Good tidings, Harry Potter fans, because Universal theme parks have brought Yule Ball magic, Christmas decorations and festive entertainment to Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley for the first time ever.
The stirring seasonal musical performances and wreaths and garlands lining The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — which is split between both of Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks — are merry, but it isn’t until the sun sets that the real excitement begins.
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, the new projection-mapping show which debuted last week at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, transforms the famed school for witchcraft and wizardry into a massive movie screen hosting a charming ‘tis-the-season montague of Harry Potter-inspired holiday scenes.
Lanterns dance among the halls, Hogwarts’ ghosts flit about singing carols and mischievous students build enchanted snowmen throughout the eight-minute show, which has a surprise appearance by the Flying Ford Angila. A christmas tree spins atop castle walls during the colorful and cinematic display and an impromptu advertisement for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes covers the hallowed grounds as a helpful gifting reminder for any forgetful students.
At one point, Hogwarts Castle even appears to be consumed by ice before transforming into a version of the famed Yule Ball ice sculpture, complete with reanimated versions of characters twirling about as the the stirring “Potter Waltz” plays from the fourth film’s iconic scene.
Still, the show isn’t eye-catching for the projections alone. As virtual snow falls and Hogwarts Castle is wrapped in wintertime design, the surrounding forestry also comes to life. Acorn lights strung atop every nearby tree flash in unison with a newly-recorded soundtrack of film favorites, making it hard to believe that the show is due to technology and not one of Hermione's perfect spells — especially at the end, when the castle is illuminated as the sky fills with fireworks.
It’s Universal’s first attempt at embracing the wintertime holiday within its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but for a park that’s already built a reputation for excelling at seasonal Halloween entertainment, there’s no surprise that it’s one of the very best Christmas shows on either coast.
Both Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood, which have the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle half of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will feature the rousing evening castle show multiple times each night until Jan. 7, 2018.
While the skies are illuminated at sundown, the Christmas decor at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — and in particular, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida — is preferable in the day, when shop-specific ornamentation can be clearly seen. Literary locales like Spindlewarps Wool Shop have yarn ball garlands and Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop boasts glimmering round ornaments, while Hogsmeade Village's Honeydukes hosts candy gumdrop wreaths and Dogweed and Deathcap displays berry-studded garlands.
There are plenty of new songs added the wizarding universe with the celebration, including Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees singing a soulful rendition of “My Baby Gave Me A Hippogriff For Christmas” and “Accio Christmas” in Diagon Alley, while the Hogwarts students Frog Choir in Hogsmeade Village perform “I Cast A Spell On Father Christmas” and “The Most Magical Yule Ball of All” with their amphibian baritones in tow.
With Universal celebrating the holidays park-wide with Grinchmas and a new holiday parade featuring Macy’s famed oversized character balloons as well, guests can expect loads of Christmas cheer both within and beyond J.K. Rowling’s fantastical world.