ORLANDO, Fla. - The garland is hung, the streets of Hogsmede are prepared and a little merry and mayhem are about to collide at Universal Orlando, the resort that has an all-star cast lined up for this year’s holiday season.
Of all the annual events at Universal, this is the one you don't want to miss.
“We celebrate the holidays just a little bit differently here. We are creating new traditions and celebrating the holidays with a twist," said Jim Timon, senior vice president of entertainment.
With so much to see at Universal Studios and the neighboring Islands of Adventure, you might have to visit a couple times to see it all.
The Grinchmas Who-Liday Spectacular
FAHOO FORES, DAHOO DORES -- Welcome Christmas, come this way!
He’s mean, green and not too fond of anyone in Whoville. Grinchmas has returned to Islands of Adventure’s Seuss Landing.
The colorful and whimsical land is now decked out in garland, larger-than-life holiday trees, and it's home to the green one himself, the Grinch.
“The land is packed with exciting things, and could be your first stop after entering the park,” said News 6 producer Landon McReynolds, who toured the park Thursday.
Do you hear that singing? You just might, because the Whos are walking around the land, wishing guests a merry Christmas, singing carols and rushing to get everything done before the clock rings in Christmas.
The event creators say guests will feel as though they just entered Whoville, the home of the Whos.
You may even see Whos in gift shops, making final decisions on presents.
"In previous years, I remember standing in one store, laughing for minutes at the random things these characters were doing and saying," McReynolds said.
After a few rides on the "The Caro-Seuss-El," be sure to head into one of the park’s largest sound stages to see and hear the classic story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” live on stage.
New this year, the show is getting an upgrade with a brand-new set and larger stage. According to the show’s creators, the stage set pieces will move and take guests inside different parts of the story.
You will see inside Cindy-Lou’s home, and for the first time ever, the Grinch’s lair.
For families with kids, this will be a hit. The musical revue is roughly 30 minutes long and show times are listed outside and in park guide maps. The show runs select times from November 17-24 and December 15- January 1.
The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast
Enough of this Malarkey, where is the Who-hash and pudding?
For those who make reservations, sit down and have breakfast at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous!
Don’t expect it to be a quiet meal, though, as the Grinch and a couple of his “friends” will stop by each table to stir up some trouble.
This would also be a good time to grab some photos and an autograph with the Grinch before he heads back to Mount Crumpit.
Prices for breakfast vary for adults and children and can be bought online. Some dates are already sold out.
Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Pack your suitcase, the Hogwarts express is rolling into platform 9¾ just in time.
Back for its second year, guests are returning to the Hogwarts School for some holiday spirit.
The shops of Hogsmeade and neighboring Diagon Alley are decorated with holiday textures and décor.
Everywhere you look, you will see garland with twinkling lights. You will hear members of the frog choir singing seasonal songs as you venture into the popular land.
The Magic Of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle
Back for it’s second year, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle at Islands of Adventure uses state-of-the-art projection mapping to put special holiday images onto the famous Hogwarts castle.
The show also encompasses pyrotechnics and music from the well-loved Harry Potter franchise.
"This is one show you have to see, possibly twice, as it will truly give any Potter fan chills," McReynolds said.
The show runs nightly during the holiday season from dusk to close.
"The show is pretty popular, and on a busy day with limited space near the Hogwarts castle, you might want to get there a little early. If you don’t make it in time, don’t worry, it will run again," McReynolds said.
After exiting the Hogwarts Express and entering Kings Cross station, you may encounter street performers singing holiday songs as you enter in the streets of London.
Once inside Diagon Alley and taking a ride on the Escape from Gringots, get some of the holiday food offerings at the Leaky Cauldron.
The Holiday Feast, which roughly feeds a family of four, consists of oven-roasted turkey, stuffing, sausages, vegetables, roasted potatoes and a cranberry sauce. Don’t forget to order a Christmas pudding and Butterbeer to wash it all down.
Forget about that cold, frozen Butterbeer, the popular drink is offered as a hot beverage during the holiday season.
"I actually really enjoyed this. Just make sure it’s not a scorching hot day in Florida," McReynolds said.
After the feast, dance to the groove of singer Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, a Wizarding World singing sensation and one of J.K. Rowling’s favorites. Warbeck will be out swaying to the groove of a special show.
Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's
High-flying balloons, parade floats, confetti and, of course, Santa. What else could you want in a holiday parade?
“With over 100 performers, appearances from the Minions and other favorite characters, like Madagascar, Despicable Me and Shrek, this parade is a must-see," said Lora Sauls, manager of creative development and show direction.
The parade steps off and moves around the park with music, 15 high-tech floats and 13 one-of-a-kind balloons designed specifically for Universal by Macy’s.
The parade first debuted in 2001, but just last year underwent a new fresh look.
Guests will see balloons like the Macy’s Starflakes, a giant stocking, a pineapple, a nutcracker and a Minion.
“One of the best spots to view this parade is the New York-themed area, right by the giant Christmas tree and the Mummy ride. At one point, when Santa finally arrives, a large celebration happens. The tree lights up and confetti rains down," McReynolds said.
Before the parade starts, guests have the chance to interact with some of their favorite characters.
"This year, and last year, we added these little mini shows, like the one you saw King Julien perform, all throughout the park," Sauls said. "We want to make sure everyone comes early this year, and you see these little mini shows at the tree and other areas around the park. It will just make for a heartwarming experience to fill out your day."
The parade runs select nights from November 17- January 6.
Manheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida
On select nights, end your holidays with a live performance by Manheim Steamroller.
The familiar holiday music returns to the Universal Music Plaza Stage.
The concert is free to those with a park ticket.
Concerts will be held on the nights of: Nov. 17, 18, 24, 25 and Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16.
EVE: A Universal CityWalk Event
When Christmas ends, the party is just beginning. Families can visit expecting some big celebrations to ring in 2019.
EVE, Universal’s biggest celebration, will take place again this year.
The separate ticketed event will allow people to dance the night away on Orlando’s biggest dance floor while enjoying unlimited food, signature drinks and some fireworks when the clock strikes 12 a.m.
Tickets can be bought online and in advance.
As if there is not enough to do and start planning, there is also tons of stuff happening for those staying in the resort hotels. Christmas trees and décor line the hallways and Santa even makes a few stops before his big night.
So to wrap it up with a bow, Universal Orlando is the place to be this holiday season.
Whether you are looking for thrills or some holiday mischief, something is sure to bring a smile to everyone's face -- even if he or she is a Grinch.
The holiday celebrations at Universal Orlando run November 17 through January 6.
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