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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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2001–2050 of 2883 comments
Nov 27, 2017 at 10:45 p.m. Mark Says...

Awesome

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Nov 27, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. Stacy G Says...

Oh man! I LOVE the Grinch! I so need to go and see this!!!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 8:27 p.m. Alyssa Mayclin Says...

My best friend and I leave for Universal Orlando in two days and I cannot wait! My birthday is Wednesday and this will be the best birthday ever! Spending one day in Disneyworld as well. AHHH!!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 7:38 p.m. Jennifer Says...

I love all the great information! This will make trip planning much easier

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Nov 27, 2017 at 7:06 p.m. Can_swan Says...

I can't wait until my boys are old enough for Harry Potter and now I think Christmas might be the coolest time to visit!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 5:18 p.m. Tim P Says...

I've always thought of Universal as a "big kids" park, but after looking through this article and some of the images, I might have to make a trip for Universal next time.

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Nov 27, 2017 at 3:56 p.m. Erika C. Says...

So many wonderful tips, thank you for all that you do!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 3:31 p.m. Derek Bellotti Says...

Great Job on this Blog

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Nov 27, 2017 at 2:35 p.m. Melissa Alvarado Says...

I’ve never been to Universal Orlando, I would absolutely love to go! My kids would be thrilled to see this amazing park, thank you so much for the chance

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Nov 27, 2017 at 2:24 p.m. Yamara Says...

Any time of year is always good for universal studios i wish i could take my daughter there she loves every character harry potter, minnion, shrek, the cat in the hat , spongebob ????????????

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Nov 27, 2017 at 1:51 p.m. gmsnoodles Says...

Can't wait to go back to Disney!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 1:50 p.m. Cristy Says...

Looks amazing! I would love to visit during the holidays!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 3:13 a.m. TomB Says...

Only been to Universal once....can't wait to go back!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 3:07 a.m. Shelley N Says...

Looks MAGICAL!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 3:05 a.m. KRISTIE PULLIN Says...

LOVE IT!!!

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Nov 27, 2017 at 2:01 a.m. Emily W Says...

Amazing! I visited Universal Orlando for Christmas 2015 and loved all the decor but wished they had made a bigger deal of the holidays, especially in the Wizarding World areas. Looks like they have gone above and beyond this year!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 11:17 p.m. Raychel Says...

SO NEED TO GO!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 10:58 p.m. Tanya Vaughan Says...

Love undercover tourist!!!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 9:55 p.m. eguzior Says...

I can't wait to do the Harry Potter World!!!!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 9:30 p.m. Dorene C Says...

I want to go! Parks during the holiday season are even more fun!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 9:15 p.m. kylie Says...

It was a dream visit and will be going back

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Nov 26, 2017 at 8:11 p.m. Jen Holmes Says...

Amazing! Can't wait to go back.

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Nov 26, 2017 at 7:53 p.m. Luci Says...

Love it!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 7:37 p.m. Taya Says...

Just spent a couple of days during Thanksgiving week here. We really loved all of the holiday decorations! Staying at Loew's Royal Pacific and getting the Unlimited Skip the Line passes was a huge perk, especially during such a busy week!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 7:02 p.m. Hey Funny Mom Says...

It looks amazing!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 6:16 p.m. Shannen Grimes Says...

Cool.

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Nov 26, 2017 at 5:24 p.m. Heather Eavers Says...

The lights and the decorations look so beautiful and magical

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Nov 26, 2017 at 4:24 p.m. Jessi Housel Says...

This is pure magic! My husband and I honeymooned in Orlando and went to the parks! I look forward to taking my kids someday!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 3:21 p.m. pamela k Says...

would love to go back!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 3:17 p.m. Victoria W. Says...

This makes me want to go even more!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:59 p.m. Lee Ann Cameron Says...

I will be there around the Christmas holidays and can not wait...we have tickets to all 3 parks and will be exhausted by the end lol

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:47 p.m. AndyGio Says...

The holiday decorations look amazing!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:46 p.m. Marissa C Says...

We went during Halloween but my family would love to one day go for Christmas!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:24 p.m. Ken Says...

Family vacation the first week in January. Roll Tide!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:03 p.m. Erin Little Says...

So beautiful!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 1:45 p.m. Deena Silkwood Says...

Can’t wait to go again!! Love spending Holidays in the parks!!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 12:58 p.m. Jenny b Says...

Wish we could be there

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Nov 26, 2017 at 12:02 p.m. Cynthia Godbout Says...

Cute

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Nov 26, 2017 at 11:04 a.m. Alexandra M Says...

Could you please tell me what's happening at Universal Studios Florida on December 31 2017 ?

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Nov 26, 2017 at 9:20 a.m. Cheryl Ingram Says...

This is epic!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 5:10 a.m. Amanda M Says...

I've done Disney at Christmastime before, but this article is making me want to do Universal next time1

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Nov 26, 2017 at 5:04 a.m. Juan Carpio Says...

Awesome prize!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 4:07 a.m. Tiffany Polito Says...

Just wish the Macy's parade and the castle mapping at night were not at nearly the same time! We are only able to go one night this year so we will have to choose our activity :(

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Nov 26, 2017 at 3:36 a.m. Gloria Says...

Absolutely gorgeous decorations for the holidays!!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:54 a.m. Carol Says...

Got to experience this park for first time and seeing at Christmas would be amazing

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:51 a.m. Rachel Wireman Says...

A must read guide for anyone new or seasoned when visiting universal at christmas

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Nov 26, 2017 at 2:09 a.m. Ohanaof05 Says...

I would have never survived planning without the frog!

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Nov 26, 2017 at 1:04 a.m. Michelle Pierce Says...

14 days!! We cannot wait to go back to Disney and Universal for the holidays:)

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Nov 26, 2017 at 12:27 a.m. Steve Says...

A must-see experience for the season

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Nov 25, 2017 at 9:40 p.m. Pam Says...

Looks so fun!

Reply
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