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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1301–1350 of 1397 comments
Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. LAura Swenson Says...

Your emails and blogs are so helpful. Also, I have first hand knowledge that your wait times are more accurate than anyone ekse’s.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. NMontma Says...

Love this blog post!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. amy warren Says...

I'm dreaming of a Hogwarts Christmas!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. Rebecca Walker Says...

I would love to see the Hogwarts castle decorated for the holidays! It looks so fun!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Linus Eklund Says...

I would love to go there one day

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Bethany Elmore Says...

Wish were were going back again this year! Last Christmas was amazing!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Chris Says...

Always great advice!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Honest Chris Says...

Commenting here gives me an extra chance to win!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. BusyMom Says...

We haven't visited Universal before but would love to schedule a trip with our oldest a tween and the youngest already outgrowing Disney princesses. We all enjoy the Harry Potter series. Hope to visit soon!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:20 p.m. colt1873p Says...

Good Info

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Jen Says...

Seeing the photos gets me into the Christmas spirit. Being in Orlando and taking it all in for the holidays would be amazing!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. John508 Says...

Visiting Universal the second weekend in December, can't wait!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Paula Partin Says...

I can't wait to celebrate Christmas at Diagonal Alley

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Adam Vaughan Says...

Looks like an amazing time!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Leiza Says...

Would love to see universal at Christmas!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:18 p.m. Lana Elmore Says...

Love Universal Studios

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:18 p.m. Kelli Says...

I haven't visited Universal before. Still on the wish list!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:16 p.m. wldmomma Says...

Can't wait to visit in April!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:16 p.m. Ernestine Says...

Best way to buy Disney and Universal Tickets!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:15 p.m. Stacey Says...

Great deals at Under Cover Tourist

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:15 p.m. Hermine Says...

What an amazing show!! If it looks this good online it must be spectacular and would love to be able to view this for Christmas in person!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:13 p.m. Andrea Says...

Unfortunately, we won't be able to make it out there this year. My husband and I are planning to go next year after Thanksgiving for our first anniversary trip, though! Hopefully it's even better next year.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:13 p.m. Randmsmom Says...

I love what Universal has added for the holidays. We always visit in the summer, and I'd love to see the theme parks lit up for Christmas.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:12 p.m. Janell Martin Says...


Nov 20, 2017 at 9:12 p.m. Kelly Roy Says...

Thanks for all the helpful info! I'm a Disney/Universal newbie!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:12 p.m. Brian Peterson Says...

This is very useful information.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:11 p.m. Val Says...

This looks amazing! Can't wait to plan our first trip to Universal!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:11 p.m. Sunshine Says...

Love this site and all the helpful tips. We have been to Disney 3 times and Universal once. We used the day/time calendar to attend the different parks as well as what rides to hit first. We have also purchased our tickets through the site. Keep up the great work!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:10 p.m. Jenny Darrah Says...

Hogwarts looks so amazing with all the wintry lights.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:10 p.m. Dave Russell Says...

Great Universal Video

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:09 p.m. Scott Joy Says...

Thanks for sharing video of "The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts." What a treat it would be to see it live!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:09 p.m. Janette Says...

We love Universal! What a fun idea!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:09 p.m. Samantha Says...

This is an extremely helpful guide for the holidays! Can't wait to use it!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:08 p.m. Theresa Clark Says...

Love visiting during the holidays!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:07 p.m. Katherine hose Says...

Cannot wait to come to this wonderful place

What time does universal close if you staying at a universal resort

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:07 p.m. crystalm Says...

Lots of helpful information!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:07 p.m. Tarry Potter Says...

Would love to visit Hogwarts and now all of Universal Studios at Christmas. Sounds enchanting!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:07 p.m. Mark O'Donoghue Says...

Wish we were going!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:06 p.m. Says...

This is a very good planning tool/site. We had a great trip to Disney World and followed so many of the recommendations from Undercover Tourist!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:05 p.m. James Says...

Looks as though Universal has finally expanded their holiday offerings- all looks fantastic!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:04 p.m. Dani Says...

Wish I could go! Seems like a great time to experience HP for the first time!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:04 p.m. Stacy M Says...

So excited!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:04 p.m. Lee Fox Says...

Great info, thanks! I'd love to go and see Harry Potter World all done up for the holidays!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:03 p.m. MrMario Says...

Would love to visit during the holidays!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:03 p.m. Brandy R. Says...

This is really great info. Thanks!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:03 p.m. Brent Todd Says...

Cannot wait to one day see Hogwarts Holiday show.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:03 p.m. Julie Campbell Says...

The castle at Christmas looks absolutely magical!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:02 p.m. Michael J. Hudson Says...

While it looks beautiful, Christmas is WAY too busy in Orlando for my family. I prefer February time period when the crowds aren't so huge.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9 p.m. Marie Witman Says...

Have always found Undercover Tourist so helpful and my go-to for all things Orlando. While I wish we could go every year, I know that when we do plan "big" trips to Disney or Universal, they are my first stop for tickets and info.

Nov 20, 2017 at 8:58 p.m. DHToy2 Says...

Love Universal more than Disney and didn't think that was possible

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