Can you believe the holidays are here? It seems like we've hardly had time to plan the festivities. Don't worry — your favorite frogs always come prepared. This year especially, we've been hopping with excitement over holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. Some of our favorite entertainment is returning again this year, and we love any reason to get into the spirit!
The holiday fun runs daily Nov. 17, 2018, through Jan. 6, 2019. If you needed another reason to be merry, the Holidays at Universal Orlando events are included with regular admission. So let's hop into everything you can expect this festive season!
Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
With the debut of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last year, Universal Orlando really outdid itself with the level of detail. Hogsmeade in Universal's Islands of Adventures and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida both feature festive Christmas decorations — including garland and lights — along the buildings and streets of the Wizarding World.
Outside each of the store fronts, it was as though the shopkeepers decorated the garlands themselves. At Glad Rags, for example, the garland was decorated with pink ribbons that look as if they came from Hermione's dress. There were feathers woven into the garland at Owl Post and what looked like sugary, pastel balls at Honeydukes. We expect these amazing decorations will return.
We hope our fellow froggies, the Frog Choir will be back to serenade us with Christmas songs. Inside Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck will likely be back to return. Last year, her show featured four original songs, including the super catchy "My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas." (By the way, you're likely to find hot butterbeer inside The Leaky Cauldron, Three Broomsticks, Hog's Head Pub, the Hopping Pot and the Fountain of Fair Fortune. Mmmm.)
The true showstopper of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was the projection-mapping show on Hogwarts Castle. "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts" played intermittently from dusk until park close each night. (We imagine it will be the same for 2018!) Muggles and wizards alike will be absolutely dazzled to see the castle come alive! There were breath-taking scenes with fairies creating the Christmas tree, the Weasley twins making mischief and more!
The small viewing area can get crowded, especially on weekends and the weeks of the holidays. We recommend watching "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts" during non-peak times, if possible.
Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s & More Holidays at Universal Orlando Festivities in the Parks
While Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is more magical than you muggles can imagine, there is so much more in store at during the holidays at Universal Orlando. Last year, a brand new Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's debuted at Universal Studios Florida with its more than a dozen festive balloons and 15 floats. It is set to return again!
You'll catch some of your favorite Universal characters making Christmas mischief, including Minions, Shrek and more!
Of course, jolly ol' Santa is there too. He is lighting up the beautiful tree in New York! The floats are as elaborate as ever, so bring a camera and snap as many pictures as you can! Seeing this float with your family is sure to bring the warm fuzzies. After the parade last year, you could stick around to meet the characters who hang out with their floats. We hope we'll be able to do the same again this year!
If you want a front-row spot for Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's right in front of the tree, get in place at least an hour early on busy nights. This is especially true on weekends. Our favorite spot is across the street from the tree next to the Mummy ride. From this spot, you can watch as Santa lights the tree.
Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure
It wouldn't be the holidays at Universal Orlando without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will be returning to Islands of Adventure for Christmas fun. Watch the green guy bring his signature snark to the Christmas Who-liday Spectacular at Seuss Landing.
Seuss Landing is the most spectacularly decorated of them all, with so many baubles and tinsel wrapped around just about everything. Don't miss the Lorax while strolling through the trufulla trees!
The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular will be back to warm our hearts once more. The talented performers bring this Seuss favorite to life through song and dance. Plan to be in line at least thirty minutes ahead of show time. The first show of the day is likely the least crowded.
If you want some quality time with the Grinch, book the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast on select days. You can read our Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast review for an idea of what to expect.
Manheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida
Once again, Manheim Steamroller will bring the festive sounds of modern Christmas to Universal Studios Florida. These concerts take place weekends throughout November and December. Arrive early at the amphitheater if you want a sit-down spot. You can easily hear the music beyond the concert area, so if you're content with catching a few tunes, stroll by when you have time.
Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
Any time of year, we absolutely love staying on-site at Universal's fabulous resort hotels, but especially during the holidays. Expect all six Universal Orlando hotels to be decked out for the holidays and look out for tree and menorah lightings. Plus, enjoy all the trimmings at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve buffets.
If you want to experience the holidays at Universal Orlando during the busiest times, we highly recommend you stay on-site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort so you can receive the Unlimited Express benefit for all of your party for your entire length of stay. Watch out for the expected busiest days using our Universal Orlando Crowd Calendar. We recommend considering you stay at one of the hotels offering Universal Express (or purchase it separately) the weeks of Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and on weekends. We cannot underestimate this benefit!
If you can't shell out for these hotels, hop to Loews Sapphire Falls, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal's newest hotel, Aventura! While they don't offer Unlimited Express, these hotels (all of Universal's hotels) offer one-hour early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal's Volcano Bay. If you stay on-site you can get a hop on experiencing the Christmas in the Wizarding World holiday magic! What's even more magical is to book your Universal Orlando hotel room at a discount, so hop to it!
Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando?
With so much hoppening at Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure during the holidays, you may be wondering, "Which ticket should I get?" We're very big fans of the Park-to-Park option. With the two parks so close together, it makes it easy to hop. The Park-to-Park option offers maximum flexibility to enjoy it all. And it's the only way to experience the Hogwarts Express. So if you want to experience Christmas in the Wizarding World at Hogsmeade and then hop right over to extend the merry in Diagon Alley, you'll need the Park-to-Park ticket.
If you need some palm trees and sun with your Christmas vacation, then add on Universal's Volcano Bay water theme park during your visit. (Check out all of our discount Universal Orlando ticket options, and don't forget we offer discounts on the Universal Orlando hotels too!)
Ready to visit Universal Orlando this holiday season? Pick the best dates to visit using our Orlando Crowd Calendar. Check out our Orlando planning timeline for a stress-free family vacation to the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort and other destinations.