From hot Butterbeer to breakfast with the Grinch, the list of reasons to check out Universal's parks at Christmas time got a whole lot longer this year.

By David Landsel
Updated December 14, 2017
hot butterbeer
Credit: Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

Known the world over for its annual (and rather epic) Halloween celebration, the Universal Orlando Resort had never been quite so famous for the way it does Christmas. Sure, the parks have always had their festive charms, and there have always been ways to celebrate the holidays here, but starting this year, visitors will find a whole bunch of new ways to get into the spirit of the season—most notably, this will be the first year ever that Christmas will officially be celebrated inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We headed into the parks to get a preview of the excitement—here's what's happening right now.

Hogwarts gets all wrapped up. Each day at nightfall through New Year's, a new state-of-the-art projection show will use Hogwarts Castle as the canvas for a magical Christmas happening that brings the Harry Potter story to life, or, rather, larger than life. It's not the only show of its kind on offer in Orlando during the holiday season—the whole projection thing is becoming quite popular, in these parts. Still, for Potter fans, and for everyone else, too, really, this adds a whole new dimension to the already immersive Wizarding World experience.

Hot Butterbeer is a thing—for a limited time only. Believe it or not, the weather can be kind of chilly in Orlando, around this time of year—there are days where, say, a frozen Butterbeer, or a dish of soft-serve Butterbeer ice cream, can seem a whole lot less appealing than usual. Enter the recently-developed (and seasonal-only) hot version, which offers a completely different experience compared to its cold predecessor—think a creamy, warmed milk, that somehow manages to retain the pleasing, somewhat mysterious flavor profile associated with the original.

hot butterbeer
Credit: Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

Diagon Alley gets all Dickensian. Hogsmeade, too—you'll see plenty of proper Christmas decorations, strings of twinkling lights, not to mention special holiday performances from the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. It's like a delightfully tweaked version of "A Christmas Carol" come to life.

The Parade is better than ever. You may have caught a holiday parade here in years past, but this year, it's been rebranded as Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's, and it's been completely overhauled, too. The all-new event features more than 30 giant-sized floats and balloons that you won't have seen elsewhere, along with more than 100 performers and appearances from your favorite Universal characters, including (but of course!) those wild and crazy Minions.

Celebrate with The Grinch & Co. Green Eggs and Ham Pizza, Cindy Lou Who Cinnamon Buns and Roast Beast (and lots, lots more) are on the menu at a very special buffet character breakfast, hosted by Mr. Grinch and pals—it's being offered on select dates through Christmas. And don't forget the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, a live retelling of Dr.Seuss's treasured holiday classic, performed at different times throughout the day, all throughout the holiday season.

Do Christmas dinner at the resorts. With five hotels and a sixth coming on line in 2018 (Aventura's going to be the new one, Cabana Bay and Sapphire Falls are also recent-ish additions), guests are going to have more choices than ever, right on property—besides being all decked out for the holidays, you'll have a variety of options to leave the cooking (and party planning) to someone else not only on Christmas, but for New Years Eve, as well. For more details on the offerings at each hotel, and on the holiday celebrations in general, visit