Guide to Universal Orlando Holidays & Christmas in The Wizarding World

Holidays at Universal OrlandoWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than holidays at Universal Orlando? Even the Grinch can't resist the cheer. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year (right?!)! You’d think it’d be tough to follow a popular event like Halloween Horror Nights, but the Holidays at Universal doesn’t disappoint. From Grinchmas to Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there’s a lot going on to spread holiday cheer. Best of all, the Holidays at Universal Orlando events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission. If you’re like us and you’re already planning a Christmas vacation at the parks, catch up on highlights from last year and what to expect during this upcoming festive season. Universal Orlando announced the festivities will take place from November 16, 2019 through January 5, 2020!

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

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Hogwarts

You know that feeling you get when you watch Harry Potter with your family while drinking hot cocoa on a snowy winter night? That's the feeling you'll get when you see Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Orlando goes all out with the level of detail. Hogsmeade in Universal's Islands of Adventures and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida both typically feature festive Christmas decorations — including garland and lights — along the buildings and streets of the Wizarding World.

Take a look at the decorations from 2018. Outside each of the store fronts, it was as though the shopkeepers decorated the garlands themselves. At Gladrags Wizardwear, for example, the garland was decorated with pink ribbons that looked 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. 

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Hogsmeade

Our fellow froggies, the Frog Choir, will perform special concerts with Christmas songs straight from the spell books.Inside Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck gets in the holiday spirit with her four original songs, including the super catchy "My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas." 

The true showstopper of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the projection-mapping show on Hogwarts Castle. "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts" plays intermittently from dusk until park close each night. Muggles and wizards alike will be absolutely dazzled to see the castle come alive! There are breathtaking scenes with fairies creating the Christmas tree, the Weasley twins making mischief and more! Even if you aren't a fan of the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts, we recommend checking these shows out. They're gorgeous and really capture the unique holiday fun you see in the Harry Potter films and books.

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. No matter which night you're attending, try waiting until a bit later in the evening (about any hour after dusk) to catch the show to avoid those early crowds.

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

The highlight of the holidays at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. The parade has more than a dozen festive balloons and 15 floats for your enjoyment! You'll catch some of your favorite Universal characters making Christmas mischief, including Minions, Shrek and more! Stay tuned for 2019's showtimes!

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Parade Minions

Of course, jolly ol' Santa typically makes an appearance 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. Your tadpoles will go crazy for this Christmas magic! Beware: TONS OF CONFETTI!

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Santa

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.

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Grinchmas Townsfolk

Last year, Seuss Landing was 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 truffula trees!

The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular will return 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 30 minutes ahead of showtime, as you do need to walk a fair distance to the sound stage in which it takes place, even if there aren't huge crowds. Hop tip: Catch the first show of the day as it's likely to be the least crowded.

The show added a few new touches last year that delighted returning fans and pleased new Who-liday fans! While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it is a blast for any fans of the Grinch. (And OMG ... Max is played by an adorable, live dog. What a good boy!)

 

Festive Food & Drinks at the Holidays at Universal Orlando

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks. While year-round Butterbeer is served cold or frozen, you can get hot Butterbeer during the holiday season! Think more along the lines of hot chocolate (but butterscotch) rather than a carbonated cream soda, which is what the classic, cold Butterbeer tastes like. You can find it inside The Leaky Cauldron, Three Broomsticks, Hog's Head Pub, the Hopping Pot and the Fountain of Fair Fortune.

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.

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Cabana Bay Beach Resort Christmas Tree

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.

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

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 a 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?

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Grinch and Max

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. Don't let the time of year trick you ... it's still plenty warm in sunny Florida (especially for you snowbirds) and the water is heated.  (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. 

Related: Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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1–50 of 1397 comments
Jul 5, 2019 at 1:20 p.m. Gail M Says...

We are going to Universal Dec. 23-27 and I bought the five-day park-to-park Express pass. Will there still be lines? How long do you typically end up waiting with the Express pass? Any easy app to show what's available (like the Disney app)? Taking my older in-laws and worried about standing around.

Reply
Jul 10, 2019 at 9:24 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Gail!

Yes, there will still be lines at that time. With Express Pass, lines are generally more like fifteen minutes or so (similar to Disney's FastPass). You can download the Universal app to see wait times (for regular lines) as well as a map, similar to Disney World's :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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May 6, 2019 at 8:42 a.m. Clare Stocks Says...

Hi there, we are visiting from 15th to 29th December 2019 - extended family of 8, teenagers/parents/grandparents! Planning on staying in a villa and having 14 day tickets to Universal Parks.

We stayed at Universal in the summer and had the hotel fast pass tickets - it will be very costly for 8 of us as separate tickets. Do you think we will manage to see and do all the rides on the standard ticket?

All help, comments and advice most welcome :-)

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May 6, 2019 at 4:22 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Clare!

Yes, 14 days should be plenty to do and see everything on a standard ticket. Have a frogtastic time!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Jan 15, 2019 at 4:38 p.m. Sara Says...

Hi! If I were to visit next Christmas do they offer room discounts the week of Dec 31 - 3? We would want to get the express pass benefits too from staying on property

Reply
Jan 16, 2019 at 6:38 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sara,

We offer discounted rates on hotel rooms year-round, but typically these dates are filled so easily that they are not often part of promotional offers.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 19, 2018 at 4:11 a.m. Marilyn Jane Miller Says...

We are visiting a few days after Christmas. Will Hogwarts be still in Christmas mode?

Reply
Dec 19, 2018 at 10:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Marilyn!

Yes, the festive fun at Hogwarts continues through Jan. 5 :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Dec 4, 2018 at midnight Tim Says...

Me & my gf plan on visiting Universal Studios the Friday before Christmas. We only have one day, would you recommend the Express Pass & is one day enough time to do Universal Studios & Islands of Adventures? Thanks!

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Dec 3, 2018 at 6:11 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tim!

Our Crowd Calendar predicts that it will be quite busy, so we would recommend the Express pass ... especially if you're only visiting for one day. You should be able to knock out much of what you want to do if you stay the full day!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Nov 26, 2018 at 5:57 a.m. Adam Joseph Says...

Universal Orlando is our favorite. We have been to the place many a time. So, this holiday season we were planning to visit a differentplace. But my kids are so much excited about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that we can’t overrule their choice and ended booking Orlando airlines ticket with Cheapfaremart.

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Nov 20, 2018 at 4:28 p.m. Debbie Says...

Great story

Reply
Nov 20, 2018 at 6:59 a.m. CheapFareMart Says...

Great article and very much informative. I love the show at projection-mapping show on Hogwarts Castle.

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Nov 1, 2018 at 11:03 a.m. David Smith Says...

If you want to experience Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and have unlimited fun at the Universal Studios Florida while watching all your favorite characters then this is the blog you can’t miss reading out on. This piece also tells you how to make the most of the Christmas celebrations while you stay at a luxurious yet reasonably priced hotel to catch all the action at the Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Reply
Oct 30, 2018 at 12:05 p.m. Denise Lawson Says...

We plan on attending the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We have park to park tickets and I'm going to add the express pass as well. We have been to Universal before, but not at Christmas. Do the shows and Hogwarts light show tend to get more of less crowded toward the end of the evening?

Reply
Oct 30, 2018 at 3:06 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Denise!

Yes! Crowds will most certainly die down after the first few showings of the nighttime Christmas Hogwarts show ... which runs almost constantly (at about 15-minute intervals) after the sun sets :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 27, 2018 at 10:57 p.m. liana Says...

We will be there from Dec 30-Jan 2. Do the Universal theme parks stay open later for new years eve? And if so, which park is best to be for celebration. We are staying at Hard Rock and saw they have a NYE celebration too, but need to buy tickets.

Reply
Oct 29, 2018 at 10:42 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi there!

Both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure close at 10PM on New Year's Eve. CityWalk does have a special event that keeps the party going until after midnight, but it does require a ticket.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Reply
Oct 20, 2018 at 8:32 a.m. Joe Says...

We will be there th 16th is it worth it to go on the 17th when the holidays start?

Reply
Oct 25, 2018 at 9:02 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Joe!

You'll likely see a majority of the holiday decor on the 16th, but the special entertainment won't start until the following day.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jan 3, 2018 at 4:23 a.m. Jamie Says...

Universal looks beautiful all decorated.

Reply
Dec 25, 2017 at 11:54 p.m. Terri Wilson Says...

Lived in Florida um-teen years. Our 13 yr old has never been there.

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Dec 2, 2017 at 4:09 a.m. Christina Wahrmund Says...

Would love to go during the holiday.

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Dec 2, 2017 at 4:07 a.m. TracieD Says...

I didn't realize Universal did such a cool Christmas decoration! and I think it will still be there when we go!

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Dec 2, 2017 at 3:32 a.m. Taryn Says...

Looks A-mazing!!!!

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Dec 2, 2017 at 2:48 a.m. Janita Says...

i wanna go!!

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Dec 2, 2017 at 2:18 a.m. Terrt Says...

This would be a wonderful place to go during the holidays. My 12-yr old granddaughter would love it as she has never been on a vacation nor a plane.

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Dec 2, 2017 at 2:11 a.m. Adam Earnheardt Says...

Pick me! ????

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Dec 2, 2017 at 2:08 a.m. Sokha Nop Says...

Gotta enjoyed it every moment

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Dec 2, 2017 at 2:03 a.m. Rosalee I Meeks Says...

Great photography

Reply
Dec 2, 2017 at 1:53 a.m. Stacey Macchia Says...

We have used your calendar in the past, it's priceless!!! Can't wait to be able to get back to Universal Orlando!

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Dec 2, 2017 at 1:28 a.m. Carrie E. Says...

Love the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter", but at Christmas would be even more spectacular!

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Dec 2, 2017 at 12:15 a.m. SawyersMommy Says...

I've never made it to Universal yet, but I want to go now more than ever!!

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Dec 1, 2017 at 11:14 p.m. Amber B. Says...

It would be an absolute dream to be able to take my family here to see this. ❤️

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Dec 1, 2017 at 11:04 p.m. paula parreiras guimaraes Says...

I wish I was there :(

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Dec 1, 2017 at 11:01 p.m. DRM Says...

Fantastic!

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Dec 1, 2017 at 10:53 p.m. Betty Curran Says...

My only trip was in October with no special celebrations happening. I'd love to make the trip for the Christmas season. Wonderful article.

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Dec 1, 2017 at 10:02 p.m. Jeff Says...

I love living so close and getting to go often.

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Dec 1, 2017 at 9:59 p.m. Carmen Says...

Thanks for all the inside scoop!

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 9:47 p.m. Heidi Says...

This is a great service

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Rex Williams Says...

Number One authority for all things central Florida!

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 9:10 p.m. Michelle Says...

I'd love to see Orlando around Christmas time. I bet it is wonderful!

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Dec 1, 2017 at 9:10 p.m. Buddy Garrett Says...

I would love to visit during the holidays. It sounds wonderful.

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Dec 1, 2017 at 8:55 p.m. Claudia Says...

The only thing better than visiting Universal is visiting Universal during the Holiday season :)

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Dec 1, 2017 at 8:25 p.m. Hayden Cordell Says...

My husband and I went to Universal for our honeymoon. I would love to be able to experience Harry Potter at Christmas. So magical!

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Dec 1, 2017 at 8:10 p.m. Katie Says...

Cool

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Dec 1, 2017 at 8:10 p.m. Katie Says...

Cool

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 7:42 p.m. Ian VanKirk Says...

My next trip to Universal will need to be during Christmas. I knew about Manheim Steamroller and the Macy's Parade floats but I see there's so much more to check out during that time. Plus - it's not insanely hot like it is in August (our first trip).

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 7:18 p.m. Sara g Says...

SO exciting. I must go!

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 7:10 p.m. OBRYANT S Says...

Makes me want to pack my bag now and go!

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 7:05 p.m. Zhiming Jiao Says...

It's a great article to offer advice.

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 6:27 p.m. Colleen DeLiso Says...

Awesome!! We love going to Universal but have never seen it during the holidays. Next year maybe :-)

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Dec 1, 2017 at 5:59 p.m. Dustin Hardage Says...

Great article

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Dec 1, 2017 at 5:42 p.m. Kevin Hosey Says...

We love UO at Christmas time! Been there five times, and four were during the Christmas season.

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 5:41 p.m. Paula W Says...

Holidays look fun here!

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Dec 1, 2017 at 5:24 p.m. Meagan Says...

I didn't realize they had so much going on at Christmas! May have to add this to our travel list.

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Dec 1, 2017 at 5:10 p.m. Angie Glover Says...

I've always wanted to go at Christmas time! So pretty!

Reply
Dec 1, 2017 at 5:09 p.m. Tara Says...

Awesome!

Reply
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