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

Universal Orlando Christmas - PinterestWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than during the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort? Even the Grinch can't resist the cheer. After all, Christmas is 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.

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.

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 (about 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 the holidays 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 Christmas 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 the exact dates and times for 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 front-row 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. Here were the exact dates of the performances last year:

  • 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 the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will return to Universal's Islands of Adventure for Christmas 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.

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, also wander around the land, so keep an eye out for them putting up additional decorations and pose for a picture.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Roaming Whoville Citizens

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

The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is expected 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 show time, 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.

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

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 seven 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 Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, 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 Loews Sapphire FallsUniversal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal's Aventura Hotel 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 seven 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 the Universal Studios Christmas events 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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1751–1800 of 2883 comments
Nov 30, 2017 at 7:24 p.m. Matt Says...

Ready to go back

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:23 p.m. Tom M Says...

I'd love to see the special decorations... especially if I could sneak past the crowds somehow ;-)

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:23 p.m. Dave G Says...

Bought tickets through UCT for Orlando and it was a great way to go! Did it again even. :)

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:23 p.m. Lisa Lovato Says...

The holidays at Universal Studios look magical!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:22 p.m. JSeffy Says...

very cool!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:22 p.m. JSeffy Says...

cool!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:22 p.m. katiejane Says...

I'd love to see Universal around the holidays!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:21 p.m. Heather L Says...

Looks like fun! Sign me up.

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:19 p.m. Steve Bass Says...

Can't wait to go!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:19 p.m. vanjust14 Says...

I can't wait to visit in December 2018!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:19 p.m. jetfan214 Says...

kids cannot wait to try Universal

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:19 p.m. Rachael Seaberg Says...

Great read!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:18 p.m. Sarah Says...

Won't be there until January - sad I'll miss out on the holiday festivities!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:16 p.m. Heather Pittore Says...

I love this!!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:16 p.m. Jenna Says...

Absolutely Beautiful!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:14 p.m. Ngozi Says...

Gorgeous!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:13 p.m. Tara Says...

Just got back and we're already planning a springtime visit! Maybe next year we can do a holiday visit. We were right on the edge this time, and got to see Seuss Landing all decked out. Want to see the whole thing!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:13 p.m. Laura Turner Says...

I am so happy I checked out this blog-

I love love seeing all the Christmas decorations at my favorite places

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:11 p.m. Kristi Says...

This looks like fun

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:10 p.m. disneynutsss Says...

Looks Awesome!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:09 p.m. nicole butt Says...

The photos make me want to have an Orlando Christmas!!!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:08 p.m. Sarah O Says...

Universal is such a blast.

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:08 p.m. Sonia Lamp Says...

Looks amazing!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:06 p.m. Vmidd Says...

How exciting it would be to win a trip!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:05 p.m. Gaill Williams Stone Says...

Universal looks great all dressed up in it's Christmas decorations. I haven't been since 2003 and would love to bring my family. My oldest is a big Harry Potter fan and my middle one would love the Hulk Coaster.

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:04 p.m. Ashley Dennerlein Says...

Amazing!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:03 p.m. Angela Kirschman Says...

Looks amazing. Hoping to take my family someday!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:03 p.m. Kathy Jo Horan Says...

I am so excited to do universal Christmas. I think Harry Potter world will be amazing !!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:03 p.m. Steve Christianson Says...

Zamboni!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:03 p.m. Chris John Says...

I need to get back to Universal (and Disney) during the Holidays!!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:02 p.m. M Rutherford Says...

Love the information! Thank you!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:01 p.m. MSGTexasMom Says...

Had so much fun the last time, looking forward to going again.

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7:01 p.m. 2togoNebraska Says...

Someday we might just make it to Orlando for the holidays. Right now, we are planning a June trip with our grandson.

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Nov 30, 2017 at 7 p.m. Andy B Says...

Have not been to Universal Studios in many years and would love to win this..

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:59 p.m. Lisa Lefrancois Says...

Loved this place.. would love to go back with my kids

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:59 p.m. Kari Combs Says...

Looks so fun!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. dlwmama Says...

Looks like an amazing time to visit!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. Heather Morris Says...

This looks like loads of hoppin fun!!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. AshleyC Says...

Visited in February- it was amazing. Now it looks like I need to visit during the Christmas season!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:56 p.m. Karen D Uyesugi Says...

I just love all of this...... will be there for New Years

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. John Goode Says...

Looks cool

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. Bob S Says...

Universal’s Cabana Bay’s Hotel is fabulous!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. Beth from Cincy Says...

I want Santa to take me to Universal for Christmas!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:53 p.m. CJ Says...

Looks amazing!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:53 p.m. Kelli Says...

Haven’t been in years, but would love to come back during the holidays!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:52 p.m. Jocelyn Says...

We’ve been to Universal twice now and we’re itching to go back! Booking our hotel and Universal tickets though Undercover Tourist was the best decision ever!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:52 p.m. Peaches Says...

I love Disney after Christmas and New Years. It’s the best vacation!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:50 p.m. Jennifer Hutcheson Says...

I would love to take the fam!!

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:48 p.m. DisMarie Says...

So magical at Christmas time! ????

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Nov 30, 2017 at 6:47 p.m. KarenW Says...

So informative! Love the pictures you included. I can't wait to go and see it in person!

Reply
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