The 2019 Holiday Season Is Going to Be More Magical Than Ever at Universal Orlando Resort

Arch at entrance to Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida decorated for the Christmas holiday season
Photo: RSBPhoto1/Alamy

There’s no better place to spend Christmas than in Florida.

Don’t fret about changing your annual routine for the holiday, because theme park Christmas lasts all winter long at Universal Orlando Resort. From Nov. 16, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020, Universal’s two Florida parks will feature festive experiences themed to favorite films like "The Grinch," "Minions"and the "Harry Potter" series for a seasonal exhibition that truly cannot be missed.

Christmas at Universal Studios theme park
Paula Montenegro/Alamy

Staying at home all winter won’t sound too exciting when your holiday plans could include exploring the world of a beloved boy wizard, seeing your favorite animated character up close or bolstering enough holiday cheer to grow one green villain’s heart three sizes, guaranteed.

Summer is on the horizon — and yes, theme park Halloween is its own bonanza — but all ride-obsessed experts know escaping the bitter cold at home and warming up down in Florida is the ideal way to spend the winter. (And, trust us: it’s not just because Universal’s newest restaurant has tableside s’mores.)

You won’t need to head to New York — or even abandon basting the turkey — for the full Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade experience this year. Dozens of oversized balloons shaped like characters from "Shrek" and "Minions" and floats celebrating films like "Madagascar" and "SpongeBob SquarePants" will fill the streets of Universal Studios Florida, floating above the attractions daily all winter long in Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at the Florida theme park.

Park guests at entrance to Seuss Landing at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

Mall santas have a challenger on their hands at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park next door, where none other than Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch reigns supreme. From a ticketed themed breakfast and meeting his dog Max to the famed Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular performed multiple times each day, the beloved green grump becomes an in-demand holiday celebrity within the parks. Meeting The Grinch face-to-face is an unforgettable memory like none other — just know he can be a bit unpredictable if you bring a familiar treat.

A steaming locomotive at Hogsmeade during a nighttime preview event of Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
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The highlight for most, however, is Christmastime in Wizarding World. Both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village are decked out for the holidays, letting you experience what Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley must have felt at each term’s end. Sip hot butterbeer as you stroll past well-festooned shops or stay past nightfall to witness The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, an immersive performance packed with yuletide magic projected perfectly upon the school of witchcraft and wizardry.

It’s bound to be more exciting than driving past neighbors’ illuminated homes — and not just because this one also has a frog choir and Christmas feast’s worth of special seasonal foods. (Ginger newt, anyone?)

Universal Orlando hotels are also filled with delightful touches throughout the season, and on select nights, Mannheim Steamroller will appear at the park for live performances; no additional tickets are required to see the famed group perform uptempo holiday favorites.

With so many options at Universal Orlando Resort’s parks from November through January, the greatest Christmas gift of all might just be to take a vacation down south.

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