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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!

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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1951–2000 of 2883 comments
Nov 29, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. Melissa Lewis Says...

Love Universal Harry Potter World and it's been awhile since we've been here!!!

Nov 29, 2017 at 11:12 a.m. Ellen P. Says...

Looks amazing. I want to go!!

Nov 29, 2017 at 4:53 a.m. Debra D Says...

This article makes the holidays at Universal even more enticing!

Nov 29, 2017 at 3:18 a.m. DisneyDreamer Says...

Great info!

Nov 29, 2017 at 3:16 a.m. Kim de Blecourt Says...

My kids would love it!

Nov 29, 2017 at 2:41 a.m. AshleyD Says...

Theme-parking during the holidays is definitely on our list for next year!

Nov 29, 2017 at 2:11 a.m. Merena Elliott Says...

Would love to visit over the holidays!

Nov 29, 2017 at 2:03 a.m. sandra Says...

this sounds so fun!

Nov 29, 2017 at 1:56 a.m. Alisson H Says...

Christmas at Universal would be amazing!!

Nov 29, 2017 at 1:53 a.m. Sean M. Says...

Looks amazing! Hope to see it in person some day!

Nov 29, 2017 at 1:30 a.m. Karen Says...

I've been to Universal on Christmas Day; had a fabulous time!

Nov 29, 2017 at 1:05 a.m. Lisa B. Says...

Ahh, we'll miss the holiday hoopla by a week.

Nov 29, 2017 at 12:56 a.m. Megan Repici Says...

Hope to win!

Nov 29, 2017 at 12:53 a.m. Tbone1013@hotmail.com Says...

Amazing photos, wish I was there!

Nov 29, 2017 at 12:43 a.m. Patricia D. Says...

We just recently got to go to Universal for the first time. Would love to be able to go back and see the holiday decorations!

Nov 28, 2017 at 11:58 p.m. Lisa Hansen Says...

Would love to go with my son for a late 16th Birthday! Your site had wonderful info!

Nov 28, 2017 at 10:05 p.m. Nicole P Says...

Haven't been to Universal in 15 years. I need to go back!

Nov 28, 2017 at 10:04 p.m. Rebecca Dann Says...

I wish we could see this during Christmas!

Nov 28, 2017 at 10:01 p.m. Kerry Says...

We had the best time at Lowe’s Safire Falls and Universal this past August. We cannot wait to try the other hotels too

Nov 28, 2017 at 9:52 p.m. Amanda Says...

Love Universal Studios! :)

Nov 28, 2017 at 9:47 p.m. Julie Says...

Would love to see Universal Studios at Christmas time since we normally go for HHN

Nov 28, 2017 at 9:43 p.m. Tina Morgan Says...

I can't wait to go in May!

Nov 28, 2017 at 8:02 p.m. Sung K. Says...

Hope everyone enjoys their holidays and vacation!

Nov 28, 2017 at 6:48 p.m. Dawn Jordan Says...

I haven't stayed at a Universal Studio hotel yet but I would love to try a new hotel.

Nov 28, 2017 at 6:27 p.m. S.Taylor Says...

We're going for Christmas. I think I'm more excited than my children.

I'm probably going to drive them crazy until we get there : )

Nov 28, 2017 at 4:53 p.m. Susan Antunez Says...

Love all the info on this blog and the website.

Nov 28, 2017 at 4:44 p.m. Nancy Langley Says...

I can't wait for my family to spend Christmas at Disney and Universal! It will be a huge surprise for my boys.

Nov 28, 2017 at 4:34 p.m. debbie b Says...

My daughter and granddaughter love harry potter. We all like universal!!!

Nov 28, 2017 at 3:50 p.m. margaret caudill Says...

I would love to visit this year during the holidays.

Nov 28, 2017 at 2:55 p.m. Debra Gorlewski Says...

I would love to visit Universal during Christmastime! The decorations and parades look amazing!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:21 p.m. Jasmine Says...

I'll go during a different time. Home for the holidays for me ;)

Nov 28, 2017 at 2:26 p.m. David Says...

Would love to visit Disney during the Christmas holidays!

Nov 28, 2017 at 2:10 p.m. Rachel Mur Says...

Christmas at Disney World is so beautiful!

Nov 28, 2017 at 2:02 p.m. Elizabeth Resch Says...

I would love to go during the holidays!

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:55 p.m. Juan Perez Says...

I can't wait to go back to Orlando. This site makes my planning much easier

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:25 p.m. Gretchen Marie Says...

I don't know which one I like the Most, Christmas in the Wzarsing World or the Macys day Parade! Thay are both Amazing and Out of this World!

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:10 p.m. Matt C Says...

Great planning information. I want to go!!

Nov 28, 2017 at 7:36 a.m. Rieva Says...

I've been to Disneyland several times. Now I need to level up and check out Disneyworld!

Nov 28, 2017 at 5:08 a.m. GingerBean Says...

Universal Studios is the perfect theme park for our teenagers. We've never gone during the holidays, but this blog sure makes me want to plan a Christmas vacation down south!

Nov 28, 2017 at 4:48 a.m. Deborah Cochran Says...

We were supposed to visit Universal Studios the end of October but our plans got changed so will be going in 2018. We are super excited to visit for the first time! Would be fun to visit during the holidays!

Nov 28, 2017 at 4:06 a.m. Frances Jimenez Says...

I would love nothing more to see the Mouse during the Holidays!!

Nov 28, 2017 at 3:18 a.m. Brandie Paull Says...


Nov 28, 2017 at 2:27 a.m. Tammy H Says...

This looks so fun! Didn't know they offered so much!

Nov 28, 2017 at 1:29 a.m. Susan T Says...

We've never been to Universal, but this Christmas post really makes it look exciting; trying to squeeze a trip in!

Nov 28, 2017 at 1:06 a.m. Leanne Says...

We have never been there for the holidays, would love to!

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:37 a.m. Brianna May Says...

We've gone to Disney in early December when our kids were little. Now I'm thinking we should consider going to Universal because it looks AMAZING!

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:36 a.m. Tara Dugan Says...

I cannot wait to visit again!

Nov 28, 2017 at 12:17 a.m. Suzanne Says...

Great blog! Lots of info, wish i was going at Christmas time.

Nov 27, 2017 at 11:56 p.m. Alison Sanders Says...

Loved visiting Universal/IOA Orlando at Christmastime a few years ago! The kids loved the Grinchmas show.

Nov 27, 2017 at 10:57 p.m. markeena williams Says...

My family of 3 & I would love to go on this trip so my children can have fun and enjoy their childhood while they have it because they're only getting older

Nov 27, 2017 at 10:56 p.m. Heavyn Says...

Love Universal!

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