After a year off, the Holidays are back in full effect as we start nearing closer to a little bit of normalcy. All the Universal Holiday favorites are returning this year; including Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” nighttime show – as well as the return of the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular and Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s.
With many of the entertainment and shows being returning favorites, I thought it would be best to highlight all the new experiences featured at this year’s Holiday celebration.
The Holiday Tribute Store is back and better than ever. Located in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, the store features four immersive rooms – featuring Santa’s Workshop, Earl the Squirrel’s “Christmas Curios Museum and Emporium”, The Grinch’s Lair inspired by the 2000 Grinch film, and the Yule Ball celebration, inspired by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Each room is stocked with a variety of new merchandise, including an awesome new Earl the Squirrel collection that features t-shirts, gift tags, ornaments, blankets, and even candles!
Of course, if you can’t make it out to Universal this year and are looking for gift ideas, or need all the Earl the Squirrel merchandise you can possibly afford; you can browse Universal’s assortment of merchandise and make purchases online by visiting www.shop.UniversalOrlando.com.
Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s continues to be a wonderful tradition during the Holidays, with all the familiar floats and characters you’ve come to love. The massive Christmas Tree in New York received a literal “Glow Up” as Universal made a very big upgrade to the lighting package and switched to LED Christmas lights – allowing for the tree to occasionally “dance” in sync with the music.
Expanding on last year’s well-received offering, Universal has brought back “Universal’s Holiday Tour”; a specially guided tour filled with exclusive access to holiday experiences across the theme parks. The tour offers priority seating for the Parade and Grinchmas, as well as other special perks. We were able to experience it a couple of weeks back and thoroughly enjoyed it. We’ll have a review of the Tour out very shortly but we definitely recommend it.
Even though the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is an annual tradition, the stage show is now featured in the old Blue Man Group theater – which is a tremendous upgrade. The seats are a lot more comfortable and offers more seating capacity. Another plus is that guests can roam freely in the theater’s courtyard – even allowing a chance to grab a quick snack before showtime.
In an effort to take the Holiday celebration out beyond the 2 parks, Universal has brought “Mistletoe Pines Village” to CityWalk. Open daily from 9 AM until 11 PM the village offers shopping, treats, drinks, and a few fun photo ops. Here’s to hoping they bring more fun to CityWalk with other events in the future.
The Holiday Tree Hunt returns, which allows guests to go around both parks and CityWalk and find the differently themed trees – including Jurassic Park, Marvel, and even a Classic Universal attraction tree. Guests are encouraged to visit each of the themed Christmas trees to earn a stamp and collect a prize.
Now let’s talk about the food. We haven’t been able to try EVERYTHING (yet) but a lot of what we’ve had has been delicious! So far, the highlight has been the Fire Egg Nog, which is Egg Nog with a shot of Fireball. It’s like drinking milk after soaking with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The Egg Nog can be found at Mistletoe Pines as well as Universal Studios Florida and does come in different varieties. The Gingerbread Ornament, found in Mistletoe Pines, was also very tasty. The Ornament is a Gingerbread Creme Brulee – but the gingerbread taste isn’t overpowering, allowing for a smooth and delightfully rich dessert.
As far as savory options, the winner goes to the Nashville Hot Chicken Mac n Cheese. Found in the Food Truck across from Fast & Furious: Supercharged, the dish had the right amount of spice that paired well with the creaminess of the cheese. Over at Islands of Adventure, the Roast Beast Sandwich is a gluttonous yet delicious sandwich offering that’s a must-have. The sandwich can be found at Circus McGurkus in Seuss Landing, and features french onion soup dipped Roast beef, meatloaf, secret sauce, Cheddar cheese sauce, mini meatloaf sandwich, on a pretzel bun.
The Leftover Sandwich was a bit underwhelming. It was good but felt like it needed more – like stuffing or cranberry sauce. The sandwich features “pressed artisan cranberry bread filled with turkey and brie cheese with gravy for dripping.” For a “Leftover” sandwich, I felt like it needed more leftovers.
Of course, other traditions are still there; with the Blues Brothers performing Christmas hits, and Marilyn Monroe and the Diamond Bellas getting in on the Holiday fun.
The Holidays at Universal Orlando has become one of the must-dos in recent years, celebrating new and classic traditions. You can experience the Holidays at Universal Orlando now through January 2, 2022.