Guide to 2018 Holiday Events at Universal Orlando Resort
When Is Universal Orlando's Holiday Celebration?
The 2018 holiday celebration at Universal Orlando Resort begins in Mid-November 2018 and runs through Early-January 2019. Many of the special activities that take place during this celebration, including the Universal's Holiday Parade, the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, and the Mannheim Steamroller concerts, are included in regular park admission. The exceptions to this rule are the Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast and EVE (Universal Orlando Resort's annual New Year's Eve celebration); these events are considered add-on activities and must be purchased for an additional fee.
What's Covered In This Guide to Universal Orlando Holiday Events?
This guide to Universal Orlando holiday events covers all of the special events and activities in the theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure) and Universal's CityWalk.
Universal Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual parade that winds through six miles of Manhattan. This televised parade is watched by millions of people each year. When the Thanksgiving event ends, some of the large parade balloons are sent to Universal Orlando Resort. The parade takes place each night and includes a procession of floats, dancers, skaters, marching bands, characters on stilts, and the famous parade balloons. Santa Claus also makes an appearance at the parade and participates in a special tree lighting ceremony.
Universal'sHoliday Parade Route
Universal's Holiday Parade starts at the gate between Café La Bamba and Universal Orlando's Horror Make-Up Show and loops around Hollywood, Production Central, and New York before returning to the place where it originally started.
Where to Watch Universal's Holiday Parade
There are lots of good spots along the parade route to watch Macy’s Holiday Parade. However, the best spot is near the Macy's Department Store façade in the New York area (near Revenge of the Mummy). This spot is located near the gigantic holiday tree where Santa Claus stops for a special tree lighting ceremony that involves music and an impressive light display.
You cannot meet Santa, but other characters will stay behind for photo ops and meet and greets in front of the Christmas tree. One important note: We aren't the only people who know that the Macy's spot is the best parade viewing area, so be prepared for crowds. If you want a really good spot, you'll have to show up early.
If you're an annual passholder, you'll find a special section roped off just for you (usually near Mel's Diner); you won't be able to see the tree lighting ceremony from this spot, but you will get to see the parade twice - once when it comes out from its starting place and once when it returns to the starting place.
Becoming a Balloon Handler
Universal Orlando Resort is always looking for extra people to serve as parade assistants and handle the balloons in Macy's Holiday Parade. You can apply to be a balloon handler through Universal's regular application process. Consistent attendance is a job requirement. As a park guest, you may also be asked if you are interested in volunteering to be a balloon handler for a day. Universal Team Members sometimes search out volunteers a few hours before the parade starts. If you are interested, you can also inquire at guest services at the start of the day to see if and when they will be looking for volunteers.
Many of the holiday celebrations at Universal Orlando Resort occur in Universal Studios Florida, but Grinchmas is an exception. During the holidays, the whimsical Seuss Landing in Universal's Islands of Adventure is transformed into an equally whimsical, wintery wonderland known simply as Grinchmas. Special events in this area include meet and greets with the Grinch, the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, and The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast.
Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular
During the holidays, the Whos from Who-ville stroll through Seuss Landing to spread holiday cheer. They also take the stage with the mean, green Grinch to perform a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale, The Grinch. The characters even sing and dance to music recorded by Mannheim Steamroller. This performance is known as the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.
The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast
The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast takes place at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous in Islands of Adventure on select days in December. The breakfast includes opportunities for meet and greets with Seuss characters, one digital photo with the Grinch, and a buffet breakfast. The buffet includes the following child and adult-sized platters:
- Green Eggs and Ham Platter (a fan favorite)
- Continental Fruit and Yogurt Platter
- All-American Platter
- Pancake Platter
- Combo Platter (eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and croissant, and eggs)
Mannheim Steamroller is a multi-platinum selling musical group that combines classical music with new age rock to create contemporary Christmas music with a unique sound. This group performs some of their most-loved songs on the Music Plaza Stage in Universal Studios Florida on select nights in December. The concert is included in your regular admission ticket to Universal Studios Florida. The concert starts at 7:00 p.m., but if you want a place near the stage, you'll have to arrive early.
The Blues Brothers Holiday Show
The Blues Brothers perform daily musical shows on a small outdoor stage on Delancey Street in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida. During the holidays, their performance becomes more festive than usual with snow, Santa hats, and special holiday themed songs, including "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and "Blue Christmas." You can see show times on the free Universal Orlando mobile app or on the free park maps that are located near the entrance of Universal Studios Florida.
A Barney Holiday
Barney and his friends, BJ and Baby Bop, perform a daily musical show called A Day in the Park with Barney. It takes place on a special outdoor stage in Woody Woodpecker's KidZone in Universal Studios Florida. During Universal's holiday celebration, this show becomes extra festive and is known as A Barney Holiday. You can see show times on the free Universal Orlando mobile app or on the free park maps that are located near the entrance of Universal Studios Florida.
EVE at Universal's CityWalk
EVE is Universal Orlando Resort's annual New Year's Eve celebration. This adult party (you must be 21 or older to attend) is held in Universal's CityWalk. You do not need park admission tickets to attend, but you do need to purchase admission to EVE. Admission includes:
- Access to Orlando's largest outdoor dance floor
- LED Experience (a wearable wristband with LED lights)
- Unlimited gourmet food (including prime rib, tenderloin and fresh seafood)
- Admission to six CityWalk Clubs (including The Groove, CityWalk's Rising Star, Red Coconut Club, Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom, Pat O’Brien’s, and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville)
- Pyrotechnics display (viewing access)
- Midnight champagne toast