Guides and Tips

Winter Guide to Universal Orlando Resort

January 11, 2024
Holidays at Universal Orlando's Hotels

Head off the winter blues with a sunny visit to Universal Orlando Resort. With warm days and cool nights, it’s the perfect “winter” season——blending the festiveness of the holidays with the unapologetic beauty of the Sunshine State, truly making it my favorite season to visit. 

Whether you’re coming for a fun twist on holiday traditions during The Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort or for the ultimate friend getaway, this guide will help you make the most of this spectacular time of year. 


With incredible hotel options for every family, budget and style, just selecting the perfect place to stay on your winter vacation might be the hardest choice of the trip. Let me help you out by sharing two of my favorite places. 

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

Above view of dinner table

If you love nothing more than enjoying the winter season with a glass of wine and heaps of pasta, then you must stay at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. This incredibly appointed hotel is full of Italian charm and was inspired by the picturesque seaside village of Portofino, Italy. Plus, all guests of this hotel receive some sweet perks like Early Park Admission, transportation to and from the theme parks via water taxi and Universal Express Unlimited access to skip the regular lines at participating rides and attractions. 

Must-Have Experiences

  • Winter in the Sunshine State is still sunny, so soak in some Vitamin D at one of the three heated pools. The Beach Pool is the best spot for families with a water slide, sandy beach and poolside activities, while the Villa and Hillside Pools offer more privacy and upgraded amenities. 
  • Escape to the indulgent Mandara Spa for a facial, pedicure or signature Balinese massage to really take this vacation vibe to the next level. 
  • Grab a drink at The Thirsty Fish, a waterfront bar overlooking the harbor with live music on select nights. 
  • Sit down to a family dinner at Mama Della’s Ristorantewhere everyone is family. Dishes from Tuscany, Naples, and Piemonte regions take you on an epicurean adventure while strolling musicians add to the ambiance. 
  • Ring in the New Year with the hotel’s annual New Year’s Eve Party on the Piazza! This outdoor family-friendly celebration will rock your bells with gourmet food, desserts, live DJ and plenty of dancing. *Separately ticketed event.

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites


Dockside Inn and Suites is an affordable winter escape with spacious rooms and two-bedroom suites that sleep up to six people, two heated pools, and a food court serving up comfort foods. 

Must-Have Experiences

  • Home to five unique food stations, the Pier 8 Market serves up special holiday meals like Thanksgiving Day oven-roasted turkey and Christmas honey-glazed ham, so you can still enjoy holiday comfort food.
  • Chill poolside with your favorite book and a warm Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks. 
  • Take a festive photo by the beautifully-themed Christmas trees.
  • Keep the kids (or adults) busy with an on-site arcade, two pools, splash pad and poolside activities. 
  • Stop by one of the two pool bars or the lobby bar for a cozy cocktail.


Universal Orlando Resort has plenty to see and do year-round, but some experiences are especially suited for winter. During the holiday season, the parks are dressed up in full festive spirit with ornately decorated garland, twinkling lights and of course, lots of trees, trees, trees! I could go on and on about my love of the holidays but this guide is covering more than just the holidays. Check out The Guide to the Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort for more. 

Universal Studios Florida

From day to night, Universal Studios Florida has the perfect mix of movie magic and fun for everyone. 

Must-Have Experiences

Man and a woman dancing at Universal Studios Florida

Islands of Adventure

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Katelyn Darrow

Chestnuts roasting in the air, Blue the Raptor nipping at your nose, Yuletide carols being sung by a Frog Choir, and folks dressed up like Whos… this park has all the makings of a holiday song remix! 

Must-Have Experiences

The Grinch at Universal's Islands of Adventure

Universal Volcano Bay

Relaxing on Waturi Beach at Universal's Volcano Bay

Relaxing volcano-side is a view that beats any snow pile. With less crowds, heated pools, sandy beach and a mix of thrills and relaxing, Volcano Bay is a must-do. 

Must-Have Experiences

  • Find the perfect spot to post up for the day. My favorite is underneath an umbrella on Waturi Beach where I can listen to the waves, gaze at the stunning and surreal volcano and fully unwind.
Mahi Mahi


Fun winter activities continue beyond the theme parks with these CityWalk ideas! 

Must-Have Experiences

  • With 100 high-def screens, there’s no bad seat to catch a game at NBC Sports Grill & BrewThis is one of my family’s go-to spots for watching sports and grubbing on some great food, especially for some of the SUPER games that happen this time of year. My boys can’t get enough of the giant soft-pretzel and Wisconsin Fried Cheese Bites. I hardly deviate from the pulled pork sandwich (and tots!) because it’s just that good. 


The talented culinary team at Universal Orlando are always cooking up new and classic dishes you’ve got to try. 

  • Warm your belly and soul with the Campfire Chili served with cornbread or the Dutch Oven Beef Burgundy at Bigfire Restaurant in Universal CityWalk. End on a sweet note by roasting s’mores tableside. 
  • There are always delicious offerings around the holidays throughout the theme parks and resorts. Nab a hot chocolate and a sweet treat while checking out the holiday decor.
Vivo Wine Pour CityWalk
  • A glass of red vino with a steaming bowl of Mussels Marinara or Bucatini with Meatballs is a great way to warm up at VIVO Italian Kitchen in Universal CityWalk. For even more pasta plates, check out Where to Find the Best Spaghetti. 
  • Celebrate National Chocolate Lovers Month in February with a tour de chocolate at all the best spots featured in A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Chocolate Desserts.
  • National Potato Month, also held annually in February, is the perfect time to try the stuffed jacket potatoes and British crisps at the London Taxi Hut in Universal Studios Florida. 
Making Beignets at Universal's Mardi Gras
  • February also kicks off the annual Mardi Gras celebration at Universal Studios Florida and food is definitely at the heart of the experience. Check out all the eats.
  • Celebrate Valentine’s Day with dinner for two at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. The Quiche Lorraine is a personal fave with a side of French Onion Soup. And you must save room for the Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding!

I’ve got my scarf, shorts and sunglasses ready to seize the winter season. See you there! 

What are your favorite things to see, do, or eat during winter at Universal Orlando Resort? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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