Grinchmas and Macy’s: Christmas at Universal Orlando

Lisa Fritscher December 15, 2014 No Comments


Universal Orlando has a reputation as a destination for thrill-seekers, despite its dedicated kids’ areas and plethora of family-friendly rides and attractions. At Christmas time, however, both theme parks offer heart-warming experiences sure to bring a tear to the eye of visitors of all ages. Islands of Adventure hosts Grinchmas, while the Macy’s Holiday Parade is in Universal Studios. The events typically run from the first weekend in December through the first weekend in January.



Grinchmas is a live-action musical based on Dr. Seuss’ classic story.

Islands of Adventure has an entire land dedicated to the stories of Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. While this land is always fun for families, it takes on a special magic during the holidays as it is overrun with Whos. Dr. Seuss fans will recognize the Whos as residents of Whoville, the Christmas-loving town that is visited by the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The main attraction is a special half-hour stage show, offered only during the Christmas season. This delightful musical retells the story of the Grinch through song and dance, and some of the most impressive visuals of any theme park show I have ever seen. The theater is large, but all seats have an excellent view. Plan to stand in line for up to an hour, especially during the notoriously busy week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Be sure to check out the Whoville Wonky Tree Lot, where kids and adults will delight at the trees curved in seemingly impossible shapes. Allow time in your schedule to get autographs from various Whos and even, if your kids are brave, the Grinch himself. For a special treat, consider booking the specially-priced Breakfast With the Grinch at Confisco Grille, which also includes express access to the Cat in the Hat ride.


Macys Parade

The Macy’s Holiday Parade imports authentic balloons from the famed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Macy’s Holiday Parade
Since 1924, the Macy’s department store has sponsored a massive Thanksgiving Day parade through the streets of New York City. The parade, known for its enormous character balloons as well dozens of floats, bands and performers, was first televised in 1948. For many families, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade defines the start of the holiday season.

In 2001, Universal Orlando partnered with Macy’s to bring authentic balloons and floats from New York for the Macy’s Holiday Parade, held in Universal Studios. For safety reasons, the largest balloons are not included, but even the smaller ones used at Universal are truly spectacular. In addition to those used in the parade, several balloons are on display throughout the New York section of the park, giving you the opportunity to study these incredible creations more closely. The parade steps off shortly before dusk and is followed by a Christmas tree lighting ceremony that is well worth seeing.


Tips for Parents
Both Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade are included with standard park admission. It is possible to enjoy the Christmas events on the same day that you tour the parks. However, crowds are generally heavy and the best parade viewing locations are full by an hour or so before the parade. For this reason, many families prefer to buy multi-day admission tickets, which allow you to slow your pace and take in the parks in a more leisurely way.

Macy's Parade and Tree Lighting

The Macy’s Parade and Tree Lighting are great for kids.

If your kids are at least 48 inches tall and everyone is wearing closed-toe shoes, you can sign up to be balloon handlers on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration begins two hours before the parade, and jumpsuits and gloves are provided. I recommend against doing this on your first visit, so that you can take in the entire parade spectacle, but on a subsequent visit it is a fun way to be part of the action. Keep in mind that you will be walking and helping to manage a heavy balloon for roughly 45 minutes, so dress accordingly.

The best view of the tree-lighting ceremony is directly in front of the Macy’s storefront in the New York section of the park, but this area becomes quite crowded. Louie’s Italian Restaurant and other areas along that street give reasonable views and are only moderately crowded. If you prefer to avoid the throngs, watch the parade from the Hollywood area of the park and plan to skip the tree lighting.

avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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