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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51–100 of 1397 comments
Dec 1, 2017 at 4:29 p.m. lorlemnik Says...


Dec 1, 2017 at 4:17 p.m. Isabel Says...

Experiencing the holiday season in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley would be a dream!

Dec 1, 2017 at 8:11 p.m. Anna Says...

Yes, I'd love to see Hogwarts at Christmastime!!

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:16 p.m. Norma irwin Says...

This would be wonderful!!!!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:58 p.m. Kathy Savastano Says...

Just Beautiful !!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:54 p.m. Dawn Says...

Can't wait to visit some day!!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:42 p.m. Susan Kuhn Says...

This is definitely something I need to experience.

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:36 p.m. Julie Says...

We will see the holidays in Orlando some year!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:33 p.m. Janice Street Says...

Christmas at WDW is magical. Even the hotels are magnificent. Take the boat over to Fort Wilderness and check out how the campers have decorated their sites as well!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:33 p.m. Kelley Beaty Says...

Universal is spectacular anytime of the year. But with all of the Christmas decorations and entertainment, it is over the top! Love it!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:18 p.m. CONKERS22 Says...

This is a great introduction to universal

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:57 p.m. Mary Gardner Says...

We are planning a trip to Disney next year in early fall. After reading your article and seeing these great pics, I am hoping we can visit the following year during the Holidays. Everything really looks spectacular!

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:54 p.m. Jayne Harrison Says...

Undercover Tourist is one of the most useful, helpful and easy to use blogs available. I have read and used the blog for years both to help plan and purchase tickets for DisneyWorld and Universal Studios.

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:51 p.m. Michelle Miller Says...

That looks beautiful! I would love to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Christmas!

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:50 p.m. James P Says...

Great article, wonderful place

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:44 p.m. Rob Zimmerman Says...

Love the holiday pictures

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:12 p.m. Bethany Says...

It's so beautiful! I wish I was going to Orlando now rather than next month. Someday I'll get there for the holidays!

Dec 1, 2017 at 2:12 p.m. Dadof3 Says...

So want to go for Christmas!

Dec 1, 2017 at 1:38 p.m. Barbara Comer Says...

Love Universal! It's one of our favorite theme parks and a great destination for the holidays. We never visit without checking out Undercover Tourist!

Dec 1, 2017 at 1:25 p.m. Maxine Says...

What a great Holiday resource! I've never done Universal during the holidays and now you've piqued my interest!

Dec 1, 2017 at 1:23 p.m. Minta Boggs Says...

I bet Christmas time here is amazing!! the lights, decorations and music!! I mean "Wow" it brings out the kid in me! I'm sure my kids would love it!

Dec 1, 2017 at 1:19 p.m. C Reilly Says...

Wish we could go. Your pics are amazing!

Dec 1, 2017 at 1:06 p.m. Derry Says...

I wish I could take my sisters here, I’ve told them so much about it but it’s way too expensive for a family of 6 from the UK :( The Harry Potter castle ride is my fave!

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:59 p.m. Denise Says...

Disney is awesome at Christmas! I can't wait to see it at Halloween next year!

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:44 p.m. Amber Cameron Says...

I am learning so much and would love going to universal.

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:31 p.m. Dinah Says...

Would be the perfect weekend getaway for me and the hubby....need to find someone to keep the kids. ????

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:22 p.m. Andrea Says...

Christmas at Universal (heart heart heart!!!)

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. Justin Says...

Cant wait to go back

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. Lina Says...

Truly magical place! Thank you #Undercovertourist for this interesting article and, as usually, your family style review - this what makes your website truly special. I always use you as my first (and only, actually) stop when I plan my family vacations in Orlando. Because of you we went to Disney World twice this year! Happy Holidays to your froggy family!

Dec 1, 2017 at 12:15 p.m. Froggy Says...

Wish I was in Orlando!

Dec 1, 2017 at 10:19 a.m. Kim Grissom Says...

Looks like it would be an incredible experience!

Dec 1, 2017 at 9:46 a.m. Erin Says...

You had me at "hot, cocoa-ey butterbeer"!

Dec 1, 2017 at 9:15 a.m. Bill Says...

We always use Undercover tourist for our tickets every year and the amazingly website has great tips and we plan our days around the crowd calendar.

Dec 1, 2017 at 9:03 a.m. Frances Chan Says...

We would love to take the kids to Disney during Christmas time. And love to see all the decorations without snow for once!! Looking forward to see the new Disney after being renovated to Frozen's castle.

Dec 1, 2017 at 8:55 a.m. Kristina Says...

Lovely! Have never been to Universal around the holidays!

Dec 1, 2017 at 7:51 a.m. Carizpe Says...

Very informative Guide!

Dec 1, 2017 at 7:08 a.m. Drooneyef Says...

Wow you make sure that we want to go again to Orlando

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:54 a.m. Anna-Marie Fuller Says...

I have used Undercover Tourist when we went o Disneyland. Their site is full of tips and tricks that saved us time and money. They also have great day planners!

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:40 a.m. Joseph Fleming Says...

A great place for the young at heart.

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:23 a.m. Joseph phillips Says...

Great place, great rides and a great family vacation spot!

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:14 a.m. Lola Says...

This sounds exciting! Hopefully one day I can go.

Dec 1, 2017 at 5:14 a.m. Roxanne King Says...


Dec 1, 2017 at 4:58 a.m. Karen Says...

Omg, my kids would love this!! And me too!!

Dec 1, 2017 at 4:47 a.m. Colleen Coghan Says...

Would love to visit Universal have never been!

Dec 1, 2017 at 4:33 a.m. PostModWoman Says...

This guide is gold! Will be leaving to Orlando next week and I'm so happy to have these guides with me

Dec 1, 2017 at 4:31 a.m. Elizabeth Kelley Says...

What a special place to visit during the holidays! We cannot wait to see it someday!!

Dec 1, 2017 at 4:31 a.m. Lora Says...

Would LOVE to take my daughter!!! So pretty!

Dec 1, 2017 at 4:23 a.m. wharrison Says...


Dec 1, 2017 at 4:16 a.m. Bharrison Says...


Dec 1, 2017 at 3:58 a.m. Steph Says...

Looks incredible. If only Florida wasn’t so far!

Dec 1, 2017 at 3:53 a.m. Lovely! Says...


Dec 1, 2017 at 3:48 a.m. SandyR Says...

This looks awesome! Can't wait to visit...

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