By Sarah Sekula
When it comes to the holidays, Universal Orlando Resort really knows how to celebrate. From Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure (when Seuss Landing is filled with Whos from Who-ville) to Universal Studios Florida's Macy's Holiday Parade, there's plenty to see and do this holiday season in Orlando, now through January 2, 2016.
Shelley Caran, for one, can attest to that. She lives with her family in Florida, and visits Universal Orlando Resort several times a month. However, Caran says it's especially thrilling to visit during the holidays. Not surprisingly, as a theme-park pro, she has plenty of tips to share.
Macy's Holiday Parade
When it comes to parade-watching, a little pre-planning never hurts. First things first: "The performance times will vary depending on when Universal Studios Florida closes, so make sure you check for the time and exact route in the park's daily times guide," Caran says. "We always line up along the route 30 minutes before the parade begins."
"Two great spots to watch the parade are the stepping-off point and right in front of the Macy's building or the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster," she says. "If you watch the parade from the stepping off point you will get to see every float and balloon twice as the parade route is a large loop."
"If you choose to watch the parade from the area right in front of the Macy's Building or Revenge of the Mummy, you will get to see a special moment when Santa helps light the large Christmas tree with some special helpers," Caran says. "It really is a great moment."
The best thing is: "There really isn't a bad place to watch the parade," Caran says.
Tips for meeting The Grinch
"If you are interested in meeting The Grinch, you will find him lurking inside Seuss Landing at the All the Books You Can Read store," Caran says. "Times for meeting The Grinch can vary, but they can be found in the daily times guide for Universal's Islands of Adventure. If meeting The Grinch is your highest priority, I would head to this location first."
"Also while you are scheduling time in your day for this experience, don't forget to add some wiggle room beyond waiting in line," says Caran. "A visit with The Grinch is extremely interactive, highly unpredictable and hilarious. As an extra bonus, don't forget to introduce yourself to the Whos you may find out and about around Seuss Landing during Grinchmas. They love to spread their unique holiday cheer."
For more Grinch time, consider booking The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast at Universal's Islands of Adventure. Breakfast entrée options include a green eggs and ham platter.
"Since the holiday activities are spread throughout the day at the two parks, you will want to dress in layers," Caran says. "During the day it may be warmer than dusk when you will be waiting for the parade."
"If you want to step up your Macy's Holiday Parade experience, you can sign up on a first come first served opportunity to be a balloon handler in Woody Woodpecker's KidZone two hours before parade step-off," Caran says. "Keep in mind, though, the number of spots for this chance to be a part of the holiday fun vary from day to day, so please don't count on adding this experience to your day but instead think of it as a nice bonus if it does happen."
Share your story!
Have you been to Universal Orlando Resort during the holidays? What was your favorite memory? Share your stories at OrlandoStories.com.
Sarah Sekula is a national travel correspondent who lives in Orlando and regularly contributes to USA TODAY, CNN.com, NBCnews.com, FOXnews.com, ISLANDS, Scuba Diving and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons. Follow her journeys at SarahSekula.com, @wordzilla on Twitter or wordzillapics on Instagram.
Seuss properties TM & © 2015 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All rights reserved. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade & Related Characters © 2015 Macy's Inc. All rights reserved. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2015 Universal Studios.