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A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas at Universal Orlando - PinterestWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than during Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort? Even the Grinch can't resist the cheer. After all, the holidays are 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 Universal Orlando Christmas events do not disappoint. If only we had a Time Turner that could fast forward to the end of the year! But as I always say, it's never too early to plan.

During the holiday season, Grinchmas and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spread holiday cheer throughout Seuss Landing, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Much of the main entertainment returns year after year, but we always notice new details in the decor to keep things fresh.

Currently, with COVID-19 health and safety measures in place, we're not entirely sure how Christmas at Universal Orlando will be affected this year. Based on current operations, it may be likely that stage shows, such as the Wizarding World shows and Grinchmas, can return with proper social distancing measures in place. It's also relatively safe to assume that decorations and Hot Butterbeer are the most likely to return. However, Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show and the Mannheim Steamroller concerts are more likely to create crowds, so further details for those events are up in the air. We'll update this guide once we learn more! What we do know is that the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort will return Nov. 14, 2020, through Jan. 3, 2021!

The Universal Orlando Christmas events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission. A lot hoppens around the resort, so click one of the links below to skip to that section, or read the entire article if you're as thorough as Santa checking his list twice.

Christmas in The Wizarding World | Holiday Events in the Parks | Festive Food | Holidays at the Hotels | New Year's Eve | Which Ticket Should You Get?

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You know that feeling you get when you watch a "Harry Potter" movie 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 Adventure 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.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hogsmeade Decor

Be sure to take a closer look at the decorations outside of each store front! For instance, Spintwitches Sporting Needs in Hogsmeade had golden snitch ornaments in its garlands, and Madam Malkin's in Diagon Alley sported pink ribbon bows that matched the color of Hermione's Yule Ball dress in the display window in 2019. The London waterfront is also decked out in traditional Christmas lights and garland, as if you've magically been transported to the city itself.

Our fellow froggiesthe Frog Choir, perform special concerts in Hogsmeade with Christmas songs straight from the spell books, as well as muggle holiday tunes such as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." 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."

Universal Orlando Christmas - Celestina Warbeck

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 Castle" plays intermittently from dusk until park close each night. (It is currently unknown if this show will return in 2020.)

Muggles and wizards alike will be absolutely dazzled to see the castle come alive! There are breathtaking scenes with Hogwarts students dancing at the Yule Ball, Arthur Weasley's flying Ford Anglia plowing into snowmen and more! Even if you aren't a fan of the usual Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show, we recommend catching the Christmas show. It's gorgeous and really captures the unique holiday fun that you see in the "Harry Potter" films.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show

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 Castle" during non-peak times, if possible. No matter which night you're attending, try waiting until a bit later in the evening (usually any hour after dusk) to catch the show to avoid those early crowds. Also, if you are park hopping to catch the castle show after the Universal Studios Christmas parade, avoid taking the Hogwarts Express (everyone else has the same idea!). It'll take just about the same time to walk, or possibly longer on busier days.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s & More Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Festivities

Universal Orlando Christmas - Minion Float in Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

The highlight of Christmas at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. You'll catch some of your favorite Universal characters making holiday mischief, including the minions, Shrek and more. And of course, jolly ol' Santa typically makes an appearance at the parade's finale to light up the Christmas tree.

Bring a camera and snap as many pictures as you can! Seeing this float with your family is sure to bring the warm fuzzies. While we don't know if the parade will return in 2020 yet, the parade took place during the following times on these dates in 2019:

  • Nov. 19 and Dec. 4: 5:15 p.m.
  • Nov. 16-18, Nov. 20-Dec. 3, Dec. 5-24, Dec. 31-Jan. 5: 5:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 25-30: 8 p.m.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Santa

If you want a prime spot for Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's 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: There is tons of confetti ... and snow!

Mannheim Steamroller Concerts

Universal Orlando Christmas - Snowflakes

Mannheim Steamroller has brought the festive sounds of modern Christmas to Universal Studios Florida for 13 years. These concerts usually take place at 7 p.m. on select Saturdays and Sundays at the Music Plaza Stage. Although details are unknown for 2020, the exact dates of the 2019 performances were:

  • Nov. 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30
  • Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15

Arrive early if you want a sit-down spot in front of the stage. However, 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. (Note that Seasonal Passholders are blocked out of Universal Studios Florida on concert dates.)

Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Christmas - Who-liday Spectacular

It wouldn't be Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will return to Universal's Islands of Adventure for holiday fun. Watch the green guy bring his signature snark to the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular at Seuss Landing. You can also meet him personally at the Gertrude McFuzz Fine Feathered Finery gift shop — this year, he may greet guests from afar, as well as the Whoville citizens who will likely not roam around the area.

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 truffula trees! Whoville citizens, including Cindy Lou, wandered around the land last year while putting up additional decorations and posing for pictures.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Roaming Whoville Citizens

Catch the first show of the day, as it's likely to be the least crowded.

Because Universal team members can space out seating, the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is likely to return to warm our hearts once more in 2020. 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 where it takes place, even if there aren't huge crowds.

Universal Orlando Christmas - The Grinch

While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it is still a blast for any fans of the Grinch, who spits out hilarious one-liners. (And OMG ... Max is played by an adorable, live dog. What a good boy!)

Festive Food and Drinks at the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas in the Wizarding World - Hot Butterbeer for Universal Orlando Christmas

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks (did you know there are six different versions?). While year-round Butterbeer is served cold or frozen, you can only 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.

While nothing has been confirmed, the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast could be modified or canceled this year.

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Universal Orlando Christmas - 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 of the 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 specially ticketed buffets. Some of the hotel holiday celebrations include holiday crafts, stocking decorating and meet-and-greets with Santa's elves (or Santa himself!).

Universal Orlando Christmas - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

If you want to experience the Universal Christmas events during the busiest times, we highly recommend you stay on-site at Universal's Hard Rock Hotel or 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 purchasing it separately) the week 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, jump over to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal's newest hotel, Universal's Endless Summer - Surfside Inn and Suites. While they don't offer Unlimited Express, these hotels (and all of Universal's hotels) offer one-hour early admission to a select park. If you stay on-site, you can get a hop on experiencing Christmas in the Wizarding World's holiday magic! What's even more magical is to book your Universal Orlando hotel room at a discount, so hop to it!

New Year's Eve at Universal Orlando Resort

If you're looking for something to do when the clock strikes midnight, Universal Orlando offered several ways to ring in 2020. It's still too early to know about plans for 2021, but we'll update once we know more!

Over at Universal Studios Florida, we danced the last night of 2019 away at the Music Plaza Stage at the Holiday Parade Character dance party. There was a live band and DJ, along with confetti and pyrotechnics at midnight. We also watched Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Central Park, where there was a second character dance party location. At midnight, fireworks, along with fountain and light special effects, lit up the sky.

Universal CityWalk hosted its annual EVE event for adult frogs 21 and older. From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Leap and I dined, drank and danced as we celebrated the new year. This separately ticketed event included unlimited cuisine, access to five clubs and an outdoor dance floor, one drink ticket and one glass of champagne at midnight.

Universal Orlando resorts joined the fun, as well. All of the hotels offered a special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day meal. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort hosted a New Year's Eve Spectacular that included face painting, a balloon artist and a midnight balloon drop. It was complimentary for Cabana Bay Beach guests only.

Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort?

Universal Orlando Christmas - Santa's Helpers in Front of Tree

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's easy to hop back and forth. 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 froget, we offer discounts on the Universal Orlando hotels too!)

Ready for Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort 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 during 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 2883 comments
Dec 2, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. vacationwinner Says...

Looks super fun!

Dec 2, 2019 at 2:21 p.m. Alec Ugol Says...

Would love to meet froggy in person!

Dec 2, 2019 at 1:05 p.m. Stuart McMillian Says...

I would love to go to Universal Studios during Christmas!

Dec 2, 2019 at 1:01 p.m. Hazel Manaig Says...

Universal Studios looks so magical during the holidays! Haven't taken the kids yet to US, but we hope to in the near future. We all love Harry Potter!

Dec 2, 2019 at 12:55 p.m. Kim Ward Says...

Great Info! Thanks!

Dec 2, 2019 at 12:31 p.m. Tim Starnes Says...

Would love to visit Universal during Christmas. Did not realize they did it up so well.

Dec 2, 2019 at 12:21 p.m. Lellany Says...

This is my favorite time of the year to visit!

Dec 2, 2019 at 6:01 a.m. Louella Michelle Says...

I’d love to go during the holidays! It looks like so much fun and so beautiful!

Dec 2, 2019 at 3:02 a.m. Lily Says...

I would love to see Orlando during the holidays?

Dec 2, 2019 at 2:36 a.m. AnneMarie Says...

We haven't had the opportunity to see Universal yet. Our son has sp needs and is 13 so we hope to win tkts, and airfare!

Dec 2, 2019 at 1:28 a.m. Maribelle Escamilla Says...

Omg this looks so beautiful would love to go with my family ❤️????♥️

Dec 2, 2019 at 1:15 a.m. Allison Gill Says...

I have never experienced a Christmas at Universal Studios, but it's on my bucket list!

Dec 2, 2019 at 12:33 a.m. Whit C. Says...

This makes me want to take a photographer's journey to capture as many holiday keepsakes as I can.

Dec 1, 2019 at 11:56 p.m. CB Says...

I can,t wait to go back with my family!!!!!

Dec 1, 2019 at 11:49 p.m. Kimberly J Weidner Says...

Lots of great information!!!

Dec 1, 2019 at 11:25 p.m. computeacher Says...

Universal is definitely on the bucket list.

Dec 1, 2019 at 10:53 p.m. Heather D Says...

The decorations must be beautiful at Christmas!

Dec 1, 2019 at 8:38 p.m. Jennifer B Petro Says...

Thank you for always having the up to date info! We look forward to visiting soon!

Dec 1, 2019 at 8:35 p.m. Andrea Gross Says...

My family would love a few days at Universal. Dream come true

Dec 1, 2019 at 7:11 p.m. Corinne Says...

so cute! thanks for this!

Dec 1, 2019 at 6:41 p.m. Katie B Says...

Love Universal! We would love to visit during Christmas sometime!

Dec 1, 2019 at 6:13 p.m. john lindsley Says...

love the crowd cal

Dec 1, 2019 at 5:01 p.m. Patricia Wilson Says...

It's so pretty! I'd love to take my daughter.

Dec 1, 2019 at 3:10 p.m. Sara Says...

Cant wait to have my family experience all the Joy's Universal had to offer!

Dec 1, 2019 at 2:38 p.m. Sarah Says...

Can't wait to go to Orlando! This blog was super helpful!

Dec 1, 2019 at 2:24 p.m. Mary Solarski Says...

My daughter can't wait to try the butterbeer when we go in January! It looks absolutely stunning for the holidays but I dont' think I could deal with the crowds!

Dec 1, 2019 at 2:14 p.m. Christina G Says...

Amazing! Would love to visit for the holidays!

Dec 1, 2019 at 2:05 p.m. Kristen Huckeba Says...

Looks fabulous! My dream vacation????

Dec 1, 2019 at 12:11 p.m. Joy Marish Says...

All looks so fun and exciting ! would love to win and take my kids.

Dec 1, 2019 at 4:47 a.m. Kelley Says...

Would love to go!!

Dec 1, 2019 at 3:23 a.m. Melissa Says...

My kids love the Minions, the Grinch and Christmas so of course throw them all together and it would be paradise for them! The hubby and I would be nerding out pretending to be wizards ????☃️????????

Dec 1, 2019 at 3:23 a.m. Michele Thurston Says...

Thank you for all the great information and the opportunity to win a great getaway!

Dec 1, 2019 at 3:05 a.m. Theresa Williamson Says...

This is the best info for All Things Fun! love Universal!

Dec 1, 2019 at 1:13 a.m. CAROL BOSSMAN Says...


Dec 1, 2019 at 12:59 a.m. Robin P. Says...

Its all so gorgeous! Can't wait to go!

Nov 30, 2019 at 11:51 p.m. Bill Brown Says...

Lot of good info in here. The Whos are great fun to interact with!

Nov 30, 2019 at 11:45 p.m. Diana Gaiyan Says...

This would definitely be a great opportunity to go Orlando Florida with my 3 boys as a family! I wish we can win this????????

Nov 30, 2019 at 11:27 p.m. Sasha Says...

Can't wait to go this is awesome!

Nov 30, 2019 at 11:23 p.m. rich Says...

looks great

Nov 30, 2019 at 10:03 p.m. Swatara Says...

This is all beautiful! And the post itself is very informative!

Nov 30, 2019 at 8:31 p.m. Traci Says...

Would love to plan a holiday time trip! Love looking at all the pictures!

Nov 30, 2019 at 7:06 p.m. Bev Says...

I'm a school librarian who would LOVE to experience the holidays at Harry Potter World!

Nov 30, 2019 at 6:56 p.m. Emily R. Says...

The Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter sounds amazing! My family hasn't been before. Thanks for the chance!

Nov 30, 2019 at 6:47 p.m. julie Says...

This trip would be so awesome to win so much fun so much to see and do a trip of a lifetime memories to last forever

Nov 30, 2019 at 5:58 p.m. Melissa Pulido Says...

Great tips for navigating the holiday day season!

Nov 30, 2019 at 5:45 p.m. Elda Calzadilla Says...

Looks beautiful. Would love to visit at Christmas time.

Nov 30, 2019 at 5:45 p.m. Jessica Hammond Says...

This place looks amazing! I would love the opportunity to take my family here.

Nov 30, 2019 at 5:34 p.m. Jeff Says...

My family would love this!

Nov 30, 2019 at 4:37 p.m. Tracy Mulligan Says...

Great tips! Thank you!

Nov 30, 2019 at 4:23 p.m. Robin Kossman Says...

I so want to go and take my family

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