What to Expect When Celebrating Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando


Everyone is aware of that going to any of the Orlando amusement parks through the vacation season between Christmas and New Year’s Day is one thing of a catastrophe with such overcrowding that they typically shut park entrances by mid-morning. So it’s no surprise that I had a little bit of trepidation about spending Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando. I questioned, would it not be crowded? Would it’s bizarre to rejoice a vacation at a theme park?

But, we actually, actually wished to get to Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, and we have been already going to be in Florida to go to household, so it appeared solely becoming to squeeze in a fast journey as much as Orlando.

I used to be ready for the times round Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando to be simply as crowded as it’s at Christmas, however I used to be pleasantly stunned. Here is what we discovered that will allow you to plan your journey.

Universal globe at dusk

Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando: FAQs

Nestled in between Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and Holidays at Universal, Thanksgiving can typically be ignored. After all, this American vacation is commonly spent at house or profiting from flight offers to go to someplace that doesn’t observe Thanksgiving in late November.

Despite the truth that the theme parks are decked out for the winter holidays by mid-November, Universal Orlando is a good alternative for a Thanksgiving getaway.

Is Universal Orlando open for Thanksgiving?

If you wish to spend Thanksgiving within the Universal Orlando theme parks, they’re open twelve months a 12 months, even the Volcano Bay water park (except it’s completely freezing exterior.)

Seuss Landing decorated for Christmas at Universal Orlando

Can you will have Thanksgiving dinner at Universal Orlando?

Note: This put up accommodates affiliate hyperlinks. If you click on a hyperlink and make a purchase order, I’ll obtain a small fee. All opinions are my very own.

There are loads of choices for Thanksgiving dinner in Orlando on the numerous Universal Resorts.

Cabana Bay Resort

Cabana Bay Resort

The Bayliner Diner on the Cabana Bay Resort hosts a conventional Thanksgiving dinner from midday to 11 pm on Thanksgiving day full with turkey, stuffing, cranberry compote, broccoli, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits (pie will value you further.)

They even have arts and crafts actions, motion pictures taking part in within the Fun within the Sun recreation middle, and so they play the Thanksgiving Parade on the jumbo screens. Galaxy Bowl additionally hosts Turkey Bowling on Thanksgiving Day from 3-10:30 pm. Anyone who will get three strikes in a row will get a “Turkey” and wins a t-shirt. (Check with lodge for present hours and availability)

Loews Sapphire Falls

The Loews Sapphire Falls additionally gives a Thanksgiving buffet within the Amatista Cookhouse. The breakfast buffet is offered from 7-11 am and the all-day buffet is offered from 11 am – 9pm and reservations are beneficial through OpenTable or calling the eating reservations line at 407-503-DINE.

This buffet goes past the standard Thanksgiving meals with choices like a uncooked bar, ceviche, and a churasco station. See the menu and present charges.

Royal Pacific Resort

The Royal Pacific additionally hosts an “islands” Thanksgiving buffet within the Islands Dining Room from 11 am – 9 pm and a breakfast buffet in Jake’s American Bar from 7 – 11 am.

For dinner, the fare is primarily Asian with some Thanksgiving favorites. The buffet consists of sushi, stir fry stations, and extra conventional dishes. Reservations are beneficial. See the menu and present charges.

Hard Rock Hotel

If you desire a “rocking” good Thanksgiving, the Hard Rock Hotel additionally gives a Thanksgiving buffet with a relaxing seafood bar and a carving station, children objects and a dessert desk in The Kitchen. Their Thanksgiving buffet is served from 11am- 9 pm and reservations are beneficial. Check out the menu and present charges.

Loews Portofino Bay

The Loews Portofino Bay additionally gives a Thanksgiving buffet in Trattoria del Porto from midday to 9 pm full with reside music and face painters. This feast has salad stations, seafood bar, pasta stations, together with entrees (no turkey although). There is a big dessert station although, together with a buffet for teenagers. See the menu and present pricing. Reservations are beneficial. 

Universal Aventura Hotel & Endless Summer Resort

These lodges each provide Thanksgiving meal specials on the Urban Pantry (Aventura), Beach Break Cafe (Surfside Inn & Suites) and Dockside’s Pier 8 Market (Dockside Inn & Suites).

Are there particular Events at Thanksgiving in Universal Orlando?

Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando

Be certain to examine the lodge web site’s for present occasion hours and charges

Thanksgiving comes throughout Universal Orlando’s Holidays, which they name the “biggest, loudest, awesomest holiday celebration of the season” — with particular occasions and decor all through the parks and the lodges.

Universal Orlando Resort Hotels

We stayed on the Cabana Bay Resort, and strolling into the foyer we have been greeted by some favourite characters (Scooby Doo!) and an enormous Christmas tree.

On Friday night on the day after Thanksgiving, the Cabana Bay hosts a tree lighting, adopted by reside leisure within the Swizzle Lounge, meet and greets with Santa and Universal Orlando characters, and sizzling chocolate and chocolate chip cookies for the children. It was a enjoyable method to kick off our keep in Universal.

The Loews Portofino Bay additionally hosts a particular night occasion on the Friday after Thanksgiving, from 6:30-9pm with reside music, a wine tasting and the grand illumination of the Christmas tree. But, sadly that occasion is for adults solely. Other Universal Orlando resorts additionally provide vacation decor and occasions all through the season.

Hogwarts during the day at Universal Orlando

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

From mid-November by way of January 1st, you may see Hogwarts lit up with the Magic of Christmas and festive decor bedecks the streets of Hogsmead in Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida at each sections of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Both the Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees put a vacation spin on their performances and, better of all, it’s the time of 12 months to get pleasure from a sizzling Butterbeer (my private favourite.)

Universal’s Holiday Parade that includes Macy’s at Universal Studios Florida

Many of the balloons and floats from the legendary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City are despatched straight to Universal Studios Florida to make a nightly look within the Holiday Parade from November 12 – January 1st. The parade consists of appearances by the Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me and a few characters from DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek and Madagascar movies. 

Grinchmas at Universal Islands of Adventure

Lorax at Universal Orlando

From November 12 – January 1st, Seuss Landing in Universal Islands of Adventure is adorned with the vacation allure and cheer of Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville. You can get pleasure from particular music and enjoyable from The Grinchmas™ Who-liday Spectacular and have an opportunity at a photograph alternative with the Grinch.

Mannheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida

On sure nights in early December, the best-selling vacation artist of all time performs reside performances in Universal Studios Orlando. Check the web site for this 12 months’s dates.

Universal CityStroll

Universal CityStroll additionally will get adorned for the vacations earlier than Thanksgiving and you will see that particular locations just like the Mistletoe Pines Village, together with vacation drinks, treats, and merchandise. If you intend on consuming Thanksgiving Dinner in CityStroll, ensure you make your reservations weeks prematurely, as prime occasions do refill.

Is Universal Orlando crowded at Thanksgiving?

Entrance to Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando

The quick reply is: not as dangerous as I anticipated. In anticipation of excessive crowds on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I bought a at some point Express Pass for all of us for the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Keep in thoughts that if you happen to keep at one of many premier Universal Orlando resort properties, Express Passes are included in your keep.

In case you aren’t conversant in Express Passes at Universal Orlando, they’re particular passes that permit you to bypass the principle queue and line up on the shorter Express Pass queue. There are two differing types, the Unlimited Express Pass and the usual Express Pass.

With the Unlimited Pass, you need to use it as many occasions as you need for every trip included within the Express Pass. With the usual cross, you may simply use it as soon as per trip. One essential factor to notice is that not each trip in Universal gives an Express Pass queue.

A means that you could gauge how crowded the parks are anticipated to be is to look on-line on the Express Pass pricing. Pricing relies on provide and demand, with a specific amount accessible every day. For instance, after I up to date this text and seemed on the value of Express Passes throughout Thanksgiving week versus the week prior, there was a major improve.

If the value is increased, which means they’re anticipating giant crowds. You can at all times roll the cube and take your probabilities on shopping for them contained in the park, however they might promote out. When I seemed on-line, I used to be stunned by the price of the Express Pass (see my put up about what it prices to go to Universal Orlando.)

Based on the pricing, I made the funding — however that simply goes to point out that even the specialists might be improper. I spoke to a customer support consultant within the park that day and even she was stunned that the crowds weren’t bigger for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The longest line was 90 minutes for the Minions trip and even the Express Pass line was virtually 45 minutes for that one. But for many rides, we walked proper on with our Express Passes. Tip: To skip the road at Minions, go to the queue for no movement. You received’t get bounced round however you’ll get on the trip straight away.

I used to be actually glad that I didn’t pay for an Express Pass on the Sunday after Thanksgiving as a result of the parks have been surprisingly quiet. We have been in a position to go on the Harry Potter rides a number of occasions with barely a wait, even in the course of the day. This is an enormous journey day for individuals so the largest traces we noticed have been on the airport that night (thank goodness for Pre Check!)

I’m actually curious to listen to others’ experiences from Universal Orlando at Thanksgiving however for us, it was an ideal time to go. Just remember that Florida colleges have off for the complete week of Thanksgiving, so it could be fairly crowded later within the week and you could have higher luck on Thanksgiving Day or the Saturday/Sunday after when individuals are driving house.

We didn’t have to take any trip time since two days is basically all you want for each parks, the crowds have been utterly manageable, the decorations made it festive, there have been enjoyable particular occasions, and the climate was preferrred — not too sizzling and never too chilly.

Tips for Visiting Universal Orlando at Thanksgiving

The Cat in the Hat Ride at Universal Orlando with Christmas decorations
  1. Make eating reservations early on your Thanksgiving meal (I’d advocate weeks prematurely).
  2. Stay at a premier lodge property (Loews Royal Pacific, Loews Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel) to obtain free Express Passes.
  3. If you may’t swing the charges at a premier property, keep in one of many economic system properties to a minimum of get into one of many parks one hour earlier than most people for further time with fewer traces (simply do the maths to see if buying Express Passes individually is a greater deal than paying the upper lodge charge.)
  4. The climate at Thanksgiving might be cooler so deliver a small backpack that can match into the trip lockers with gentle layers.
  5. If you’re sporting sneakers, deliver flip-flops or water socks to alter into for water rides in order that your sneakers don’t get soaked for the remainder of the day leaving you with chilly ft. You can in any other case use the “people dryers” if you happen to get moist on the water rides.
  6. See my different suggestions for maximizing your time in Universal Orlando.


What to know about Thanksgiving at Universal Orlando


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