We need a little Christmas, right this very minute, and luckily Universal Orlando has rolled out a brand new parade that gives you exactly what you need! This year, Universal Orlando has brought an all new Christmas parade to life, full of insane characters, amazing floats and most importantly…heart. Christmas parades are usually big, loud, full of great characters and music, but they really seem to miss out on the heart of the season. The all new parade at Universal does just that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s big, it’s loud and it’s insane. It’s everything you would expect from a Universal parade, but tucked right there in the middle of it all, shining bright is the heart and love that was put into it. We had the chance to check out a special preview of the parade.
Watch-See the full Universal Holiday Parade featuring Shrek, Minions, and Madagascar!
Universal has done the Macy’s Day Parade for 15 years. The parade would use actual balloons and performers from the Parade in New York. It was always amazing, but presented a problem. Universal couldn’t start their parade until well after Thanksgiving. It would give them a late start on the holidays, because the parade had to be packed up, the performers had to be flown down and trained, and all this right after Thanksgiving! It was always a tradition for Macy’s to kick off the Holiday Season, and Universal to wrap it up with their version of the parade. Now it’s the other way around and Universal is kicking off people’s holiday vacations, while they can still kick off the holidays at home with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
First of all, the parade is simply gorgeous. It uses amazing new floats, and huge balloons. It also uses some pretty impressive technology with gorgeous LED lights, and self-driving vehicles. The detail on the floats are very hand crafted and unique.
The parade hasn’t gotten rid of the Macy’s elements at all. In fact, Macy’s makes up a really good portion of the parade. With floats and performers representing the old days of Macy’s at Universal, the parade takes the Macy’s tradition and kicks it up a few notches, and even adds more!
The Minions kick off the new parade characters, which relies heavily on Dreamworks and Illumination films. While many may scoff at the idea of More Minions, they are really an integral part of the parade. Characters and floats each tell a story, within the story of the parade. Each story represents a part of Christmas tradition, and the Minions definitely represent the chaos of the holidays. They also represent family fun.
The Minions play, sing and gather the family around as the snow falls, making snow angels and using a rocket powered sled! It’s typical Minions, and they really get things rolling from there.
Madagascar brings their brand of fun and mischief as they search for Santa. They bring a bit of that adventurous traveling spirit and loads of fun. The entire gang is also “present” and accounted for as King Julien, The Penguins, Marty, Alex, Gloria and Melman all join the search.
As much as I’d hate to say it, the Shrek section just flat out steals the show. Shrek is definitely not on my list of favorite animated franchises, especially after the past two, but Shrek is a perfect fit for Christmas. There is just so much happening, which starts with the three little pigs, and of course Gingy. Their gingerbread house looks amazing, but it smells delicious as the scents of gingerbread, and candy hit you hard. It’s delicious and amazing, but it’s just the start! We then get all of the characters from Shrek, including Puss n Boots, the Three Blind Mice, the Big Bad Wolf and all the villagers out in the streets playing. Then of course there’s Donkey, who is a pretty cool looking animatronic, his Dronkey babys flying above, and then Shrek, Fiona and Dragon come rolling in with their swamp in tow. If you pay attention, you may also catch a scent of fir, and other earthy smells as the Swamp has it’s own Christmas scent.
While the Dreamworks characters and Minions are fun, the parade shines when it switches to the Universal and Macy’s characters. These characters were all designed by Universal, and crafted after some of the most popular, and universal toys in the past century. They have a beautiful old Victorian era look to them, and are incorporated with the dance around characters in the parade, and the floats themselves.
Of course with toys around, that means that Santa can’t be far behind. Santa is preceded by his elves and reindeer. The float that Santa rides on is absolutely gorgeous, and has the globe surrounded by all the good little girls and boys on the nice list. Here’s a little secret-The Nice list is comprised of all the members of the creative team that helped to work on the parade, and their holiday toy wishes.
Santa still does the big countdown in front of Macy’s and the big Christmas tree, which is lit nightly right there in the streets of New York. It’s a great holiday tradition that remains.
I love that the parade itself mixes such a great blend of nostalgia and new characters. If there was anything that’s missing from the parade, it’s the interactivity that used to be there. The characters are all great, but in our two viewings of the parade they don’t seem to be interacting with the crowd as much as previous incarnations. That’s a tradeoff of the big, new, elaborate costumes I guess, but it’s still something that would add that much more to it. The new Universal Parade featuring Macy’s is easily a favorite parade, right next to Universal’s Mardi Gras…yes, they out parade Disney’s parades in our books.
The new parade is definitely going to be a holiday favorite, and is one of the many huge offerings this year at Universal Orlando for the holidays.
Slideshow-Check out more pics from Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s!
The parade will step off nightly around 5:30 p.m. at Universal Studios Florida from November 18th until January 6th. The best spots are of course right in front of the big Christmas Tree, in New York, but you’ll have to stake out those spots early.
Stay tuned for more from Universal, and be sure to get social with us on Facebook and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!