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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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2701–2750 of 2883 comments
Nov 20, 2017 at 9:54 p.m. Barb Says...

Universal Orlando is a great park but especially at the holidays. Hogwarts at Christmas is absolutely beautiful,

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:53 p.m. Jenafer Says...

Sounds like tons of fun!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:53 p.m. Susan B Says...

What a huge help - I know how important is is to plan a theme park vacation (as Ben Franklin said, “Forewarn’d, forearm’d”).

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:53 p.m. Andrea Says...

This is so helpful!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:52 p.m. Yvonne Shaw Says...

My kids would be out of this world ecstatic to be able to do this.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:52 p.m. Jaimie Says...

Sounds like fun!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:51 p.m. Heidi Says...


Nov 20, 2017 at 9:51 p.m. Laurel Says...

Can’t wait for our trip next month!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:50 p.m. Kary McGee Says...

Heading to Universal Dec 16 for our family Christmas!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:50 p.m. Connie Says...

Thank so for the info! My family LOVES Universal!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:50 p.m. ladyoflarkspur Says...

Love this! I have lots of mileage miles, all I need is the room! Thank you!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:50 p.m. Heidi Says...

This looks like so much fun!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:49 p.m. Mrbacon81 Says...

What two things go together better than Christmas and theme parks!? I love Universal!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:49 p.m. Angela Powers Says...

Great info, thank you

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:49 p.m. cary Says...

Booked tickets thru you in 2016 and would love to come back again.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:47 p.m. Kristen Says...

Christmas at Hogwarts looks incredible!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:47 p.m. Cathy F Says...

I love Universal at Christmas!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:47 p.m. Jessica Says...

We love Universal! And Undercover Tourist makes it so simple!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:46 p.m. Dawn Costantiello Says...

The most amazing vacation destination spot in the world! We hope to visit again someday soon :)

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:46 p.m. Michelle Sanna Says...

We just got back from our Disney Vacation that we booked through you guys - it was great and everything went so smoothly.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. lauren Says...

Love Undercover Tourist.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. Lori Says...

Great guide. Can't wait!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. Susan DVM Says...

Florida is an awesome place in the winter! The theme parks are less crowded, and there are great bargins.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. Didi Marie Says...

I have never been to Universal at this time of year. It looks marvelous!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. Adam S Says...

Nice! Loved Halloween in 2011, Christmas looks awesome.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:44 p.m. Lindsey Dippold Says...

Undercover Tourist has the best information I can find! Thank you!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:43 p.m. Kshitiz Teotia Says...

Amazing insights on different activities within the parks and really enjoy Disney for what it is

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:43 p.m. Kitkat Says...

I kind of wish I was going during Christmas. It’s so pretty! But I’ll take the smaller crowds in February any day. ????

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:43 p.m. Erin P. Says...

Would love to visit during the holidays! Thanks for the info!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Jason Says...

Amazing guide!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Husevin Says...

Vacation goals!!!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Crystal Says...

So much great info!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. playdreamthink Says...

I am hoping to visit there in late December, hopefully the week between Christmas and New Years. Thank you!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. A.J. Says...

Heading there in a few weeks. Can't wait!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:42 p.m. Karen Says...

Next year is the year we will visit the park for the holidays. SO excited!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:41 p.m. Josh Says...

Looks like a lot of fun! Wish we could make it this year...

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:41 p.m. Cynthia Pape Says...

Looking forward to this! :)

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:41 p.m. Laura Weatherly Says...

Looks amazing! What a fun time to visit!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:40 p.m. Staci Whatley Says...

I love Disney during the holidays!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:40 p.m. Mary Says...

I think I will need to change my plans for next year and add another Universal trip!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:39 p.m. kellyjeanie Says...

Sounds amazing!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:39 p.m. Cox Family Says...

This looks amazing! Hope to visit soon.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:39 p.m. Anne Says...

Looks magical! Would love to visit Universal in December

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:39 p.m. Zoe Says...


Will the holiday festivities continue past the new year?

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:39 p.m. Thomas Anders Says...

Can’t wait to go back!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:38 p.m. Denise D17 Says...

Love it!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:38 p.m. Brian Zitzmann Says...

Can't wait for our next trip. This will really help.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:38 p.m. Diane Says...

Looks like a fun vacation!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:37 p.m. RupertBeard Says...

Can't wait to see this in person!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:37 p.m. Melissa Mazzur Says...

You make travel so easy!

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