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 20, 2017 at 11:27 p.m. Rebecca Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 11:26 p.m. Irene Says...

This looks great! I love the theme parks during the Holiday season and hope to one day visit to enjoy it all!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:26 p.m. winnie pooh 2 Says...

Wish I could go during the holidays! Wish I could go everyday. Best place on earth!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:25 p.m. Shannon Kelsey Says...

My son has autism. He asks me almost daily if we can go back. He believes Universal is the best place on the planet.

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:24 p.m. hoping Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 11:23 p.m. Alison Says...

This would be a great family getaway!

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Nov 20, 2017 at 11:21 p.m. Kellina Says...

I have friends going!! Wish I could go too- it looks amazing. Thanks for the great guide!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:19 p.m. Melanie Hazlewood Says...

That would be amazing!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:17 p.m. Nichole Says...


Nov 20, 2017 at 11:13 p.m. Crystal Says...

Can’t wait to go to Disney!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:13 p.m. Brittany F Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 11:12 p.m. Mandi C. Says...

Really hoping to be able to visit during our trip this Christmas. It's all our kids want to do.

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:12 p.m. Sandra Says...

Happy holidays

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:12 p.m. Cheri Says...

Luv da frog ????

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:11 p.m. Julie M Says...

Great info! ????????????

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:11 p.m. Angie Says...

Even more reasons to go to Orlando for the holidays!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:11 p.m. Kathleen Maloney Says...

Would love to take my G-babes during the Holidays!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:11 p.m. debi321 Says...

Love Undercover tourist

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:11 p.m. Roselyn Says...

Wow! Looks so cool! Thanks for the information. Really wish my family can be there soon.

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:09 p.m. Lisa B. Says...

Undercover Tourist is a must for my Orlando vacation planning. Thank you for all you do!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:09 p.m. Cindy Straube Says...

My family and I have never been to Universal. We have heard great things about it from friends. We would love to experience it ourselves! It looks really fun!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:07 p.m. Jesse Says...

Love HP

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:07 p.m. Steff Says...

Great overview!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:06 p.m. MarciF Says...

We have never been to Universal but with all 3 of our children loving Harry Potter so much we need to do it and what better time than the holidays?! I would definitely do the Park to Park so we could ride the train!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:06 p.m. Amanda Moody Says...

Thanks for this great guide!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:05 p.m. Ryan Carlozzi Says...

Can’t wait to be there in March!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:05 p.m. Chris Says...

Can't wait to go!

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Nov 20, 2017 at 11:02 p.m. SeannyD Says...

What an awesome article!

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:01 p.m. Sandra McCarthy Says...

Would love to take my son to see this wonderful Christmas light show (after my school semester is done on December 18th).

Nov 20, 2017 at 11:01 p.m. Cindy B Says...

Wow! Love this overview. We haven't visited Universal yet but this guide will be very helpful for planning our adventure!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:58 p.m. Marangelie Vega Says...

Christmas and Harry Potter two favorite things!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:57 p.m. Mary Anne Tracy Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 10:56 p.m. Cheryl Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 10:55 p.m. Sophie Says...

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Nov 20, 2017 at 10:55 p.m. Kamela Kern Says...

I'd love to see this live, but we aren't going until mid January. It looks like an awesome trip!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:54 p.m. PC Says...

Highly recommend. A ton of fun for the family!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:54 p.m. Tiffany Wilderotter Says...

Can't wait to visit Universal Orlando someday! Huge Harry Potter fans here in Colorado!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:54 p.m. Tonya Barker Says...

I love all the good info that Undercover Tourist provides!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:53 p.m. Niki Says...

Can't wait to see the Christmas show on Hogwarts Castle!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:52 p.m. Mike1 Says...

Thank you for offering this great chance to win

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:52 p.m. Allison Says...

I can't wait until my kids are tall enough for all of the fun the Universal has to offer! My daredevil wants to ride EVERYTHING!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:48 p.m. Erin Says...

We have never been to Universal!!! My daughter id just finishing up the books.

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:48 p.m. Ashleigh Nicholson Says...

Can’t wait to see this, excited for holidays at universal!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:47 p.m. Heather Wright Says...

My kids are so excited about this!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:47 p.m. Ryemro Says...

Looks amazing

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:46 p.m. Liad769 Says...

Both parks are amazing, great vacation!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:46 p.m. Sue Davis Says...

I hope I win!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 10:46 p.m. Danielle Says...

This looks amazing! Hope to experience it someday!

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