The Orlando area offers a wealth of holiday festivities to enjoy. With so many options, how does one decide where to spend their time and money? Universal Orlando Resort provides high-quality theme park entertainment for the holiday season, and the festivities started on November 12. These events will run through January 1, 2023. Still, why consider Universal Orlando?
By Jon Self
Like most theme park resorts, Universal Orlando provides big headliner-type entertainment during the holidays. Theme park guests can experience the spectacular transformation of Hogwarts castle during “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” show; attend the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” – a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic starring the maven of mischief himself, the Grinch; and watch larger-than-life balloons and floats take the streets during “Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.” This nighttime parade concludes with Santa lighting the 80-foot Christmas tree as he passes by on his parade float.
If that fails to be enough for top billing during the holidays at Universal Orlando, Mannheim Steamroller performs at Universal Studios Florida on December 3, 4, 10, and 11.
The above-mentioned activities make solid reasons to attend Universal Orlando this holiday season, but other good reasons get overlooked, though they often create the best theme park memories.
Five festive reasons to visit Universal Orlando during the holidays:
1. Holiday Tribute Store
The Visual Merchandising Team for Universal Orlando creates a highly themed Tribute Store for each new season. This year’s Holiday Tribute Store takes guests into a New York department store of the past. The Tribute Store for 2022 showcases four themed rooms whose inspiration comes from New York vintage holiday decor, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Who-ville, and Universal Orlando’s own Earl the Squirrel. Besides the excellent theming and merchandise, this walk-through experience offers numerous photo opportunities and sweet treats to enjoy.
2. Holiday Tree Hunt
Earl the Squirrel’s Tree Farm business left many decorated trees around Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal CityWalk. Guests may purchase a $12 brochure to enjoy a fun scavenger hunt with the goal of locating all the trees. At the conclusion, guests receive a special seasonal ornament, and, of course, they may elect to simply search for these trees without buying the brochure.
3. Incredible Character Interactions
A trip to Universal Orlando during the holiday season brings the special benefit of seasonal character interactions. The Seuss Landing area transports visitors to Who-ville, and the entire area reflects Martha May’s decorating style. Within this area, one observes oversized candy canes, bending Christmas trees, wreaths, and beautiful tinsel ornaments.
While walking through this themed area, the merry Whos will interact with you, and mini-shows and games may be played with the Whos. The Whos “unofficially” appear throughout the land from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. each day of the holidays.
In the Honk Honkers store, the Grinch entertains guests, often showing his best side for a special photo opportunity. As of the time of writing, this Grinch photo opportunity utilizes a virtual queue system, so make sure you have the Universal Orlando mobile app downloaded and updated.
Earl the Squirrel will also have a meet-and-greets during the holidays. This photo opportunity has been happening near the Hello Kitty store in Universal Studios Florida. Please check the mobile app for times, which are subject to change.
If unable to stay for the holiday parade, you still have the occasion to interact with the parade performers. Many of the parade performers will start appearing around the park’s large Christmas tree several hours before parade time.
4. Holiday Shows
Besides the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” show, several year-round shows convert to a holiday version. For example, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas transforms for the holiday season, with festive decorations throughout Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley that set the scene for holiday fun. In Hogsmeade, muggles and magical folk alike can enjoy special holiday-themed performances from the Frog Choir, comprised of Hogwarts students and their frogs, Over in Diagon Alley, the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensation, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, perform many of their holiday classics.
Outside the magical world, Universal Studios Florida presents two seasonal street shows. “The Blues Brothers Holiday Show” takes over the Delancey Street area, where Jake and Elwood perform festive favorite songs with their unique charm. You will hear some Christmas classics. You will also hear a song about being a “snowman” that will sound like a song James Brown made famous. This show finishes with the Orlando version of “snow” falling.
Also, Marilyn and her Diamond Bellas change their routine into a holiday version. Marilyn and the team enter to “film” a musical sequence for an upcoming picture. This festive edition involves full winter holiday lyrics. The outfits for the Diamond Bella look like they belong at a Christmas gala. In a curious twist, Marilyn “sings” the holiday classic “Santa Baby.” Usually, the ladies stick around after the show for photos, too.
5. Included with Admission
The best reason to visit Universal Orlando during the holiday this year revolves around the price paid. The cost of a theme park vacation might feel overwhelming these days. Since everything appears to be more expensive, your family budget can feel the pain. For once, we have some good news: Everything mentioned above will be included with your theme park admission.
Of course, with world-class attractions like Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, guests will find plenty to enjoy this holiday season in addition to the holiday items. If looking to reduce your budget by avoiding paying for special after-hours theme park events just to receive the full holiday experience, Universal Orlando might be the best option for you this year.
For more information, consult Universal Orlando’s website for holiday information. May you have a joyous holiday season full of pleasant memories.