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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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201–250 of 2883 comments
Dec 11, 2019 at 7:35 p.m. Ashley BP Says...

Ah!! I would LOVE to visit the Wizarding World at Christmas!! (Or just visit it, PERIOD.) :)

Dec 11, 2019 at 7:34 p.m. fau54 Says...

Got a great deal on Undercover Tourist on Disney World Tickets!

Dec 11, 2019 at 7:19 p.m. Diana Dawkins Says...

Great article

Dec 11, 2019 at 7:12 p.m. Aggette Says...

We’ve only ever been in the summer. I’m sure it’s wonderful during the holidays!

Dec 11, 2019 at 7:08 p.m. Tess Says...

I’m excited!

Dec 11, 2019 at 7:07 p.m. LisaZ Says...

I'm a Disney fan through and through but I'd love to check WWoHP out during the holiday season!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:57 p.m. Julie Says...

Universal looks fantastic for the holidays!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:51 p.m. Asia Says...

I'd love to see WWoHP at Christmas!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:50 p.m. Timothy L Keasler Says...

Good Information. Looks like a lot of fun.

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:49 p.m. lisaquickhaye Says...

Oh wow!!! Been a long time since we visited Universal, It's sooo beautiful at Christmas!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:48 p.m. Alison Varnell Says...

Would absolutely love this. Love the Undercover Tourist and their info!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:42 p.m. Ginger Goforth Says...

Thanks for the tips - we've not visited over the holidays, but clearly must!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:14 p.m. Ryleigh Says...

Christmas at Universal looks beautiful! Hoping to get there next season!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:10 p.m. Edward Shinaver Says...

Three leaps for the frog.

Dec 11, 2019 at 6:09 p.m. Marcie Red Says...

I love your blog!

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Dec 11, 2019 at 6 p.m. Jillian Welch Says...

Looks sooooo fun!! I want to go!!!

Dec 11, 2019 at 6 p.m. Chelle Leary Says...

I absolutely LOVE the Celestina and banshee holiday outfits!!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:57 p.m. katie prus Says...

No one, I repeat no one can convince me that any where is more magical at christmas than the wizarding world of HP! and grinchmas!!! I could cry xx

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:49 p.m. marsha ramirez Says...

I luv all the insider information in this blog super helpful

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:47 p.m. Crystal Hamilton Says...

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Dec 11, 2019 at 5:46 p.m. Christine Says...

<3 HP at Xmas!!!

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Dec 11, 2019 at 5:44 p.m. Julia D. Says...

I love universal! I have only been once and it was the most memorable vacation of my life! I want to go again so bad!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:44 p.m. Keith Says...

We would love to visit over Christmas, but maybe too crowded? Still, the Frog makes the ticket process way easier! k

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:40 p.m. Noemi Says...

Thanks for all the great suggestions, we will visit Universal Studios next week and can't wait to try the Butterbeer! :D

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Dec 11, 2019 at 5:34 p.m. KarenTK Says...

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Dec 11, 2019 at 5:27 p.m. Jason Martinelli Says...


Dec 11, 2019 at 5:24 p.m. Carol Solov Says...

We went to Universal May 2018 and Undercover Tourist was a great resource for gathering information, tips and answering questions. Harry Potter was the best!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:22 p.m. Renata Says...

Would love to take my Granddaughters there before I leave this world :)

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:15 p.m. Ellen S Gonzalels Says...

I would love to go with my family in December, the weather is more my family's temperature range :)

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:14 p.m. Joe H Says...

UC for the win!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:14 p.m. Kevin Griffin Says...

Love this site.

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:12 p.m. Rob Says...

Parks are the best at Christmas!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:11 p.m. Kerry Says...

Im in need of a Universal studios vacation.

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:08 p.m. Oralia V Says...

Undercover Tourist helped me and my family so much when planning our 1st Disney trip. We would love to visit Universal next!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5:04 p.m. Heather Leanne Says...

That parade though!!

Dec 11, 2019 at 5 p.m. CT Says...

My kids are huge Harry Potter fans! Would love to go back to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:59 p.m. Christine N Says...

Universal at Christmas sounds amazing!!

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:57 p.m. Craig Franz Says...

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Dec 11, 2019 at 4:57 p.m. Heather M. Says...

Trying to decide if we should go to Universal in Florida or California, very tough decision. great info here, thank you.

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:55 p.m. Jennifer Donehey Says...

We are planning on going to WDW around this time next year, but maybe we will try to squeeze in Universal, too. I'd love to see Hogsmeade holiday.

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:51 p.m. Mike Cunningham Says...

I need to plan a trip for 2020

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:50 p.m. Larissa L Smith Says...

Undercover Tourist is great! Discounted tickets and great customer service.. what more could you ask for! I think Christmas time at Disney and Universal would be awesome!

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:45 p.m. Silvia Coto Says...

Soooo happy to be able to spend this coming Christmas with my 6 kids in Orlando!

Dec 11, 2019 at 4:43 p.m. SrT Says...

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Dec 11, 2019 at 4:39 p.m. Dan Sokolik Says...

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Dec 11, 2019 at 4:35 p.m. Derek W Says...

Great insight

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