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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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:19 p.m. Natalie Says...

Can't wait - we will be there Friday for all the fun!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:18 p.m. gavmitri Says...

Looks like so much fun, hope my family can go one of these days. Maybe if we win the lottery... :(

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:15 p.m. Faith W Says...

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:12 p.m. Nenneau Says...

I can not wait to get back!

Nov 21, 2017 at 1:06 p.m. Mogle Says...

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Nov 21, 2017 at 12:46 p.m. Laura V. Says...

My daughter would LOVE to go to this!

Nov 21, 2017 at 12:44 p.m. Carey Says...

Great information!

Nov 21, 2017 at 12:41 p.m. bernoulli Says...

I wish I was Christmas-ing here this year!

Nov 21, 2017 at 12:39 p.m. JEFF SMEAD Says...

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Nov 21, 2017 at 12:07 p.m. Davina Says...

I would absolutely love to visit Universal during the holiday's!! Christmas is my favorite time of year and to see Hogwarts look even more magical than it already does would be such an incredible experience!! <3

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:57 a.m. RebeccaT Says...

What a great post with very helpful info!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:48 a.m. Cramer Says...

We've never been to Universal yet, but watching the vids makes it a destination for the future.

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:24 a.m. tania frias Says...

Thanks for the guide

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:21 a.m. Justin Offutt Says...

Can't wait to get back to universal studios. Never been at Christmas. We hope to go next year.

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:08 a.m. HOGAN FAMILY Says...

I didn't realize Christmas would still be going on while we're there in January. Excited!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:03 a.m. MJ Says...

These guides are indispensable when planning! I can't find this kind of info on the park websites!

Nov 21, 2017 at 11:02 a.m. Wendy L Jones Says...

I want to go!

Nov 21, 2017 at 10:59 a.m. Sarah Martinez Says...

Thank you for providing one of the best blogs for our Orlando vacation planning! Can’t wait to see Universal next year at Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:51 a.m. Amy Williams Says...

It looks amazing at Christmas time!

Nov 21, 2017 at 9:16 a.m. Chris Gill Says...

Love this site. So helpful!

Nov 21, 2017 at 8:38 a.m. Nat yurz Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 7:41 a.m. Beth Ann Says...

I'm hoping to make a trip in 2018 to celebrate my recovery from my brain tumor I was diagnosed with earlier this year. I recently was allowed to fly again for my doctors so this might be my first trip since being diagnosed !!

Nov 21, 2017 at 7:25 a.m. Stefanie Henno Says...

I’ve always bought my tickets here can’t wait to book a trip one day for the xmas period looks just jaw dropping ????????????????

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:40 a.m. Debra Fabiani Says...

Wow... hope to visit in December!

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:35 a.m. Jose Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 6:16 a.m. Gary Schneider Says...

In all my searching for discounted tickets over the years I have not found them cheaper than this site! I've just purchased my tickets again for my trip in 2018.

Nov 21, 2017 at 6:11 a.m. Jurgy Says...

I have been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter twice -- but never at Christmas! Next trip will definitely be around the holidays!

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:56 a.m. Anitrain Says...

Wait... so Universal does Christmas now too?

Nov 21, 2017 at 5:50 a.m. MeggCal Says...

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Nov 21, 2017 at 5:41 a.m. JFoutch Says...

Would LOVE to see Universal at Christmas!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:57 a.m. Melissa Stone Says...

Looks like so much fun!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:53 a.m. Margaret Says...

Wow! We were there last Christmas and loved it. Impressed by all the changes!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:50 a.m. Mcl9699 Says...

We love Harry Potter world!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:44 a.m. Emily Malin Says...

Glad the decor matches the park themes! Would love to see in person.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:37 a.m. Dan Says...

This is amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:36 a.m. Leslie Says...

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Nov 21, 2017 at 4:35 a.m. vb Says...

Universal continues to grow up in a spectacular way. Thanks for the contest and info.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:25 a.m. Joni Metcalf Says...

This would be such an Amazing trip for my family!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:23 a.m. Jennifer Howard Says...

I would love to visit Universal Studios during the holidays!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:22 a.m. Natalie Stover Says...

I think this is a very informative post! There are some things in this post that I did not know about that I would love to experience. I haven't been since my son was about 5 months & he is 3 now! He is completely obsessed with the minions & the Hulk actually, he would have a blast seeing them in person! The holiday's are the prettiest at Universal Orlando. One of my favorite memories from going there growing up was always the Grinchmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:21 a.m. Kavanaughsmom Says...

We are headed there for the holidays! Can’t wait to experience it all!

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