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A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas at Universal Orlando - PinterestWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than during Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort? Even the Grinch can't resist the cheer. After all, the holidays are 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 Universal Orlando Christmas events do not disappoint. If only we had a Time Turner that could fast forward to the end of the year! But as I always say, it's never too early to plan.

During the holiday season, Grinchmas and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter spread holiday cheer throughout Seuss Landing, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Much of the main entertainment returns year after year, but we always notice new details in the decor to keep things fresh.

Currently, with COVID-19 health and safety measures in place, we're not entirely sure how Christmas at Universal Orlando will be affected this year. Based on current operations, it may be likely that stage shows, such as the Wizarding World shows and Grinchmas, can return with proper social distancing measures in place. It's also relatively safe to assume that decorations and Hot Butterbeer are the most likely to return. However, Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show and the Mannheim Steamroller concerts are more likely to create crowds, so further details for those events are up in the air. We'll update this guide once we learn more! What we do know is that the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort will return Nov. 14, 2020, through Jan. 3, 2021!

The Universal Orlando Christmas events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission. A lot hoppens around the resort, so click one of the links below to skip to that section, or read the entire article if you're as thorough as Santa checking his list twice.

Christmas in The Wizarding World | Holiday Events in the Parks | Festive Food | Holidays at the Hotels | New Year's Eve | Which Ticket Should You Get?

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You know that feeling you get when you watch a "Harry Potter" movie 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 Adventure 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.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hogsmeade Decor

Be sure to take a closer look at the decorations outside of each store front! For instance, Spintwitches Sporting Needs in Hogsmeade had golden snitch ornaments in its garlands, and Madam Malkin's in Diagon Alley sported pink ribbon bows that matched the color of Hermione's Yule Ball dress in the display window in 2019. The London waterfront is also decked out in traditional Christmas lights and garland, as if you've magically been transported to the city itself.

Our fellow froggiesthe Frog Choir, perform special concerts in Hogsmeade with Christmas songs straight from the spell books, as well as muggle holiday tunes such as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." 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."

Universal Orlando Christmas - Celestina Warbeck

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 Castle" plays intermittently from dusk until park close each night. (It is currently unknown if this show will return in 2020.)

Muggles and wizards alike will be absolutely dazzled to see the castle come alive! There are breathtaking scenes with Hogwarts students dancing at the Yule Ball, Arthur Weasley's flying Ford Anglia plowing into snowmen and more! Even if you aren't a fan of the usual Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show, we recommend catching the Christmas show. It's gorgeous and really captures the unique holiday fun that you see in the "Harry Potter" films.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show

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 Castle" during non-peak times, if possible. No matter which night you're attending, try waiting until a bit later in the evening (usually any hour after dusk) to catch the show to avoid those early crowds. Also, if you are park hopping to catch the castle show after the Universal Studios Christmas parade, avoid taking the Hogwarts Express (everyone else has the same idea!). It'll take just about the same time to walk, or possibly longer on busier days.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s & More Universal Orlando Resort Holiday Festivities

Universal Orlando Christmas - Minion Float in Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

The highlight of Christmas at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. You'll catch some of your favorite Universal characters making holiday mischief, including the minions, Shrek and more. And of course, jolly ol' Santa typically makes an appearance at the parade's finale to light up the Christmas tree.

Bring a camera and snap as many pictures as you can! Seeing this float with your family is sure to bring the warm fuzzies. While we don't know if the parade will return in 2020 yet, the parade took place during the following times on these dates in 2019:

  • Nov. 19 and Dec. 4: 5:15 p.m.
  • Nov. 16-18, Nov. 20-Dec. 3, Dec. 5-24, Dec. 31-Jan. 5: 5:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 25-30: 8 p.m.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Santa

If you want a prime spot for Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's 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: There is tons of confetti ... and snow!

Mannheim Steamroller Concerts

Universal Orlando Christmas - Snowflakes

Mannheim Steamroller has brought the festive sounds of modern Christmas to Universal Studios Florida for 13 years. These concerts usually take place at 7 p.m. on select Saturdays and Sundays at the Music Plaza Stage. Although details are unknown for 2020, the exact dates of the 2019 performances were:

  • Nov. 16, 17, 23, 24 and 30
  • Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15

Arrive early if you want a sit-down spot in front of the stage. However, you can easily hear the music beyond the concert area, so if you're content with catching a few tunes, stroll by when you have time. (Note that Seasonal Passholders are blocked out of Universal Studios Florida on concert dates.)

Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Christmas - Who-liday Spectacular

It wouldn't be Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will return to Universal's Islands of Adventure for holiday fun. Watch the green guy bring his signature snark to the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular at Seuss Landing. You can also meet him personally at the Gertrude McFuzz Fine Feathered Finery gift shop — this year, he may greet guests from afar, as well as the Whoville citizens who will likely not roam around the area.

Seuss Landing is 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! Whoville citizens, including Cindy Lou, wandered around the land last year while putting up additional decorations and posing for pictures.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Roaming Whoville Citizens

Catch the first show of the day, as it's likely to be the least crowded.

Because Universal team members can space out seating, the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is likely to return to warm our hearts once more in 2020. 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 where it takes place, even if there aren't huge crowds.

Universal Orlando Christmas - The Grinch

While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it is still a blast for any fans of the Grinch, who spits out hilarious one-liners. (And OMG ... Max is played by an adorable, live dog. What a good boy!)

Festive Food and Drinks at the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas in the Wizarding World - Hot Butterbeer for Universal Orlando Christmas

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks (did you know there are six different versions?). While year-round Butterbeer is served cold or frozen, you can only 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.

While nothing has been confirmed, the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast could be modified or canceled this year.

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

Universal Orlando Christmas - 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 of the 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 specially ticketed buffets. Some of the hotel holiday celebrations include holiday crafts, stocking decorating and meet-and-greets with Santa's elves (or Santa himself!).

Universal Orlando Christmas - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

If you want to experience the Universal Christmas events during the busiest times, we highly recommend you stay on-site at Universal's Hard Rock Hotel or 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 purchasing it separately) the week 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, jump over to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Universal's newest hotel, Universal's Endless Summer - Surfside Inn and Suites. While they don't offer Unlimited Express, these hotels (and all of Universal's hotels) offer one-hour early admission to a select park. If you stay on-site, you can get a hop on experiencing Christmas in the Wizarding World's holiday magic! What's even more magical is to book your Universal Orlando hotel room at a discount, so hop to it!

New Year's Eve at Universal Orlando Resort

If you're looking for something to do when the clock strikes midnight, Universal Orlando offered several ways to ring in 2020. It's still too early to know about plans for 2021, but we'll update once we know more!

Over at Universal Studios Florida, we danced the last night of 2019 away at the Music Plaza Stage at the Holiday Parade Character dance party. There was a live band and DJ, along with confetti and pyrotechnics at midnight. We also watched Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Central Park, where there was a second character dance party location. At midnight, fireworks, along with fountain and light special effects, lit up the sky.

Universal CityWalk hosted its annual EVE event for adult frogs 21 and older. From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., Leap and I dined, drank and danced as we celebrated the new year. This separately ticketed event included unlimited cuisine, access to five clubs and an outdoor dance floor, one drink ticket and one glass of champagne at midnight.

Universal Orlando resorts joined the fun, as well. All of the hotels offered a special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day meal. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort hosted a New Year's Eve Spectacular that included face painting, a balloon artist and a midnight balloon drop. It was complimentary for Cabana Bay Beach guests only.

Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort?

Universal Orlando Christmas - Santa's Helpers in Front of Tree

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's easy to hop back and forth. 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 froget, we offer discounts on the Universal Orlando hotels too!)

Ready for Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort 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 during 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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1301–1350 of 2883 comments
Nov 26, 2019 at 2:45 p.m. Rose Sullivan Says...

Undercover Tourist is first place I turn to when planning an Orlando vacation!! Love the site and offers!! Would love to visit Universal in 2020!!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:44 p.m. Jennifer C Carreira Says...

Excited for our upcoming January visit!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:44 p.m. Billy Liu Says...

Looks awesome

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:44 p.m. Carrie S. Says...

Would love to see it at Christmastime!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:43 p.m. Sheri Kay Harris Says...

Nice Program

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:43 p.m. Lynn Says...

I've never been to Universal for the holidays, but going to Disneyworld for in 2 weeks! So Excited!! Thanks Undercover Tourist for all the helpful tips.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:43 p.m. Emily Says...

We would love this. We are a foster family and are always looking to do things to brighten our kids lives.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:42 p.m. Christy W. Says...

Looks amazing!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:42 p.m. James Lambert Says...

I want to go.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:42 p.m. Kendall White Says...

Moved away and really missing the holidays at universal this year

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:41 p.m. Kelcey Blair Says...

Such a great trip!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:41 p.m. Sheri DeOrio Says...

Universal would be so much fun at Christmas!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:40 p.m. MA Says...

Excellent place

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:39 p.m. Niknik Says...

I didn’t realize universal decorated for Christmas.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:39 p.m. Kristin James Says...

So fun!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:39 p.m. Ash MC Says...

Thanks to the help of Undercover Tourist, we’ve been able to visit Disney World multiple times, but have never been to Universal! Maybe it’s time to try something new ????

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:39 p.m. Ryan Says...

Very cool

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:39 p.m. DanielleM Says...

Looks cool

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:38 p.m. Sara P Says...

I just love Celestina Warbeck and would love to see her over the holidays!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. Robert Atanasio Says...

Undercover Tourist is the Best. Looking forward to visiting Universal for the first time in the near future with the famiy!!!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. Caitlin Miskolczi Says...

I enjoy reading these! Whenever I go to Orlando I take a peak. I am going December 9-12th and am hoping there is something holiday for me to do.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. Linda Says...

Love all the valuable information you provide on Undercover Tourist!!!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. Wokwildside Says...

It would be a dream come true! Congrats on 20 years!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:37 p.m. Andres Says...

Hope I win

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:36 p.m. MandyF Says...

I'm planning on going back to Orlando for 3 weeks next Nov/Dec and can't wait to see all the Christmas sites in the parks.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:36 p.m. Olivia Says...

I’ve never been to universal. Looks cool!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:36 p.m. Judy W Says...

Love Undercover Tourist. I always use them for tickets and helpful park info.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:36 p.m. JANE COULBOURNE Says...

Undercover Tourist is my go to for discount Them Park Tickets

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:36 p.m. TGray Says...

It doesn't get any better when Christmas time arrives.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. Vincent T. Says...

I took my son to Universal in 2018 when he was 6 and he had a blast. He is very deep into Harry Potter now and can’t wait to go back. I would love nothing more than to go back again with both kids in 2020! In my opinion, it’s better than Disney.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. DM Says...


Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. BrianJL Says...

I've never visited Universal at Christmas but it looks like fun. The decorations are quite beautiful so maybe I will need to check it out sometime.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. LEM Says...

Wow! It looks truly magical. ???? I hope we can take our kiddos to enjoy the festivities some time!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. Erin Says...

We have never been but can't wait until we get to go

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:35 p.m. CINDY Says...

Wishing for this trip for Christmas!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:34 p.m. Rob G. Says...

Have never been during the holiday season, but would love to visit then. I bet it is beautiful and festive!!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:34 p.m. Andrew Kasic Says...

Undercover Tourist is the best!! We never go to Orlando without using them !

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:33 p.m. Nancy Ellis Says...

I would love to go back to Universal. It would be especially fun during a holiday season. The decorations and costumes would be amazing to see!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:33 p.m. Danyelle Says...

We'd love to come see Grinchmas and the Wizarding World all lit upl

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:33 p.m. AmyBell Says...

Would love to see Hogwarts at Christmas time!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:32 p.m. Michael Hudgins Says...

Would love to go and not worry about the expense of the trip for once!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:32 p.m. Colleen Neel Says...

Looks amazing but so crowded at Christmas....

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:32 p.m. Susan Lin Says...

Would love to visit!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:32 p.m. Amanda Doherty Says...

I've always wanted to visit at christmas time!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:32 p.m. Lorie A Says...

What an awesome trip this would be. Thanks for the chances!!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:31 p.m. Valentina Cordoba Says...

Looks like a great option to also celebrate Christmas in Orlando! Would love a chance to experience this in person with my kids. When we went for their 1st time, we had to leave the parl early because of the hurricane.

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:31 p.m. Jenny H Says...

We just saw the Holiday at Hogwarts show and it was the absolute perfect way to end our trip! Magical!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Rebecca Cook Says...

What an amazing opportunity - thank you! Would love to surprise my family with this trip!

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Lelah K Says...

Love the holidays there

Nov 26, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Jill Says...

So fun!!

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