Universal Orlando for the holidays | Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

by W. Andrew Powell
Universal Orlando Holidays & Christmas

Are you dreaming of some vacation holiday magic? If you love rides, parades, and holiday treats, Universal Orlando Resorts is very festive this time of year, and it’s the kind of Christmas vacation your family will talk about for years.

Christmas and the holidays at Universal Orlando starts in mid-November and runs until the beginning of January each year, and it’s one of the most wonderful times of year to visit the theme park. There’s Christmas trees and decorations, festive food and cheer, and lots to see and do throughout the parks.

From Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, to Christmas with the Wizarding World, not to mention the Grinch, Universal Orlando decks the parks out for the holidays, and it’s going to put you in the perfect spirit of the season.

To help plan your vacation, here is what’s going on at Universal Orlando for the holidays, and some of my top tips and suggestions, plus important details.

Plus, watch my video to see a preview of what the holidays are like at the parks.

Stay at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal Orlando has a lot of great hotels, and they all have their charms, but Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is my favourite because it’s so much fun, it has great pools, nice family-sized rooms, and decor that will take you back to the 60s.

The retro-themed resort offers standard rooms or family suites, so you can sleep four or up to six people in a room for an affordable rate, and there are deals when you bundle hotel stays with park tickets.

Outside of the resort you’ll find two pools, a lazy river, and inside there’s a bowling alley, arcade, and a store. The resort also has bars, restaurants, and a cafe for drinks, food, and fun snacks.

From the resort, you can catch the shuttle bus to Universal CityWalk, and Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks, and it’s a short walk to get to Volcano Bay.

During the holidays, the resort is decked out with Christmas trees, without any of the pesky cold weather or snow. And it’s such a fun resort that I recommend planning some time to explore when you’re not at the parks.

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s

Over at Universal Studios, the Holiday Parade takes over the streets every evening with floats, giant balloon characters, and of course, Santa Claus. Macy’s brings out giant gold stars, with some fun friends, and puts on a show that is fun for all ages.

Just find a good spot along the street, get your snacks, and get ready for a great show that starts around 5:00 PM and lasts for about 30 minutes. Check the Universal Orlando app for schedules and locations.

My favourite part of the parade is that it feels a lot like you’ve stepped onto the streets of New York City for the annual holiday festivities. The mood is festive and electric, with great music and some of your favourite characters.

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

Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is always the best part of Universal Orlando for me, and that’s especially true at Christmas. From Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, all the way to Hogwarts Castle’s nightly show with lights and fireworks, the parks come alive with holiday spirit.

The nights feel extra special too, with lights shining around the windows of Hogsmeade, snow on the rooftops, festive wreaths everywhere, and loads of decorations.

You can even stop to hear Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees singing, or The Frog Choir, and of course there’s Butterbeer and other seasonal goodies at all the restaurants and stores.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are my favourite areas in the park,and a great reason to get Park-to-Park tickets, so you can ride the Hogwarts Express between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. It really feels like you’ve stepped into the best parts of the movies, and the attention to detail is fantastic.

Shows & Concerts

The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

There are two great performances you can check out during the holidays at Universal Orlando, and they’re perfect ways to end your day at the parks.

For the Dr. Seuss fans there’s The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular starring The Grinch. The stage musical starts around 5:30 PM every night for 30 minutes, and puts the Grinch front and centre for a fun retelling of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, complete with the crotchety Grinch, and fun-loving Whos.

On December 4, 5, 11, and 12 you can also catch Mannheim Steamroller performing live on the Music Plaza Stage. Like Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the other holiday festivities, all of these activities are included with your theme park ticket.

Plus Seasonal Sweets, Treats, and Products

While you’re exploring Universal CityWalk and any of the parks, you’re going to want to look for some of the treats too because they are delicious.

The goodies change every year, and you’ll find everything from cocktails and drinks, to cookies, pastries, doughnuts, and more.

Around the stores at Universal Orlando, you can also find holiday themed clothes for adults and kids, like Grinch shirts and sleepwear.

So are you ready to start planning your Christmas vacation? Watch a peek at Christmas and the Holidays at Universal Orlando below, and leave a comment if you have any questions. Note that this video was filmed in 2019.

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