Thanksgiving is over and that means the holidays are about to hit Universal Orlando. Starting December 7th, 2013 through January 4th, 2014, the festivities begin at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Universal Orlando Resort Hotels. Whether you are aiming to please your naughty side with the Grinch or celebrate the nice with a parade, there is always something to enjoy during this season.
Universal Studios Florida
The Macy’s Holiday Parade
One of the main reasons why the holidays don’t start at Universal Orlando until after Thanksgiving is due to the Macy’s Holiday Parade. Every year after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ends, some of the actual floats and balloons from the annual New York City parade are transported down to Florida just for this event giving Universal guests a chance to see a television tradition in person. This year guests will have a chance to see Happy the Hippo, a recreation of a classic 1940 balloon that will be debuting in New York City before coming to the Macy’s Holiday Parade. The parade used to start and finish in the New York area of the park pre-2012, but due to construction the parade now kicks off in Hollywood next to the Pantages Theater, home of the Horror Make-Up Show. The Macy’s Holiday Parade route takes the floats, balloons, marching bands, and performers to Production Central before hitting New York. Although you can watch the parade in either of the these three areas, the recommended viewing spot is in New York in front of the Macy’s building. If you don’t know where the Macy’s building is in Universal Studios Florida, look for the giant Christmas tree and you can’t miss it. The climax of the parade happens here involving Santa Claus, the Rockettes, and the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. It is hard to find a place to stand in this location on busier days, so make sure to stake out your spot early. The parade starts at 5:00 PM on Dec. 7 – 25, 8:00 PM on Dec. 26 – 31 and 5:00 PM on Jan. 1-4.
Mannheim Steamroller Live in Concert
On select Saturday and Sunday nights, Universal Studios Florida guests will be lucky enough to see Mannheim Steamroller on the Music Plaza Stage in Production Central for no extra cost. The Grammy Award-winning group mixes their unique holiday favorites with a special presentation of music from the Islands of Adventure stage show, “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” which they helped score. The concert typically runs around an hour, so it is best to find a seat. There is seating available on the lawn if you arrive early enough and if you sit towards the back, you will have a view of the Macy’s Holiday Parade. Mannheim Steamroller will be performing on Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 6:00 PM.
The Blues Brothers Holiday Show
The Blues Brothers perform daily in Delancey Street in New York, but during the holidays they change up their set. Jake and Elwood sing some Christmas classic’s such as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Blue Christmas” and “Run Rudolph Run”, while taking “Jailhouse Rock” and “Soul Man” and transforming them into “Santa Claus Rock” and “Snow Man”. If you stop to watch the show, you’ll be guaranteed to also see some snow. Set times are 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:30 PM, 2:45 PM and 4:00 PM.
A Barney Holiday
Young children will enjoy A Barney Holiday which takes place in the Barney Theater in Kid Zone. Barney, Baby Bop, and B.J. lead the audience in a sing-along of holiday classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman”. Show times are 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:15 PM and 4:30 PM.
Islands of Adventure
Christmas doesn’t have a huge presence in Islands of Adventure the way it does in Universal Studios Florida. Some decorations will be hung here and there whether you are in the Port of Entry or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, the moment you step into Seuss Landing guests are instantly taken away to Grinchmas – a land filled with Christmas cheer and decorations. In Grinchmas, guests are lucky enough (or unlucky depending on the moment) to meet the Grinch who appears in all his sarcastic, festive glory.
The Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular
The main event of Grinchmas is The Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular starring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville. The 30-minute show tells the story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with a twist. The show mixes classic narrations and songs from the book, television special and film along with an original score performed by Mannheim Steamroller. Highlights of the show include “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, “The Man with the Bag” and “Where Are You Christmas?” As good as the music is, the set design is even better as a barren soundstage is turned into an extremely detailed Whoville. Getting seats closest to the front will allow you to better see these details in the set, the character’s make-up, and best of all – The Grinch’s dog, Max. It is recommended that guests show up approximately 30 minutes before the show starts. If the line looks short, it is usually due to the fact that the queue to get into the show has moved on to the holding area before being loaded into the soundstage. If this is the case then you may be looking at seats that are really far back or waiting for the next show. Show times may vary, check back for updated showtimes.
The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
For those who want to see The Grinch without waiting in long lines, The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast is a great alternative. Inside Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous, guests will have the chance to fill up on a buffet breakfast while having in-depth interactions with The Grinch (who can sometimes be a mean one) as well as some of the Whos from Whoville. Park admission is required for the breakfast and it is also highly recommended that guests book reservations as well. On some days it may be possible to walk up and get a reservation, but for the most part it is not. The cost of the breakfast is $24.99 for adults and $10.99 for children (9 & younger). There are discounts for those who have a Premiere and Preferred Annual Pass. Dates and times for the breakfast are Dec. 7 – 25 (8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM), Dec. 26 – 30 (7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM) and Dec. 31 (8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM).
If you’re visiting Universal Orlando this holiday season, make sure to check out all of the festivities happening. Unlike Halloween Horror Nights, the Holidays at Universal Orlando happens during regular park hours and only requires park admission to enjoy most of the events. Keep watching for video and photo updates once the holidays begin at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on Dec 7th, 2013!