Universal: Holidays return with the Grinch, Santa and a squirrel named Earl

Festivities run through Jan. 1

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular (Landon McReynolds, WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal Orlando Resort has officially unwrapped its holiday festivities for guests to enjoy and experience.

Now through Jan. 1, guests can celebrate the holidays with the return of Grinchmas, an incredible line-up of delicious food and drink offerings, the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, performances by Mannheim Steamroller and Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.

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“We have holidays everywhere, and we have things that you won’t see anywhere else,” said Lora Sauls, senior manager of the creative development group and show direction at Universal Orlando Resort. “You can meet Santa and the Grinch all in one place. We have singing frogs and larger than life minions! And it’s all here at Universal Orlando Resort.”

Take a look at some of the festivities below.

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular (WKMG)

During select times throughout the day, guests at Universal’s Islands of Adventure can make their way to see The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.

Taking place in the former Blue Man Group theater, this show is a live re-telling of the classic Dr. Seuss tale. The show features a number of musical performances from characters including the mean one himself, the Grinch.

Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular (WKMG)

Guests can find showtimes outside the queue entrance in Seuss landing or the Official Universal Orlando Resort app.

This is not the only place you can meet the Grinch during the holidays.

This year, for the first time ever, guests can not only meet the Grinch - but also his loyal companion dog Max during the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast. The breakfast option is separately ticketed and requires theme park admission. Guests can also meet the Grinch one-on-one during a meet-and-greet in Suess Landing.

This year, to cut down on long lines, Universal Orlando has rolled out a virtual queue. Guests can select time in the Official Universal Orlando app to return to meet the Grinch at Honk Honkers candy store in Seuss Landing.

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (WKMG)

Universal Orlando is bringing back its popular holiday parade to the streets of Universal Studios Florida.

The parade features dozens of dancers, a number of colorful larger-than-life holiday floats and incredible balloons.

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (WKMG)

“We got to evolve that parade six years ago, and we are so happy that it keeps coming back,” Sauls explained. “We get to work with some of the most amazing DreamWorks characters, Illuminations characters, and of course, some of our holiday to classic traditional characters are in that parade too.”

Guests will see characters from a variety of films including “Despicable Me,” “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and so much more. The parade runs nightly with showtimes displayed in the mobile app, park map and signage around the theme park.

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s (WKMG)

**Pro tip** find a spot near the theme park’s large Christmas tree in the New York area.

Holiday tribute store

Universal Holiday Tribute Store (WKMG)

Just like in year’s past, the resort is also bringing back its highly themed Tribute Store merchandise location in Universal Studios Florida.

This year, the store will feature four themed rooms inspired by Who-ville, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Earl the Squirrel and New York vintage holiday décor.

“When we were designing it for this year, we were trying to think, ‘OK, what kind of theme do we come up for this year?’ And thinking about our surroundings. We’re in New York, what a lot of people like to do in New York, they like to shop which is good because we have a store,” said Robert Cametti, director of visual merchandising at Universal Orlando Resort. “And so if you’re familiar with some of those large New York retailers they have multiple floors, and on certain floors, certain things happen.”

Universal Holiday Tribute Store (WKMG)

Each of the four rooms is designed to transport guests into a different theme. In each room guests will find a variety of merchandise such as a Grinchmas popcorn bucket, Grinchmas Loungefly backpack, Hogwarts House-themed holiday ornaments, Earl the Squirrel spirit jersey and so much more.

Earl the Squirrel has gained a following among fans over the past couple years at Universal Orlando.

Earl the Squirrel (WKMG)

In fact, just last year the park announced a meet-and-greet that now happen throughout the day. Leaders found it was only fitting to give the popular rodent his own room in the tribute store.

Universal Holiday Tribute Store (WKMG)

“We’re going to take you far north, actually north of the border to visit Earl the Squirrel and he’s got his own marketplace is pretty insane. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s as you would expect from Earl, it’s holiday overload,” Cametti described.

The Tribute Store is open during normal park hours.

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WKMG)

The holidays are also returning to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Archways in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade will once again be decked in festive holiday décor and twinkling lights. At nightfall, Hogwarts Castle comes alive in the holiday spectacular “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.”

As family members walk around the land, they can also sip on hot butterbeer and hear Christmas carols from the Frog Choir comprised of Hogwarts students. Meanwhile In Diagon Alley, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees are back to serenade guests with special holiday tunes fit for the occasion.

Guests can find showtimes in the mobile app and in signage around the theme parks.

Mannheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida

Mannheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida (Universal Orlando)

Beginning next month, the theme park said the best-selling holiday artist of all time, Mannheim Steamroller, will make a return to Universal Studios Florida to fill the air with the iconic sounds of the season. Live performances will take place on Dec. 3, 4, 10 and 11.

One of the best ways to experience all the theme park festivities is through Universal’s Holiday Tour.

Guests can enjoy a guided tour filled with unique experiences including meeting the Grinch, a photo opportunity with Santa Claus, reserved seating to the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular,” a dessert party at Circus McGurkus Café and an after hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.” Pricing for the tour starts at $79.99, plus tax and separate theme park admission with a 2-park 1-day park-to-park ticket is required.

Universal Orlando Resort Holidays 2022 (Wkmg)

Annual and seasonal passholders receive a $10 discount per ticket per passholder with a valid annual or seasonal Pass.

Click here for more information about the Holiday at Universal Orlando Resort.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.