2022 Holidays & Christmas Guide at Universal Orlando

As Cindy Lou Who once so eloquently put in Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, “no one should be alone on Christmas.” Luckily, thanks to Grinchmas and other festive events, there’s no shortage of Christmas cheer during the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. In fact, it’s “the awesomest celebration of the season.”

From partying alongside the citizens of Whoville this yuletide season to leaving the muggle world behind for the magic of Christmas at Harry Potter World and so much more, the holidays at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure are a downright merry time for a trip with those you hold dear. So, grab some milk and cookies as we jot down our Christmas list of vacation to-dos for Universal Orlando in 2021. 

Things to Know for Christmas at Universal Orlando

Already dreaming of a steaming cup of hot Butterbeer or selfie with The Grinch? Before you book your Universal Orlando vacation, there are a few things you should consider.

Do Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure do anything for Christmas?

Christmas Fantasy Train
18-34831 HOL18 Full Event Shoot – Parade Hero Shots 120718 – 121218

Yes! Each holiday season, the Universal Orlando Resort gets all decked out for Christmas, from special events and regular entertainment with a festive twist to seasonal drinks and dishes and limited-time merchandise. This year’s Universal Orlando Christmas dates officially fall on November 13, 2021 to January 2, 2022.  

And with holly-jolly offerings available at both theme parks as well as Universal CityWalk Orlando and many of the Universal hotels, there’s no shortage of yuletide treasures for you and your crew to enjoy this Christmas season. The only question is figuring out when to visit. 

Does Universal Studios Orlando decorate for Christmas?

At Disney World, the holidays are a chance for the Disney decorators to flex their creativity and design Christmas decorations that capture both the spirit of the season as well as where they’re located, and the same can be said for Universal Orlando. Festive décor can be found across the Central Florida resort, from the theme parks to CityWalk and the hotels. 

As you explore the resort and soak up the merriment, keep an eye out for some of the thoughtful details on display in the Universal Christmas decorations. For example, Universal Studios Florida’s Irish restaurant, Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, gets baubles and garlands in Ireland’s emerald-green, while the Universal outpost of Auntie Anne’s comes bedecked with pretzels along with traditional ornaments. 

And, of course, don’t forget about all the Christmas decorations around Harry Potter World. Both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are a delight for both Harry Potter fans and lovers of all things festive. Many storefronts around the Wizarding World are a treat to behold, whether functional or simply for the atmosphere. Some of our favorites are the letterpress wreath hanging over The Daily Prophet’s door, yarn ball “ornaments” adorning the Spindlewarps sign, garland festooned with tiny Golden Snitches over the Quidditch supply store and much more. 

Is Universal Studios Orlando busy at Christmas?

Holidays (and not just “the holidays”) tend to draw some of the biggest crowds at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, and the Christmas season is no exception. With schools out on break and many people on vacation, the parks tend to be packed. 

Even worse is Christmas Day itself. In fact, for both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, December 25 is one of the busiest days of the year. So, should you decide to brave the crowds in honor of all things merry, we suggest you get there bright and early before the gates actually open to get a head start on your day. 

Since the parks tend to reach capacity rather early on in the day, we also recommend that you start your visit at whichever park you’d be happy to stay in all day and skip heading back to your hotel room for a midday nap, or else risk being shut out of the park. If you do want to park hop, use the Hogwarts Express rather than exiting and walking to your next destination, so you know for certain that they are accepting more guests. 

If you’re planning on going on rides while you check out the festivities and want to make the most of your time, consider investing in the Universal Express Pass so you can just to the front of the line. Should you be planning on spending multiple days, we also highly recommend that you opt to stay at one of the Universal Orlando hotels. You’ll not only be able to get into the parks early, a valuable jumpstart, but depending on which resort you stay at, an Express Pass may also be included in your stay. 

What to Expect for the Holidays at Universal Orlando in 2021

Minion Balloon flying overhead

Aside from looking at all the decorations, there is plenty to do during Christmastime at Universal Orlando. Keep in mind that most of the holidays’ events and entertainment are included for the most part in your Universal tickets, so you don’t have to worry about skimping on the merrymaking for the sake of your travel budget. 

However, if you’d like to take your festivities to the next level, you can also opt to add on extra-jolly experiences like Universal’s Holiday Tour or the Holiday Tree Hunt. Available from November 21, 2021 to January 2, 2022, and starting at $69.99 plus tax (regular park tickets not included), Universal’s guided Holiday Tour gives guests a front-row seat to the Christmas cheer. Hobnob with the Grinch and Santa, catch the Macy’s Holiday Parade and Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular from reserved seats and watch The Magic of Christmas show on Hogwarts Castle at a special after-hours showing. 

Or, for a more budget-friendly alternative, the Holiday Tree Hunt sends guests on a spirited scavenger hunt around Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk in search of themed Christmas trees. Unveiled in 2019 and priced at $9.95 for the map, this festive quest features 16 different trees. Once you’ve found them all and stamped every spot on your map, return your completed treasure map to claim a free prize: an exclusive ornament. 

Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizard looking over Diagon Alley

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is magical any time of year, but nothing is as enchanting as Christmas at Harry Potter World. Seriously, after spending one holiday with Harry and the gang, you’ll be ready to hop on the next Knight Bus bound for Diagon Alley every year. 

Aside from the jolly décor, a whole slate of bewitching entertainment with yuletide flair and other Harry Potter World Christmas events is also on offer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Just for the holiday season, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle lights up the night from dusk to park close each evening with dazzling projection technology and a merry soundtrack. 

For even more Christmas cheer, be sure to check out the live music around Harry Potter World during the holidays. In Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees celebrate the season with some of the wizarding world’s most popular Christmas songs. While over in Hogsmeade, the unique human and amphibian harmonies of the Frog Choir charm guests with their own seasonal tunes. 

When you aren’t grooving to the music, remember to snag a cozy cup of hot Butterbeer – available from The Leaky Cauldron, the Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head Pub and The Hopping Pot – to enjoy as you take in the show or search for wintery wizarding merch. This sweet concoction is reminiscent of hot cocoa, only with notes of rich butterscotch instead of creamy chocolate. 

Macy’s Holiday Parade & Other Christmas Events at Universal Studios Florida

Whether you’re hoping to indulge in a buffet of seasonal treats or Christmassy entertainment, you’ll find it at Universal Studios Florida. 

Just like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is one of the highlights of Turkey Day, with its supersized balloons ushering in the festive season, Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s is one of the stars of Universal Studios during Christmas. Floating past every night at 5:30 PM (or 5 PM if the park closes at 6 PM), Macy’s Holiday Parade not only incorporates their famous balloons. It also stars cheery dancers and lovable characters like those from Shrek, Madagascar and Despicable Me’s Minions. Unfortunately, since guests are unable to actually meet Santa at Universal Studios Florida in 2021, this is the only place that guests will be able to spot jolly old St. Nick at Universal Orlando this year. 

The Holiday Tribute Store at Universal Studios Florida is another holiday headliner and your destination for Christmas-themed merchandise, yuletide treats and other seasonal swag. Here you’ll find a tempting selection of Universal’s festive food items and souvenirs sprinkled throughout four themed rooms, including:

  • Ornaments and plushies at Santa’s Workshop
  • Squirrel-inspired knick-knacks and sweet treats like fudge, cookies, spiced nuts, macarons and hot cocoa bombs at Earl the Squirrel’s (Universal’s unofficial holiday mascot) Christmas Curios Museum & Emporium 
  • Grinchy gear at the Whoville Sanitation Department
  • And Wizarding World merchandise at Harry Potter’s Yule Ball 

Hoping to do some rocking around the Christmas tree? Holiday institution Mannheim Steamroller brings its special brand of neoclassical new-age music to the Universal Studios on a few select nights this Christmas season. This joyous concert is included in the price of your admission. However, with limited showings on December 4, 5, 11 and 12, be sure to plan your day out accordingly if you don’t want to miss the show. 

Holiday parade with Christmas Tree and balloons

Aside from Mannheim Steamroller live, a few other regular Universal Studios performing acts also offer yuletide renditions of their shows. The Beat Builders infuse holiday spirit into their intricate rhythms, while The Blues Brothers Show brings the funk to classics like “Blue Christmas” and “Run Rudolph Run.” 

And that’s not all. Marilyn Monroe and the (Holiday) Diamond Bellas are holding a rehearsal for her newest film, and you get to watch as they perform classics like “Santa Baby.” There’s even a whole new group formed especially for the season called the Holiday City Tones, featuring soulful takes on some of your favorite festive tunes.

Finally, don’t forget about all of the delicious holiday snacks and sips on offer at locations throughout Universal Studios Florida, like a Holiday Leftovers panini and boozy eggnogs in Battery Park.

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular & Universal’s Islands of Adventure at Christmas

For a different side of the holidays, head to Universal’s Islands of Adventure. At Christmas, Seuss Landing, one of the park’s typically slower areas, along with Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, becomes ground zero for many of the festivities thanks to Grinchmas. 

There’s no doubt that the holiday season can be stressful. Sometimes, we find that the best way to manage the merry mayhem is with a healthy helping of snark. That’s where Grinchmas comes in. This charming holiday celebration transforms Seuss Landing into the quaint, Christmas-obsessed village of Whoville.

Commiserate with The Grinch over all of your holiday frustrations during a socially distanced character meet-and-greet, then snap a selfie from afar. Mingle with the Whos as they welcome guests to Whoville. And, of course, hear the retelling of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” – complete with music by Mannheim Steamroller – during The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

The Grinchmas show at Universal takes place daily, with multiple showtimes throughout the day, and even features other popular characters like Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch’s dog, Max. Currently, guests can watch the Grinch show at Universal Studios at 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 3:45 PM, 4:45 PM and 5:45 PM, with showtimes subject to change. 

While you’re visiting Whoville, be sure to take some time to appreciate the whimsical decorations and snack on something tasty. The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride is fun for a bird’s-eye view of the merriment, while Grinch-inspired treats can be found at Hop on Pop restaurant, including cookies, ice cream and Grinch-green, sour apple-flavored Holiday Punch. 

Universal Orlando CityWalk at Christmas

Previously, guests needed to walk through Universal Orlando CityWalk to get to the Christmas goods. Now, thanks to the Mistletoe Pines Village, CityWalk’s own food-forward holiday market, guests can sample the flavors of the season without even needing a park ticket. 

Made up of a small collection of chalet and cabin-inspired food booths with some fun photo backdrops for snapping your snack selfie, it’s a festive pitstop on your way to or from the theme parks. Stop by for tasty treats like gingerbread, coquito-infused snowballs and spiked eggnogs. 

Where to Stay for the Holidays at Universal Orlando in 2021

Wondering which hotel you should call home for your Universal Orlando Christmas trip? Fortunately for you, the holiday festivities don’t end when you head back to your room, as each of the hotels at Universal Orlando also gets in on the festive spirit. 

Value & Prime Value Universal Orlando Hotels

Like Disney’s value resorts, the value and prime value hotels are the cheapest places to stay at Universal Orlando. With a stay at one of these budget-friendly properties, you’ll also be able to get into the parks up to an hour before non-hotel guests. That edge can really come in handy during busy times like the holidays. So, if you are planning on traveling to Universal Orlando this Christmas season, consider booking one of the remaining dates at these hotels:

Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Fresh and modern, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, a prime value resort, is hosting both a Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony and a Christmas Day dinner this holiday season.

  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Meal Special in Urban Pantry: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 5 PM to close ($25 for adults and $10.99 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax and gratuity)

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Retro is in this Christmas at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, a nostalgic, prime value hotel with wallet-friendly rates.  

  • Winter Wonderland and Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Friday, November 26, 2021 from 4 PM to 8 PM (Free!)
  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Meal Special in Bayliner Diner: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from noon to 11 PM ($19.99 for adults and $10.99 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax and gratuity)

Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites

While the perfect sunsets of summer may not scream “festive,” the holiday events and meals at the Dockside Inn and Suites value resort certainly do. 

  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Meal Special in Pier 8 Market: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 2 PM to 10 PM ($17 for adults and $9 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)

Universal’s Endless Summer Resorts – Dockside & Surfside Inn and Suites

Look forward to a sunny, surf-inspired holiday at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, a value resort with a laidback vibe.  

  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Meal Special in Beach Break Café: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 2 PM to 10 PM ($17 for adults and $9 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)

Preferred & Premier Universal Orlando Hotels

Comparable to Disney’s moderate and deluxe resorts, preferred and premier hotels offer a little luxury in the heart of Universal Orlando. However, with a complimentary Universal Express Pass included with your room, Universal’s premier hotels will really have you feeling like a VIP. As we mentioned earlier, if you have room in your travel budget, we especially recommend you upgrade your stay to a premier resort if you can so you can take advantage of the free front-of-the-line access. Talk about a Christmas gift!

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

What could be more magical than Christmas in Italy? Have a holiday to remember at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, a premier resort.

  • Holiday Harbor Nights on the Harbor Piazza and Christmas Tree Lighting: Friday, November 26, 2021 from 6:30 PM to 9 PM ($69 Standing Harbor, $99 VIP, $790 for a Table of 10, plus tax and ticketing fees)
  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Holiday Cookies & Beverages in the Lobby: Monday, December 20 – Friday, December 24, 2021 from 3 PM to 6 PM (Free!)
  • Kids’ Holiday Crafts & Activities in the Lobby: Monday, December 20 – Friday, December 24, 2021 from 3 PM to 6 PM (Free!)
  • Strolling Holiday Carolers in the Lobby and Rest of Hotel: Monday, December 20 – Friday, December 24, 2021 from 7 PM to 9:30 PM (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Buffet in Trattoria del Porto: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 11 AM to 9 PM ($75 for adults and $25 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)
  • Christmas Day Menu in Mama Della’s Ristorante: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 5:30 PM to 10 PM ($65 for adults and $20 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)

Hard Rock Hotel

Rock around the Christmas tree – and your hotel room and the lobby – at the Hard Rock Hotel, a premier hotel with serious rockstar attitude. 

  • Christmas Tree Lighting in the Lobby: Friday, November 26, 2021 from 6 PM to 9 PM (Free!)
  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Eve Family-style Dinner in The Kitchen: Friday, December 24, 2021 from 5 PM to 10 PM ($65 for adults and $30 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)
  • Christmas Day Brunch in The Kitchen: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 7 AM to 2 PM ($60 for adults and $25 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)
  • Christmas Day Family-style Dinner in The Kitchen: Friday, December 24, 2021 from 4 PM to 10 PM ($75 for adults and $35 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax)

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Celebrate the holidays in the South Seas at Loews Royal Pacific Resort, a picturesque premier hotel.

  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Breakfast Buffet in Jake’s American Bar: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 7 AM to 11 AM ($26 for adults and $15 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax; $19 for all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails)
  • Christmas Day Buffet in Islands Dining Room: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 11 AM to 8 PM ($65 for adults and $35 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax; $19 for all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails)

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Experience the romance of the tropics this Christmas season at the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal Orlando’s only preferred hotel. 

  • Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony in the Lobby: Sunday, November 28 – Monday, December 6, 2021 at sundown (Free!)
  • Christmas Day Breakfast Buffet in Amatista Cookhouse: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 7 AM to 11 AM ($26 for adults and $15 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax; $19 for all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails)
  • Christmas Day Buffet in Amatista Cookhouse: Saturday, December 25, 2021 from 11 AM to 8 PM ($65 for adults and $35 for children ages 3 – 9, plus tax; $19 for all-you-care-to-enjoy mimosas and Bloody Mary cocktails)

Well folks, that wraps up our guide to the holidays at Universal Orlando Resort. But, before we put a bow on it, we hope that we’ve given you some ideas for your Christmas trip to Universal. 

Before you arrive, get some more helpful tips and tricks for your Universal Orlando vacation with our comprehensive planning guide. Then, while you’re visiting, make the most of your stay with our guides to Universal CityWalk, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other attractions at Universal Orlando

Have you spent Christmastime at the Universal Orlando Resort? Which park is your favorite during the holidays? Where can you find the tastiest seasonal treats and sips? Let us know in the comments!