Events, Guest Stories

Celebrate the Holidays with Your Family at Universal Orlando Resort

January 3, 2018

There is something truly magical about the holidays. The festive decorations, the glowing lights, the beautiful and nostalgic sound of carols—and great company never hurts. Celebrating is different for everyone but, if you can bring your family to Universal Orlando Resort during the holidays, the experience will blow you away. The halls are decked, carols are in the air, and Christmas cheer and Hot Butterbeer await.

I had the opportunity to visit with my girls, Gabriella and Michaela, and my sister Susana. Christmas is our absolute favorite holiday, and we were super stoked to experience it at Universal Orlando.

Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort

Let me show you why you have to experience the holidays here and why your family will love it as much as we did.

Magical Hotel Fun

Your stay at Universal Orlando during the holidays will be full of magic, even at your hotel! The hotels offer many holiday related events to keep you in the spirit, even after a long day at the parks. Each hotel has different events going on. For example, you can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus for a photo op. Decorate ornaments for your Christmas tree. Attend a Christmas party, or New Year’s Eve bash and munch on holiday favorites.

Each hotel has their own events, so be sure to click here to get the full scoop on the when’s and where’s for later this year.

A Holly Jolly Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Christmas decor at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade

Are you or any of your children Harry Potter fanatics? Well, you’re in for a treat. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has transformed during the holidays. The shops are decked in lit garland, and each shop is decorated according to the style of the store owner. You can see the difference in every store window.

Christmas Decor in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade

Make sure you take your time walking through Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Take in all the details, revel in the yuletide, and don’t forget your wand to cast some charms when you walk through. Plus, there are special holiday-themed snacks and drinks available to quench your hunger.

Christmas Decor in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade

At Hogsmeade in Universal Island of Adventure, you’ll be able to view a special holiday show by the Frog Choir. The 5-part harmony vocal group, comprised of Hogwarts students, is amazing and what can I say about those frogs? Love them! They will perform some fun holiday melodies, including “Christmas at Hogwarts” and a fun reprise of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Hop on the Hogwarts Express to King’s Cross Station and walk over to Diagon Alley. You’ll find that Celestina Warbeck and The Banshees have prepared their own special show just for the holidays, including numbers like “Nothing Like a Holiday Spell”, “Accio Christmas”, and “A Witch and Wizard’s Wintry Wondrous Land”. You’ll love Celestina—she is sassy in all her diva-glory and she has the pipes to back it up.

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Castle Comes to Life!

One of the most incredible things to see at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the holidays is The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. They’ve put an incredible amount of thought, work, and the latest in projection-mapping technology to bring the castle to life.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

A spell has been cast on Hogwarts castle where it becomes covered in snow and brings to life special moments inspired by the movies. You’ll see Hogwarts students fly around the castle on broomsticks, , dancing at the Yule Ball, and even advertise a certain joke shop on the castle itself. I bet you can guess who does that—those who solemnly swear they are up to no good!

Don’t forget to grab a mug of Hot Butterbeer to watch the show. The show starts at dusk and continues until park close with small breaks in between. The best time to catch the show is later in the evening. That way, you avoid the initial rush people when it first starts.

For the Harry Potter fans, wizards, witches, and Muggles alike, Universal Orlando is a must this time of year.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s!

Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's Despicable Me

At the end of your day in Universal Studios Florida, you can watch the new Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. It is once a day in the evening (check your park map or the Official Universal Orlando Resort App for the start time).

This parade is three years in the making, and they wanted to make it bigger and better than they ever had it.

There are 15 floats that are absolutely gigantic! The details and lights that decorate them will take your breath away. Every float and costume, and the balloons together make a story, that leads up towards Christmas and Santa lighting up the tree. Of course, Santa’s classic float will be making a return with his reindeer in tow. A holiday parade isn’t a holiday parade without the big guy himself.

Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's Santa Claus

There are 16 new, massive balloons this year with most of them designed exclusively by Macy’s for this parade. You’ll see Bob the Minion from Illumination’s Despicable Me; the Dronkeys and Gingy from Shrek; and a special gift that King Julien from Madagascar has gifted to himself!

The music score from the beginning of the parade and from the toy section to the end is originally composed for this parade. The music is absolutely moving.

TIP: For parade viewing, try to get a seat early on the curb. If you can’t, try a side street. They aren’t as busy, and you see the same show that you see on the main drag. But really, seeing the show from any spot is amazing.

With over 100 performers, the snow, and the confetti, this parade is sure to be a hit for your entire family. Plus, it will help you make new holiday memories to last a lifetime.

Meet and Greet After the Parade

Universal's Holidays Parade Featuring Macy's Characters

Gru and his entire family and the whole crew from Madagascar set up in front of their floats and do a meet and greet after the parade. That way, you can see the floats up close and get to visit with your favorite characters.

Plus, there’s a mini-show in front of the Christmas tree afterward. Shrek, Donkey, Fiona and Puss and Boots all come out after the parade. All of the evening festivities will keep you busy until park close!


Grinchmas in Seuss Landing at Universal's Islands of Adventure

What is Christmas, without the classic Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Seuss Landing at Universal Island of Adventure is overflowing with Grinchy sarcasm during The Who-liday Spectacular. It’s a retelling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Here you’ll even have the opportunity for autographs and photos of you and your family with the Grinch.

Have you ever had breakfast with Santa? Did you know you can have breakfast with the Grinch here? You’ll have to make reservations, as space is limited. One thing is for sure, do not miss this opportunity for even more pictures of you and the Grinch whilst enjoying a tasty breakfast. The Grinch has always been a favorite of mine and I love seeing him at Universal Orlando. The whole experience kind of makes your heart grow a size or two!

Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Spend Time with Your Favorite Characters

I don’t know about you but one of our favorite reasons for heading to Universal Orlando is being able to spend time with our favorite characters.

You can even catch the Whos from Whoville running around, riding the rides, and interacting with everyone. It’s so much fun!

Seuss Landing at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Take the Magic Home

You’ve experienced the whimsy of yuletide at Universal Orlando, right? Now is your chance to take a little piece of it with you. We collect Christmas ornaments from wherever we go, so we were stoked to see the amazing selection they have here. I find that it helps us remember the memories we made!

Despicable Me Merchandise

So, whether you collect pens, mugs, or ornaments like us, there’s something for everyone!

Time to Ride!

Now you know of some awesome holiday-inspired things to do at Universal Studios! It’s time to have even more fun and check out the rides. Here are some tips for having fun and exploring the rest of the parks with the family while you’re there.

Grab a Universal Express Pass Unlimited

I simply cannot say it enough. In order to be able to get on almost every single ride you want, you’re going to want this pass. It’s an add-on to your park tickets and it is worth every penny.

It allows you to skip the regular wait lines and use the Universal Express Pass line. Sometimes you walk right on to a ride and other times there’s a small wait but, it’s always a fraction of what you’d wait in the regular lane. Believe me, get this! You can even get on the rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter through the Express line and it’s AWESOME.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

Take Turns

It’s no fun when one person gets to visit everything on their list and everyone else is out of luck. Spend some time doing one thing that each person wants to do. Taking turns doing activities for each person can help make this a memorable vacation.

Christmas decor in Seuss Landing

Do Something New

You know what? When you’re at Universal Orlando you shouldn’t be afraid to try something new. Go on a new ride or try a new food. You never know what you may discover when you open your mind up to trying something new.

I suggest going to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen in Universal CityWalk. It’s an incredible experience where you step into another world that is steampunk-esque! The food is scrumptious, the drink menu exquisite, and the dessert to die for!

Plus, it’s so festive this time of year and you’ll even get a visit from Professor Doctor Penelope & Robot Jacques. It really is a sweet treat all around!

Get in the Spirit

Seuss Merchandise from Universal Orlando Resort

When walking around Universal Orlando, it’s okay to fall in love. Seeing your favorite characters walking up and down the park is so fun. You’ll fall in love with the atmosphere of the park and the personality of the characters. Best of all, when you leave the park, you’ll be ready to celebrate Christmas (if you didn’t celebrate the day of here) and ring in the New Year!

Universal Orlando Resort is perfect for this time of year. Christmas is a magical part of life and a big part of it is celebrating with family. Getting to spend time here during the holidays and make memories that will last a lifetime is priceless. Universal has truly made the magic of Christmas come to life and it’s something you and your family need to experience first hand.

Universal's Islands of Adventure

We‘re home now, but a huge smile crossed our faces when we hung our Universal and Hogwarts ornaments on the tree. You can still experience the festivities through January 6, or start planning your trip for this year. It’s never too early to start!

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  • Reply Amber Myers January 4, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I would love to go here during the holidays! I think it would be a cool experience. We’re not into Harry Potter, but we do love The Grinch, so seeing him would be neat.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 4, 2018 at 11:49 am

      I think you’d love the Holiday Parade! It’s brand new and pretty amazing. The Grinch is awesome BTW!

  • Reply candy January 4, 2018 at 9:05 am

    We have been there several years back over Christmas and New Years. It was beautiful and a wonderful experience. Wasn’t that crowded which I was surprised about. Brought back fun memories.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 4, 2018 at 11:50 am

      It may be time to make another trip! So many new things. If you loved it then, you’ll love it now too. Hope to see you soon!

  • Reply Alli Smith January 4, 2018 at 9:46 am

    We’ve been to Universal many times over the years but we’ve never been during the holidays. It does look like a fun, magical time. What a great adventure!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      It really is magical during the holidays!

  • Reply Lisa January 4, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    My goal is to be there during Christmas one day. I love how they just deck everything out and go all out.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      YES! That is awesome… hope you visit soon!

  • Reply Jenna M Wood January 4, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    We love Universal Hollywood- they have the same holiday celebrations- I simply must get to Hogwarts before the end of the season. It definitely looks like something for the family bucket list.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      Yes, you do. Seeing the castle is jawdropping! No joke!

  • Reply Allison Cooper January 4, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    I can only imagine that Christmas time at Universal is amazing! We were there this summer and I think next time we have to make the trip during the holidays – especially to all the Harry Potter features!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      That is awesome, yes, you should make your way here during the holidays if you can. It’s not so hot too and you can’t beat the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at this time!

  • Reply Lisa Joy Thompson January 4, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Our family loves Universal, but we’ve never been there during the holidays! We need to plan a trip next Christmas! The decorations look amazing!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      Never too late to start planning. Hope you can make it soon.

  • Reply Ashley January 4, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    We’ve never been to Universal. But I think we would definitely enjoy Harry Potter world!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      If you’re a fan, you definitely would!

  • Reply Pam January 4, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    I haven’t been to Universal in ages. I think I need to go around the holidays this year, it looks magical.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      They have added a lot of things, you should check it out.

  • Reply valmg @ Mom Knows It All January 4, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I am a big Harry Potter fan. I’d love to see that area of the park now that they’ve added to it with things like Hogwart’s Express. I’d really love to see the castle all lit up.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 10:40 pm

      One of my favorite things to do is ride the Hogwarts Express and seeing the castle lit up is awesome.

  • Reply Claudia Krusch January 4, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Universal Orlando Resort during the holidays would be amazing. I will have to look into going next year as a big surprise for the kids.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      That would be a great trip for them!

  • Reply Maureen @Scoops of Joy January 4, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Looks like . you guys had so much fun at Universal! My boy (and me!) would totally love to go there one day.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 10:41 pm

      Sweet, hope you make it!

  • Reply Emily January 4, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    How amazing! I would love to travel to here for the holidays! It looks like so much fun, I am sure the crowds are not too bad either compared to summer crowds so that is another great benefit of going this time of year. Also, it looks so magical!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 5, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      Yes, it is a great time to go!

  • Reply Alison McFadden January 4, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    This is on my list to visit during the holidays. We always go in the summer but it looks like so much fun during the holidays.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:03 am

      Sweet! Try it out during the holidays!

  • Reply chelley January 5, 2018 at 12:33 am

    That’s such an awesome holiday experience!!! I would love to take my kids to Universal this time of year2

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:02 am

      It was so much fun. I think one of the highlights was the parade. It was new and the floats were amazing.

  • Reply Sarah January 5, 2018 at 12:43 am

    I’ve always wanted to see Universal during the holidays. It sure does look magical. One year, we will have to make it happen.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:03 am

      Hope you can!

  • Reply Toni | Boulder Locavore January 5, 2018 at 1:13 am

    How fun!! Looks like you had an amazing holiday at Universal Studios! Planning to spend a special day at this wonderful place soon!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:10 am

      Hope you can Toni! Awesome. 🙂

  • Reply Ricci January 5, 2018 at 1:52 am

    Universal is HIGH up on my list of places to visit. I would DIE to visit Harry Potter land!!! LOL!!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:11 am

      YES, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a must!

  • Reply Our Family World January 5, 2018 at 2:28 am

    Your daughters sure looked like they loved every minute they were there at Universal Orlando. We have not been there in a while, so I guess we should start planning for the next Christmas season!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:11 am

      Yes, I think you are due!

  • Reply Sandy N Vyjay January 5, 2018 at 6:49 am

    This is indeed a truly magical holiday. The best part, of course, is the Hogwarts castle and the world of Harry Potter. A holiday for kids and adults alike.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:12 am

      You hit the nail on the head!

  • Reply Chubskulit Rose January 5, 2018 at 7:57 am

    I think the next time we visit Orlando, we would do it during the holidays. It is more exciting and not too hot!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:13 am

      Yes, yes, and… YES!

  • Reply NYC Single Mom January 5, 2018 at 8:17 am

    we have been to universal several times but I have always wanted to go during the holiday season. Everything looks so festive!!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:15 am

      Christmas is our favorite holiday, so it was a no-brainer for us!

  • Reply Susana January 5, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    What an amazing experience Universal Orlando was! Specially being a first timer there, so much to see and enjoy and savour. But of course the best was making memories with the fam ❤️

    • Reply Nancy Polanco January 6, 2018 at 1:16 am

      Thanks for coming. So happy you had a great time. The best part was making memories, for sure!

  • Reply Bohemian Babushka January 5, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    Babushka has been to Universal, but it was years ago, and not during the holidays. Considering how much the focus on details, Christmas there must be unbelievable! Gracias for the post, this might be the perfecto place to take all 6 of The Grands. BB2U

    • Reply Nancy Polanco February 17, 2018 at 12:21 pm

      My pleasure! Los esperamos entonces! Hope you guys have a blast when you come.

  • Reply Lori Vachon January 5, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Wonderful pictures, thank you for sharing this amazing time of the year at Universal. I’ve yet to visit, but I think when I do it’ll HAVE to be during the holidays!!!

    • Reply Nancy Polanco February 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Thank-you! It is a great time of year to visit, that is for sure.

  • Reply Liz Cleland January 6, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I just got back from the Wizarding world in October. I love the area just wish the prices were on the cheaper side.

    • Reply Nancy Polanco February 17, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      I hope you enjoyed your time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

  • Reply Louisa January 6, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    So much fun and excitement! One day I’ll get to visit Universal 🙂

    • Reply Nancy Polanco February 17, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      I hope it is very soon! It is one of my favorite places ever!

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