There are three main attractions at the Universal Orlando Resorts Holiday Celebration: Grinchmas, the Macy's Holiday Parade, and Manheim Steamroller Live in concert. This year's theme is Naughty & Nice. The Grinch is definitely naughty, but everything about the holiday celebration at Universal is nice. Katarina and I enjoyed all of it immensely.
GrinchmasUniversal's Islands of Adventure has a section called Seuss Landing that celebrates all things Dr. Seuss, and that is where you find Grinchmas. I have always been a huge Seuss fan. I even preformed How The Grinch Stole Christmas in a state forensics competition when I was in ninth grade, and I still have the entire book memorized. (If you ever need a quote from the Grinch, just ask me!) With the Grinch being big in my world, I was very excited to see the Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular live for the first time.
It is everything you could want in a stage adaptation of the Grinch story. The set looks like it was taken right out of the pages of the book, the Whos costumes are perfect, the music was composed and recorded by Mannheim Steamroller, and the Grinch was, well, Grinchy in the very best way. Plus, Max is played by a real dog, which made Katarina very happy.
After the play we were able to spend some time with the Grinch. I can tell you that he is much nicer now that his heart grew three sizes. At one point Grinch asked Katarina what her favorite part of the show was. "Maybe something green?" he suggested with a wiggle of his eyebrows. She wasn't phased by that at all, and told him Max was her favorite. The Grinch immediately got down on his hands and knees and crawled around us in circles barking, to see if he could win her favor.
Meeting the Grinch made my heart grow.
Macy's Holiday ParadeJust like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando is planned months in advance. While the many of us are taking trips to the beach, John Piper, Vice President of Macy’s Parade Studio, and Lora Wallace, Director of Universal Holiday Shows, are listening to Christmas music and deep in talks about their holiday plans.
This is the 12th anniversary of the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios in Orlando, and it features the same balloons used in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York.
During their summer parade meetings, Wallace told Piper she wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas. Piper's team turned to a classic Macy's balloon from the '30s and '40s to make her dream come true. Happy Hippo was recreated for this year's parade (I love it when Macy's brings back the old balloons). They brightened Happy up, added a beautiful bow around her waist, made her bigger, and gave her pink toenails. Those toenails were Lora's idea, and they are really cute.
After Happy made her debut in New York, she was sent down to Orlando with the rest of the balloons appearing in the parade at Universal.
Happy Hippo is flying in the parade each day, but you can also catch her in a special mini-show in the afternoon. She comes out next to the Horror Makeup Show building with her own set of dancers preforming to the song "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas." It is a special moment you don't want to miss.
Katarina and I watched the Macy's Holiday Parade near the giant Christmas tree by the streets of New York. Every year we watch the Thanksgiving parade on tv, and hear the announcers talk about just how big the balloons are, but hearing dimensions and seeing the balloons on tv is nothing compared to seeing them in real life. They are seriously huge.
Even seeing the giant balloons staked out all around the park as part of the decorations didn't prepare me for the wonder of seeing them floating by me.
The parade isn't all floating balloons, though. There are also marching bands, stilt walkers, dancers, and floats. It is everything you want in a parade. The Minions from Despicable Me appeared in this classic Central Park float with an ice skater.
There is a second new balloon in the holiday parade this year: a snowman. I spotted him on this float - he is riding on an iceberg that is being pulled by a classic car.
Another great collaboration between Wallace and Piper, this snowman was inspired by the group of tap-dancing snowmen who have appeared in the Holiday Parade at Universal Studios for the last several years. You can see them here, leading their new friend through the parade.
Did you know you can be in the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios? You can. I learned on Saturday that many of the balloon handlers are volunteers. If you are interested in participating in the parade in this capacity, you want to head toward the Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone a couple of hours before the parade is scheduled to begin. You have to search for the Universal Studios employees dressed in their balloon handling jump suits to land the job.
Mannheim Steamroller LiveAfter the parade, we headed over to the Universal Music Plaza for a live performance from Manheim Steamroller.
This was Katarina's first live concert, and it was so special to sit with her for this experience. The light show was amazing, and the music was beautiful. It was the perfect end to our night.
The Holiday Celebration at Universal Orlando Resort runs from December 7, 2013 - January 4,2014. Check out the Universal Holiday page for more information about holiday fun. The Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular and the Macy's Holiday Parade are available every day during the holiday celebration, but Manheim Steamroller will only be preforming on select weekend nights, so if you want to see them (you do!), make sure to plan your visit on a day they will be there.
When you plan your vacation, make sure to check out the new vacation planner on the Universal Orlando Resort website. It will help you customize the perfect adventure for your family so you can get the most fun out of your visit to Universal.
Have you ever visited Universal Orlando Resort during the holiday celebrations?
*I was given media tickets to attend the Universal Orlando Family Blogger Press Trip, and was not compensated in any other way. I was not required to say nice things or to tear up during Manheim Steamroller's performance of Joy To The World.