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.
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!
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.
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.
At Hogsmeade in Universal’s 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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
What is Christmas, without the classic Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Seuss Landing at Universal’s 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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!