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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701–750 of 1397 comments
Nov 22, 2017 at 1:49 a.m. Jlynn Wilkinson Says...

Was just there but unfortunately missed this by a couple days. Though some was decorated and what we saw was pretty!!!

Nov 22, 2017 at 1:48 a.m. Shanna Brayman Says...

No one does Christmas like Universal!!

Nov 22, 2017 at 1:25 a.m. Virginia Howell Says...

Can't wait to take my niece and nephew for their first visit to Orlando

Nov 22, 2017 at 1:24 a.m. Michele M Says...

Thanks for the crowd calendar! Great way to plan vacation days!!

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:45 a.m. Paul Barger Says...

I have been a part of Undercover Tourist family for many years almost since the beginning. They always have excellent deals and there isnt any hassle at all. You have excellent advise and info on all the attractions so its a one stop shop. Keep up the good work Ill continue to use UT for years to come.

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:28 a.m. Shawn Sweetland Says...

We went to Universal Studio's this year, I lucked onto and found the park itineraries. We finished both parks in less than a day thanks to you!! thank you so much. I can't wait to take my my sister (who's dreamed of going all her life) to Disney in a couple years. I'll be back for the Disney itineraries!!

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:24 a.m. Danyelle Says...

I didn't know there was a parade too!

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:21 a.m. Mia Says...


Nov 22, 2017 at 12:05 a.m. Sheila Says...

We haven't been to Universal yet but plan to take our boys. We really want to experience Harry Potter

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:05 a.m. Janet Glaze Says...

Universal at christmas time looks so magical! But we would be so happy to go any time of year!

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:03 a.m. Mary S Says...

I have been to DisneyWorld in December and it is absolutely amazing!! You caught the spirit in your blog

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. Kelly Hills Says...

I love how much information you give everyone new and seasoned to the Disney experience and I cannot wait to visit!! I have always wanted to and plan to next year for my big 3-5 birthday!!

Nov 22, 2017 at 12:01 a.m. Saundra Kay Says...

First time using Under Cover, so far it's been great. Ready to spend Christmas with Mickey

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:54 p.m. Emilybobimly Says...

I would love to take my parents to Universal for a change!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:45 p.m. Melissa Evans Says...

Love it!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:37 p.m. mmp Says...

Can't wait to visit!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:35 p.m. Tracy T Says...

The parks at the holidays look amazing! I hope to visit some day.

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:06 p.m. Nancy Says...

Great tips & love the photos. Wish I was there right now!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:44 p.m. Karen Schoonover Says...

Very exciting! Beautiful this time of year. I was there last year.

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:42 p.m. jim2b2001 Says...

I want to go there so bad for Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:37 p.m. Vickie Bates Says...

I enjoy all of the info.

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:35 p.m. Jessica Says...

We would love to go !!!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:35 p.m. Sarah Hale Says...

Love the lobby of the Cabana Bay!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:18 p.m. mary warning Says...

I wanna go to universal at Christmas time!!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:07 p.m. Rachel Horsley Says...

Nice to see so much information about Universal!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:05 p.m. rstap Says...

Very good deals and information! Would love to visit Harry Potter world in Universal Studios!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:59 p.m. Painterpeacock Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 9:56 p.m. rleonard Says...

Great information as usual, thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:54 p.m. JW Says...

Haven't gone to Universal during the holidays but will have to sometime

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:43 p.m. Jennie Stever Says...

Wow, looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:33 p.m. Jillee Says...

Wizarding World of Harry Potter is quite stunning all decked out for Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:07 p.m. LisaC Says...

My 13 year old daughter loves Harry Potter and this would be such a great experience for her. This makes me want to plan our next family trip to Universal Orlando!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:40 p.m. Lily414 Says...

Never been to Universal - I hope to go next year!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:33 p.m. Kelsey Says...

It’s my dream to be in Orlando at Christmas time!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. Delano J Says...

orlando is on my bucket list

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:19 p.m. Todd Ferguson Says...

Would love to do this some day!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:12 p.m. sandylynnrn Says...

This looks incredible! I've never been to Universal but the wizarding world looks just like the movie!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:10 p.m. David D Says...

Heading down in a couple of weeks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:06 p.m. Hilarie Says...

Oh, how I wish I could visit at the holidays - it all looks so magical! Maybe next year...

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:05 p.m. Grace Slaton Says...

These are great tips!!! My family would have such a great time going to these places on a holiday. Thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:58 p.m. Leona Pliss Says...

What a great way to celebrate the holidays! We've got our fingers crossed, hoping to get there next year

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:53 p.m. Jill S. Says...

Haven't been in 20+ yrs; looks awesome!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:52 p.m. Alison81 Says...

Wish we were going at Christmas, it looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:43 p.m. Rich Says...

Looks great!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:29 p.m. Danyelle Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 7:23 p.m. JRW123 Says...

Very Neat!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:15 p.m. Stephanie M. Says...

I've never been to Universal for Christmas but all of this looks amazing! We're going to Disney this year for the holidays but now I'm debating on adding a day of Universal just to see this!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:09 p.m. Kristine Says...

Someday I hope to get to Orlando for the holidays! So much fun and entertainment to enjoy! Thanks for all of the information and pictures!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:06 p.m. Jamie b Says...

I would love to go during the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:58 p.m. Jason Baker Says...

Love this can't wait to go back

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