I had the chance to visit Universal Studios Orlando this past week and got to see the first ever Christmas celebration festivities in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Christmas in the WWHP began November 18th and will run through January 3rd, 2018.
There was very little information floating around online about these events.
This is all we knew in advance from the Universal Website:
- There will be Christmas decorations up in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.
- There will be special Christmas versions of the typical shows such as Celestina Warbeck in Diagon Alley and The Frog Choir in Hogsmeade. Each will sing Christmas songs. And, Christmas music would play at Kings Cross Station.
- There will be a light show projected onto Hogwarts Castle.
The decorations were beautiful and the immersive nature of The Wizarding World was made even more magical at Christmas time.
Unfortunately, the light show was poorly planned and my experience was not as magical as it could have been.
When arriving at the park, I asked an employee about the light show and they told us that it would start at dusk. That’s all we were told. We knew from the night before that the sun was going down around 6:00 pm, so we decided to arrive at the castle around 5:30 to find a spot for viewing.
When arriving at the castle we were told to move up to fill in space, but most people weren’t following these directions. There was an area taped off showing you where you were allowed to stand.
I will say that Hogwarts Castle really wasn’t made for this sort of show. The area of Hogsmeade is meant to be authentic and immersive. The street is narrow and winds, so you don’t have a view of the castle until you make the last turn. So, the only viewing areas are right in front of the castle where people enter and exit for the Forbidden Journey ride and the area right in front of the Flight of the Hippogriff ride.
The show itself was very brief and a bit underwhelming, although very beautiful. If you are expecting a show like what you see on the castle at Magic Kingdom in Disney World, you will be disappointed. The projection show was short and after a few minutes, we received a single burst of fireworks and then it was finished. I remember thinking, “Is it over? Was that it?”
We were told directly after to leave the area and we realized it was because there was a mass of people waiting to see a second show. I was not aware there was going to be more than one light show.
On returning home, I called Universal myself and asked for more specific information. I was told that the show begins at dusk (around 6:00 pm) and will run continuously until the park closes.
My advice is to arrive early, around 5:30 and get a good viewing spot for the first show at 6:00 pm. A second option, only if you have a park to park ticket, would be to stay for the Christmas parade on the Universal Studios side at 5:30, then head over to Islands of Adventure for the light show.
Just make sure you see all of Hogsmeade that you want to see before 6:00 pm. The area becomes immensely crowded with those waiting to see the show.
And, be prepared that they force everyone to leave that has already seen a light show. We originally wanted to see the show and then mill around Hogsmeade at night until closing to enjoy the decorations and setting. But, after the show, they only allow you down one side of the street and if you try to head back northwards towards the castle they tell you that the only thing you are allowed to do heading that way is exit towards the Jurrasic Park area.
The whole thing is just poorly planned. But, it is brand new and as they continue to do it and learn from mistakes, the planning element will improve and hopefully be a less stressful experience for those working at the park as well as those visiting the park.
Christmas truly is a magical time to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I definitely hope to return during this time of the year.
Check out the video highlights on my Savvy Journey YouTube Channel!
Have you visited the Wizarding World during Christmas? What are your thoughts on the planning of the event? Share in the comments section below!
Want more Wizarding World Tips? Check out my Wizard’s Guide to the WWHP!