By: Kayla Caldwell
Snow is in the air. Twinkling lights are everywhere. The first two lines rhymed, so... you know what time it is: GRINCHMAS at Universal Studios Hollywood. Los Angeles has even been surprisingly accommodating, bringing the cooler weather, so it was a perfect (sunny yet breezy) day when Creepy Kingdom checked out the holiday festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The decorations are up, and I mean everywhere. As soon as you walk in, you see that the statues in the courtyard are wearing Santa hats. You’ll also see poinsettia, [fake] snow everywhere, and all the lights your heart could desire. Hello Kitty was dressed in her holiday finest, and ready to greet us as we walked inside. Moving further into the park, you’ll see Donkey with a Santa hat, by the DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda, and the gloriously crooked Grinchmas tree in the square.
Where at Halloween time we found a Día de los Muertos celebration, we now see all the trimmings for a holiday Who-bilation. There are plenty of snack stands and merch carts with adorably punny names. I got a particular kick out of the Who-mingdales cart, which featured Santa hats, Grinch onesies, and more. As far as special holiday treats you can eat, you’ll find pretzels, mini donuts, festive churros, and all the hot cocoa you could want. There are giant, Grinch donuts, and cute, little cakes in glass jars.
Have you been good this year? Fill out a card with three good deeds, and you can mail it at the Whoville Post Office for a great cause. [Note: Universal’s Discover a Star Foundation will donate to School on Wheels for every postcard sent.] You can have a story read to you by Cindy Lou Who, or pose for a photo with Max, the Grinch’s precious sidekick. And that’s not all. You can watch a festive tree lighting that tells the story of the Grinch. Then, see in real time as he comes to his senses to learn the true meaning of Christmas, and celebrate with the Whos (and you!) - oh, and of course, lights the tree. It’s truly a sight to see. You can also line up to meet the Grinch himself - and, let me tell you, he’s a hoot. (Note: It can get crowded, and there’s no Express pass in this area, so make sure you line up early!)
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Once you’ve had your Who-liday fill, you can take a trip to the magical world of Hogsmeade from Harry Potter, which has its own holiday festivities to experience. You better believe I got myself a hot Butterbeer, one of my favorite holiday offerings at Universal Studios Hollywood. (If you’re feeling a little naughty, and you’re over 21, you can top it off with some Fire Whiskey, the spicy cinnamon perfectly balancing out the sweet Butterbeer.) The entire area is decorated, which makes it even more magical than usual. You’ll see plenty of garlands, wreaths, and so much snow. You can even find specialty holiday merch, like ornaments for your tree. The Holiday Frog Choir will surely lift your spirits, although, in my opinion, the biggest treat in Hogsmeade comes at night.
Beginning at 6pm, with multiple viewing options, you can see The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. That’s a special light show broadcast onto Hogwarts Castle, with music, lights, and even fireworks. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, or just enjoy a great light show, this one is a must.
Be sure to stroll around the Upper Lot, so you can see the dazzling decorations. There are lights, garlands, wreaths, snow, and more, going all around the park, leading to a particularly adorable display at the new Secret Life of Pets ride, as well as a heart-warming display by Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. The lower lot has all the fun you remember, including Jurassic World The Ride, Revenge of the Mummy - The Ride, and Transformers: The Ride-3D, as well as holiday beverages, and a stunning tree decorated with pterodactyls.
Even as you walk back to your car, you’ll be delighted by all of the lights and decorations in Universal City Walk. There are holiday donuts at Voodoo Doughnut, and a giant, sparkling tree. To top it off, the jumbo screen stays playing your holiday favorites. Not all theme park events are created equal, but Universal Studios Hollywood does the holidays right. From the shows to the decorations, GRINCHMAS is sure to warm up even the, well, Grinchiest heart. Check it out for yourself, now through January 9!