A Happy Hippo Counteracts the Grinch During Universal Orlando Holidays 2013

This past weekend, Universal Orlando Resort kicked off its holiday festivities.  Unlike other places who launch into Christmas parties immediately after Halloween, Universal Orlando Holidays intentionally waits until after Thanksgiving.  Not for any philosophical reasons, but because many of the balloons featured in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade are shipped down to Orlando to float through the park.  Universal Orlando Holidays runs through January 4, 2014 and not only includes the Macy’s Parade, but also Grinchmas, and weekend concerts from Mannheim Steamroller.  Best of all, everything’s included with regular theme park admission.  Continue reading for VIDEO highlights from Universal Orlando Holidays.

Universal Orlando Holidays

On December 7th I had the opportunity to experience Universal Orlando Holidays.  First stop – Islands Of Adventure during their Grinchmas celebration.  Seuss Landing was all decked out, and I only wish I had a little more time to get photos of the area.  It was really colorful and felt like a Christmas fantasy.

We were quickly ushered into a soundstage to see the Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular stage show.  This is a retelling of the classic How the Grinch stole Christmas story with music added by Mannheim Steamroller.  The production was lively, colorful and full of genuine humor.  The Grinch was especially funny.  The video I have for you is a condensed version of the show, including my own personal visit with the Grinch.

Next, we headed over to Universal Studios Florida where we were treated to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – Happy Hippo Mini Pre Show.  Happy the Hippo balloon and performers delighted the crowd while the classic I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas song played over the speakers.  It was simple yet indulgently delightful.  Happy the Hippo is a recreation of a 1940s Macy’s Parade balloon, and made her debut in New York City this past Thanksgiving before heading to Orlando to appear in the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida.

Then it was off to the Universal’s Streets of New York to experience Macy’s Holiday Parade.  It was fun.  Because of size and other considerations, Universal cannot accommodate some of the bigger balloons you may be used to seeing on Thanksgiving.  Set your expectations appropriately and consider the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Orlando an appetizer – a way to bring the experience to people that have never experienced it live on Thanksgiving Day in New York City.  Macy’s Holiday Parade lacks a little of the Christmas magic so strong at Seuss Landing over in Island Of Adventure, but I believe purposely so.  This experience is meant to be different and more urban in feel.

At 6pm, following the parade, Mannheim Steamroller takes to the Music Plaza stage on six nights to perform their modern take on Christmas classics.  In addition to performing last weekend (Dec 7 & 8th), remaining Mannheim Steamroller concerts are December 14, 15, 21, and 22.  Again, all theme park holiday entertainment – including the Mannheim Steamroller concerts – are included as part of a park-to-park or multi-day admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.

Mannheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Holidays

Photo by Kevin Kolczynski © Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.


Kudos to Universal Orlando Holidays for offering a distinctly different Christmas experience for every taste and setting themselves apart from other Holiday offerings in the Central Florida area.  Grinchmas is also celebrated on the West Coast at Universal Studios Hollywood.  If you want a look at their Holiday Whobilation, click here.

DISCLOSURE: John Saccheri was hosted by Universal Orlando for the purposes of experiencing their holiday events and writing this recap and review.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About John Saccheri

John Saccheri has been rooted in the Disney culture from childhood. John only had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World once, at the age of 5. After returning home, he never stopped talking about it, yearning to return. His parents were worried about this “obsession,” but John began working at the age of 12 with a focus on saving up for the next Disney trip. He was able to visit Disney World at least once a year from 14 years old onward. Today, a successful entrepreneur, John was able to move from his hometown of Long Island, New York, to Central Florida to be close to the Mouse. Going to the parks still seems like a fantasy to him!