Christmas at Universal Orlando
Working on the theory that it’s never too early for Christmas (and we have most of our supermarkets to thank for that!), we have decided it’s time to start posting some suitably festive blogs.
And, straight out of the gate, here is Universal Orlando, keen to tell us all about their celebration of the Holidays (as the Americans call it) for this year.
It’s a packed programme, too, full of all the things Universal does best at this time of year, from Grinchmas to Harry Potter and the best Christmas parade of them all. It all kicks off on November 17 and runs daily through to December 31.
So, for those who are Orlando bound at any stage during that 44-day spell, here are the essential attractions to watch out for – and make sure you catch them all during the festive period.
Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This is something that you can only appreciate in Orlando – the JK Rowling-inspired magic of not one but two Wizarding Worlds! And they really make the most of it, ensuring that us Muggles are fully entertained.
At both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, the Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade areas are transformed into a genuine seasonal wonderland.
The headline night-time spectacle, ‘The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle’ returns to Hogsmeade at the Islands of Adventure Park with a stunning projection show highlighting Christmas moments inspired by the characters and stories of the Harry Potter films.
The wonderfully amusing Frog Choir will also be back on the Hogsmeade stage with a special holiday-themed performance, while, over at Universal Studios, guests can dance along to the seasonally adjusted sounds of Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees in the Carkitt Market section of Diagon Alley.
Universal’s Holiday Parade
When it comes to the big daily spectacle of the Holiday period, it’s time to head over to Universal Studios and stake out a spot on the well-marked parade route.
You’ll want to be here by 4.30pm and find a suitable place on the kerb, as it all gets under way at 5.30 (occasionally 5, if the park is closing at 6), and then you can sit back and enjoy this cavalcade of pop culture-inspired stories from the likes of Despicable Me, Shrek and Madagascar.
Its full title is Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (based on the big annual celebration in New York city), and it starts off in the Hollywood area, trundling along Hollywood Boulevard and then circling around New York before returning to its starting point.
It all comes to life in the form of the signature larger-than-life balloons, colourful holiday floats and hundreds of performers. It leads up to a stunning finale with a special appearance by Santa Claus and the lighting of the 80-foot Christmas tree in the Central Park area of New York.
Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure
When it comes to pop-culture celebrity icons, none come more compelling – or greener – than The Grinch.
The great Dr Seuss character remains an essential part of the Christmas story at Universal, and the Seuss Landing section of Islands of Adventure really comes alive for this annual adventure.
The spirit of Grinchmas will be alive and well for the Yuletide period – “warm fuzzies with a side of sarcasm,” as they call it - with The Grinch himself starring in the live retelling of the Seussian holiday classic, the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.”
The whimsical atmosphere features oversized candy canes, twisted Christmas trees, tinsel ornaments and more. You can also catch an appearance from the Whos from Who-ville and a special photo op with the Grinch himself after the 30-minute show, which performs up to eight times a day.
It might surprise you to know, but this American neoclassical new-age group are the biggest-selling Christmas artist of all time, with more than 28 million albums sold in the US alone, and they are also a fixture at Universal Studios at this time of year.
Their concerts are free as part of regular park access and take place on the Music Plaza Stage in front of the Rip Ride Rockit coaster, hence fans stake out places here several hours in advance.
This year, Mannheim Steamroller will appear on successive weekends, with concerts on December 2 and 3, and 9 and 10. They begin at 7pm each evening and aim to put guests in the holiday mood with their seasonal performances. Just remember it is first come, first served for places near the stage!
Universal’s Holiday Tour
Here’s a great special “extra” with the Christmas events, a chance for guests to enjoy a special guided tour with exclusive access to all the holiday entertainment experiences taking place across the destination, including:
• A chance to meet the Grinch, and his dog, Max, while enjoying light bites, desserts and drinks.
• Reserved seating at the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” in Islands of Adventure.
• A meet-and-greet photo opportunity with Santa Claus in Universal Studios.
• And an exclusive, after-hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.
Universal’s Holiday Tour is available on select dates beginning November 19 and can be booked on www.UniversalOrlando.com/Holidays. Annual and Seasonal Passholders can get $10 off per ticket per passholder.
The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
For those who would like a hearty meal with their Christmas experience, look no further than this popular dining experience at Islands of Adventure, which allows guests to start their day with breakfast and fun appearances by the Grinch and other Dr. Seuss characters (great for photos).
The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast takes place in the Confisco Grille restaurant on select dates from November 17 to December 27, and costs $58.99 per adult (plus tax) and $32.99 per child aged 3-9. Premier and Preferred Annual Passholders also receive a 20 per cent discount for select dates.
For more information, look up www.universalorlando.com. And don’t forget to get your Universal Orlando tickets from our special ticket section at the best price for UK visitors – including the top-value 3-Park Explorer Ticket – on this link.