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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751–800 of 1397 comments
Nov 21, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. Rajee Pandi Says...

Love it

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:40 p.m. Acerad Says...

When is the best time to visit for Christmas

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:38 p.m. M Snyder Says...

Are the Manheim Steamroller concerts only for day-guests to the parks?

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. Sharon Says...

I love all the Disney information you provide and great deals as well, Thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:32 p.m. Dan Brown Says...

The parks look amazing at Christmastime! I hope I get a chance to visit :)

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:29 p.m. grace04nj Says...

Love it!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:23 p.m. Susan Says...

I am doing this some day!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:16 p.m. Danielle Says...

Visited Universal one Christmas and had an absolute blast. Looking to do it again soon!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:01 p.m. Jenell Says...

I haven’t been to universal since i was a child. I’d love to take my children this Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:58 p.m. MEden Says...

Can’t wait to go!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:57 p.m. AllieBon1285 Says...

Great advice, thanks! Universal is giving Disney a run for their money with the holiday festivities. I really hope I can make a holiday visit someday!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:56 p.m. NAomi Says...

Would love to one day visit Orlando during the holidays! Looks magical.

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:31 p.m. Rebecca Stevens Says...

Sure love Universal Orlando! Our kids with ASD and ADHD really loved the Cabana Bay resort and the whole experience was so positive! They even catered to my husbands complex allergy and asthma requests.

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:29 p.m. Cathy R Says...

Christmas at Hogwarts looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:23 p.m. JohnD Says...

We need a DisneyWorld trip BADDDD

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:20 p.m. Amy Says...

Looks amazing! I hope to be able to visit during the holidays. We have only been to Disney. Would love to be able to see Universal!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:19 p.m. Hillary D Says...

Seems so fun!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:17 p.m. Jen Says...

Looks cool

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:16 p.m. Momma G Says...

I'm officially adding Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to my bucket list!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:08 p.m. Amanda Says...

Wow, I'd love to go for the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:02 p.m. Marissa Henze Says...

I went in May and it was amazing, but now I wish I had waited for the holidays! I'm having vacation FOMO, everything looks so festive and fun!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:58 p.m. April B Says...

Sounds great. Thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:57 p.m. Nicole Says...

We have never been to Universal for Christmas, only Disney. After reading this it makes me want to try something new this year! Thanks:)

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:49 p.m. Camille Says...

I'm always so impressed with the ideas that those who create these holiday wonders come up with. I hope they enjoy the work as much as people enjoy seeing it

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:49 p.m. Shannon C Says...

I had such a great time at Universal Orlando. Can't wait to go back! Thanks for the great info

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:49 p.m. Jonathan McIntosh Says...

Hogwarts + Holidays = pure magic.

Thanks for this helpful guide.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:48 p.m. Joey Vee Says...

Great Pics!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:46 p.m. GK123 Says...

Highly recommend the Royal Pacific - ask for a room with a pool view!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:45 p.m. dctravel Says...

The Orlando parks look amazing all decked out for the holidays. Christmas was always a big deal at Hogwarts, and I am glad to see how Universal is treating it for the holiday season.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:45 p.m. Irina Says...

I would follow the advices

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:44 p.m. Martha Says...

Great article! Thank you!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:43 p.m. Hopeful Wizards Says...

Christmas at Universal looks like a wizarding wonderland! Haven't seen it in person, but can imagine it in our dreams :)

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:43 p.m. Kristen C Says...

Oh my gosh! I would so love this... This would be such a wonderful experience.!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:41 p.m. Wendy Says...

It looks so beautiful but i'm leary about visiting during Christmas.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:41 p.m. Barbara Wallace Says...

That looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:29 p.m. Lisa H Says...

Can't wait to see the Christmas decorations throughout Orlando!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:28 p.m. EP Says...

WOW!!!!! I can only hope we can make this work in our budget! My kids would love everything about this!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:24 p.m. Davi Francelino Says...

It's a very good guide for beginners :D

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:24 p.m. Sue Says...

Thanks for the info!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:22 p.m. Aimee Says...

Definitely want to plan a trip for xmas time.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:07 p.m. Joe Sims Says...

This looks cool! Thanks

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:04 p.m. Theresa Brown Says...

I have never been to Universal for the holidays but this makes me want to go!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:02 p.m. H Huang Says...

We had an amazing time a couple years ago at Universal and would LOVE to go back again for the holidays.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:02 p.m. Katie Says...

So Magical! Can't wait to see it it person!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:52 p.m. Kelly Says...

What fun! I never knew so much was added for the holiday season. Would be a great time to visit.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:52 p.m. Bob W Says...

Very helpful tips! Hope to visit soon.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:48 p.m. Mark Plante Says...

Looks like Universal is trying to give Disney a run for their money for the Christmas visitors.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:44 p.m. Heather Wilson Says...

This makes me want to hop on a plane and make a spontaneous trip!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:43 p.m. Tammy West Says...

Haven't ever been to Universal but would love to go. Disney World is amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:35 p.m. Abigail Gibson Says...

I recommend Orlando for a very fun time during Christmas. It can get very crowded though. But it is fun for the family.

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