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Celebrate the Holidays at Universal Orlando – 2021 Insider’s Guide

Holidays 2021 at Universal Orlando

The 2021 holiday season is here, and Universal is inviting you to start “untraditional” yuletide traditions at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. 2021’s festivities run from Saturday, November 13, 2021 to Sunday, January 2, 2022, which puts them on par with the past few years’.

Let’s explore all of the joy that’s to be found at Universal Orlando Resort this holiday season. We’ll start with this overview page, covering the proceedings at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure and everything going on at Universal’s various hotels. Then we provide three additional pages with even greater detail about Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s, the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Skip to: Universal Studios Florida | Islands of Adventure | Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Holiday Tour | Holiday-exclusive food and drink | Meeting Santa Claus | Holiday merchandise | Holidays premium add-onsUniversal hotels

The Universal Studios Florida arches donning holiday decor

How does Universal Studios Florida celebrate the holidays?

A good – and merry – number of Universal’s Holidays celebrations can be found right at Universal Studios Florida. Two principle pieces to the Holidays at Universal Studios Florida are the Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

The big event at Universal Studios Florida (well, outside of the Wizarding World, at least) is Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s. Guests can watch some of their all-time favorite characters in a larger-than-life manner through this parade. Characters from Despicable Me, Shrek, and Madagascar will all be featured, in addition to Santa himself!

Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's 2017
Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s

In the 2020 holiday season, the parade’s various floats were arranged into a wintry walk-through experience, replete with their accompanying balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The man of the hour himself, Santa Claus, was still present, taking socially distanced photos with guests.

Universal’s Holiday Character Celebration

Most of the characters from the traditional Holiday Parade – which included the casts of the MinionsShrek, and Madagascar film franchises – arrived on floats to sing and dance for (and take more long-distanced selfies with) their throngs of adoring Christmas fans.

To learn even more about these two parade replacements, visit our dedicated page for Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s 2020.

Mannheim Steamroller holiday concerts

Mannheim Steamroller, the biggest-selling Christmas artist of all time, sadly didn’t return to the Universal Music Plaza stage for the 2020 holiday season. Unfortunately, no 2021 holiday concert dates have been announced.

Holiday Tribute Store

The fully immersive shop that is a haven for merchandise and that, now, is a must-do experience for die-hard fans has expanded once again, this time arriving at Universal’s Holidays event.

The Tribute Store was originally created for Halloween Horror Nights in 2015, collecting together in one spot some of that year’s various intellectual properties and pieces of merch, and was then exported to Mardi Gras earlier this year, doing much the same work. That formula has been repeated once more for Christmas, with Tribute consisting of four themed rooms: a traditional German market, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Earl the Squirrel, who has become Universal’s newest sensation.

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Additional holiday celebrations at Universal Studios Florida

A Diamond Bella Dancer in her holiday costume

The Blues Brothers Holiday Show

Jake and Elwood perform festive favorites like “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “Blue Christmas,” and more with snow on Delancey Street at the end of each show. The holiday edition of the Blues Brothers street party is a fan-favorite and should not be missed – even folks not familiar with the band/film will surely love this one!

Marilyn & the (Holiday) Diamond Bellas

In 2016, Universal debuted the Marilyn Monroe and the Diamond Bellas street show; the following year, the company decided to cast the fun little production in a Christmas light.

Although the same basic premise – Ms. Monroe and her girls arrive to “film” a musical routine for an upcoming picture – the yuletide-flavored version exchanges the USO bent of the original with (you guessed it) a holiday overlay. The Diamond Bella Dancers now have beautiful Santa-esque costumes that look stunning all in silver, and the second song has been replaced with the time-period-appropriate “Santa Baby.”

We highly recommend sticking around for the show if you manage to catch it while strolling through the park, as it’ll help put a holiday-tinged smile on your face for the rest of the day.

How does Islands of Adventure celebrate the holidays?

Islands of Adventure isn’t outdone by its theme-park sibling next door – here you can (normally) find some of the most fun Christmas activities and events at all of Universal Orlando.

Grinchmas at Seuss Landing

Grinchmas at Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure

As you likely know, Islands of Adventure has a whole island dedicated to Dr. Seuss, the classic children’s author: Seuss Landing! When the holiday season hits full swing, Universal transforms this area into the whimsical world of Grinchmas (think warm fuzzies with a side of snark).

Seemingly every nook and cranny of this wintry wonderland are filled with yuletide decorations and a whole cast of Who-ville residents who happily interact either among themselves or with guests. The Grinch himself even makes appearances, begrudgingly allowing guests to take photos with him.

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

At Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure, the popular Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is brought to life in the heartwarming live stage show, “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” starring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville. Grinchmas is part of Universal Orlando Resort’s Holidays celebration, running from Dec. 5 to Jan. 2 and featuring live entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

This stage-production retelling of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was suspended last year. But now it returns in its entirety, featuring live song, dance, and humor that brings a fresh take on the classic story.

If you would still like to get more information on this usual highlight of Universal’s Holidays, you can visit our dedicated page to the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.

The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast

The Grinch at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
The Grinch at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

This dining experiencing offers the opportunity to dine on delicious breakfast items while in the company of Whos and the one and only Grinch. Once again, due to COVID-19, The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast was cancelled in 2020. We will keep you posted on whether or not this experience returns!

What is Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Christmas decorations in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade

Due to popular demand, Universal offers a full-blown Christmas party at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – at both Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida.

In addition to both lands being decked to the hilt with decorations, garlands, and Christmas lights, you can also experience exclusive food and entertainment (including holiday songs by the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck). The star of the holidays at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, the projection-mapping show that is a festive version of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.

Just like Universal’s Holiday Parade or Grinchmas, the wizarding Christmas celebration is included in general theme-park admission.

Get detailed, in-depth information on everything wizarding-yuletide-related in our dedicated page to Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

What are the exclusive food and drinks at Universal during the holidays?

Holiday Wreath Cake

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

General food and drink offerings at Universal Orlando

While most of the yuletide culinary roster at Universal Orlando can be found at the Holiday Tribute Store, there are still a few other items spread throughout the resort (and, additionally, some of Tribute’s items can also be found elsewhere). We have the full list, including locations and prices, here:

  • Candy Cane Frozen Slush – Production Central Cart (USF) – $6.50
  • Chocolate Peppermint Mousse Ornament – TODAY Cafe (USF), Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $5.49
  • Christmas Tree Cones– Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $4.49
  • Confetti Cake Cupcake – $3.99
  • Earl’s Delicious Holiday Gummy Lightz – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $2.99
  • Earl’s Nutty Log – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $5.99
  • Earl’s Nutty Nog with Alcohol – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) –$10.49
  • Gingerbread Cream Puff – TODAY Cafe (USF) – $5.49
  • Gingerbread Shake – The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen (CW)
  • Gingerbread Whoopie Pies – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $4.99
  • Holiday Gummy Lightz (butterscotch, peppermint, cinnamon) – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $2.99
  • Holiday Wreath Cake – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $4.99
  • Hot Chocolate with Marshmallow Bomb – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $5.49
  • Maple Pecan Sticky Bunz – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $4.49
  • Red Velvet Candy Cane Pops – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $5.40
  • Reindeer Brownies (vegan) – Tribute Store (USF), Croissant Moon Bakery (IOA) – $5.49
  • Roasted Cinnamon Sugared Nutz – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $5.99
  • Santa’s Dream Cookie – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $6.99
  • Snowman Doughnut – Voodoo Doughnut (CW) – $3.75 each ($7.50 for both)
  • Sugar Cookie Tree Stacks – Holiday Tribute Store (USF) – $3.99
  • Thanksgiving Dinner Crepe – Central Park Crepes (USF)

Holidays at Universal – food and drinks photo gallery

How do I meet Santa Claus at Universal Orlando?

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

Universal's Holiday Experience Featuring Macy's Balloons
Universal’s Holiday Experience Featuring Macy’s Balloons

Many guests ask the question, “Where can we meet Santa at Universal Orlando?” It’s a great one because the answer is not obvious.

However, Santa was still encountered at the Holiday Experience Featuring Macy’s Balloons for some socially distanced photos, as we’ve already touched upon.

What’s the exclusive merchandise at Universal during the holidays?

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

Custom-embroidered Harry Potter stockings Holidays 2020
House-elves will embroider stockings for you to take home!

Universal has long released exclusive merchandise as part of its yuletide celebrations, but it really started to up the ante in this regard over the last few years, especially when Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was ushered in. We didn’t notice much that was both new and exclusive in 2020, however, even with the presence of the first-ever Holiday Tribute Store; the biggest item is perhaps a series of Harry Potter stockings, scarves, and ties in Tribute that can be custom embroidered. The cost is an extra $15, and it takes approximately three hours; just please be aware that there are limitations to what you can put on the stocking, and the service is only applicable to those pieces that are purchased that same day.

Care to see what else is usually on hand? Here’s a look at what we’ve found over the past few years:

What are the Holidays premium add-ons at Universal Orlando?

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

New for 2020, there were two additional experiences for guests to purchase that end up taking them all over Universal’s festively outfitted resort for a small reward.

Holiday Tree Hunt

A holiday tree located in Spongebob Storepants

Introduced in 2019 (and spawning a scarecrow spinoff for Halloween this year), the Holiday Tree Hunt returned for Holidays 2020, but with one small-but-important change.

The basic premise remained the same: find the 16 Christmas trees (seven in Universal Studios Florida, seven in Islands of Adventure, and two in CityWalk), collect the stamps that are located next to each, and then work your way to one of three shops (Park Plaza Holiday Shop in USF, Port of Entry Christmas Shoppe in IOA, or Universal Studios Store in CW) to receive a “festive holiday gift”: a special tree ornament. The twist comes in the fact that the stampable “treasure map” – and, thus, the holiday prize at the end – has to be purchased for $9.95.

Just seeing the Christmas trees really is worth the effort, whether you opt to buy the corresponding brochure or not – each is beautiful and brilliantly themed, whether that be to the Marvel superheroes, Jurassic Park, or The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen‘s steampunk milieu.

Here’s a full list of them all:

Universal Studios Florida

  • Universal Studios Store (Production Central)
  • Sahara Traders (New York)
  • Shrek’s Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe (Production Central)
  • Silver Screen Collectibles (Hollywood)
  • SpongeBob StorePants (Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone)
  • Holiday Tribute Store (New York)
  • MIB Gear (World Expo)

Islands of Adventure

  • Islands of Adventure Trading Company (Port of Entry)
  • Island Market and Export Candy Shoppe (Port of Entry)
  • Marvel Alterniverse Store (Marvel Super Hero Island)
  • Jurassic Outfitters (Jurassic Park)
  • Treasures of Poseidon (The Lost Continent)
  • Mulberry Street Store (Seuss Landing)
  • Toon Extra (Toon Lagoon)

CityWalk

  • Universal Studios Store
  • The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen

Holiday Tree Hunt 2020 – photo gallery

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Holiday Tree Hunt 2019 – photo gallery

Holiday Treat Trail

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

Ornament doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut in CityWalk

Taking a holiday page from the Tree Hunt’s book, the brand-new Holiday Treat Trail has you purchasing five designated dishes from throughout the resort – and getting a sixth one for free as your reward.

Here’s the full list of treats and locations:

Universal Studios Florida

  • Pumpkin Spice Churro – $6.69 – Production Central Cart (Production Central)
  • Holiday Wreath Cake – $4.99 – TODAY Cafe (Hollywood)
  • Cinnamon Coke – $4.49 – Louie’s Fruit Cart (New York) or Men in Black ICEE Cart (World Expo)

Islands of Adventure

  • Red Holiday Popcorn – $4.99 – Marvel Popcorn Cart (Marvel Super Hero Island)
  • Cinnamon Coke – $4.49 – Port of Entry Slush Cart or Fruit Cart (Port of Entry)

CityWalk

  • Holiday Ornament Doughnut – $3.75 each ($7.50 for both) – Voodoo Doughnut

Now that we’ve gone through all that, there’s a little bit in the way of fine print that we should next tackle. First, it’s important to note that, in order to participate, you’ll need to pick up a brochure from one of the above venues or from one of these two additional ones: Silver Screen Coke at Universal Studios Florida’s Production Central or The Watering Hole in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park. Make sure to give that pamphlet to a team member as you’re getting your snack – otherwise, that transaction won’t count.

Additionally, you need to be aware that, should any of the locations be out of any of the items in question, that would, indeed, put an end to that day’s Treat Trail ambitions – although you can always come back before the end of Universal’s Holidays celebration on January 3 to finish up your culinary escapades. (And, also, no, you can’t use the Universal Dining Plan to redeem these yuletide bites.)

Finally, once you have bought (and eaten!) all five treats, you’ll need to turn in your completed road map to either Silver Screen Coke or The Watering Hole to claim your gastronomical prize.

Holiday Treat Trail – photo gallery

How do Universal’s hotels celebrate the holidays?

Reminder: This information is from the 2020 holiday season.
2021’s menus have yet to be announced!

In many ways, the various celebrations at the four open Universal Orlando hotels, though small individually, are the collective heart of the resort’s Holidays festivities.

Portofino Bay Hotel

Hard Rock Hotel lobby decorated for the holidays
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel lobby decorated for the holidays

Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony
Nightly during the holidays, guests can visit the hotel lobby for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. Everything begins at sundown; check with the front desk for nightly times.

Trattoria del Porto Christmas Eve and Day offerings
Just for 2020, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner (read: heavy on seafood) was had prix fixe at Trattoria del Porto from 5:00 to 10:00 pm.

Then, on Christmas Day, guests could enjoy a family-style dinner replete with chicken marsala, eggplant parmesan, and chianti-braised beef short rib.

Hard Rock Hotel

Hard Rock Hotel lobby at Universal Orlando decorated for the holidays
Hard Rock Hotel lobby decorated for the holidays

Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony
Nightly during the holidays, guests could visit the hotel lobby for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. Everything begins at sundown; check with the front desk for nightly times.

The Kitchen Christmas Eve and Day offerings
On Christmas Eve 2020 (5:00 pm to 11:00 pm) and Day (5:00 pm to 11:00 pm), a prix fixe dinner was offered. On Christmas Day, a rockin’ family-style breakfast was offered from 7:00 to 11:00 am.

Royal Pacific Resort

Holiday decor at Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony
Nightly during the holidays, guests could visit the hotel lobby for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. Everything begins at sundown; check with the front desk for nightly times.

Traditional Christmas Day dinner in Islands Dining Room
Dine in a tropical paradise on Christmas Day 2020 from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm for an all-you-can-eat pre fixe meal that’s served family style. (Note that a featured seasonal cocktail was also be offered.)

Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Holiday decor in the lobby of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony
Nightly during the holidays, guests could visit the hotel lobby for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. Everything begins at sundown; check with the front desk for nightly times.

Christmas Day meal special at Bayliner Diner
From 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, a special holiday menu was available at Bayliner Diner, which included roasted turkey breast, pineapple-glazed ham, traditional cornbread stuffing, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and more.

Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites

Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony
Nightly during the holidays, guests could visit the hotel lobby for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony. Everything begins at sundown; check with the front desk for nightly times.

Traditional Christmas Day meal at Beach Break Cafe
From 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, a Christmas Day 2020 meal was available at Beach Break Cafe. Expect honey-glazed ham, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, a carving station, and more.

Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites

Traditional Christmas Day meal at Pier 8 Market
Mirroring the offerings from its sister hotel, a Christmas Day meal was will be available at Pier 8 Market from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm, with a nearly identical menu.

What about the parks and Universal CityWalk?

The restaurants at the parks and Universal CityWalk offer an incredible variety of wonderful food, but they don’t typically have buffets or special events for Christmas, even when there isn’t a pandemic going on. Instead, they tend to offer a few holiday-themed items in addition to their regular menus. To learn what they may be offering this year (and to possibly book a table), visit our dining reservations page for contact information.


This wraps up our overview of the 2020 holiday festivities at Universal Orlando. Be sure to check out the navigation links below to continue planning your visit.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from your friends at Orlando Informer!

Do you have a question about the information on this page, would like to provide feedback, or did you spot an inaccuracy? Please let us know by posting in our Orlando Informer Community on Facebook.
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