litany of audience preferences.

DETAILS: Broadway Palm’s ‘A Christmas Carol’: 1:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. $28-$46 (adults), $20-22 (children). 5427 E. Brown Road, Mesa. (480) 325-6700 or Harkins Theatres (various): AMC Theatres (Ahwatukee): Hollywood Theatres (Gilbert): Cinemark (Mesa): Dickinson (Mesa): Tempe Cinemas (second run):

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