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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601–650 of 1397 comments
Nov 24, 2017 at 2:58 p.m. Micheline Says...

Thank you for all the wonderful information. We've now added this on our must go to list!

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:50 p.m. Alyn Says...

I'm so happy they finally decided to decorate the Wizarding World for Christmas! Is it just the garlands?

Nov 28, 2017 at 1:43 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Alyn,

It is mainly just garland, but there are plenty of magical and whimsical details within the garland, such as pink ribbon, feathers and more!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:42 p.m. Emily Ruth Says...

Love it!

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:03 p.m. Ryan S Says...

Accio holiday fun!

Nov 24, 2017 at 1:11 p.m. Anna Schiefelbein Says...

Wow! We've never been to Universal for the holidays, but now I think I NEED to go!

Nov 24, 2017 at 12:42 p.m. Courtney15 Says...

Thank you for providing the video of "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts"! We try to visit every year but have never gone at Christmas - your video makes me want to plan for next year!

Nov 24, 2017 at 7:43 a.m. Michelle Barley Says...

Great tips!!

Nov 24, 2017 at 7:06 a.m. Jami Says...

Super cool that you get to see a whole different theme to the park and it's included in your regular priced ticket!

Nov 24, 2017 at 4:11 a.m. Jeannette Harkin Says...

What great tips and ideas on your the wait times app really helps!

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:32 a.m. Arenia Says...

Awesome Guide!

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:23 a.m. Alyse Miller Says...

Such a great way to spend the holidays!

Nov 24, 2017 at 2:08 a.m. annam Says...

Love it!

Nov 24, 2017 at 1:54 a.m. Tracy Says...

Never been and would to go!

Nov 24, 2017 at 12:06 a.m. Samatha Lundy Says...

One of the best vacation planning websites!

Nov 23, 2017 at 11:44 p.m. lundy13 Says...

Great info and wonderful hotel prices!

Nov 23, 2017 at 10:22 p.m. Rosanne Morrison Says...

Being there at the holidays would be like being in a fairy tale or a storybook. It would be magical

Nov 23, 2017 at 10:15 p.m. Bexter Says...

Super info - love it and can't wait!

Nov 23, 2017 at 10:07 p.m. Cristina S. Says...

Nothing as magical as going to the theme parks during the holidays!

Nov 23, 2017 at 8:14 p.m. Kenny Says...

Love Universal, can’t wait to visit during holidays.

Nov 23, 2017 at 8:01 p.m. Patsy Says...

Christmas at Disney World is amazing!

Nov 23, 2017 at 7:18 p.m. JEFF GRIMES Says...

this is cool

Nov 23, 2017 at 5:05 p.m. dt_rojas Says...

Can't wait to bring my kids there!

Nov 23, 2017 at 4:54 p.m. Stephanie Says...

Love all the pics and the info! Thanks!

Nov 23, 2017 at 4:03 p.m. Rita Says...

How beautiful! We would love to go here...someday!

Nov 23, 2017 at 3:38 p.m. jarofnails Says...

Beautiful. Eagerly starting to plan our 2018 trip!

Nov 23, 2017 at 3:22 p.m. Shannon Hodge Says...


Nov 23, 2017 at 3:16 p.m. Fina Says...

Wow, so many beautiful places to choose from!

Nov 23, 2017 at 2:58 p.m. Marina Says...

I can’t imagine what Butterbee with Vick’s tastes like... I’d try it though!

Nov 23, 2017 at 9:31 a.m. Kristin Storheim Says...

Can't wait to hit up Universal in February! We just returned from Disney yesterday and the wait times app was awesome. Also, the 2 extra days tickets were amazing! Thank you Undercover Tourist :)

Nov 23, 2017 at 7:50 a.m. Rita Says...

Excited to be making my first visit early in 2018!

Nov 23, 2017 at 6:01 a.m. Juan Sauceda Says...

Looks like fun!!!

Nov 23, 2017 at 4:51 a.m. Laterica Reddix Says...

I can’t wait to visit! I bet the Harry Potter attractions are amazing!

Nov 23, 2017 at 4:32 a.m. Carolyn Says...

What a magical dream come true it would be to be able to visit this wonderful happy place!

Nov 23, 2017 at 3:51 a.m. sandy Says...


Nov 23, 2017 at 3:16 a.m. Aly J Says...

Looks like it’s has the magic of WDW at Christmas

Nov 23, 2017 at 2:40 a.m. Jen Says...

I would love to see all th Wizarding World stuff at Christmas!

Nov 23, 2017 at 12:44 a.m. Patti Pantaleo Says...

Looking forward to your "Green Friday" deals!

Nov 22, 2017 at 11:53 p.m. aa Says...

looks amazing! Can't wait to go back

Nov 22, 2017 at 10:48 p.m. Dale Louderback Says...


Nov 22, 2017 at 10:44 p.m. Amanda Lopez Says...

This website always has great information on the parks and great deals!

Nov 22, 2017 at 8:17 p.m. Eileen Says...

Sounds amazing!

Nov 22, 2017 at 7:55 p.m. Francois Malan Says...

Cant wait to get to Orlando. You guys give the best advice

Nov 22, 2017 at 7:27 p.m. aggierob Says...

Wizarding World is best at Christmas!

Nov 22, 2017 at 6:36 p.m. CassandraP Says...

The parks look so festive and magical this time of year!

Nov 22, 2017 at 6:28 p.m. Annisa Purwanti Says...

Thank you for this post, so helpful!

Nov 22, 2017 at 6:08 p.m. Cheyanne Says...

This looks so amazing!

Nov 22, 2017 at 6:04 p.m. Jared Says...

I loved visiting Universal Studios during Christmas last year. I wish I could go this year. Maybe next year I’ll get to go again haha

Nov 22, 2017 at 6:02 p.m. Tammy Catterton Says...

Wow amazing love to visit soon the info so helpful. I have never been to Universal hope to so thou after read this

Nov 22, 2017 at 5:49 p.m. Harsha Says...

Nice blog and very informative. Thanks!

Nov 22, 2017 at 5:42 p.m. Amy Hall Says...

It would be a lot of fun to see this at Christmas time, anytime really.

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