I recently published my guide for Christmas at Walt Disney World, but that shouldn’t be the end of your festive celebrations if you’re visiting the Orlando theme parks over the holidays! Universal Studios Orlando does a fantastic job of decorating their parks and adding some great Christmas shows and activities. Their holiday offerings typically start later than those at Walt Disney World, which go up as soon as Halloween is over; look for Universal’s decorations and shows to begin at the start of December and run through the New Year. Take a look at my list of some of the best things to do over Christmas at Universal Studios Orlando!
1. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
I have always loved watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, but the thought of traveling to New York City to camp out on the streets in the freezing cold with two young kids – well, it just doesn’t sound like much fun! Luckily, once the balloons are done floating down the streets of New York City, some of them – along with some of the floats – are packed up and sent down to Florida, where they can be seen every day at Universal Studios Orlando. The parade runs through the Universal Studios park, with dancers, clowns, and of course, Santa in his sleigh! The parade is amazing, and seeing the giant balloons up close is super exciting! The balloons and floats arrive in Florida around the beginning of December, so if you’re visiting the parks in December, you should be in luck!
2. Mannheim Steamroller Concerts
Mannheim Steamroller are one of those bands that just gets my in the Christmas spirit every time I hear their music! If you’re lucky enough to visit Universal Studios Orlando during December, you can catch one of their concerts live at Universal Studios Park. Like all concerts performed at Universal Studios, the seating is first come, first serve, and as to be expected, these concerts are very popular. I would recommend arriving at the Universal Music Plaza at least an hour or two before show time to be sure to get a good seat – although there is standing room available, and you should be able to find somewhere to stand up to about 30 minutes before the show begins.
3. The Grinchmas WHO-liday Specatacular
‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is hands down my son’s favorite Christmas bedtime story – and actually, it’s one of mine too. I love absolutely anything to do with Dr. Seuss, and the message of this story – that Christmas is more about the people and the joy of the season than the gifts and material things – is such an important one to me and my family. During the holiday season, Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure transforms into Grinchmas, a Christmas that Dr. Seuss would be proud of! My favorite part of this transformation is the retelling of the ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ story in a fun, over the top, colorful musical performance. For a more detailed review of the show, including when to line up for the show and the best places to sit, take a look at this post by the Orlando Informer.
4. Breakfast with the Grinch
If it’s not enough to watch The Grinch perform his story, then perhaps you’d like to have breakfast with him! In the Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous in Seuss Landing, you can dine on French toast, waffles, sausages, bacon – and of course, green eggs and ham! – with The Grinch and a host of other Dr. Seuss characters. The package also includes a souvenir photo with the Grinch, as well as other opportunities for photos and autographs with all of the characters present. This is a popular dining experience, and tickets must be reserved in advance, so be sure to book yours ahead of time!
5. Holiday shows
As well as all of the other festive activities, Universal Studios Park has two other Christmas shows to offer. The Blues Brothers Holiday show features holiday favorites such as ‘Santa Claus in coming to town’ and ‘Blue Christmas’, performed by Jake and Elwood in their regular spot, finishing up with snow! The show is a lot of fun, and the music is great! Also at Universal Studios Park is A Barney Holiday, which is a holiday version of his regular show back by Fievel’s Playground. If you’re at the park with young kids, this is a cute show. Both The Blues Brothers Holiday show and A Barney Holiday show multiple times a day, so check your park guide for times.
6. Christmas at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
New for 2017 is the Christmas celebration at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley will be trimmed with Christmas decorations, and holiday treats and merchandise will be available. Best of all will be the brand new holiday show, with magic being used to cast a spell and project images onto Hogwarts castle. This has been something Harry Potter fans have been begging for for years, and everyone is so excited to see what this Christmas show will bring!
One of the incredible floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Mannheim Steamroller in concert (image courtesy of Universal Studios Orlando)
Seuss Landing decorated for the holidays
Have you visited Universal Studios Orlando during the holidays? What was your favorite thing to do? Let me know in the comments below!