Universal hosted invited media to preview its holiday performances this evening, kicking off with the new Universal's Holiday Parade Featuring Macy's. Yes, the iconic department store has been kicked down to supporting billing in this new production, which uses the character balloons inspired by Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in more of a supporting role to the Illumination and DreamWorks animated characters that star in this parade.
After having spent the past few summers watching Disney's Paint the Night and the Main Street Electrical Parade, this nighttime presentation seemed... almost reserved compared with the amped-up, beat-you-over-the-head-with-the-melody aggressiveness of those productions. Despite not having a crowd to reflect the energy of the performance, the parade still delivered all the moments with beloved characters that one should expect. And like the New York original, it all builds up to the arrival of Santa at the end.
As much as I enjoyed the parade, I loved the new productions in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We started in Diagon Alley, where Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees have a new holiday special.
Celestina's a diva, and I love her for it. The holiday show gives her four new numbers to wail on, and she delivers, as always. It's campy, but musically satisfying, too. This really is one of the best theme park shows out there, and I am so glad that Universal is investing in expanding this character with a seasonal production.
Over in Hogsmeade, Universal is presenting The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, a projection mapping show that envelopes the castle with delightful, holiday-themed moments.
Unlike some projection mapping shows, the animation here never changes the castle's form into something else. It's always Hogwarts. But it's Hogwarts draped in snow. Or illuminated by fairies. Or with the walls cut away to see the Yule Ball going on within. Or, in its most humorous moment, draped with advertising signs from Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes.
Each iteration of the Hogwarts projection show has improved upon the last, and this production continues that tradition, adding more detail and narrative to the show that ran in Hollywood last summer. (Orlando and Hollywood are showing the same Christmas show on their Hogwarts Castles this season.) The show runs every 20 minutes or so after the sun sets in the evening, so if you're in the park, it should be easy to catch at your convenience.
Universal Orlando's holiday shows officially start on Saturday and run through January 6.
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