Universal Orlando has begun its holiday season – or Wholidays as the residents of Seuss Landing would like to call it. The Grinch returns with his popular musical at Islands of Adventure while Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida adds a mini-show.
The newest addition to the Universal Orlando Christmas line-up is Happy Hippo, a giant purple character based on a classic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon from decades ago. She’s made her return at the request of Universal’s own entertainment director Laura Wallace who’s a fan of the novelty song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” (my own favorite as well). The Macy’s team developed the new balloon to be showcased in the New York parade before heading down to Florida to make regular appearances. Not only does Happy Hippo float through Macy’s Holiday Parade but she is also featured in her own little show set to that famous song about an hour before the parade comes rolling through.
Video: Happy Hippo mini-show at Universal Orlando
Macy’s Holiday Parade is otherwise largely the same as it has been in the past, though a giant new Christmas tree has been created to spruce up the decorations and marks the end of the parade route where a lighting ceremony takes place featuring Santa Claus, his Rockettes-style dancers, tap-dancing snowmen, and many other characters. Other favorites in the parade include the Minions from “Despicable Me” and The Simpsons rolling through in their RV, along with many more retro style balloons flying high overhead.
Video: Macy’s Holiday Parade 2013 at Universal Orlando
Classic character balloons that once flew through New York but are too big to fit through Universal’s theme park streets are inflated and situated around the park, including Garfield, Grover, and more.
A Christmas evening at Universal Studios Florida concludes with Mannheim Steamroller performing their array of synthesizer-infused songs.
Video: Mannheim Steamroller performs Carol of the Bells at Universal Studios Orlando
Over at Islands of Adventure, the Grinchmas Musical is the center of attention with a largely new cast of performers this year led by a particularly talented Martha May. But the Grinch, Cindy Lou Who, and the rest of the cast are all entertaining, retelling the classic story of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” with a bit of Jim Carrey-style flair.
Video: You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch song during the Grinchmas Musical 2013 at Universal Orlando
(Come back here soon for an up-close and personal encounter with the Grinch.)
Universal Orlando Holidays take place now through Jan. 4, 2014 with remaining Mannheim Steamroller performances on Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22, 2013.
More photos of Universal Orlando Holidays 2013:
(Photos by Melissa Allebach and Ricky Brigante)