Traditions are important, especially around the holidays. They can inspire generations of families and friends to create lasting bonds and cherished memories. If you travel over the holidays like many do, you may wonder how you can keep up some of the same customs from afar.
Good news! Spending the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort doesn’t mean losing out on any of those quintessential moments, either. You can share in many of the holiday routines you have at home and pick up a few new ones, too.
Below are 11 ways to carry on your favorite holiday traditions with a twist that can only be found at Universal Orlando Resort.
See the Lights
Growing up in Michigan, one of my favorite things to do was driving through the neighborhood to check out the festive light displays. Today, I experience that festive activity in a more spellbinding neighborhood: Hogsmeade village in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Lights adorn every archway, every windowpane and every building. It’s also home to the best light display around with The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. This stunning, projection mapping light display happens every evening from dusk until park close and will take your breath away at its grandeur. Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is truly magical — be sure to stop by Diagon Alley, too!
Instead of waking up at 3 am to put the bird in the oven, might I suggest you take your turkey dinner on the go. At the Crepe Cart in Universal Studios Florida, you can get everything you love about a traditional turkey feast in a crepe! Stuffed with oven roasted turkey breast, savory herb stuffing, cornbread croutons, cranberry raisins and smothered in sage turkey gravy, this dinner will be just as good as at home, but without all the clean up afterwards.
Finding something for everyone on your gift list will be easier than getting a parking spot at the local mall. You’ll find Harry Potter-themed ornaments, Grinchmas spirit jerseys, Minion Santa popcorn buckets, and so much more at many of the shops in the theme parks and Universal CityWalk.
A few of my favorite places to visit are Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe, Park Plaza Holiday Shop, and The Holiday Tribute Department Store in Universal Studios that features themed rooms that make you feel like you’re walking through a holiday movie set. It’s a must see. For all my online shoppers, you can purchase Universal gifts from our online store, too.
PRO TIP: Stay at a Universal hotel and you can have your holiday purchases delivered to your hotel at no charge.
Meet The Grinch (a.k.a. Santa with attitude)
You can meet Santa and his elves just about anywhere these days, but if you want a warm, fuzzy moment with a side of snark, then you’ve got to meet the mean, green one himself. The Grinch and the Whos can be found celebrating Grinchmas in Seuss Landing. Catch them throughout Seuss Landing, at the photo op, or performing in The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of the classic tale starring the Grinch, featuring music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller.
If you can’t get enough of the maven of mischief, then check out the Holiday Tour for some quality time with the Grinch and his dog, Max!
Confession, I put up five Christmas trees each year. Two miniature ones for my bathrooms, two small ones for my sons’ bedrooms and then the main tree. (And if you count the one on my office desk, then technically six trees.) I love creating a theme for each and decorating them with my kiddos. But what I enjoy most is the mood a beautifully decorated tree can create. Each one with its own personality and style.
One way to find a tree that matches your vacation style is to go on The Holiday Tree Hunt sponsored by Earl the Squirrel Tree Farm. Just purchase the official Holiday Tree Hunt brochure and locate 15 themed trees throughout the theme parks and Universal CityWalk. Each tree has a hidden item and when you’ve found them all, turn in the brochure for a special ornament prize.
Parade Magic Served Nightly
Along with the millions of other viewers, I partake in the annual tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And each year, I am in awe of the flawless execution of an event of that magnitude. Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is just as grand of a spectacle and held nightly at Universal Studios Florida giving you more chances to experience it.
With larger-than-life balloons featuring Minions, Shrek and Madagascar, over 100 festive entertainers including Santa Claus and even a special Florida snowfall — it’s a park tradition that spans 20 years and you get to be part of it.
Festival of Lights
Celebrate Hanukkah at all eight of Universal’s hotels with a special menorah lighting ceremony held each night at sundown. As a reminder of your Universal Orlando trip, check out the special Hanukkah ornaments featuring a Dreidel and Menorah available in The Holiday Tribute store in Universal Studios Florida.
I rotate at least six holiday music playlists throughout the year. Each song stirs up a memory and gets me into the holiday spirit. At Universal Orlando, you can experience holiday classics performed by Mannheim Steamroller (on select nights) or add some new songs to your holiday repertoire like “My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas” by Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees or “Christmas at Hogwarts” by the Frog Choir.
Balance out your triumphant thrills with some holiday chill time and catch a movie at Universal Cinemark. Splurge on extra-buttery popcorn and stretch out on the luxury recliners to watch classic holiday films like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and more or check out the latest releases. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon to recharge. Find showtimes and ticket information here.
Ring in the New Year
Countdown to the new year with a variety of family-friendly celebrations taking place at Universal Orlando hotels. From special menus at the dining venues to live entertainment and midnight balloon drops, each hotel has a unique way to celebrate the promise of a new year.
Spend Time With Friends & Family
The most important tradition is spending time with those you love. Whether at home or a theme park, creating new memories and reflecting on those of holidays past, it’s the time we spend together that will be remembered year after year.
I hope this list was helpful in planning your next holiday trip. Let me know what you would put on the list by sharing your holiday traditions in the comments below.