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Guide to Universal Orlando Holidays & Christmas in The Wizarding World

by Mommy Frog on October 17, 2017 35 Orlando

As theme park master planners, we never really stop thinking about the holidays. It's one of the most popular times to visit, and we get questions about it all year. This year especially, we've been hopping with excitement over holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. Ever since the resort unveiled plans for the debut of the most spectacular Christmas in the Wizarding World, we've been dreaming about how dazzling Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will look all decked out in festive decor. Of course, there will be so much more, including a brand-new holiday parade.

The new holiday fun runs daily Nov. 18, 2017, through Jan. 8, 2018. If you needed another reason to be merry, Holidays at Universal Orlando are included with regular admission. So let's hop into everything you can expect this festive season!

Christmas in The Wizarding World | Holiday Events in the Parks | Holidays at the Hotels | Which Ticket Should You Get? | Comments

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort - Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogwarts Castle at Christmas

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

There will be no shortage of Christmas entertainment inside the Wizarding Worlds in Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure. As mentioned above, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will both feature festive Christmas decorations — including garlands and lights — along the buildings and streets of the Wizarding World. As if the delight of warm, cocoa-ey butterbeer wasn't enough, you'll be tempted by delicious holiday-themed food and drinks while you listen to holiday performances from none other than the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck!

The trimming on the tree, so to speak, will be a new show that takes place on Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure. Featuring the latest in mapped-projection technology, this new show will "cast a spell" onto the castle. The show will also feature iconic Christmas moments from the Harry Potter series.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s & More Holidays at Universal Orlando Festivities in the Parks

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort - Universal Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's

Also during holidays at Universal Orlando, a brand-new parade will be stepping off at Universal Studios Florida. More than a dozen festive balloons and 15 floats will make their debut at Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. You'll see Dreamworks favorites from Madagascar, Shrek and Despicable Me. Yes, there will be minions. And that jolly ol' Santa too.

Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Grinchmas - 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. 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

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Manheim Steamroller

Once again, Manheim Steamroller will bring the festive sounds of modern Christmas to Universal Studios Florida. These concerts take place weekends on Nov. 18, 19, 25, 26 and Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.  

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Cabana Bay - Christmas in the Wizarding World

Any time of year, we absolutely love staying on-site at Universal's fabulous resort hotels, but especially during the holidays. All five Universal Orlando hotels will be decked out for the holidays and offer holiday fun, including tree lightings and menorah lightings. Plus you can 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. We cannot underestimate this benefit! If you can't shell out for these hotels, hop to  Loews Sapphire Falls and Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort . All five of the hotels will offer early park admission to the Wizarding World, so you can get a hop on experiencing the Christmas in the Wizarding World holiday magic!

Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando?

Christmas in The Wizarding World - Hogwarts Express

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!

More to Come during Holidays at Universal Orlando ...

No doubt, Universal will be announcing more holiday additions and features as we get closer to the season. We'll update this post, as well as our Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Events in 2017 with the latest and greatest. In the meantime, we'll be packing our bags for Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the new parade and all of the Holidays at Universal Orlando festivities!

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.

Hoppy Planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Comments
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Ashley Sep 27, 2017 at 2:27 p.m.

Hi! We are planning to go to Universal/IOA on 11/28 and 11/29. Will all of the Holiday décor and parades be occurring on these days? Are there extended park hours during the holidays or will all of the parades take place before 7pm when the parks close?

Reply
FrogBlog Sep 27, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.

Hi Ashley,

We expect that all the holiday decorations and entertainment will be up and running by then! There should be extended hours as well!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Phil Goldwasser Nov 28, 2016 at 12:45 a.m.

I love your planning guides! Would your one day Universal guide be basically the same during Christmas week, or would we need to adjust it a bit?

Reply
FrogBlog Dec 8, 2016 at 3:39 p.m.

Hi Phil,

You would need to do quite a bit of adjusting because the parks are very, very crowded at this time. I would honestly make a list of each family member's top priority (or two), arrive ahead of official opening, hit the most crowded rides first thing. You can see the list of when to visit each of the rides on our Orlando iPhone app or on the general guide for the parks.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
MM Nov 27, 2016 at 5:48 p.m.

Hello, Is Christmas Day and Universal as bad as Christmas Day at Disney's MK?

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 28, 2016 at 12:48 p.m.

Hi MM,

Yes, it is. Looks for a holiday survival guide pegged to Universal Orlando from us soon!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Louise beastall Feb 1, 2017 at 6:20 a.m.

Hi we have just booked 19 December

2017 Orlando 9 nights Xmas and Naples 4 nights new year. Have you any advice on parks and survival guides etc. Also anything on new year in Naples

Thank you

Reply
FrogBlog Feb 1, 2017 at 8:17 a.m.

Hi Louise,

How fun! Our Crowd Calendar will give you ideas on which parks to visit, and avoid, during your trip. Use our Park Planners to arrange your days when you're there.

Hoppy Planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Katie Nov 14, 2016 at 12:31 a.m.

Where can we find information on the citywalk pass for NYE FOR 2016?

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 22, 2016 at 7:46 a.m.

Hi Katie,

You'll find details here.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
E.W. Oct 31, 2016 at 3:50 p.m.

Hi.. I just wanted to know if you have any idea as to when the Christmas decorations start to appear in the Universal/Islands parks this year (2016)....Thank you

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 8, 2016 at 2:48 p.m.

Hi there,

The decorations should all be in place by the week of Thanksgiving!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Karen Anglin Mar 7, 2017 at 5:56 p.m.

When will the Christmas decorations be up this year? One of my bucket list items is to see Seuss Landing decorated for Christmas.

Reply
FrogBlog Mar 7, 2017 at 12:12 p.m.

Hi Karen,

The Grinchmas decorations at Islands of Adventure start going up the first week of December.

Hoppy Planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Melody Mar 22, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

We plan on visiting Orlando Dec 27 2016 and I need to plan our days carefully. I want to ensure a Grinchmas Character breakfast for my family of 5. Disney books 180 days in advance so how soon will I be able to book the Grinchmas character breakfast for 2016?

Reply
FrogBlog Apr 14, 2016 at 2:14 p.m.

Hi Melody,

We don't yet know when these will go on sale, but last year reservations opened up after Halloween Horror Nights.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
norean Dec 19, 2015 at 3:22 a.m.

will there be any signs of Christmas on January 3, 2016 in the parks or resorts? we will be arriving about 8pm on the 2nd and don,t want to use a park ticket for only a few hours. Does Universal have a twilight pass?

Reply
FrogBlog Dec 21, 2015 at 7:39 a.m.

Hi there,

Unfortunately, Universal does not offer a twilight pass. In case you missed it, we now offer discount E-Tickets for Universal, so that is a straight-to-gate option for you. The parks will still be fully decorated, so enjoy!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Vern Woodruff Dec 7, 2015 at 10:15 p.m.

Hi,

We just attended IOA Dec 5 and the Studios on Dec 6 and had a couple of items to add.

For the Grinchmas show, the auditorium has LOTS of seating, so even if you see a line that snakes out to near the Cat in the Hat ride, everyone should be able to see the show. I thought there were a lot of people at the 5:30 pm show we attended, but the theater was not even half full. One note about seating for us was that the Universal attendants guided people to the rows, filling them up from the bottom to the top. So, by being near the back of the line, we actually had a better view of the show than if we had been near the front of the line.

If you want to meet the Grinch, be prepared for a slow-moving line. The Grinch is great fun when you do meet him, but hopefully you are not too "grinchy" yourself if you had to stand in line for 30 - 45 minutes.

Your note about the viewing area for the Macy's parade is correct. That location between the Mummy and what was Twister (construction walls for "Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon" are now up) was perhaps the best location for viewing the parade. We had a spot next to the Straight Outta Food Truck, arriving about 30 minutes before the parade started at 5. However, for taking pictures, I think a location in front of the Mummy or across the street from the Macy's storefront would work out better because you could more easily have either the tree or Macy's storefront in the background behind the balloon. Also, when Santa's float stopped in front of the tree and the Macy's storefront for the tree lighting, we had difficulty seeing Santa or the various dancers that were performing.

Reply
Maggieandme Nov 29, 2015 at 10:22 p.m.

Hi,

Is there any fireworks at Universal on New Year's Eve? We are flying in at 5:30 and would like to eat then do something fun with 2 teen girls. All the things listed seem expensive since we won't get there until late. Would it be worth it? Any suggestions?

Reply
FrogBlog Dec 3, 2015 at 7:07 a.m.

Hi there,

At Universal Studios, the regular fireworks show Cinematic Spectacular has a special end of the year theme and begins at 11:59 p.m. to ring in the new year. Many of the CityWalk restaurants will be closed for the ticketed NYE event held there. If you want to eat in the park, Finnegan's is always a great choice for a fun time.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Sue Watts Nov 21, 2015 at 9:40 p.m.

How soon before the Macy's Holiday Parade should I pick my spot and sit down? Silly question, but do you use something under your bum for extra padding on the long waits?

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 30, 2015 at 2:18 p.m.

Hi Sue,

Some people begin lining up for Macy's hours before, but you should still be able to find a good spot if you find your place by 45 minutes or so before step off. For absolutely prime spots, you'll want to start settling down by around an hour before the parade. As far as bum-padding goes, I don't usually bring anything extra for that purpose, but a sweater or hoodie makes great impromptu cushioning for long waits.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Vern Woodruff Nov 17, 2015 at 5:39 p.m.

My Family would like to attend the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast. I checked the Universal website and found information on it (as of 11/17/15), but you cannot make a reservation and it says that full 2015 information will be released with the Holidays event content later in the year. Based on previous years, any idea as to when this will become available? After becoming accustomed to Disney publishing dates and times far in advance, it has been quite different planning for Universal when very little is published in advance and is not listed on the website (i.e. which park is available for early entry on a specific day for hotel guests). Thanks!

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 17, 2015 at 3:51 p.m.

Hi Vern,

Odd. I called the reservation number at 1-407-224-3663 and was told that reservations are now open for this event! The online reservation system also appeared to work, although the dates available did not match those listed on the site. I would recommend calling them directly to book. As far as Early Park Admission, if you call the hotel you are staying at, they should be able to tell you which park or if both parks are available.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Vern Woodruff Nov 17, 2015 at 11:30 p.m.

Hi Mommy Frog,

Thanks for the quick response and the information! I called the dining reservation number and was able to purchase tickets. The lady I spoke with mentioned that tickets had just become available, so perhaps they are in the reservation system but the Universal web-site has not been updated to reflect that yet. I also called the hotel and found out that Islands of Adventure is the early entry park during our visit.

Reply
Nbdr2115 Nov 10, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

What time is the Macy's Parade and the Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure? Do the times change?

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 18, 2015 at 3:20 p.m.

Hi there,

The times do change and Universal doesn't publish these times online, so it's best to check when you get to the park for the Who-Liday Spectacular. As far as the parade, it is usually at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. depending on when the park closes.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
FrogBlog Nov 18, 2015 at 3:20 p.m.

Hi there,

The times do change and Universal doesn't publish these times online, so it's best to check when you get to the park for the Who-Liday Spectacular. As far as the parade, it is usually at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. depending on when the park closes.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Nanner Oct 1, 2015 at 1:07 p.m.

What time does the Mannheim Steamroller concert usually start? We plan to see them in December at Universal.

Reply
FrogBlog Oct 2, 2015 at 2:47 p.m.

Hi Nanner,

Normally 6 p.m.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
christina Jul 14, 2015 at 4:41 p.m.

Hi could you tell me what time the macys parade is normally on Christmas day please. Thankyou in advance

Chrissy

Reply
FrogBlog Jul 16, 2015 at 11:20 a.m.

Hi Chrissy,

The parade historically has run at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. depending on how late the park is open. I would expect on Christmas Day for this to be later.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
denise black Mar 30, 2015 at 3:25 p.m.

Could u please tell me what entertainment is on in universal stuidoes-island of adventure on 31st December 2015 thanking you x

Reply
FrogBlog Mar 31, 2015 at 7:46 a.m.

Hi Denise,

We expect Grinchmas and the Macy's Holiday Parade on the 31st. Additionally, there is usually a HUGE New Year's Eve celebration at Universal CityWalk that will be a lot of fun for adults!

Mommy Frog

Reply
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