Guide to Universal Orlando Holidays & Christmas in The Wizarding World

Holidays at Universal OrlandoWhat better way to bring together minions, ogres, toys and more than holidays at Universal Orlando? 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 Holidays at Universal doesn’t disappoint. From Grinchmas to Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there’s a lot going on to spread holiday cheer. Best of all, the Holidays at Universal Orlando events are included with regular Universal Orlando admission. If you’re like us and you’re already planning a Christmas vacation at the parks, catch up on highlights from last year and what to expect during this upcoming festive season. Universal Orlando announced the festivities will take place from November 16, 2019 through January 5, 2020!

Christmas in The Wizarding World | Holiday Events in the Parks | Holidays at the Hotels | Which Ticket Should You Get? | Comments

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Hogwarts

You know that feeling you get when you watch Harry Potter 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 Adventures 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.

Take a look at the decorations from 2018. Outside each of the store fronts, it was as though the shopkeepers decorated the garlands themselves. At Gladrags Wizardwear, for example, the garland was decorated with pink ribbons that looked as if they came from Hermione's dress. There were feathers woven into the garland at Owl Post and what looked like sugary, pastel balls at Honeydukes. 

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Hogsmeade

Our fellow froggies, the Frog Choir, will perform special concerts with Christmas songs straight from the spell books.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." 

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" 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 fairies creating the Christmas tree, the Weasley twins making mischief and more! Even if you aren't a fan of the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts, we recommend checking these shows out. They're gorgeous and really capture the unique holiday fun you see in the Harry Potter films and books.

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" 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.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s & More Holidays at Universal Orlando Festivities in the Parks

The highlight of the holidays at Universal Orlando (for us, at least!) is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's. The parade has more than a dozen festive balloons and 15 floats for your enjoyment! You'll catch some of your favorite Universal characters making Christmas mischief, including Minions, Shrek and more! Stay tuned for 2019's showtimes!

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Parade Minions

Of course, jolly ol' Santa typically makes an appearance lighting up the beautiful tree in New York! The floats are as elaborate as ever, so bring a camera and snap as many pictures as you can! Seeing this float with your family is sure to bring the warm fuzzies. After the parade last year, you could stick around to meet the characters who hang out with their floats. We hope we'll be able to do the same again this year!

If you want a front-row spot for Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's right 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: TONS OF CONFETTI!

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Santa

Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure

It wouldn't be the holidays at Universal Orlando without Grinchmas! The green sourpuss himself will be returning to Islands of Adventure for Christmas fun. Watch the green guy bring his signature snark to the Christmas Who-liday Spectacular at Seuss Landing.

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Grinchmas Townsfolk

Last year, Seuss Landing was 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!

The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular will return 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 showtime, as you do need to walk a fair distance to the sound stage in which it takes place, even if there aren't huge crowds. Hop tip: Catch the first show of the day as it's likely to be the least crowded.

The show added a few new touches last year that delighted returning fans and pleased new Who-liday fans! While definitely a tadpole-centric show, it is a blast for any fans of the Grinch. (And OMG ... Max is played by an adorable, live dog. What a good boy!)


Festive Food & Drinks at the Holidays at Universal Orlando

Drinking Butterbeer is a must-do whenever you visit the Universal parks. While year-round Butterbeer is served cold or frozen, you can 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

Holidays 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 six 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 buffets.

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Loews Royal Pacific Resort

If you want to experience the holidays at Universal Orlando during the busiest times, we highly recommend you stay on-site at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel and 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 purchase it separately) the weeks 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, hop to Loews Sapphire Falls, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Universal's newest hotel, Aventura! While they don't offer Unlimited Express, these hotels (all of Universal's hotels) offer one-hour early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal's Volcano Bay. If you stay on-site, you can get a hop on experiencing the Christmas in the Wizarding World holiday magic! What's even more magical is to book your Universal Orlando hotel room at a discount, so hop to it!

Which Ticket Should You Get During Holidays at Universal Orlando?

Holidays at Universal Orlando - Grinch and Max

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 makes it easy to hop. 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 forget we offer discounts on the Universal Orlando hotels too!)

Ready to visit Universal Orlando 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 to 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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301–350 of 1397 comments
Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. dlwmama Says...

Looks like an amazing time to visit!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. Heather Morris Says...

This looks like loads of hoppin fun!!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:57 p.m. AshleyC Says...

Visited in February- it was amazing. Now it looks like I need to visit during the Christmas season!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:56 p.m. Karen D Uyesugi Says...

I just love all of this...... will be there for New Years

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. John Goode Says...

Looks cool

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. Bob S Says...

Universal’s Cabana Bay’s Hotel is fabulous!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:55 p.m. Beth from Cincy Says...

I want Santa to take me to Universal for Christmas!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:53 p.m. CJ Says...

Looks amazing!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:53 p.m. Kelli Says...

Haven’t been in years, but would love to come back during the holidays!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:52 p.m. Jocelyn Says...

We’ve been to Universal twice now and we’re itching to go back! Booking our hotel and Universal tickets though Undercover Tourist was the best decision ever!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:52 p.m. Peaches Says...

I love Disney after Christmas and New Years. It’s the best vacation!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:50 p.m. Jennifer Hutcheson Says...

I would love to take the fam!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:48 p.m. DisMarie Says...

So magical at Christmas time! ????

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:47 p.m. KarenW Says...

So informative! Love the pictures you included. I can't wait to go and see it in person!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:46 p.m. AmandalikeCrazy Says...

I have to make it to Hogwarts for Christmas! I told myself that I would this year, I just have to find a way...

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:46 p.m. Ehab1331 Says...

Universal at Christmas looks magical! I haven't been in 15 years and can't wait to go!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:45 p.m. RobR Says...

Such beautiful pictures! Thanks for the blog post!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:44 p.m. SH123 Says...

A magical place to spend the holidays!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:44 p.m. Crystal Says...

Love undercover tours best website ever

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:43 p.m. Excited!!! Says...

The pictures are amazing. Super excited to share this with my daughter.

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:43 p.m. Amie Vargus Says...

I love universal took 2 vacations there now Halloween was amazing next maybe Christmas because omg I meed to see hogsmead for Christmas. And I meed more butterbeer.

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:43 p.m. Kristi Whiting Says...

Hoping to visit Harry Potter world soon!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:43 p.m. Paul C Says...

Always providing quality information to help plan our visits. Thank you.

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:42 p.m. Lori Miller Says...

Universal is one of our favorite places!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:41 p.m. Elizabeth Says...

The Hogwarts castle looks amazing!!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:38 p.m. Ala Says...

This is amazing!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. JoyL Says...

The new holiday events at UOR are wonderful!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. Megan G Says...

Looks so fun!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:37 p.m. Joann Says...

love ❤

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:36 p.m. MNelson Says...

I have been to Orlando twice to visit the parks...Once in December, once in July. Both times were great but I do love the holiday decorations best!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:36 p.m. Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld Says...

Awesome service! Undercovertourist helped me with my first trip with my son to Disney/Universal this past jan 2017!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:36 p.m. KC Says...

Looks amazing!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:36 p.m. Melissa Moler Says...

Love Undercover tourist! The best way to plan your Disney Vacation. I would love to win a trip to Universal Orlando or WDW!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:35 p.m. Darci P Says...

Absolutely amazing! Looks like so much fun!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:35 p.m. mmhwilliams Says...

How long do the Christmas decorations stay up after the holidays?

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:34 p.m. Momma Coops Says...

Love Undercover Tourist and all they offer! What a great article!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:34 p.m. Kristin Robertucci Says...

Undercover Tourist is a great source for info on Disney and Universal.

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:34 p.m. Billy Su Says...

It looks so festive!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:34 p.m. Deirdre Says...

My kids and I would love it!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:34 p.m. Kimberly H Catledge Says...


Nov 30, 2017 at 6:33 p.m. Kimberly H Catledge Says...


Nov 30, 2017 at 6:33 p.m. Anniefrances Says...

Looks spectacular!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:33 p.m. Jaocynthe Says...

This will be our first Christmas in Orlando. Thank you for the helpful information!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:33 p.m. LeAnn Nome Says...

This all looks like so much fun! My kids would love everything about Universal!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:31 p.m. Melanie Brazier Says...

I used you guys when we went to Orlando 5 1/2 years ago and I loved it! I planned our days based on your crown calendar at the time. Thank you!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:31 p.m. Pugmom2009 Says...

Would love to go

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Abdul Says...

Would love to check this out!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Kristine Keele Says...

Disneyland next week! Disney World next year!!

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. Jamie Decker Says...

We would love to got to Univeral we have never been.

Nov 30, 2017 at 6:29 p.m. Lisa D Says...

This is my most favorite place!!!!

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