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Home / Blog / Theme Park Tips & Planning / A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort — 2024 Dates Announced!

A ~Froggy~ Festive Guide to Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort — 2024 Dates Announced!

by Mommy Frog on July 9, 2024
6431 Orlando

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What better way to bring together minions, wizards, 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?!)! During the holiday season, from Nov. 22 to Dec. 31, 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.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Whoville Citizens

Overview of the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

With terrific temperatures, decadent decor, scrumptious snacks and endless entertainment, the holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year at Universal Orlando Resort. From the theme parks to the hotels, you'll find jolly festivities everywhere you go. That means you don't even need a park ticket to partake in the resort-wide celebrations!

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hogwarts Express

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 Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida both feature festive Christmas decorations — including garland and lights — along the buildings and streets of the Wizarding World.

Be sure to take a closer look at the decorations outside of each storefront! For instance, Madam Malkin's in Diagon Alley sports pink ribbon bows that match 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. We highly recommend visiting during the day so you can notice all of the small details and returning at night to see everything lit up!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Frog Choir

Our fellow froggies, the 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 and the Banshees get in the holiday spirit with a special show. Listen for four original songs, including the super-catchy "My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas." These shows tend to not draw crowds until they've already started. Every view is good, but even if you only arrive five minutes early, you can still sit down on the ground right next to the stage.

Universal Orlando Holidays - The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

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" is eight minutes long and 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 captures the unique holiday fun you see in the "Harry Potter" films. We're so hoppy it's returning once again this year!

Grinchmas at Universal Islands of Adventure

Universal Orlando Christmas - Grinch

It wouldn't be Christmas at Universal Orlando Resort without Grinchmas! Seuss Landing is the most spectacularly decorated of them all, with so many baubles and tinsel wrapped around just about everything.

The viral verdant sourpuss himself will arrive at Universal Islands of Adventure for some holiday fun, as well! The green guy brings his signature snark during a special meet and greet in his lair at Honk Honkers. Last year, the meet and greet used a standby queue. Because of The Grinch's superstardom, we saw wait times go up to 180 minutes. However, on opening day, we got in line at 3:45 p.m. when the wait time was reading 100 minutes. Luckily, we only ended up waiting an hour!

Meanwhile, Who-ville citizens are usually out and about, walking through the land or strolling through The Street of the Lifted Lorax. On opening day, we saw the majority of them gathered by the entrance of Seuss Landing near Port of Entry. All of them will hoppily pose for photos with you!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Who-liday Spectacular

One of our favorite holiday offerings, though, is the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular! In this whoot of a show, talented performers bring the Seuss favorite to life through song and dance. If you'd like to attend, plan to be in line at least 30 minutes ahead of showtime, even if there aren't huge crowds. You do need to walk a fair distance to the theater where it takes place (a space that was previously occupied by Blue Man Group). While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it's 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!)

Epic Holiday Offerings & Entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's

Universal Orlando Holidays - Santa in the Holiday Parade

The highlight of Christmas at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. You can 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.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Shrek and Fiona in Universal's Holiday Parade

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 usually across the street from the tree next to Revenge of the Mummy. From this spot, you can watch as Santa lights the tree. Since the parade begins near Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show and starts its journey down the streets of Hollywood, you'll first see the parade about 15 minutes after the official start time. The parade kicks off daily at 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Annual passholders can enjoy a reserved viewing area in front of Mel's Drive-In Restaurant, which opens up about an hour before the parade, and space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have little ones under 10, there's a Lil Stars viewing area in front of the Brown Derby Hat Shop in Hollywood.

Earl the Squirrel Meet and Greet

Universal Orlando Holidays - Earl the Squirrel

Earl the Squirrel comes out of his hiding spot in the big Christmas tree to meet guests near the directly across from Cafe La Bamba! You can confirm his meeting times in the Universal app, though typically he'll be out about once an hour from 9:15 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. 

Festive Food and Drinks During the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Christmas - Hot Butterbeer

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks (did you know there are six different versions?). While you can now get hot Butterbeer year-round, there's no better time to enjoy a delicious cup than when the temperature starts dropping. 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 and The Hopping Pot.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Grinch Cookie

All around Universal Orlando Resort, there are specially-themed holiday food and beverages! We loved getting our hands on yummy offerings such as Earl's Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Acorn Bomb (at Hot Treats in Battery Park), the Turkey Dinner Sandwich (at Yule Enjoy in Battery Park) and the Letters to Santa Holiday Shake (at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen). We were also so frogcited to dig into some verdant Grinch-themed treats in Seuss Landing — such as the frog-favorite Grinch cookies — and sip some specialty nog cocktails!

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

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. The hotels even offer specially ticketed buffets. Some of the hotel holiday celebrations include live music, hula dancers, balloon artists and even bowling.

Universal Orlando Christmas - Cabana Bay Beach Resort Christmas Tree

If you want to experience the Universal Christmas events during the busiest times, we highly recommend purchasing Universal Express Passes no matter where you stay. You can save money when you purchase this add-on to theme park admission for regular Universal Express (which gives you access one time per participating ride) or Universal Express Unlimited. If you stay on-site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort, you'll 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 purchasing Universal Express the week of Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and on weekends. We cannot underestimate this benefit!

Universal Orlando Christmas - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

If you can't shell out for the Universal Express hotels, jump over to Universal's Cabana Bay Beach ResortUniversal's Endless Summer - Surfside Inn and Suites or Universal's Endless Summer - Dockside 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 with Early Park Admission! 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 offers several different ways to ring in the new year. Ring in the New Year with festivities at CityWalk and throughout the theme parks — which will both be open through midnight on Dec. 31.

Additionally, all of the hotels will host a special New Year's Eve or New Year's Day meal. Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort even hosts a New Year's Eve Spectacular that includes face painting, a balloon artist and a live DJ. This event is complimentary for Cabana Bay Beach guests only. Portofino Bay and the Hard Rock Hotel will also host their own parties.

Our Top Tips for the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Christmas - Dapper Winter CityWalk

With so much hoppening at Universal Studios Florida and Universal 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're planning to see all of the holiday festivities in both parks on one day, get a viewing spot for the Holiday Parade in Universal Studios right in front of Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show. That's where the parade starts, so by the time the last float passes you, you'll have just enough time to speed-hop over and catch the castle show in Islands of Adventure before the park closes without being blocked off by the parade route! We recommend walking through CityWalk in front of Hard Rock Cafe Orlando and The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen instead of waiting for the Hogwarts Express.

If you need some palm trees and sun with your Christmas vacation, you'll need to find it poolside this season. Universal Volcano Bay water theme park is usually open in the winter. Don't let the time of year trick you. It's still plenty warm in sunny Florida (especially for you snowbirds) and the hotel pools are 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. And be sure to add Universal Express Passes to your tickets to skip the lines!

Related: Complete Guide to Universal Orlando Events

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments


Dec 2, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.
Paul Says...

Cannot Wait to get back to Florida

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.
Jaime Ray Says...

Looking forward to our Universal vacation in the spring but would love to visit during the Holidays!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.
Karen Jeakins Says...

I have never been to Universal but I have always wanted to go!!! This would be so AWESOME!!!! :)

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.
Jonathan Dozier Says...

I love Orlando at Christmas!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:11 p.m.
JoAnna McClenathan Says...

So pretty! Well have to try and get there one year for Christmas

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Laura Meriwether Says...

Awesome site and giveaway!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Syd Says...

This blog helped me on my last Disney trip! Hoping I can maybe one day go again when this is all better.

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Tglane Says...

Would love to win the vacation

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Nicholas Key Says...

Fingers crossed!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Colleenruv Says...

Always have wanted to visit this time of year. Disney rocks Christmas!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:10 p.m.
Lizz Says...

You guys are awesome, best customer service. Always use you for Disney, but haven't been to Universal yet!! Hopefully soon!!!????????

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:09 p.m.
Jessica L Says...

Wish we could be there for the holidays!!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:09 p.m.
Nancy Steward Says...

With the year my family has had this would be a great escape.

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:08 p.m.
Julie Says...

Fun pic of Grinch!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:08 p.m.
philly67 Says...

We absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter park and adore the Earl Grey & lavender ice cream!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:08 p.m.
Jason Says...

Thank you for all you do in getting the great prices and specials out to us!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:07 p.m.
Jason Leibert Says...

I can't wait to go back again someday!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:04 p.m.
joyce j Says...

Universal looks amazing at Christmas. Makes me want to go! Thanks!

Dec 2, 2020 at 4:04 p.m.
Marsha Hughes-Gay Says...

After 2020--we all need to get away. I'd love to give this gift to my daughters

Dec 2, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Vanessa Bruland Says...

Super fun article for planning a universal trip around the holidays. I’ve never been during Christmas time, but it looks like it would be a blast

Dec 2, 2020 at 4 p.m.
Cassandra C Says...

I would love to visit during the holidays. I would really enjoy Christmas with no snow. The parks looks so festive. I love all the decorations.

Dec 2, 2020 at 3:56 p.m.
Hazel Says...

Would love to visit the theme parks during Christmastime! We were supposed to visit all the Florida parks over our fall break, but cancelled it because of COVID. Hoping we can go in 2021!

Dec 2, 2020 at 3:16 a.m.
sweepermom Says...

Great info from this blog for planning a trip to Universal!

Dec 2, 2020 at 1:22 a.m.

I waiting eagerly for Summer 2021 to begin!!!!!! I want this to be my Summer Adventure 2020 Trip!!!!!!

Dec 1, 2020 at 11:42 p.m.
Kelly Smith Says...

I would love to go havent been there since I was a child

Dec 1, 2020 at 10:37 p.m.
Christian Baker Says...

Such an amazing and magical place... I miss it so much!

Dec 1, 2020 at 10:29 p.m.
Sarah Ehrhart Says...

So much help in visiting Orlando with my grandchildren!

Dec 1, 2020 at 8:23 p.m.
Holly Haymond Says...

Totally burned my tongue on the hot butterbeer... Beware! ????

Dec 1, 2020 at 6:03 p.m.
jazmin67 Says...

i so want to visit and see the Christmas decorations

Dec 1, 2020 at 5:26 p.m.
V Davis Says...

Wish I could go in person!

Dec 1, 2020 at 5:10 p.m.
Lisa Says...

Hot butterbeer is awesome - highly recommended!

Dec 1, 2020 at 4:38 p.m.
Tiff Says...

Christmas in the Wizarding World is the best time of year! I always look forward to the hot butterbeer.

Dec 1, 2020 at 4:32 p.m.
Jamie Says...

Will be visiting next week - thanks for the great information!

Dec 1, 2020 at 3:49 p.m.
Donna Evans Says...

I have annual passes every year

Dec 1, 2020 at 3:42 p.m.
Janet Migliaccio Says...

Headed to Universal the week after Christmas hoping we at least get to ride a couple of things. It has been a lifelong dream to go at Christmas I am just getting scared that we will all be disappointed if the crowds are so big that we don't get to even half way enjoy ourselves. :-( Wish me luck!

Dec 1, 2020 at 5:17 a.m.
barbara lowe Says...

Best time to buy tickets.

Dec 1, 2020 at 12:19 a.m.
J Estrada Says...

We've only visited Disneyworld once this past October and it was magical!

Dec 1, 2020 at 12:14 a.m.
Micah Says...

Want to come back again, but waiting until 2021 when the coaster is done. Christmas would be very fun one year though when things are back to normal.

Nov 30, 2020 at 6:38 p.m.
Jana Bush Says...

Visiting the parks at Christmas seems so magical! What a dream!

Nov 30, 2020 at 5:23 p.m.
Texasmama Says...

Love the CHristmas decorations!

Nov 30, 2020 at 4:04 p.m.
Brad Thompson Says...

THanks for the advice!~

Nov 30, 2020 at 4:01 p.m.
Brandi Breen Says...

Can’t wait to visit with my daughter to see her face as she experiences magic!

Nov 30, 2020 at 2:26 p.m.
chris Says...

can not wait to visit again :)

Nov 30, 2020 at 2:15 p.m.
Brian M Says...

New years sounds like fun there. Really want to go this year but aiming for 2021. Thanks!!

Nov 30, 2020 at 2:13 p.m.
Dan M. Says...

Nice article.

Nov 30, 2020 at 2:08 p.m.
Maureen Z Says...

There is no more magical place than the pals in Orlando- especially at Christmas! Such joy and wonder everywhere you look and no matter which park you have the pleasure to go!

Nov 30, 2020 at 12:44 p.m.
Marisa Huynh Says...

Can't wait to Visit the Parks Again ! Hopefully 2021

Nov 30, 2020 at 7:43 a.m.
Michael DeFren Says...

i never been during the winter, it looks beautiful

Nov 30, 2020 at 6:15 a.m.
Brandy Burkett Says...

Great info! Thanks for sharing!

Nov 30, 2020 at 4:43 a.m.
bn100 Says...

looks fun


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