Universal's holiday plan includes Macy's balloons on display, new Tribute Store, Grinch interactions

Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
·2 min read

ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Orlando has unwrapped its plans for the holidays, including a selection of festivities that have been tweaked in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Universal Studios theme park again will play host to giant Macy’s balloons, as seen in the famed New York parade. But instead of the balloons parading by waiting guests, folks will walk by them up-close on a “picturesque pathway,” Universal announced last week. Expect characters such as the “Despicable Me” minions, Gingy from “Shrek,” penguins from “Madagascar” and more along the way. At the end of the road will be Santa Claus and the chance to take a “socially distanced portrait” with him.

Characters will also be rolling through the streets of Universal Studios on floats. From there they will perform “holiday show moments” and pose for photos.

Also new at Universal Studios will be a holiday Tribute Store, following in the footsteps of the park’s pop-up stores for Halloween and Mardi Gras. One room will be Grinch-inspired. The store’s facade, located on New York Street, has recently been put into place. Shoppers will enter through the face of a way-oversized nutcracker there.

The Grinch and other Whos from Whoville will make appearances at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but the park’s long-running “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”-inspired musical stage show is not on the schedule. Also absent are concerts by Mannheim Steamroller, which has been a fixture at Universal Studios since 2008.

Also in the lineup for this year: Holiday decorations and entertainment plus hot butterbeer at both sides of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter; a holiday-tree hunt for 16 themed trees spread across merchandise locations in the theme parks and Universal CityWalk; and the holiday treat trail, a map of seasonal goodies for sale.

The resort’s celebration will begin Saturday and run through Jan. 3. The festivities are included in regular park admission. Universal continues to operate its theme parks under limited-capacity restrictions, but park reservations are not required.

For more information, go to universalorlando.com.

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