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2023 Holidays at Universal Orlando (Nov 17 - Dec 31)

Credit to Manheim Steamroller, they are consistent. I first saw the same show as last night--same set list, same video of his daughter, same jokes--when my friend's kid was in a stroller next to me. He's 12 now.

Undeniable talent, especially the Grinch performers who sell their character even in formalwear, but this is the exact opposite of Mardi Gras and HHN which feel new and fresh every year.
There was a period when it started to feel fresh, when they added the CityWalk village, had a full Red and Green Coconut Club, and introduced Earl, but they’ve apparently decided to run in the opposite direction. Which is worrying.
 
There was a period when it started to feel fresh, when they added the CityWalk village, had a full Red and Green Coconut Club, and introduced Earl, but they’ve apparently decided to run in the opposite direction. Which is worrying.
We can't keep beating this same drum while ignoring key points that everyone else keeps telling you...
 
We can't keep beating this same drum while ignoring key points that everyone else keeps telling you...
What posters seem to keep telling me is some variation on, “we assume they had business reasons for their decisions.” I assume they had business reasons that decision makers felt justified curtailing a focus on the holidays as well. That doesn’t change the fact that, as a guest, I feel the resort experience is diminished. I’m also not the one who initiated the conversation about the holidays at Universal feeling tired - which they do.

If the village at CityWalk didn’t work, fine (although one year immediately following a pandemic is fairly weak evidence for this) - try something else. Pre-pandemic Uni was great because, for several years, there was always a sense of forward motion.
 
If the village at CityWalk didn’t work, fine (although one year immediately following a pandemic is fairly weak evidence for this) - try something else. Pre-pandemic Uni was great because, for several years, there was always a sense of forward motion.
See, this is where you lose me. Post-pandemic Universal is when we got things like:

- The first attempt at the holiday village in CityWalk
- The introduction of the seasonal Coconut Club rethemings
- The expansion of the Tribute Stores outside of HHN (JP anniversary, the holiday store, Tribute Theater, etc.)
- The first attempt at Christmas/Holiday "icons" (Earl & Pearl)

Acting like Universal post-pandemic is just running the greatest hits and not trying anything new is just straight up false. The literal thing you're complaining about being altered debuted post-pandemic. Things are going to be attempted and altered as they fail/succeed. It doesn't mean they've straight given up and nothing will ever be attempted again.
 
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See, this is where you lose me. Post-pandemic Universal is when we got things like:

- The first attempt at the holiday village in CityWalk
- The introduction of the seasonal Coconut Club rethemings
- The expansion of the Tribute Stores outside of HHN (JP anniversary, the holiday store, Tribute Theater, etc.)
- The first attempt at Christmas/Holiday "icons" (Earl & Pearl)

Acting like Universal post-pandemic is just running the greatest hits and not trying anything new is just straight up false. The literal thing you're complaining about being altered debuted post-pandemic. Things are going to be attempted and altered as they fail/succeed. It doesn't mean they've straight given up and nothing will ever be attempted again. That's just straight up fearmongering and it's dull to hear on repeat.
That’s a fair criticism. My timeline may be off as it pertains to holiday decor. That said, it’s still fair to note that this year’s holidays features no innovation and lacks some of the enjoyable elements from previous years. I thought I was told quite definitively in the other thread that Universal was essentially stepping away long-term from significant holiday initiatives.
 
I’m also not the one who initiated the conversation about the holidays at Universal feeling tired - which they do.

I don't think that was 71's overall point. I read it as, "Despite not being updated every year like other events, it still delivers."

That’s a fair criticism. My timeline may be off as it pertains to holiday decor. That said, it’s still fair to note that this year’s holidays features no innovation and lacks some of the enjoyable elements from previous years. I thought I was told quite definitively in the other thread that Universal was essentially stepping away long-term from significant holiday initiatives.
The thing about the Holidays is it's rooted a little more with "tradition" in comparison to HHN & MG. That was a big key point from Universal when they repacked the Holidays in 2017 - "Establishing new traditions". You still have Grinch, you still have Macy's, you still have Santa, and lately - you're getting a lot of Earl.

They tried Mistletoe Pines and it didn't land, so they adjusted with the Earl M&G. The full Red Coco Club didn't get the same attention as HHN, so they adjusted. You still get the same experience - just not as highly decorated. Something to keep in mind is that the Holidays are all free so they gotta make sure they get the bang for the buck; but overall, it's the same package since 2017. They've tinkered with tweaks here and there (mostly additive) but outside of Pines and the Coco adjustment - I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.
 
It was like they really didn't care about the Holiday Season this year. Heck, they didn't even release the start dates and events scheduled until a couple weeks before it started....too late for people to plan a trip. Now they're paying with lighter than usual crowds, especially on the weekdays. Just a really bad look all around....Seemed like Universal was really into the Holidays from the time they revamped in 2017 through 2022. Lackluster planning for 2023 though. Hopefully they get back in the holiday mood for 2024, and get their mojo back.
 
Heck, they didn't even release the start dates and events scheduled until a couple weeks before it started....too late for people to plan a trip. Now they're paying with lighter than usual crowds, especially on the weekdays.
While I'm happy to critique the cynicism, I wonder if they projected low crowds for the holidays in general and responded to that by dialing back their holiday plans. We've been talking about (relatively) light crowds in Orlando since the summer, and I can't imagine they were taken aback by this.
 
While I'm happy to critique the cynicism, I wonder if they projected low crowds for the holidays in general and responded to that by dialing back their holiday plans. We've been talking about (relatively) light crowds in Orlando since the summer, and I can't imagine they were taken aback by this.
Good possibility. But they kind of fulfilled the prophecy by not publicizing the beginning dates and content until the last minute. Just seems like bad business. Every other year the info came out in the August period. And this is from someone who has a high opinion of what they do for the holidays. Like the Grinch lines. We've been there at this time of year when the crowds aren't large and we've been able to see the Grinch, which is worth it even for adults since he's so damn funny, with fairly short to medium waits. Makes no sense for lines to be multiple hours long with small crowds in the parks. They must be doing something different. Seems like they still had the bulk of their holiday stuff, which is very good, but something must be lacking in operations. And let me reiterate, why did they wait until the last minute to advertise the holidays. It's not like they don't know when Christmas is. This whole Holiday gig for 2023 is a puzzle.
 
Good possibility. But they kind of fulfilled the prophecy by not publicizing the beginning dates and content until the last minute. Just seems like bad business.
yep, totally agree with this. I think this is how many businesses are operating as they try to manifest a recession despite every economic indicator suggesting things are okay.
 
yep, totally agree with this. I think this is how many businesses are operating as they try to manifest a recession despite every economic indicator suggesting things are okay.
I think the issue is that things are ok for businesses but prices largely have not come down for essentials not captured in the CPI so we’re seeing the downswing in discretionary spending which is making things soft.
 
yep, totally agree with this. I think this is how many businesses are operating as they try to manifest a recession despite every economic indicator suggesting things are okay.
Yeah, the recession talk was a sky falling BS. Last quarter grew by 5%. Those are gigantic numbers that are rarely seen. This isn't even a soft landing. And tourism was up just about everywhere except Orlando. I think WDW and Universal self fulfilled by writing 2023 off....and contrary to thoughts, the business survey numbers are showing discretionary spending is still strong.
 
It's not exactly a surprise when a mostly Christmas-themed event is going to occur. There's also not really a big month-out booking window. If you're coming from out of state, you're planning further out than that - if you're in-state/passholder, you can plan last second.

And Thanksgiving being relatively early (second earliest possible date on the calendar) throws an extra week in the holiday period and thins all of the crowds. Basically everything is soft this year compared to last, even down to MVMCP not being completely sold out yet when it did before Thanksgiving last year.
 
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It's not exactly a surprise when a mostly Christmas-themed event is going to occur. There's also not really a big month-out booking window. If you're coming from out of state, you're planning further out than that - if you're in-state/passholder, you can plan last second.

And Thanksgiving being relatively early (second earliest possible date on the calendar) throws an extra week in the holiday period and thins all of the crowds. Basically everything is soft this year compared to last, even down to MVMCP not being completely sold out yet when it did before Thanksgiving last year.
Yes, but planning out further than that, namely August....not the end of October. Absolutely no reason Universal should have waited so long to announce the holidays, especially when they were much earlier announcements in the past. Myself, I always booked for the holidays as soon as the 'official dates' came out in August. I don't take anything for granted from Universal since they change things up often, but not everyone thinks that way. Many are more trusting or taking things for granted on the past. The Universal Facebook page was filled with irate tourists who found out too late that the holiday vacations they booked didn't start until their vacations were over. Just good business practice, and appreciation to your customers, to give a decent leeway date. Look how early they published a Mardi Gras date. Once again, why the heck did they wait until the last minute for the Holiday official date? Were they afraid they'd lose bookings from all those people that took it for granted that the Holidays would start two weeks before Thanksgiving, like in the past....regardless of when Thanksgiving fell this year. Most tourists that come these slower weeks (except Thanksgiving and Christmas week that are busy) come for the Holiday stuff. The weather is too crummy for anything else.....Bottom line: Simple. Give people long enough notification so they can confidently plan their vacation. No good reason to keep these dates secret until the last minute. Sounds too much like ulterior motives were involved that weren't customer friendly.
 
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I don't think that was 71's overall point. I read it as, "Despite not being updated every year like other events, it still delivers."


The thing about the Holidays is it's rooted a little more with "tradition" in comparison to HHN & MG. That was a big key point from Universal when they repacked the Holidays in 2017 - "Establishing new traditions". You still have Grinch, you still have Macy's, you still have Santa, and lately - you're getting a lot of Earl.

They tried Mistletoe Pines and it didn't land, so they adjusted with the Earl M&G. The full Red Coco Club didn't get the same attention as HHN, so they adjusted. You still get the same experience - just not as highly decorated. Something to keep in mind is that the Holidays are all free so they gotta make sure they get the bang for the buck; but overall, it's the same package since 2017. They've tinkered with tweaks here and there (mostly additive) but outside of Pines and the Coco adjustment - I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.
SeventyOne can speak for themself, but I read the last sentence as calling the holidays old and tired (although the performers give it their all, which is true.)

Holidays ARE all about tradition, which is why it seems like a massive mistake to give things like Pines or the Green and Red one year (especially coming right out of a pandemic in the former case) to establish themselves. But a theme park also need yearly variety. The mix of comfy tradition and intriguing variety is a combo that has worked so well for Uni during other seasons. The Green and Red is key here, because the elaborate theming changes from year-to-year. HHN is completely new each year, Mardi Gras gets a new parade - the holidays needs that yearly variety. Right now the Coconut is shadow of its best self, with generic, off-the-shelf decor - no Sirens, no impressive theming. As far as I've seen reported, they aren't even playing holiday music, though that can change easily.

It seemed like the village might also have been intended to offer this same kind of yearly variety, although we'll never know for sure. (At some point it was supposed to return, because I actually ran into a team from creative walking the area and discussing how they might alter the layout for the next year).

As to Earl, I love the character, but I thought I saw a walkaround Earl doing meet-and-greets back in 2021, so I can't see that as much of an adjustment to the lack of the Village.

Simple things could really help - I seem to recall the decorations in Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, and Marvel being very sparse. If that's still the case... why?

As to bang for their buck, Universal very significantly raised ticket prices this year. They don't get to plead poverty.
 
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I don't think that was 71's overall point. I read it as, "Despite not being updated every year like other events, it still delivers."


The thing about the Holidays is it's rooted a little more with "tradition" in comparison to HHN & MG. That was a big key point from Universal when they repacked the Holidays in 2017 - "Establishing new traditions". You still have Grinch, you still have Macy's, you still have Santa, and lately - you're getting a lot of Earl.

They tried Mistletoe Pines and it didn't land, so they adjusted with the Earl M&G. The full Red Coco Club didn't get the same attention as HHN, so they adjusted. You still get the same experience - just not as highly decorated. Something to keep in mind is that the Holidays are all free so they gotta make sure they get the bang for the buck; but overall, it's the same package since 2017. They've tinkered with tweaks here and there (mostly additive) but outside of Pines and the Coco adjustment - I don't see how you can come to that conclusion.
But all the parks lean on their traditions. Sea World hasn't really changed over the years. Added a train display one year, now this year they have the Mrs. Clause cooking show, but overall it has leaned on O Wonderous nights, ice skating, Sesame Christmas show, and fireworks for a long time. It did have Miracles and honestly since that has left it hasn't been the same experience, but it is the same decor every year. Trees in the lake for the tree show. Which the tree show was something added too around the time of the train display I think. But it is always small adds every so many years and nothing too crazy.

Disney is also the same decor, same paid ticket event, same candlelight processional.

While Uni is last in Christmas and I understand everyone wanting it to move up, if it isn't going to get more people to come to their parks, why would they? Everything comes down to business decisions and honestly the general public thinks what they have is good enough to visit. My friend is actually looking forward to between Christmas and New Years going and seeing what they offer as she remembers liking it. It isn't stopping people from going.

Yeah, the recession talk was a sky falling BS. Last quarter grew by 5%. Those are gigantic numbers that are rarely seen. This isn't even a soft landing. And tourism was up just about everywhere except Orlando. I think WDW and Universal self fulfilled by writing 2023 off....and contrary to thoughts, the business survey numbers are showing discretionary spending is still strong.

I do agree with this. I know Dollywood has been slammed this year and when we went it was busier than normal. It is harder to get hotels places and prices for traveling are still up. The post-Covid travel bump is still here and as someone who has always traveled it is quite annoying lol
 
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But all the parks lean on their traditions. Sea World hasn't really changed over the years. Added a train display one year, now this year they have the Mrs. Clause cooking show, but overall it has leaned on O Wonderous nights, ice skating, Sesame Christmas show, and fireworks for a long time. It did have Miracles and honestly since that has left it hasn't been the same experience, but it is the same decor every year. Trees in the lake for the tree show. Which the tree show was something added too around the time of the train display I think. But it is always small adds every so many years and nothing too crazy.

Disney is also the same decor, same paid ticket event, same candlelight processional.

While Uni is last in Christmas and I understand everyone wanting it to move up, if it isn't going to get more people to come to their parks, why would they? Everything comes down to business decisions and honestly the general public thinks what they have is good enough to visit. My friend is actually looking forward to between Christmas and New Years going and seeing what they offer as she remembers liking it. It isn't stopping people from going.



I do agree with this. I know Dollywood has been slammed this year and when we went it was busier than normal. It is harder to get hotels places and prices for traveling are still up. The post-Covid travel bump is still here and as someone who has always traveled it is quite annoying lol
Exactly. The travel oriented businesses are all reporting strong demand and strong spending. I think WDW and Universal read the tea leaves wrong and paid for their lackluster 2023 effort with low crowds, and a reflection on their inadequate response to major capacity and operational issues, and big price jumps, in 2022 that turned a lot of people off traveling to their parks.
 
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But all the parks lean on their traditions. Sea World hasn't really changed over the years. Added a train display one year, now this year they have the Mrs. Clause cooking show, but overall it has leaned on O Wonderous nights, ice skating, Sesame Christmas show, and fireworks for a long time. It did have Miracles and honestly since that has left it hasn't been the same experience, but it is the same decor every year. Trees in the lake for the tree show. Which the tree show was something added too around the time of the train display I think. But it is always small adds every so many years and nothing too crazy.

Disney is also the same decor, same paid ticket event, same candlelight processional.

While Uni is last in Christmas and I understand everyone wanting it to move up, if it isn't going to get more people to come to their parks, why would they? Everything comes down to business decisions and honestly the general public thinks what they have is good enough to visit. My friend is actually looking forward to between Christmas and New Years going and seeing what they offer as she remembers liking it. It isn't stopping people from going.

I think we're on the same page here? Haha.


As to bang for their buck, Universal very significantly raised ticket prices this year. They don't get to plead poverty.

I wasn't claiming they were pleading poverty, but a free event taking place in the free area of the resort is going to need to be a draw. If it isn't, they are going to move on.

Holidays ARE all about tradition, which is why it seems like a massive mistake to give things like Pines or the Green and Red one year (especially coming right out of a pandemic in the former case) to establish themselves. But a theme park also need yearly variety. The mix of comfy tradition and intriguing variety is a combo that has worked so well for Uni during other seasons. The Green and Red is key here, because the elaborate theming changes from year-to-year. HHN is completely new each year, Mardi Gras gets a new parade - the holidays needs that yearly variety. Right now the Coconut is shadow of its best self, with generic, off-the-shelf decor - no Sirens, no impressive theming. As far as I've seen reported, they aren't even playing holiday music, though that can change easily.

It seemed like the village might also have been intended to offer this same kind of yearly variety, although we'll never know for sure. (At some point it was supposed to return, because I actually ran into a team from creative walking the area and discussing how they might alter the layout for the next year).

You can just say you miss the Village and the Club. That doesn't mean there are "worrying" issues with the Resort.

Christmas relies more on tradition than the other events. As Izzy pointed out, SeaWorld and Disney offer the same thing, year after year - to much success. In time, they'll adjust and repackage. Universal is no different.

As to Earl, I love the character, but I thought I saw a walkaround Earl doing meet-and-greets back in 2021, so I can't see that as much of an adjustment to the lack of the Village.

The original M&G was near the tree. They've now added a 2nd M&G with Mistletoe Pines in CityWalk and another designated spot in Hollywood.

Simple things could really help - I seem to recall the decorations in Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, and Marvel being very sparse. If that's still the case... why?

Those areas, while not highly decorated like Seuss or POE still have something - but I don't think the lack of a garland along the VelociCoaster fencing is going to make or break someone's plans for a holiday vacation.

Now, I'm not saying there's no room to add - but again - I'm not claiming the lack of decor is a sign of issues. A free event is going to have limitations, unfortunately.

Despite it all - we have one of the best Christmas shows with Grinch, a nightly parade, the best-selling Christmas artist performing multiple nights, and a highly-regarded Potter nighttime show with other small highly-regarded entertainment throughout the resort .... all for free.
 
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Holidays ARE all about tradition, which is why it seems like a massive mistake to give things like Pines or the Green and Red one year (especially coming right out of a pandemic in the former case) to establish themselves. But a theme park also need yearly variety. The mix of comfy tradition and intriguing variety is a combo that has worked so well for Uni during other seasons. The Green and Red is key here, because the elaborate theming changes from year-to-year. HHN is completely new each year, Mardi Gras gets a new parade - the holidays needs that yearly variety. Right now the Coconut is shadow of its best self, with generic, off-the-shelf decor - no Sirens, no impressive theming. As far as I've seen reported, they aren't even playing holiday music, though that can change easily.

It seemed like the village might also have been intended to offer this same kind of yearly variety, although we'll never know for sure. (At some point it was supposed to return, because I actually ran into a team from creative walking the area and discussing how they might alter the layout for the next year).

As to Earl, I love the character, but I thought I saw a walkaround Earl doing meet-and-greets back in 2021, so I can't see that as much of an adjustment to the lack of the Village.

Simple things could really help - I seem to recall the decorations in Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, and Marvel being very sparse. If that's still the case... why?
I mean, how much “new” can you really do for Christmas? The park goes all out for Halloween but it’s really more about “horror” (a really huge genre) than the holiday. Mardi Gras has no appeal in and of itself (for lack of a better phrase, it’s a “made-up event” in Orlando) so the new parade each year has to be the draw. But for Christmas, the songs and decorations are kind of the whole appeal. How often do you change up your house decor or listen to different music when the holidays come around?

Now I dont know what the village is, but for what Christmas is Universal can’t really do much better IMO. They give you a parade, a themed show, meet-and-greets and photo ops, holiday food options (the fire nog is great btw) and a bunch of music and decorations. I will say I’ve never been a fan of the Grinch show, but the fact is it’s there and it’s popular, so there’s really nothing overtly “Christmas” that they’re missing.

I also don’t really find IOA to be sparse at all. Basically every shop or restaurant has garland and trees, most of which are unique to their area (that’s pretty impressive for a park of that size!). There’s even garland in the queue for Forbidden Journey which is REALLY surprising/above and beyond given Attractions operates separately from the team putting up the decorations everywhere else.

Red Coconut definitely is playing Christmas music and it’s completely decked out…but it’s also been completely empty from what I can tell. They have the bartenders reading the speciality drinks from a piece of paper lol…I’m not gonna fault UO for abandoning this if it doesn’t get more traction since there’s clearly a lot of unnoticed effort going into it (and I’m sure that’s what happened to this village thing as well).
 
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