In 2020, both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure celebrate Christmas with a number of special events between November 14 and January 3, 2021. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some attractions have been cancelled this year but some new attractions have taken their place (more details below).
Both Hogsmeade™ and Diagon Alley™ are decorated for the “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” at both Hogsmeade™ and Diagon Alley™, with special treats, garlands, decorations, lights and live entertainment.
Of course Christmas would not be complete without hot Butterbeer™.
Holiday Tree Hunt
There is a new Holiday Tree Hunt this year. The cost of a stamp card is $9.99 plus tax and you then have to hunt for the 16 themed Christmas trees, with seven in each of the two parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure plus two in City Walk so you will need a park-to-park ticket to participate.
Collect a stamp at each location and once you have completed the scavenger hunt, there is a nice limited-time tree ornament as a gift.
Holiday Tree Trail
Also operating across both parks and CityWalk is the Holiday Tree Trail.
Get the special map which shows the location of five special holiday treats including a churro, doughnut and a cinnamon coke drink.
Once you have purchased all the qualifying items you receive a special complimentary sweet treat.
Universal Studios Florida
It looks like the “Star Toons Holiday Show” where characters dance to holiday hits in a live show, the sing-along “Barney’s Holiday Show” and the “Blues Brothers Holiday Show” with snow on Delancey Street at the end of each show are all cancelled this year.
In previous years on select nights, Mannheim Steamroller would perform in concert at 7 p.m. which was free with a regular admission ticket but this concert series has also been cancelled for 2020.
Holiday Tribute Store
Much like they did for Halloween, Universal has opened a Holiday Tribute Store in the New York area, next to Revenge of the Mummy. Just look out for the giant Nutcracker entrance.
Spread over four rooms you will find German Christmas Market inspired holiday gifts, as well as merchandise commemorating the Dr Seuss’ Grinchmas and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
As you exit the store through the final room you will be confronted with a funny Christmas tree farm run by a squirrel called Earl. You can also buy drinks, sweet treats like cookies and brownies and edible Christmas lights in three different flavours; butterscotch, cinnamon and peppermint.
Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s
One of the highlights at Universal Studios Florida in previous years was the “Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s” with some of the signature giant inflatable characters and floats from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
The parade would set off around dusk with marching bands from around the country plus toy soldiers, stilt walkers, clowns, snowmen, elves and of course, Santa Claus. It finished outside the facade of Macy’s Herald Square where the tree lighting ceremony takes place.
One of the big differences from 2017 onwards was that the cleverly illuminated floats were now self-propelled rather than being pulled by pick-up trucks and with a new soundtrack.
In 2018 Universal started to introduce some of their own characters into the parade including some of the Minions plus Gru and family from Despicable Me, the Grinch and characters from Madagascar and Shrek.
For social distancing reasons there will be no Holiday Parade in 2020 but instead Universal has created a walk-through attraction called “Universal’s Holiday Experience featuring Macy’s Balloons”.
In one of the sound stages, guests can actually get even closer to some of the Macy’s balloons and Christmas floats. You can also meet-and-greet and pose for photos with Santa Claus.
Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees
In Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees put on a special holiday show from the Christmas album “Nothin’ Like a Holiday Spell”.
Universal’s Holiday Character Celebration
As you walk around Universal Studios Florida, look out for some of your favourite characters from DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek and Madagascar franchises, as well as the Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me.
They arrive on floats and then put on a special holiday show where you can join in the singing and dancing. Socially distanced meet-and-greets opportunities are also available at the end of each show.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Visit Seuss Landing which is transformed into the festive town of Whoville.
Normally the story of the Grinch is brought to life at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” but this event has been cancelled in 2020.
However, you can still meet the Grinch himself along with Max and the Whos in “The Grinch & The Whos”.
In the evening there would normally be a Seussian-tree lighting ceremony and a musical show telling the tale of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” both they are both on hold for 2020 as well as “The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast”.
In previous year, prices for adults were $34.99 and $20.99 for children (both excluding tax).
The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle
A light and music show at Hogwarts Castle first debuted in 2017 and in “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” the castle facade is transformed by a 7 minute projection show using 24 hidden projectorsx. In previous years, the show ran multiple times each evening at 30 minute intervals.
In 2020 the castle will still be illuminated in the evenings but the only way to see the full show is as a member of the new Universal’s Holiday Tour which includes an exclusive viewing of the show after hours.
Holiday Frog Choir
The Frog Choir perform special Christmas songs in Hogsmeade.
Universal’s Holiday Tour
One of the new events for 2020 is a Holiday guided tour which gives you priority and exclusive access to a number of venues.
The tour is offered on select dates between November 22 and January 3, 2021 and gives you:
- a private tour of the Holiday Tribute Store
- front-of-line access to Universal’s Holiday Experience Featuring Macy’s Balloons
- meet-and-greet with The Grinch at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous in Seuss Landing and enjoy a drink from the Hot Cocoa Bar
- an exclusive showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”
- a special themed gift to commemorate the holiday experience
Tickets start at $59.99 plus tax per person and you also require a park-to-park theme park ticket. Passholders can get a $10 discount.
To reserve you place you need to either call 1–866–346–9350 or you can book online at UniversalOrlando.com/HolidayTour.
Places are limited and normal social distancing guidelines must be adhered to including wearing a mask.