Christmas in New York City is magical. And as a true New Yorker who has spent many holidays in “the city” (Manhattan for true New Yorkers) with the family, I am always drawn to the enchantment of the town and how much it comes alive as everyone takes in the festiveness of the most wonderful time of year.
The city during this season brings out so much excitement for people because it truly feels like you have been teleported to an idyllic Christmas town out of the pages of your favorite holiday classic. With the collection of sparkling lights, ice skating, endless holiday music on repeat and layers of festive scarves and coats, you feel like there is no other place you would rather be… Well, unless you’re at Universal Orlando Resort, where you can find some of that very same Christmas-in-NYC-merriment.
During the holidays, the theme parks are wrapped in a delightful display of joyful entertainment, themed beverages (Earl’s Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Acorn Bomb is a must-try), and Christmas carols that will leave you wondering if your journey to Universal Orlando was somehow a secret gateway to the splendor of the holidays in New York. I am always amazed at the adeptness that goes into designing the streets and scenic environments throughout the resort. And while the entire destination is filled with joy, one location in particular always makes me feel like I have a piece of “New York during Christmas” with me and that’s the New York area at Universal Studios Florida.
The lightheartedness in the air, the building stoops adorned with the greenest wreaths and the facade apartment windows encircled with jubilant dancing lights collectively reacquaint me with that authentic touch of Christmas magic that I can only find in the real NYC, including the snow which can be enjoyed while watching Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.
As an outdoors enthusiast, I love taking a stroll through the myriad of parks in the city, and I feel like I can take a bite out of the Big Apple when I walk through Gramercy Park and Central Park in Universal Studios Florida. If you are lucky, you can even enjoy the chillier days of Florida’s winter and actually wear a jacket outside. Eventually the atmosphere of the theme park environment figuratively brings me back to the glistening holiday streets of the City That Never Sleeps.
My family and I truly cannot get enough New York when we visit the park during the holidays so we make it a goal to ride some of our favorite experiences that heighten our longing back to NYC, such as Revenge of the Mummy, which is among my holiday picks. We also appreciate a good group holiday photo in front of the Christmas tree because it feels like we are capturing the moment in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center.
Once the sun goes down, I feel like I stepped onto the set of one of my favorite Christmas movies. The townhouses/brownstones (walkups as they are identified by New Yorkers) located in this area of the park bring me back to the humor and hijinks of a boy left home alone, attempting to secure the walkup from the sticky bandits. The fact that Universal Studios is an actual film studio coupled with the immersive nature of the park during Christmas makes everything seem so real that I’m always expecting to see a kid darting across the roof for his latest scheme.
NYC during Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a bit of shopping. While I love taking a stroll through all the shops in the city fitted with the season’s latest styles, I also appreciate that I can do the same at the Holiday Tribute Department Store inside the park which is themed to an exciting holiday story each year. This year’s theme features a section dedicated to vintage New York City — another reason to add a visit to this store to your Christmas list.
Take it from any true New Yorker who has spent countless Christmases in the city, if you want a taste of all the splendor that New York has to offer during Christmas, a visit to the New York location of Universal Studios Florida during the most wonderful time of the year is such a fitting way to unwrap the best part of the holiday season.
What are your favorite ways to recreate a New York City Christmas at Universal?