Many people have traditions for the holidays. Whether that’s getting together as a family on Christmas Eve, lighting the menorah together, watching a particular movie, or listening to a specific song. Whatever your holiday tradition, they are special in their own right! For us, it is now tradition to meet the green meanie himself…The Grinch at Universal Studios Hollywood. For the holidays (NOVEMBER 26 – JANUARY 9), USH brings Ron Howard’s vision of The Grinch to life. Popularized by the Dr. Suess book called “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” guests can visit USH and come face to face with the Who’s of Whoville, The Grinch, and his sidekick dog Max! Not only that, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter becomes even more magical as well with holiday decorations everywhere.
We spent a whole day at USH experience everything they have to offer for the holidays. Come along with us as we tell you all about our holiday adventures at the park!
DECORATIONS AND ATMOSPHERE
As you approach USH, the colorful and whimsical decorations of Grinchmas are there to greet you with classic holiday songs. On a crisp SoCal morning, everything felt just perfect. People were bundled in their sweaters, sipping hot coco (yes in the morning) and walking to the beat of the music, getting ready to start their day. We’ve mentioned this in the past at other events and even at this one. There’s this intangible essence to the park during the holidays. Something that just conjures up images of holidays past and makes you feel all warm and cozy inside. It really just makes you smile!
Throughout the park, you’ll find themed decorations. For instance, down on the lower lot you can find a Christmas tree with pterodactyl in it or on the upper lot Pets Place has some wonderfully cartoony presents with the films characters.
Look closely at the trees throughout the park because sometimes they have some really great detailed ornaments or hidden characters on them…like this Minion tree by the Minion attraction! Additionally, most of the walk around characters throughout the park are dressed up to celebrate the holidays. But don’t get too excited because Blue the Raptor is missing her Santa hat!
FOOD AND DRINKS
No holiday event is complete with an absurd amount of holiday food and drink. Throughout USH, you can find different season food and drink offerings. Some of these offerings include:
Hot Holiday Turkey Sandwich
Holiday Turkey Croissant
Roast Beef Wrap
Max 22” Hot Dog
Turkey Waffle Stack
Turkey Leg Feast
English Holiday Meal
Spiked Hot Chocolate
Hot Pear Cider
Frozen Holiday Pear Cider
Mulled Spice Wine
Chocolate Peppermint Cake Jar
Holiday Pinwheel Cookie
And so much more! It’s almost like your own little holiday treat scavenger hunt through the park. Some of the stand outs for us were the English Holiday Meal, Chocolate Peppermint Cake Jar, and the spiked hot chocolate. It’s rather difficult to choose between all these items because there’s a finite amount of space in our stomachs. We only wish we could fit in more because from what we ate, we loved it!
One thing we didn’t try that we truly wish we did (which only means we need to go back and try it) is the holiday offerings at Isla Nu-Bar on the lower lot. They were offering a Frozen Pear Cider and a Hot Buttered Rum which both sound incredible.
The two biggest draws for the holidays at USH are Grinchmas and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Both offering unique and fun experiences for the entire family to enjoy. Let’s first chat about the Who-biliation and Whoville!
Located in the Universal Plaza, Who-ville comes to life with citizens of Whoville, festive food and drink, and of course the titular character of the Grinch. A massive tip for those visiting the park! If you want to meet the Grinch, make sure to make it the first thing on your days agenda. The line when we visited got upwards of 2 hours! People really wanted to meet the Grinch and that deterred us enough. But, do not worry! That isn’t the only big meet and greet in Whoville! You can also meet Max, The Grinch’s right hand man…dog.
Also, throughout the area you can run into different citizens of Whoville or even the Mayor of Whoville! All these wonderfully interactive characters really help the area come to life. These are the type of interactions that help create lasting memories and unique ones at that! We had a blast chatting with the Mayor where he told us all about his different medals he won. Spoiler alert, most of them were for eating.
Speaking of eating, you can also get an abundance of wonderful holiday treats in the area as well. This is where we purchases our Cake Jar and Spiked Hot Coco!
You can also find all the wonderful Grinch merchandise your heart desires here and throughout the park. Who knows, it might even help grow your heart 3 sizes!
Each evening in Whoville, you can catch the Tree Lighting Ceremony and snow fall. This cute show includes and abridged version of the classic “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” story that culminates in the beautiful tree lighting. It’s really a heart warming and cute show that captures the emotions of the wonderful story. For us, we grew up reading this book and even watching the cartoon. So theres so many emotions attached to it all. And seeing it come to life in front of our eyes really gets us emotional.
Maybe The Grinch isn’t your speed and maybe you’re more interested in…magic. Then you’ll have to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The snow covered rooftops already lend itself to being the perfect holiday destination within the park. Wonderfully themed garland and wreaths adorn the buildings and really help set the tone of the holidays.
The biggest reason you need to come visit USH for the holidays has to be the incredible show in Hogsmeade. The Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show is simply stunning. Back when it debuted, we had our jaws on the floor. The projections are crisp, clear, and just so vibrant. It uses the John Williams score perfectly to really accentuate the wonderful visuals. This show starts at 5:30pm and plays every 30 minutes. Depending on the day you’re at the park, it can play more or less depending on the time the park closes. For instance, we visited on a Saturday and its last show was at 9pm. But if you go on a Thursday, the last showing is at 6, which only makes two showings of the nighttime spectacular.
Also, keep in mind that the space within Hogsmeade is extremely limited. The best place to see this show is on the steps of the stage directly across from the furthest Butterbeer cart. Since space is limited, things can get really crowded fast. So bring your patience and come early so you can see it a couple times without needing to deal with the massive slow moving crowds.
Universal had done a tremendous job at positioning itself, in a busy theme park world, at the top of our list of favorite holiday theme park events. With a mix of traditional and new school holiday flair, the holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood are a fun holiday treat for the whole family. The Grinchmas celebration in Universal Plaza is unique, fun, whimsical and just a bit over the top in the right way and The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is second to none in terms of holiday spectaculars. Combine this with world class attractions and shows, you have yourself a wonderful day at the park!
For more information regarding the holiday celebrations at Universal Studios Hollywood, including purchasing tickets, CLICK HERE!