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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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2451–2500 of 2883 comments
Nov 21, 2017 at 2:12 a.m. roye ann Says...

loved the video; the music alone made me wish I was there!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:11 a.m. Debbie Says...

Loved this site and blog the last time we planned a visit to Walt Disney World! It made our visit efficient and fun! Look forward to using it again when we plan our next trip to Orlando.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:10 a.m. Kathy Says...

It looks amazing

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:09 a.m. Amy Says...

So excited about this! Thanks for helping us think of Universal!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:07 a.m. Nicole Says...

I can’t wait to get back for a visit!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:06 a.m. Ed B. Says...

Very useful information, thanks for sharing!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:05 a.m. Fortunathree Says...

Fun fun fun!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2:04 a.m. Pam Says...

This looks amazing! I so wish I was there!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 2 a.m. Jean Scanlon Says...

Hmmm - already have a WDW trip for Christmas - may have to pop over there now!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:59 a.m. Shantell Galloway Says...

Such an incredible place for my family!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:58 a.m. Suzie Says...

Look's like a fun time!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:58 a.m. Elizabeth Royer Says...

Love love love universal!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:58 a.m. EmeraldCity Says...

We were just there last month, and I can't wait to go back!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:51 a.m. Gwen Paskiewicz Says...

The butter beer is awesome.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:47 a.m. Nikki M Says...

I love all the Christmas stuff!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:45 a.m. Michelle Bush Says...

Disney is Magical during the Holidays. Great site with great advice.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:45 a.m. Lindsay Henige Says...

Would love to go at Christmas!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:45 a.m. Jennifer McG Says...

This looks absolutely amazing!! My youngest (15yr old) and I are dying to go for the holidays!!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:45 a.m. Dawnee Says...

Merry Christmas!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:44 a.m. nhach Says...

gorgeous

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:43 a.m. Donna Says...

Park hopping at Universal Orlando is so easy with the parks close together. Really a great option.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:42 a.m. Forever Tourist Says...

Harry Potter is amazing

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:40 a.m. Beth Klosterboer Says...

This looks like so much fun! I can't wait to visit during the holidays.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:39 a.m. TT Says...

How magic! Can't wait to visit Universal Orlando!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:38 a.m. Sharon Loves Orlando Says...

All the photos look wonderful. This would be a wonderful holiday celebration.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:38 a.m. Melanie Jackson Says...

Universal is the BEST!! I can't wait to go back again!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:38 a.m. TeachGail Says...

Thank you for all the helpful guides and information! We are looking forward to our trip in less than 2 weeks!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:37 a.m. Sarah Meyers Says...

We just got back from a trip to Universal - I wish we had been there during the Christmas celebration!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:31 a.m. David L Says...

This is so cool!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:30 a.m. SilveradoCyn Says...

I wish we had all that on the west coast!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:29 a.m. LDel Says...

I can't wait to go back!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:28 a.m. Meagan Nelms Says...

I would LOVE to spend the holidays at Universal. That would be so awesome.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:27 a.m. Melody Says...

Thanks for sharing!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:26 a.m. Whitney Says...

So sad I won't get to see it this season but I'm excited to see it next year!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:24 a.m. Nancy T Says...

Lumos!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:16 a.m. Katrina Marsiglia Says...

I love you guys !!!! Great place to get tickets from and super helpful ...I tell everyone to use you !

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:14 a.m. MrsMomVA Says...

nice!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:14 a.m. Aaron L. Says...

Great blog! I love universal!!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:13 a.m. Alyssia Byers Says...

So cool!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:11 a.m. Lucy Says...

My husband and I went for our honeymoon back in Nov 2013. Best time of our lives! We'll be going back again next November for our 5 year anniversary!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:11 a.m. CayVel Says...

Schweet!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:09 a.m. Calpster Says...

I'm here to chew bubblegum and get an extra entry... and I'm all out of bubblegum..

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:08 a.m. dvsweeper Says...

The Blueman group was a great show.

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:07 a.m. Dennis Says...

Tried Undercover Tourist before and it really did help me save on Disney and Universal tickets, thanks again!

Reply
Nov 21, 2017 at 1:07 a.m. Shelby Says...

Looks amazing!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:05 a.m. Stephen M Says...

Didn’t realize there was so much going on at Universal for Christmas!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:05 a.m. mg Says...

Thanks for the info!!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:05 a.m. Nick Says...

Looks like this year's trip will be in January 2018 but hopefully I'll sneak in another trip December 2018. It's been far too long since I've done an Orlando Christmas!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:04 a.m. Tammy Hepker Says...

Such great information!

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Nov 21, 2017 at 1:04 a.m. J stump Says...

Awesome guide

Reply
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