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Home / Blog / Theme Park Tips & Planning / A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort — 2024 Dates Announced!

A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort — 2024 Dates Announced!

by Mommy Frog on July 9, 2024
6431 Orlando

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What better way to bring together minions, wizards, 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?!)! During the holiday season, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 31, 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. The Universal Orlando Christmas events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Whoville Citizens

Overview of the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

With terrific temperatures, decadent decor, scrumptious snacks and endless entertainment, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year at Universal Orlando Resort. From the theme parks to the hotels, you'll find jolly festivities everywhere you go. That means you don't even need a park ticket to partake in the resort-wide celebrations!

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hogwarts Express

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 Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida both feature festive Christmas decorations — including garland and lights — along the buildings and streets of the Wizarding World.

Be sure to take a closer look at the decorations outside of each storefront! For instance, Madam Malkin's in Diagon Alley sports pink ribbon bows that match the color of Hermione's Yule Ball dress in the display window. The London waterfront is also decked out in traditional Christmas lights and garland as if you've magically been transported to the city itself. We highly recommend visiting during the day so you can notice all of the small details and returning at night to see everything lit up!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Frog Choir

Our fellow froggies, the 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 and the Banshees get in the holiday spirit with a special show. Listen for four original songs, including the super-catchy "My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas." These shows tend to not draw crowds until they've already started. Every view is good, but even if you only arrive five minutes early, you can still sit down on the ground right next to the stage.

Universal Orlando Holidays - The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

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" is eight minutes long and 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 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 captures the unique holiday fun you see in the "Harry Potter" films. We're so hoppy it's returning once again this year!

Grinchmas at Universal Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Christmas - Grinch

It wouldn't be Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort without Grinchmas! Seuss Landing is the most spectacularly decorated of them all, with so many baubles and tinsel wrapped around just about everything.

The viral verdant sourpuss himself will arrive at Universal Islands of Adventure for some holiday fun, as well! The green guy brings his signature snark during a special meet and greet in his lair at Honk Honkers. Last year, the meet and greet used a standby queue. Because of The Grinch's superstardom, we saw wait times go up to 180 minutes. However, on opening day, we got in line at 3:45 p.m. when the wait time was reading 100 minutes. Luckily, we only ended up waiting an hour!

Meanwhile, Who-ville citizens are usually out and about, walking through the land or strolling through The Street of the Lifted Lorax. On opening day, we saw the majority of them gathered by the entrance of Seuss Landing near Port of Entry. All of them will hoppily pose for photos with you!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Who-liday Spectacular

One of our favorite holiday offerings, though, is the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular! In this whoot of a show, talented performers bring the Seuss favorite to life through song and dance. If you'd like to attend, plan to be in line at least 30 minutes ahead of showtime, even if there aren't huge crowds. You do need to walk a fair distance to the theater where it takes place (a space that was previously occupied by Blue Man Group). While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it's 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!)

Epic Holiday Offerings & Entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's

Universal Orlando Holidays - Santa in the Holiday Parade

The highlight of Christmas at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. You can 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.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Shrek and Fiona in Universal's Holiday Parade

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 usually across the street from the tree next to Revenge of the Mummy. From this spot, you can watch as Santa lights the tree. Since the parade begins near Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show and starts its journey down the streets of Hollywood, you'll first see the parade about 15 minutes after the official start time. The parade kicks off daily at 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Annual passholders can enjoy a reserved viewing area in front of Mel's Drive-In Restaurant, which opens up about an hour before the parade, and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have little ones under 10, there's a Lil Stars viewing area in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop in Hollywood.

Earl the Squirrel Meet and Greet

Universal Orlando Holidays - Earl the Squirrel

Earl the Squirrel comes out of his hiding spot in the big Christmas tree to meet guests near the directly across from Cafe La Bamba! You can confirm his meeting times in the Universal app, though typically he'll be out about once an hour from 9:15 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. 

Festive Food and Drinks During the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hot Butterbeer

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks (did you know there are six different versions?). While you can now get hot Butterbeer year-round, there's no better time to enjoy a delicious cup than when the temperature starts dropping. 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 and The Hopping Pot.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Grinch Cookie

All around Universal Orlando Resort, there are specially-themed holiday food and beverages! We loved getting our hands on yummy offerings such as Earl's Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Acorn Bomb (at Hot Treats in Battery Park), the Turkey Dinner Sandwich (at Yule Enjoy in Battery Park) and the Letters to Santa Holiday Shake (at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen). We were also so frogcited to dig into some verdant Grinch-themed treats in Seuss Landing — such as the frog-favorite Grinch cookies — and sip some specialty nog cocktails!

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

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. The hotels even offer specially ticketed buffets. Some of the hotel holiday celebrations include live music, hula dancers, balloon artists and even bowling.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Cabana Bay Beach Resort Christmas Tree

If you want to experience the Universal Christmas events during the busiest times, we highly recommend purchasing Universal Express Passes no matter where you stay. You can save money when you purchase this add-on to theme park admission for regular Universal Express (which gives you access one time per participating ride) or Universal Express Unlimited. If you stay on-site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort, you'll 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 purchasing Universal Express the week of Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and on weekends. We cannot underestimate this benefit!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

If you can't shell out for the Universal Express hotels, jump over to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach ResortUniversal's Endless Summer - Surfside Inn and Suites or Universal's Endless Summer - Dockside 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 with Early Park Admission! 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 offers several different ways to ring in the new year. Ring in the New Year with festivities at CityWalk and throughout the theme parks — which will both be open through midnight on Dec. 31.

Additionally, all of the hotels will host a special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day meal. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort even hosts a New Year's Eve Spectacular that includes face painting, a balloon artist and a live DJ. This event is complimentary for Cabana Bay Beach guests only. Portofino Bay and the Hard Rock Hotel will also host their own parties.

Our Top Tips for the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Christmas - Dapper Winter CityWalk

With so much hoppening at Universal Studios Florida and Universal 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're planning to see all of the holiday festivities in both parks on one day, get a viewing spot for the Holiday Parade in Universal Studios right in front of Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show. That's where the parade starts, so by the time the last float passes you, you'll have just enough time to speed-hop over and catch the castle show in Islands of Adventure before the park closes without being blocked off by the parade route! We recommend walking through CityWalk in front of Hard Rock Cafe Orlando and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen instead of waiting for the Hogwarts Express.

If you need some palm trees and sun with your Christmas vacation, you'll need to find it poolside this season. Universal Volcano Bay water theme park is usually open in the winter. Don't let the time of year trick you. It's still plenty warm in sunny Florida (especially for you snowbirds) and the hotel pools are 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. And be sure to add Universal Express Passes to your tickets to skip the lines!

Related: Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments

Comments

Dec 7, 2022 at 6:36 p.m.
Lisa Says...

I would love to visit during the holiday season sometime. Thanks for your tips!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 6:33 p.m.
Riley Hunter Says...

My sons birthday is Dec 11th would love to go with him!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 6:33 p.m.
Robert Leemans Says...

The holidays at Universal is always a great time.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 6:04 p.m.
Ginger Says...

So awesome all Christmassy decorated ......was a dream to visit Hogwarts!!! Loved it

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 5:53 p.m.
BPac Says...

I will never visit any of the parks at either Halloween or Christmas again; despite the lovely theming, it is just too crowded to enjoy all the rides and other attractions parks have to offer.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 5:50 p.m.
TaraW Says...

The parks look dreamy!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 5:32 p.m.
Becky Szabo Says...

Looks like lots of fun things to do but I’m concerned about the bigger crowds!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 5:27 p.m.
Kim R Says...

Best time of the year to visit!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 5:04 p.m.
ablondeperson Says...

Florida is really nice in December, usually....

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:39 p.m.
Jenni Hartle Says...

Christmas is the best!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:06 p.m.
B Curtis Says...

Holiday time is my familys favorite time to visit. We love the festive atmosphere and how the entire park is decorated for the Christmas Season

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:01 p.m.
Ally H. Says...

Spending the holidays at Universal is the best! The theming is always amazing!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:59 p.m.
Ashley shannon Says...

I would love for my 12 year old and 7 year old to experience universal during Christmas ???? it looks so magical♥️

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:17 p.m.
Amber Peterson Says...

I love universal studios! One of my favorite places to go!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:02 p.m.
Sharda Says...

Ah! This all looks so amazing!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:52 p.m.
Angie Patton Says...

Wanting to take the grandkids back for this season to enjoy a new adventure at Universal

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:09 p.m.
Constanza Alegría Says...

I can't wait to go to Disney and Orlando and use this tips. ????

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:52 p.m.
Joy Marish Says...

Great and helpful info

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:41 p.m.
Patrick Manness Says...

So much fun!!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:19 p.m.
Paul Ebosele Says...

Still the best place for a vacation

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:13 p.m.
Mathia Says...

The holiday to-do list is so handy! Thanks!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:13 p.m.
LauraH Says...

We haven't been during the holiday season, but would love to see all the decorations!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 12:39 p.m.
V baer Says...

Go in October! Decor is great!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 12:26 p.m.
Erica S Says...

Looks so fun!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 11:58 a.m.
Klaudia Says...

My first stop would definitely be some butter beer and then the grinch!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 11:56 a.m.
Sabrina G Says...

Love to visit

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 10:07 a.m.
Emily Says...

Great photos!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 8:05 a.m.
Tony H Says...

A minimum of 2 days to see everything due to the lines.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 7:15 a.m.
Abraham Liandro Says...

I hope to go during the holidays one year! So much info.. thank you :)

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 7:13 a.m.
Edward Shinaver Says...

Looks like fun!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 6:43 a.m.
Courtney Jackson Says...

I loveee these holiday to-do lists so much!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:55 a.m.
Michael Says...

Looks like so much fun. Wish I could take my g-grandson.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:50 a.m.
Wai Says...

I would have loved to visit Universal Orlando Resort during the holiday season.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 4:20 a.m.
Karli H Says...

That looks like a dream!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:53 a.m.
Celina Rose Says...

Fall is my favorite time to visit. Live shows are the best in the breeze!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:32 a.m.
Patty Granquist Says...

I would love to visit at the holidays

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:11 a.m.
Christina Cohen Says...

I love all the information undercover tourists provides and wish to win this trip!!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 3:06 a.m.
Ivy P. Says...

I went to Universal over Thanksgiving and they had all the Christmas decorations up so it was beautiful. Lines were also amazingly short!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:53 a.m.
Marie Davis Says...

Would love to visit during the holidays. Looks amazing.

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:32 a.m.
Andrea Says...

Seems like the best time to go

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:28 a.m.
Chantal L. Says...

I can’t wait for Harry Potter world with my girls at Christmas when they are a little older!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:28 a.m.
Lacey Rendon Says...

Would love to see Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter…. While drinking some butter beer!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:17 a.m.
liz minx Says...

The Harry Potter land looks amazing!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 2:03 a.m.
Alex Saasjr Says...

Great Must do list :)

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:58 a.m.
Brittany Says...

This sounds so fun!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:57 a.m.
Heather Voorhees Says...

The holiday lights and decorations look so festive!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:32 a.m.
Karen L Says...

Never been here during the holidays... looks amazing!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:25 a.m.
David L Says...

Sounds like a great time!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:25 a.m.
Kay Says...

Can’t wait to visit!

Reply
Dec 7, 2022 at 1:25 a.m.
Melinda Budge Says...

The decorations are magical

Reply

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