Universal Orlando Grinchmas and Macy’s Parade

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios

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Published on December 10, 2013 at 2:00 am with 11 Comments

We kick off a busy week at the Universal Orlando Resort with Christmas celebrations at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  This update will put a spotlight on the current Christmas offerings, and this Thursday we will have a 2nd article about the future of CityWalk with concept art and details on big changes coming to the gateway to the parks.

Christmas is a special time at the Universal Orlando resort with unique experiences you won’t find elsewhere.  With the Grinchmas overlay at Islands of Adventure to the world famous Macy’s Holiday Parade and Mannheim Steamroller live at the Studios park.

Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure

Every year at Islands of Adventure, Seuss Landing is transformed into Whoville based on the Dr. Seuss book and movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”



The main event of for guests visiting Grinchmas is the stage show “Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular,” which is a musical version of the Ron Howard film staring Jim Carey, with great original music by Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller.







Grinchmas is fun for young and old!  But don’t take our word for it, the Grinch has left a special Christmas message for MiceChatters!

The Grinchmas show is a great stage show, that young and old alike will enjoy and which will get you into the holiday spirit with songs sure to get stuck in your head all day.





























As guests enter the park, they are greeted with larger than life balloons from previous years of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  These are terrific photo ops.






Macy’s Holiday Parade

For the past 12 years, Universal Orlando has been partnering with Macy’s to bring their world famous parade to Central Florida following the telecast each year.  What people who watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade might not realize is that over the past 12 years the partnership with Universal Orlando has influenced some of the floats that have appeared in the Macy’s Holiday Parade.

Happy Hippo

This year, a special addition was made to the Holiday Parade that was at the request of Universal’s Creative Director, Lora Wallace, who wanted a Hippopotamus for Christmas.  The creative team at Macy’s gladly complied and re-created the beloved Happy Hippo balloon.  For guests who are at the Parade kick off point in the park by Mel’s Drive-In in the Hollywood section, they will get a special Happy Hippo show, with the music “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”







The Macy’s Parade

This year’s Macy’s parade kicked off with a giant Santa Balloon and confetti cannons.





The Macy’s Parade is filled with amazing floats and Universal Characters guests will recognize (such as Marilyn Monroe, Minions, Shrek, the Simpsons and more).

And guests will recognize famous balloons from this year’s Macy’s parade as well as previous years.  With Polar Bears, giant ornaments, footballs, nutcrackers and more.

This year there are two new balloons, the Happy Hippo which we talked about and a Giant Snowman, that now compliments the tap dancing Snowmen that were introduced last year.

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The Finale for the parade always ends with Santa, accompanied by Mrs Clause and Santa’s Helpers a group of Rockette-esque dancers.  Santa counts down to the Christmas Tree lighting, complete with confetti, fake snow, dancers, and lively music. The tree is lit and the parade ends with guests getting to interact and meet the dancers and performers from the parade.

This parade should be on everyone’s bucket list this holiday season, and thanks to it traveling to Universal Orlando after it’s one day run in New York every year, it gives hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to see it in person.

Mannheim Steamroller Live


After an incredible parade, on select nights guests can see Mannheim Steamroller perform LIVE in the park at the amphitheater by Rip Ride Rockit. They perform their music with singers who reprise some of the more memorable numbers from the Wholiday Spectacular that guests watched earlier in the day.

After the parade, guests can enjoy fireworks as part of the Cinespectacular.

With both parks offering very different Christmas offerings, it is easy for guests to enjoy two days of holiday cheer.


Let’s keep the adventure going and take a listen to MicePod’s Unofficial Universal Podcast with your hosts Lee, Tracey, Darren and Hunter as they discuss all the latest news, rumors and stories from the Universal Studios parks from around the world.

That wraps up this Christmas update, but we will be back on Thursday with breaking news about CityWalk it’s future and some other great announcements from around the resort!

Are you planning to make the trip to Universal Orlando Grinchmas and Macy’s parade?

About Eric Davis

By day, Eric is in Marketing and Social Media. But on the weekends, he's a theme park addict. Eric is a frequent contributor to MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper columns and tends to focus his efforts on what's new and what's news at Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

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  • OprylandUSA

    It’s great to see Universal finally using the VERY expensive version of the Shrek rubberhead. The one in the parade was the one produced by Henson’s Creature Shops. The previous version (and the one still used used by Gaylord Hotels’ meet and greets) wasn’t nearly as big).

    About the Macy’s parade… when the parade was first introduced at Universal, didn’t the guests get to participate in helping to carry the balloons? Am I imagining that?

  • michael darling

    okay, that Grinch video is AWESOME! He completely nailed it.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    You’re making me want to visit Orlando again. It’s a shame we won’t be able to get out there before all this wonder holiday stuff is gone for the season. :-(

    Thank you Eric!!!

  • Malin

    Since I’m visiting Orlando next year during December I have an invested interest in knowing what during the Holidays will be worth checking out. Macy’s and Grinchmas both look worthwhile. Thanks for sharing Eric and look forward to your City Walk update on Thursday.

  • Country Bear

    Great report Eric.

    It truly looks like a unique Christmas celebration from any other park. The scale of the parade balloons is fascinating in itself. It also looks like the Grinchmas stage show is quite spectacular. I hope to be able to experience this some time soon.

    Thanks for all the wonderful pictures and video.

  • planetsix

    That parade actually looks pretty cool! Love how Universal adds the police cycles before their parades like real city parades have! Awesome touch!

  • Rex Dopey24

    awesome grinch jim carry style lol that was great.

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    Ok the Grinch video gave me a good laugh. Great update, Eric!

  • Longaway

    I was also there this weekend, and saw the parade on Saturday.

    While the parade is great, Universal should really be more careful how the describe and term what the parade will be offering. After all the ads, and watching the Macy’s parade Thanksgiving morning, my kids were a bit disappointed that almost none of the balloons they were hoping to see (particularly Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon) were in Orlando.

    We all had a good time, enjoyed the display balloons throughout the park, and had a great time at Grinchmas, though.. So, when I say “a _bit_ disappointed,” I mean it literally. Other kids, however, may not be as okay as mine were.

    • DeanFinder

      Macy’s / Universal probably should disclose which balloons will appear.
      Unfortunately it would be a logistical nightmare to get the balloons from the current year’s parade down to Orlando.
      At the end of the parade route, the balloons are hastily deflated and packed into huge hampers to truck them back to Macy’s parade studio. There are big airtight zippers at various points of the balloon to let them deflate quickly, but these need to be carefully re-sealed. Each balloon needs to be re-inflated to check for any tiny tears and flaked-off paint, and dried out (particularly on a year as rainy as this one)
      With the small staff at the Macy’s parade studio, this must take several weeks.

  • DeanFinder

    I’m one of the volunteers who helps inflate the balloons on the day before Thanksgiving. We put them up on 77th and 81st Street alongside the Museum of Natural History.
    To protect the balloons before they’re airborne, we lay out giant tarps (50×50 feet of a kind of synthetic burlap) on the pavement to provide a surface to work on without worry of debris.
    Years ago, we started noticing some of the tarps had glitter or confetti on them–which made no sense since we sweep the streets before we start. It wasn’t until a a couple years later that we figured out that those tarps were used at the Orlando parades, and picked up the confetti there.