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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801–850 of 1397 comments
Nov 21, 2017 at 3:33 p.m. Kathy Spencer Says...

I love the information you provide. Unfortunately for me, I'll be visiting after the Christmas celebration is over.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:29 p.m. M C L Says...

Great blog, thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:18 p.m. rosalyn ardson Says...

Great article. Makes me want to pack up my bags now lol

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:17 p.m. Brandie Says...

We were there last thanksgiving, wish we were there now!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:16 p.m. susan Says...

Looking forward to going! Thanks for the hints and discounts. Bradley will love it

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:15 p.m. Michelle Wales Says...

This looks amazing. Can't wait to go.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:11 p.m. susan Says...

I can't wait to go!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:04 p.m. Angela Isbell Says...

I would love to see the Wizarding World all decked out for the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:02 p.m. mjwolf Says...

Thank you Frog Family from all the Wolfs who enjoy your insights and tips whenever we travel to Disney or Universal. They always make our visits more enjoyable.

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:59 p.m. Donna Says...

Can't wait to go!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:54 p.m. Katy P. Says...

Love the wonderful information! It will be great to visit again with more in hand than the previous time we went!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:54 p.m. cynthia Beauclair Says...

I can't wait to take my grandkids

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:47 p.m. carrie nutt Says...

Awesome!! We used undercover tourist when we went to Disney. Would definitely use again!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:45 p.m. Jailyn Untalan Says...

My kids would LOVE to go here! It would be a dream come true for these military kids!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:41 p.m. Aimee F Says...

Very helpful post!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:40 p.m. Trina's Mom Says...

I would love to be in Florida during the holidays, fake snow is way more fun than the real thing.

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:33 p.m. Ruth Ahn Says...

i love Harry Potter and Christmas...two of my favorite things combined into one!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:31 p.m. JinGin Says...

I'll be honest, I didn't realize how much there was to do outside of WDW in the area! I'm excited for future visits!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:31 p.m. Janine Haidar Says...

Very fun and informative guide!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:27 p.m. Kim D Says...

Fingers crossed that we win. Our family could really use a vacation and this would be amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:26 p.m. Heather McRae Says...

How insightful! My family plans to do this in the near future!! There have been lots of changes to the parks since I've been. I think now, that my daughter is of the age to enjoy the parka, it won't be so bad. :)

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:25 p.m. sunflowers Says...

I have never gone during the holidays. It looks like our next trip might be to see all the decorations! Thanks for all the insights!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:23 p.m. Rick Says...

Undercovertourist always has the best info on the Orlando theme parks. Thanks for all you provide!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:22 p.m. Tonya Says...

Bought forever tickets from here a few years ago, so glad we did.

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:21 p.m. Sabrina Adamson Says...

looks fun!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:20 p.m. Lori Roberts Says...

Thank you for this informative guide!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:17 p.m. Jessica Higgins Says...

This looks so awesome! I can't wait to see it all in person!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:17 p.m. Laura Says...

Lots of great information...can't wait to be there for the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:13 p.m. lidiane Says...

I didn't know that Christmas was so beautiful at Universal parks! I have been only at Disney - very merry party.

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:12 p.m. Anne Blair Says...

Would love to be there!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:11 p.m. Keely Roen Says...

This would be a dream come true! Thank you!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:05 p.m. Jessica Lear Says...

This is so pretty! I can not wait to spend a holiday season here!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:05 p.m. Craig T. Says...

I would love to see HP at Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:02 p.m. Amy Says...

The parade looks fun and the hotels look nice

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:01 p.m. Mkpayneco Says...

We were just at universal and the holiday decorations are amazing. What an endeavor!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2 p.m. Jennnifer Says...

You know...I've always figured I would avoid the theme parks at the holidays, but this new Hogwarts Christmas show is tempting me to brave the crowds!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:57 p.m. MaryEllen Says...

The minds behind these details are amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:57 p.m. Teresa Says...

Hope to one day make it to the parks around the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:54 p.m. Lynda Says...

I cannot wait to visit over New Years

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:53 p.m. Big Mike Says...

Christmas at Universal looKS like a lot of fun. I really have to get back there soon.

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:47 p.m. Brian Smith Says...

Universal has really stepped up their game in the past few years. Can't wait to go back!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:44 p.m. TracyL Says...

Our family of 6 is so excited about visiting Universal Orlando! Undercover Tourists makes planning our trip so much easier.

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:41 p.m. Nikki Says...

I knew Disney was amazing during the holidays, but I didn't realize how much universal studious does during the holidays also. I will definitely be going for Christmas some day. Thanks for the info....and the discounts ;)

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:38 p.m. Goheidigo Says...

Thanks for posting the YouTube video all the Hogwarts light show. We won't be able to go for another year or two and being able to see it was a real treat!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:34 p.m. Jessica Carll Says...

The tips and tricks I found on Undercover Tourist were great during our trip to Disney and Universal, this site is the reason we were able to ride the Avatar ride!! Thanks so much!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:33 p.m. Tonya A Smith Says...

I've used Undercover Tourist on my last few trips and I've never been disappointed!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:28 p.m. John K Says...

Now I wish I was going :(

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:27 p.m. Melinda Says...

I've never been to Universal Florida! The Christmas events look amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:25 p.m. JoAnna Shipp Says...

I would love to go for Hogwarts Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:23 p.m. Jackie Says...

Oh how I would love to see Hogwart's Castle at Christmas!

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