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A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort - Pinterest ImageWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than at Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort? Even the Grinch can't resist the cheer. After all, it’s 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 Studios Christmas events do not disappoint.

From now until Jan. 5, 2020, Grinchmas and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are back to spread holiday cheer. Much of the main entertainment returned from last year, but we also noticed some new details in the decor to keep things fresh.

The Universal Christmas events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission. There is a lot hoppening 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 Studios 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 has 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. 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 Studios 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 Studios 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 Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Festivities

Universal Studios 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. The parade takes place during the following times on these dates:

  • 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.

Holidays at Universal Orlando - 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 Studios Christmas - Snowflakes

For its 13th year, Mannheim Steamroller will bring the festive sounds of modern Christmas to Universal Studios Florida. These concerts take place at 7 p.m. on select Saturdays and Sundays (see exact dates below) at the Music Plaza Stage:

  • 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 Studios Christmas - Who-liday Spectacular

It wouldn't be the holidays at Universal Orlando without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will be returning 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 Studios 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 returns to warm our hearts once more. 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 Studios 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 & Drinks at the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Christmas in the Wizarding World - Hot Butterbeer

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

Christmas at Universal Orlando - 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!).

Christmas at Universal Orlando - 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 is offering several ways to ring in 2020.

Over at Universal Studios Florida, dance the last night of 2019 away at the Music Plaza Stage at the Holiday Parade Character dance party. There will be a live band and DJ, along with confetti and pyrotechnics at midnight. You can also catch Universal Orlando’s Cinematic Celebration in Central Park, where you can find a second character dance party location. At midnight, there will be fireworks, along with fountain and light special effects.

If you're a 21+ grown-up frog, Universal CityWalk is hosting its annual EVE event. From 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., dine, drink and dance as you celebrate the new year. This separately ticketed event includes unlimited cuisine, access to five clubs and an outdoor dance floor, one drink ticket and one glass of champagne at midnight. Yes, there will be a dazzling display of pyrotechnics!

Universal Orlando resorts are joining the fun, as well. All seven hotels are offering a special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day meal. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort is hosting a New Year's Eve Spectacular that will include face painting, a balloon artist and a midnight balloon drop. It is complimentary for Cabana Bay Beach guests only. To check out a complete list of the holiday hoppenings at the hotels, check out Universal Orlando's website for all of the "deets."

Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort?

Universal Studios 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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2751–2800 of 2883 comments
Nov 20, 2017 at 9:37 p.m. Robin Says...

Used Undercover Tourist to purchase family tickets to Universal. No problems upon arrival at the park...check in was easy.

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

Was just at Disney in August, can't wait to go back! Next time we will visit Universal Orlando for the coasters!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:36 p.m. Sarah Says...

We were just there in October, but a Christmas visit would be nice next!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:36 p.m. K Says...

Always love helpful tips

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:36 p.m. Anne S Says...

So, to ride the Hogwarts Express, you need a Park to Park ticket?

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:36 p.m. jeffjjc63 Says...

This looks wonderful, my grandkids would love it!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:36 p.m. Melissa Says...

Looks like a magical place to visit at Christmas time.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:35 p.m. Bernie Says...

I really appreciate how Universal is stepping up more and more around the holidays.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:35 p.m. Melissa Saenz Says...

One of my dream vacations is to visit Universal during the holidays! Everything looks so amazing!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:34 p.m. Kelly Says...

I can't wait to see Hogwarts at Christmas!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:34 p.m. Monica Says...

Tried to come for Thanksgiving or Christmas could not get reservations in the park. :(

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 p.m. Teacher Shannon Says...

This teacher would sure love to visit Harry Potter World at Christmastime! Thanks for all the resources!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 p.m. Krystal Leedy Says...

I always check out undercover tourist for great deals!!! I am planning a trip to Universal this summer for my family and some friends.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 p.m. Emily J. Says...

Awesomely helpful guide! I’ve never seen Hogwarts at Universal, can’t wait!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:33 p.m. Viviette Smith-Wilder Says...

I'm excited for this!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:32 p.m. Cheryl Darlington Says...

Looks awesome during the holidays!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:31 p.m. Angie Bucaro Says...

This is awesome!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:31 p.m. cebmom Says...

We love Universal!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:31 p.m. Kent Markwart Says...

I love Universal but I haven’t been for the holiday season yet. Thanks to your info, I feel better prepared to brave the holiday crowds. Visiting Universal Hollywood in Dec!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:31 p.m. Khadijamaria Says...

I used undercover tourist to plan my 2015 disney/universal vacation. I cannot wait to use the service again for my vacation to orlando in 2018 again

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:30 p.m. Daneen Says...

THis looks so amazing!! We are huge HP fans, so I would LOVE to see all of this!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:29 p.m. Mary Cox Says...

I always use undercover tourist for purchasing tickets!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:28 p.m. Anna Says...

Very helpful, can't wait to take the kids - they are Harry Potter obsessed!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:28 p.m. Happyonthebeach Says...

Love this site!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:28 p.m. Mark Nelson jr Says...

Awesome... wish I could go now!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:28 p.m. rc_123 Says...

Universal is our family's favorite place to go for spring break ....now if we could only see it during Christmas time!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:27 p.m. Tara Keegan Says...

Great resource for all of your insider tips for vacation!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:26 p.m. KC Says...

Great article!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:25 p.m. Margaret S Says...

Looks amazing!! Would love to bring my daughter and grandson!!❤️❤️

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:25 p.m. Fabs Says...

I've never been to Universal, only Disney, this is on our bucket list!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:25 p.m. Lizzieturbo Says...

Universal at Christmas time is the BEST!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:25 p.m. SueEVP Says...

Universal Orlando is going to be amazing this season!! I can't wait to see it!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:25 p.m. Katee Says...

We love Universal at Christmastime!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:24 p.m. Cody Milo Says...

Looks awesome!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:23 p.m. SirDiddimus Says...


Nov 20, 2017 at 9:23 p.m. Jamie Says...

Would love to go to Universal some day !

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. LAura Swenson Says...

Your emails and blogs are so helpful. Also, I have first hand knowledge that your wait times are more accurate than anyone ekse’s.

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. NMontma Says...

Love this blog post!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. amy warren Says...

I'm dreaming of a Hogwarts Christmas!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:22 p.m. Rebecca Walker Says...

I would love to see the Hogwarts castle decorated for the holidays! It looks so fun!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Linus Eklund Says...

I would love to go there one day

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Bethany Elmore Says...

Wish were were going back again this year! Last Christmas was amazing!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Chris Says...

Always great advice!!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. Honest Chris Says...

Commenting here gives me an extra chance to win!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:21 p.m. BusyMom Says...

We haven't visited Universal before but would love to schedule a trip with our oldest a tween and the youngest already outgrowing Disney princesses. We all enjoy the Harry Potter series. Hope to visit soon!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:20 p.m. colt1873p Says...

Good Info

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Jen Says...

Seeing the photos gets me into the Christmas spirit. Being in Orlando and taking it all in for the holidays would be amazing!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. John508 Says...

Visiting Universal the second weekend in December, can't wait!!

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Paula Partin Says...

I can't wait to celebrate Christmas at Diagonal Alley

Nov 20, 2017 at 9:19 p.m. Adam Vaughan Says...

Looks like an amazing time!

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