Universal Orlando does the holidays in a big way! They certainly give Walt Disney World a run for their money during Christmastime. There are big parades, holiday overlays at different parts of each park, festive snacks and so much more. Let’s take a look at all the fun things to do at Universal Orlando during the most wonderful time of the year.
Universal’s Holiday Parade
Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is one of the coolest parts about being at Universal around the holidays. You can see characters from your favorite Universal movies like Shrek, Despicable Me, Madagascar and more! The Christmas floats, holiday dancers and larger-than-life balloons float through the streets of Universal Studios and it is just so magical. Make sure to get a good seat because not only will all your favorite characters be there, but so will Santa Clause! The parade is at Universal Studios and starts at 5:30pm. It will run nightly from November 13 to January 2. Pro Tip- If you sit near the giant Christmas tree, you will be able to see Santa light it up.
Holiday Tree Hunt
The Holiday Tree Hunt is another fun activity to do during the holidays at Universal. This holiday themed scavenger hunt is a fan favorite! There are trees spread throughout Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk. To partake in this activity, simply purchase a Holiday Tree Hunt brochure for $10 at select retail locations around the parks. From there, stop at each Christmas tree and get a stamp. Once you have found all the Christmas trees, bring your brochure to the Park Plaza Holiday Shop, Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe, or Universal Studios Store CityWalk to collect your prize- a special holiday ornament! If you want to find all the Christmas trees without purchasing the brochure, you can do that too (you just won’t be able to get the ornament at the end). The themed Christmas trees can be found at:
- Universal Studios Store
- Five & Dime
- Silver Screen Collectibles
- SpongeBob StorePants
- San Francisco Candy Factory
- MIB Gear
- Islands of Adventure Trading Company
- Cats, Hats and Things
- Comic Book Store
- Toon Extra
- Jurassic Outfitters
- All Hallows Eve Boutique
- Universal Studios Store (CityWalk)
- Universal Legacy Store
- Toothsome Chocolate Emporium
Holiday Tribute Store
Usually, the Tribute Store is decked out in Halloween props and décor. Last year, for the first time, the Tribute Store decided to have a Christmas overlay and it was a huge hit! Since it was so well received last year, Universal decided to bring Christmas back to the Holiday Tribute Store again this year! The store features four festively themed rooms. First, enter Santa’s Workshop where it feels like you stepped right into all the hustle and bustle of the North Pole. You’ll see toys being made step by step. Next, visit the Christmas Curios Museum & Emporium room to see what Earl the Squirrel is up to. Earl the Squirrel is a Universal legend, and he is always hidden in the Christmas tree at Universal. In the Christmas Curios Museum & Emporium, you can also find some delicious holiday treats like gingerbread cookies and whoopie pies. Then, make your way to the Grinch’s Lair. This whole room is themed as the Whoville Sanitation Department. You can find all things Grinch related here. Finally, waltz your way into the Yule Ball- the formal wizard winter celebration from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. You can find all things Harry Potter here. The Holiday Tribute Store will be open from November 13- January 2.
Christmas at Hogsmeade & Diagon Alley
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter looks even better (if that’s possible!) with a little holiday magic. As you walk into Hogsmeade and see the quite village covered with snow and Christmas lights and garland, it is truly magical. Diagon Alley is a sight to see as well with the garland, bows and lights lining the store fronts and streets. If you thought it looked good during the day, you must come see it at night when everything is all lit up. The best part of being in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during the holidays is the projection show on Hogwarts Castle. “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts” is a nighttime spectacular in which you will see the castle come alive! This show really captures the holiday fun that you see in the Christmas scenes of the Harry Potter movies.
Seuss Landing at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is perhaps the most elaborately decorated land of all the parks. You will find Christmas tinsel and trinkets around every corner. At the entrance of Seuss Landing, there are two white trees that have a color projection show with dancing lights at night. The Whoville citizens wander the streets and love to chat with guests. Of course, what’s Christmas without The Grinch?! The mean, green grump himself has a special meet & greet at All The Books You Can Read store. Also, there is The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, which is a fun show where talented performers act out The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. The best part of the show, is seeing the Grinch and his adorable little dog, Max (he is actually a real dog!) The Grinch is hilarious and delivers some great one-liners. Fans of Dr. Seuss or The Grinch should not miss this!
Mannheim Steamroller Concerts
The Mannheim Steamroller Concerts have been bringing the musical stylings of Christmas for the past 13 years. They are dubbed “the masters of Christmas music” and are the best-selling holiday artists of all time. The concerts are held at 7pm on select Saturdays and Sundays at the Music Plaza Stage. The dates for the shows this year are December 4, 5, 11 and 12. Access to the concert is included with park admission.
Universal Orlando has released many festive snacks and beverages for the Christmas season. First, head over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and grab a hot Butterbeer. Yes, this isn’t really a holiday exclusive snack, but it is perfect for a cooler, December evening. All around Universal Orlando Resort, you can find holiday themed snacks. Here are just a few holiday snacks and where you can find them:
- Battery Park Food Booth (Universal Studios): Chocolate Pressed S’mores, Holiday Leftovers, Nutty Nog
- San Francisco Pastry Company (Universal Studios): Peppermint Mini Cake, Nutella Cheesecake Reindeer Pop, Vegan Christmas Brownies
- TODAY Café (Universal Studios): Christmas Tree Tower, Christmas Present, Frozen Hot Cocoa, Gingerbread Ornament
- Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop (Islands of Adventure): Grinch Hot Chocolate Bomb, Grinch Green Sugar Cookies, Grinch Ice Cream Sandwich
- Mythos Restaurant (Islands of Adventure): Aegean Cheer Punch
- Mistletoe Pines Village (CityWalk): Cookie Butter Santa Puff, Frozen Hot Cocoa, Cookie Dough Christmas Tree
Mistletoe Pines Village
Mistletoe Pines Village is the newest addition to the holidays at Universal. It’s a fun holiday village located right in the middle of CityWalk. Here, you can find lots of Christmas sweets, treats, drinks and merchandise. There is a booth here where you can get a caricature drawn. You can even purchase a customized holiday ornament with your photo inside! Mistletoe Pines is open daily from 9am-11pm so be sure to stop by!
Universal for Christmas?
Overall, Universal Orlando is a great place to visit for the holidays. You can make a whole day of doing the Christmas Tree Stroll, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Holiday Tribute Store, grabbing some holiday treats and enjoying the Universal Holiday Parade. Don’t forget to stop by to see Mr. Grinch in his Santa outfit! There is definitely not a shortage of fun things to do here for the holidays.The Orlando Real on