The holidays are in full swing, so hopefully you have made your list and checked it twice. Universal kicked off their annual holiday celebration, and Oh What Fun it Is! This year Universal Orlando has decided to amp up the holidays with several new additions to their annual festivities. The Macy’s Holiday Parade returns for the 13th year with new balloons and an all new soundtrack, and balloons. The Grinch is back to his old Grinchy tricks with The Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular, and the official soundtrack to Christmas is back as Mannheim Steamroller performs on select dates. We took time out of our hectic holiday schedule to peek in on the fun!
Universal Orlando completely transforms both of its’ theme parks for the holidays, and it brings the spirit to life with larger than life celebrations. The biggest of which is the Macy’s Holiday Parade. Universal does big parades throughout the year, from their daily “Superstar Parade” and then their huge weekly Mardi Gras Parades in the spring. However, none are quite as big as the Macy’s Holiday Parade.
This parade kicks off daily around 5:00p.m. and is direct from New York City. In fact, Universal kicks off their holiday celebration a little later than most BECAUSE of the Macy’s Parade. As many know, the annual tradition happens on Thanksgiving Day. The second that the parade is over, the people at Macy’s are packing up some of the balloons, and heading down to Florida for Universal’s Parade.
Every year Macy’s brings something new to the parade, and for the past few years they’ve been bringing those new items and ideas to Universal. Last year, the park got a hippopotamus for Christmas. This year they bring the head of all the clowns to town, with Chloe the Clown. Chloe has been in the parade since the beginning, and is a throwback to the European clowns. She has been a balloon in the original parade for many years, and now she is a Balloonicle. That’s a balloon and vehicle mixed together in a weird combination of awesome.
Also new this year is the huge Wiggle Worm. He is actually several balloons in one, with very many colors and handlers to help him “wiggle” down the street. Universal’s version of the parade features several of the balloons, as well as several Universal themed floats. The floats feature characters like Spongebob, Woody Woodpecker and of course The Minions.
Characters are a huge part of the parade as well. Universal brings their own talent, and trains them with Macy’s staff to create experiences that feel like they are right out of the parade.
In addition to the characters and balloons, the soundtrack also plays a huge part in the parade. This year the soundtrack goes from the traditional “Let your heart take flight” to the amazing new soundtrack that features a mixture of original vocals as well as Christmas music. It creates a more festive and traditional vibe than the old one, and is a great new addition.
Over at Islands of Adventure, Grinchmas is back in grand fashion. The Who’s down in Whoville like Christmas a lot, but the Grinch does not. He does his best to steal Christmas every year, and every year he finds out that Christmas comes just the same. So what happens? Why can’t he be like this all year? Well, apparently Christmas is such a big emotional time for the Grinch that it just hits a reset button. The rest of the year can’t fill that empty hole in his heart like Christmas. Awwww.
The Grinch show at Universal has been happening for quite a few years now. It features a soundtrack by Mannheim Steamroller, and is inspired, at least look wise, by the Jim Carey film-The Grinch. It is actually a retelling of the classic tale, How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. This year the show adds a few liberties with the script and the choreography, giving the show a fresh look. It’s still The Grinch, but it doesn’t matter how many times I personally see it, it still brings a tear to my eyes. The cast, as always does an amazing job with music and dancing, and the make up effects are pretty convincing. The Grinch and the narrator, however, steal the show…as well as Christmas.
Rounding out the holiday fun is Mannheim Steamroller. Someone at the concert said that Mannheim Steamroller’s “Deck the Halls” was the Christmas equivalent to Freebird…and they’ve got a point. You can’t have Christmas without their over the top, synthesized Deck the Halls. For select dates in December, mostly Saturdays, Mannheim Steamroller performs live. Chip Davis, the groups’ founder and composer is present for all of the shows. This year marks seven years that the show has been happening in Florida, and it sounds like they are looking forward to making it a tradition for years to come.
Video-Get a glimpse at the holiday fun, music and lights at Universal Orlando’s Christmas
Universal has their holidays happen every day, from now until January 3rd. The concerts from Mannheim Steamroller happens on December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 & 21. The parade and Grinchmas happens daily, and the fun is all included with your daily theme park admission.
If you’re looking to catch Grinchmas, our suggestion is to get to the first showings of the day. They are usually a little less crowded than later in the day. Also, be sure to browse around Seuss Landing, as the Who’s are all decked out for Christmas.
The parade happens around 5p.m. and you’ll want to stake out your favorite spot. If you can get it, we recommend right in front of the tree, by the Macy’s storefront in the New York area. It’s crowded, but gives the best view of the parade. There are also kids viewing areas, as well as annual passholder viewing areas for the parade.
Slideshow-Check out tons of pictures in our huge Universal Holiday collection!
Stay tuned for even more Universal Holidays, and be sure to get social with us on Facebook, and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!