HolidaysUniversal Orlando Resort

Getting to Know Holidays at Universal Orlando 2023

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Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff, like bingle balls and Whofoo fluff because it is (finally) time for the Holidays at Universal Orlando! In this article, we will look at all the holiday offerings at the resort, from Christmas festivities to New Year’s Eve plans, and offer our touring advice.

Universal’s holiday offerings are included with park admission, unless otherwise specified, and operate daily from November 17 through December 31, 2023.

Universal Studios Florida

Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s

Universal Studios Florida’s lavish Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s stars dozens of dancers, characters, and parade floats. The highlight of the parade is the gigantic Macy’s Department Store balloons featured in the Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition to Christmas floats and holidays, characters are familiar faces from Despicable Me, Shrek, and Madagascar films plus a special appearance by Santa at the end. Halfway through the parade Santa lights up the tree in the New York section of the park. Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s performs daily, around 5:00 p.m. Check with Universal Orlando’s app for performance times.

Also in New York are the Blues Brothers, the slick duo from SNL and films, who perform a medley of Christmas favorites and re-imagined classics. Performances occur throughout the day, check the Universal Orlando app for performance times.

Universal’s Holiday Tribute Store returns with new merchandise, food, and themed experiences. No additional details have been announced at this time, including themes and location. Check out last year’s Holiday Tribute Store for an idea of what to expect. The Holiday Tribute Store is open during normal park hours.

Manheim Steamroller

New-age neoclassical instrumental group Mannheim Steamroller returns to perform classic Christmas music on select nights. The band blends traditional classical music with synthesizers and rock music to create modern interpretations of Christmas classics. Mannheim Steamroller’s concerts are included with park admission and viewing spaces fill up quickly. Mannheim Steamroller performs December 1, 2, 8, and 9 at 7:00 p.m. at Universal Studios Florida’s Music Plaza Stage.

Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees

Accio Christmas! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley celebrates Christmas with traditional English-inspired rustic decorations and a special Christmas show. In Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees sing original Christmas songs such as My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas, A Witch and Wizard’s Wintry Wondrous Land, and Nothing Like a Holiday Spell.

Islands of Adventure

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

Seuss Landing is home to the guest’s favorite Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular show. This theatrical musical show combines elements from the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Chuck Jones TV special and the 2000 Jim Carey movie to re-tell the famous story. Grinchmas is approximately 30 minutes long and is performed daily starting around 11 a.m. through the early evening. Whos from the show and other Seuss characters roam Seuss Landing interacting with guests and posing for photos throughout the day.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle (photo by Michael Carelli)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade also decks the halls for Christmas with two shows. The Hogwarts Frog Choir switches up their set list to perform classic Christmas songs acapella with their amphibious companions. Shows perform throughout the day. The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle nighttime lights show projects Christmas scenes and atmosphere from the Harry Potter movies, including the Yule Ball from Goblet of Fire. The impressive advanced projection effects, spotlights, and fireworks are worth a modest wait. Shows start at dusk and run till close – use Google to determine dusk and arrive 15 minutes prior. Guests are funneled out of Hogsmeade and into Jurassic Park at the end of the show.

Mistletoe Pines in CityWalk (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

CityWalk & Resorts

Christmas Tree Hunt sends guests throughout CityWalk and the theme parks in search of themed Christmas trees. Purchase a map and hunt for Christmas trees in Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk shops. Collect a stamp at each store and once your map is filled guests receive an exclusive tree ornament. Christmas Tree Hunt is offered daily during participating stores’ hours.

(photo by Michael Carelli)

Enjoy themed cocktails and a festive atmosphere in the Green & Red Coconut Club located on the second floor of CityWalk, next to Bob Marley’s Tribute to Freedom. Similar to HHN’s Dead Coconut Club, this themed overlay to the lounge will feature craft cocktails and fun decorations. Operating information along with menus are TBA.

Cabana Bay during Christmas

All of Universal’s hotels have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve activities throughout the season.  Each resort features holiday meals, tree lightings, and menorah lightings while select resorts feature carolers, parties, and more. For the most up-to-date list of activities visit Universal’s Hotel Holiday Activities page.

Upcharge Experiences

Earl the Squirrel

Universal offers two add-on experiences during the Holidays.

Universal’s Holiday Tour is a 4 1/2 hour group tour of several Universal holiday offerings. Guests receive:

  • Reserved seating for Grinchmas
  • Meet and greet with the Grinch and Max the dog
  • Photo with Santa
  • Priority access to one attraction
  • Private performance of The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show
  • Food, snacks, and drinks

The tour price starts at $79.99 per person plus tax and is offered on select days only during Thanksgiving and in December.

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast at Confisco Grills features The Grinch and other popular Seuss characters. Breakfast runs on select days from November 17 through December 27. Reservations include the breakfast buffet and one digital photo download of a character encounter (don’t worry, your camera is still free). Adult tickets cost $58.99 per adult plus tax, children cost $32.99 per child plus tax.

These add-on experiences can be booked online or through a Touring Plans Travel Agent.

Touring Tips

  • Grab a spot for the Universal Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at least 15 minutes prior to show time, 30 minutes on busy days. Parade spots around the Christmas Tree in New York fill up first; for a last-minute parade viewing spot go to the lagoon side of the Transformers building.
  • Crowds for Manheim Steamroller will be large, especially for Saturday performances. Arrive 30 minutes before show time for Music Plaza access, and at least an hour for the closest spots.
  • Grinchmas performs hourly from around 11 a.m. till half an hour before the park closes. Arrive 30 minutes prior to show time, 45 minutes on busy days, to guarantee a seat. The first show of the day is never full, see the first showing after experiencing the attractions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
  • The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle starts at dusk and continuously shows every 20 minutes. We suggest arriving anytime around and after dusk to see the show.

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Joseph Matt

Joe covers theme parks through the lens of his quality engineering day job. He has over five years of writing experience at Touring Plans and has gone on dozens of trips to Orlando over his life. When not at amusement parks you can find Joe at breweries, enjoying live theater, playing video games, and cooking.

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