While Disney may do everything on a grand scale, the have some competition with this year’s Christmas celebrations at Universal Orlando. With plenty of free events to check out, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Universal only fully decorates certain sections of their parks for the holidays. There are three main sections to look for. At Universal Studios, the New York section is all lights and garland. With a massive tree at the entrance, this region is all Christmas from the second you enter.
If you’re looking for an overload of Christmas cheer, Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure is the place for you. It’s all decked out for Grinchmas in the most Seuss-inspired style possible. Every inch of this area is a Christmas overload.
For a special treat, Universal has finally started decorating Harry Potter World for the holidays. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I was naturally most excited for Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. I was not disappointed. Every decoration has a naturalistic look with details about the shop that they’re on. Each building has different decorations and different greenery. If you know the books or movies, you’ll appreciate this section’s extreme detail.
I didn’t see much change with Universal’s merchandise or store layouts. Many regions that didn’t have decorations had trees lining the entrances to popular shops with a holiday t-shirt at the front of each store. Seuss Landing went wild with decorating stores, and even restaurants. Their merch remained the same as they showcase the Grinch year-round. Other than ornaments being added to the main display at IoA’s conglomerate store, the Harry Potter sections remained untouched with holiday goodies. If you’re looking for a wonderland of holiday merchandise, check out each park’s Christmas shops.
Universal offers a wide variety of holiday events for no added cost. At Studios, they have a Macy’s Day Parade that takes to the streets around 6pm. While it is a lot better than their usual parade, this just doesn’t compare to Disney. If you’re tired of walking and want to relax for a few minutes, this might be your speed. Studios has also themed their smaller performances, like Blues Brothers and the Diagon Alley singing show, to have Christmas tunes.
Islands of Adventure is where all of the action happens. Seuss Landing has Grinchmas every year. It’s a cute show with indoor seating. If you can brave the wait, you’ll be watching an adorable musical in cool air conditioning. The main event of the night is The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts, a Harry Potter light show. Projected on the castle every few minutes once the sun goes down, there are several showings to catch before you call it a day. Trust me, this is the one event you don’t want to miss.
Everyone is ridiculously excited for The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts show. The more crowded you notice Hogsmeade is getting, the shorter the wait time is for Skull Island: Reign of Kong. If you watch a later showing of the light show and head over to Kong, you could be welcomed with a 10-minute wait time. Believe me, that’s rare for this ride.
Catching a later showing of the Harry Potter show could help you in more ways than one. Since the parks are closing ridiculously early, 7 pm, you can avoid a big chunk of traffic if you leave around 6:45 or at 7 since everyone tends to leave after the light show. You may also miss some of the crowding. Hogsmeade is packed during this show so staying toward the back/middle of the crowd will give you an easy escape rather than being pushed to the front.
Universal outdid themselves with the sections they did decide to decorate. While it’s unfortunate that you only have about an hour to fully appreciate them once the sun goes down, they went all out where they could.