There’s a dusting of fake snow on the rooftops of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’sHogsmeade year-round, but now is the time of year when Universal Studios kicks it up a notch. Christmas in the land already started — here’s everything you need to know:
A MAGICAL LIGHT SHOW WITH A DASH OF FIREWORKS
The highlight of the Christmas transformation in the Universal Studios land is their Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle light shows, which run several times a night. They use projection technology to create a 3D effect on the castle and its spires, with magical creatures moving across as the walls appear to pull away for an illusory peek inside. That’s all accompanied by John Williams’ excellent Harry Potter music, and the grand finale includes a few fireworks to put an exclamation point on the experience.
The area often gets crowded for these showings. While the park tries to steer visitors to less crowded times, it can still get so packed that they’ll temporarily shut down entry until it opens up. So get in and claim your spot while you can, or wait until the crowds hopefully die down closer to closing. The shows run approximately on the half hour after dark, though showtimes may vary.
Watch Universal’s trailer for the event here:
The newest addition to this year’s festivities: faux snowfalls each evening. We haven’t run an analysis of how they do it, but they have one of the better theme park snowfalls that we’ve seen — you’ll almost feel like you live somewhere that has a winter. The periodic snowfalls start at 5:15 p.m. each night.
The extra Christmas spirit includes holiday-themed decorations, customized to each of the area’s storefronts. There’s no lack of Harry Potter merch for you to take home, and that includes the decorative kind — they’ve got Hogwarts castle snow globes, ornaments, tree toppers, and more.
NOW PLAYING: HOT BUTTERBEER
We feel for our friends in colder climes, but it can still get pretty chilly on a December SoCal eve. Wizarding World’s solution: hot butterbeer. It’s all the magic of the ridiculously sweet drink available year-round, but served hot.
It’s like getting a magical latte, and it’ll keep you toasty until the sweet sensors in your mouth get overwhelmed and you can take no more. For the sweet tooths out there: Heaven. They’ve also got more holiday-themed food at the Three Broomsticks restaurant.
FROG CHOIR DROPPING HOT CHRISTMAS TUNES
The Frog Choir includes Universal talent playing students at the magical Hogwarts school, with giant frogs delivering songs for the season.
Watch video of the enchanted puppet singing show here:
Wizarding World serves as the herald of the next phase in Universal’s holiday celebrations: Grinchmas, which starts on weekends beginning Dec. 1, before going daily Dec. 14-30.
The centerpiece of this annual celebration is the 65-foot-tall Grinchmas tree in the center of the park, with musical shows featuring the Grinch and their own snowfalls as they light the tree multiple times a day. You can snag a photo with the Grinch and his dog Max, though their line tends to run pretty long.
They’ve even got “the Who-liday Singers,” a Whoville boy band, to deliver a cappella concerts combining Christmas songs with pop/rock. You can watch a previous version of this fearsome fivesome here:
MORE UNIVERSAL HOLIDAY CHEER
The rest of Universal Studios doesn’t go as hard for the holidays, but you will find some more bits of winter fun throughout the park. This includes holiday characters, like Shrek in a Christmas sweater and the penguins of Madagascar. Holidays have also come to the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, as well as the Minions’ Super Silly Fun Land, with Nutcracker Minions and more holiday variations.
UNIVERSAL CITYWALK CELEBRATIONS
Christmas spills out into CityWalk, which has its own 40-foot tall Christmas tree with special LED icicles that blink along with the lights and sounds of the music in the central plaza. Santa also appears, offering photos for visitors. The area’s winter transformation began on Friday and runs through Christmas Day.
Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter runs daily through Jan. 6. And before you know it, it’ll be time for their summer celebrations once again.