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 4:19 a.m. Vicki Says...

Arriving Orlando next week...will I have (make) time to go to Universal? I’m thinking I will!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:19 a.m. Karen Spillman Says...

This is fantastic information, that I’ll be sharing with my mother! She arrives in about 2 weeks, and she is very much excited for the new Holiday events!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:13 a.m. Ammie L Kamrath Says...

Looks amazing, would love to visit universal during the Christmas season!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:11 a.m. shannon fowler Says...

We live close by, and I was focused on getting to disney for their christmas events, but I think we need to add this on to our list this year as well.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:08 a.m. Sharon H. Czarnecki Says...

Enjoyed reading the updates. I can't wait to see the new Macy's Parade at Universal and the decorations at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! How long do the Christmas decorations stay up after Christmas? And how long into January does the Macy's Parade run? Thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:05 a.m. KEN Says...

I appreciate being able to check on what's going on at the parks and how to maximize my time there from your site.

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:04 a.m. Sandra Says...

I can't wait to go visit Universal !

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:04 a.m. Rhonda Bursley Says...

I havn'Universal at the holidays since the Harry Potter attractions were added. I'll bet it's amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4:01 a.m. Jesse Says...

Really helpful on my last trip, thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4 a.m. Christy K.81 Says...

We can't wait to go back!! ❤️ Your crowd calendar too, super helpful when planning days!

Nov 21, 2017 at 4 a.m. Kelli Says...

I’d love to see it at Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:57 a.m. Carrie Says...

Love this site!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:55 a.m. samistokes Says...

You are my GO-TO website for travel needs! Always so informative and have the best tips, tricks and deals!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:53 a.m. Will Says...

Thanks for sharing all these great things to do over the Holidays. I just hope the crowds aren’t as bad as they usually are.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:47 a.m. Angela Ramirez Says...

I was 34 on my first visit to Disney, I’m very excited to be able to take my daughter soon.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:45 a.m. Karen Says...

This looks so fun!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:39 a.m. Maria Lugo Says...

Its the most wonderful time of the year!!!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:38 a.m. Lynne Moore Says...

Love reading your blog!! So much information! Gets us all excited for our next trip to Disney!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:38 a.m. Maria Lugo Says...

Its the most w/o derful time of the year!! Thanks for these give aways

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:31 a.m. Jennifer D Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 3:30 a.m. Brian Stein Says...

Undercover Tourist is a fantastic resource for Orlando Theme Parks. Thanks for your website and great service.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:28 a.m. Billy Varney Says...

This place is awesome. I would love to see it at Christmas.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:28 a.m. Rebe Says...

Man, I wish I could be there! This looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:26 a.m. Birdita Says...

Great info!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:21 a.m. Salvatrice Maroney Says...

I really want to do this. Trying to figure out how to fit in in!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:21 a.m. Jessica Cook Says...

I cant wait to bring my Grandkids

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:21 a.m. dr Says...


Nov 21, 2017 at 3:19 a.m. Kathy P Says...

We are coming to Universal Orlando in Feb/Mar 18. Can't wait to get there. Your site will be a great resource! Thanks.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:19 a.m. Brandy Richardson Says...

I never plan my trips to the theme parks without Undercover Tourist! ❤️

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:18 a.m. JediPrincess Says...

I'm so excited! What a lot of fun this sounds like it would be to see! Thank you for the tips!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:17 a.m. Ravenstar7 Says...

This is great information! Thanks!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:16 a.m. Emily R. Says...

Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter sounds amazing! We haven't had a family trip to Universal Studios & I know my boys would love it. Thanks for the chance!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:15 a.m. Laura Says...

We have always used Undercover Tourist for tickets and great info for our Disney trips...we hope to return to Universal for the first time in 15 years next glad to have your guide to help us plan!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:14 a.m. Susan Thoss Says...

Looks like a great time.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:13 a.m. Mekell Says...

We were here in July. I would love to see it at Christmas!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:12 a.m. Littlepoopies Says...

Undercover Tourist is a must have app. The best.

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:11 a.m. Virginia Says...

This looks amazing!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:09 a.m. Brenna R Says...

The parks all look so beautiful during the holiday season! I'd love to see them in person!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:09 a.m. DS Says...

Wish we could go for Christmas but we'll be there in June!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:07 a.m. Juliette Says...

Y’all are awesome! Thank you for your quick service!

Nov 21, 2017 at 3:07 a.m. Jspeln Says...

Can't wait to take the kiddos!!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:59 a.m. Bluegreen113 Says...

Makes us want to go back now, but we hope to next year

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:56 a.m. Andrea Says...

Harry Potter looks awesome

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:51 a.m. Erikj Says...

I got some great ticket prices with undercover tourist!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:49 a.m. Pam Howard Says...

Haven't been to Universal in years - can't wait to get back!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:46 a.m. Kelly Stewart Says...

Thanks for the comprehensive guide for all things Christmas at Universal!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:46 a.m. Moonpie Says...

Unfortunately can't go at Christmas. But will be there with son's band in the Spring!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:43 a.m. Amanda P Says...

Thanks for the tips!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:42 a.m. Danielle G Says...

I always check with under cover tourist to plan my Orlando trips and Disney cruises. I feel like I’m in good hands and it’s easy to access. I’ve saved a lot of money and time by using the tips from the site. I’ve also purchased tickets to the theme parks through the site.

Thanks! It’s really a gem!

Nov 21, 2017 at 2:37 a.m. Kristen Lane Says...

This looks so amazing!!! I can’t wait to go and your blog is so helpful!

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