While much of the United States begins to experience colder weather in December, Orlando still offers visitors a chance to bask in warm, dry weather, perfect for a seasonal trip to one of the city's most popular theme parks, Universal Orlando.
Whether you're planning a Christmas vacation or just want to escape for a weekend of fun at this world-renowned resort, December is a great time to visit Universal Orlando—just make sure you know what to expect before you plan your trip. And be aware that, depending on what time of the month you visit, the crowds and prices could be enormous.
Universal Orlando Weather in December
Since Florida’s hurricane season ends in November, the tropics are no longer a worry in December. Instead, the month brings comfortable days and cool evenings to Universal Orlando. If you want to enjoy all the fun of the parks without suffering in the heat, then this month is a good time to go.
- Average high: 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius)
- Average low: 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius)
There is virtually no humidity in Florida in December, which makes the days and nights especially comfortable. There can be an occasional cold spell, so be prepared for possible chilly weather, especially at night.
While hurricane season may not be an issue, Orlando still receives, on average, about 2 inches of rain over the course of December. Expect six to seven days of precipitation during the month. Fortunately, you would be treated to around seven hours of sunshine and 10 hours of daylight—even though December's days are the shortest of the year.
What to Pack
When visiting Orlando in the late fall and early winter, layering is key—especially if you plan to be out all day and into the evening.
Since temperatures can drop up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit between day and night, you'll want to bring a variety of short and long-sleeved shirts, shorts, and pants as well as a light sweater in case you're prone to getting cold. Check the long-range forecast, and consider bringing one extra-warm hoodie or coat if the mercury threatens to dip down. Because Universal Orlando is so large and you'll mostly be traveling around the park on foot, you'll also want to be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes.
Be sure to pack at least one suitable outfit if you plan on dining out at one of Universal Orlando’s more upscale restaurants or taking in a nightclub. Festive holiday attire would help get you into the spirit of the season.
If you’ll be visiting Universal Orlando in December, consider packing a small umbrella as well as a rain poncho for every member of your group. You could buy these items at the resort (with cool Universal logos imprinted on them), but you’ll pay a premium. Bring the gear from home instead, and save your vacation budget for important things like Wizarding World of Harry Potter wands.
Also, don't forget your swimsuit for frolicking in the Universal Orlando Hotel's heated swimming pools or Universal’s Volcano Bay water park. It may also be wise to bring a drawstring backpack or something similar bag for your personal belongings like your phone and wallet.
December Events at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando goes all out for the holidays throughout December. Highlights include:
- Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at Universal Studios Florida. See giant balloons representing characters such as the Minions.
- Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Enjoy the live musical show, “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular,” based on Dr. Seuss’s classic holiday tale.
- Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at both Universal Studios Florida’s Diagon Alley and Islands of Adventure’s Hogsmeade. Both lands are decked out for the holidays, and each evening, the resort presents the captivating projection show, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.“
- Universal CityWalk's EVE: Known as the park's biggest party of the year, the New Year's Eve celebration welcomes guests to a private ticketed event at CityWalk, where champagne, fireworks, and live music will help you ring in the New Year.
December Travel Tips
- There will be pockets of lower attendance at the beginning of the month, but anticipate large crowds at Universal Orlando as the month progresses. The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve can be the busiest of the year. Consider planning your visit for a different week.
- If you do plan to visit the last week of December, you’ll want to book your accommodations well in advance, whether you’ll be staying on property at a Universal Orlando resort or elsewhere.
- The crowds will be huge, and the lines will be long for the rides, shows, and attractions, especially for the last week of December. Learn how to skip the lines at Universal’s parks by using the resort’s Express Pass program as well as how to navigate its Virtual Line system. If you have the resources, you could consider reserving a a VIP Experience, which would give you front-of the-line access to all rides and shows as well as a guide to escort you around the parks.
- The rates might be among the highest of the year in late December; nonetheless, there are great reasons to think about staying at one of Universal’s on-property hotels. The three premier-level properties, for example (Portofino Bay, Hard Rock, and Royal Pacific), include the Express Pass program in their room rates. (Visitors staying at other hotels, both on- and off-property, have to pay for Express Pass.) And all of Universal’s resorts allow guests to get into the Harry Potter lands before the parks open to the general public.
- Be sure to check Universal Orlando’s deals and specials, including package deals that combine hotel accommodations and park tickets. You might find some especially good deals for early December.
- Give yourself plenty of time to travel to the Universal Orlando theme parks if you are not staying on-site and try to arrive around opening time to make the most of your day at the park.
- Consider bypassing watery rides at the Islands of Adventure and Universal Orlando, especially at night. You will get wet, and the weather may be too cool for comfort.
- Pick up holiday gifts that you just can't find anywhere else when you visit Universal Orlando during December; that way, you'll enjoy a fun vacation and finish your Christmas shopping in a festive environment.