Escape to the festively cinematic sights and sounds of Universal Studios Hollywood this winter!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Grinchmas…
Just ask the Who’s Who of Who-ville when you stroll through Universal Plaza in all its Grinchmas glory. I love basking in the merry mashup of the Seuss classic and the Ron Howard live-action adaptation starring Jim Carrey. Along with various Whoville citizens, you can meet iconic holiday queen Martha May, the Mayor, Cindy Lou nad the Mean One himself along with his trusty dog Max! We know the Grinch is the star of the West Coast Universal festivities but did you know you could meet a real-life Max. He’s played by a number of trained dog performers, who do the goodest job. While entertainment offerings have been reduced, this area always raises spirits through its fantastic performers and the heart of the classic Grinch story. It’s so needed in a year where we are finding Christmas again.
For the kids AND kids at heart, there’s The Illumination area which features Minions and Secret Life of Pets areas covered in holiday decor with characters wandering around to celebrate. There’s also hands down the cutest ride at any theme park: The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash. It’s definitely not to be missed. Imagine being surrounded by an overload of cute pets and not having to walk them. Sure, they’re animatronic but their adorableness is everything. If they lead the robot uprising, we are so doomed.
Amity at Sunset
The Studio Tour in the month of a new Spielberg release takes on a whole new life. It just felt so extra special to be on the ride he hopped off of to kickstart his career. Not only that but you see the backlot streets adorned with his name and the little drive into the Amblin production offices. The real movie magic happens as you tour past the Jurassic Park picture cars and toward the seaside of Amity. There, during sunset on the occasion we visited, the idyllic waters are always disrupted by a Great White. It’s the showstopping moment of my favorite ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. I will never tire of Bruce’s close-up and I hope their legend never fades. It’s the park icon and truly the blueprint of the thrilling close encounter with dinosaurs over at the Jurassic World ride.
As it gets dark, stage lights illuminate areas like Spielbergs standing set for War of the Worlds, which along with current LA fog conditions looked so apocalyptic. And finally, we’re beginning to see the return of Norman Bates during the Hitchcock sections of the tour. The only bummer is that the former Whoville set, which was really peeling away, has not been replaced with another festive film overlay. This is surprising considering that during Horror Nights, the park features Netflix shows like Stranger Things and Haunting of Hill House. Would love to see this collaboration extend into the holidays with Netflix’s growing Holiday universe of films. Imagine a Christmas Chronicles musical area! Even The Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch worlds would be fun to see pop up on the streets of Little Europe. Or just pull from their recent holiday releases like Last Christmas or you know … Black Christmas.
Completing the night watching the lights on Hogwarts Castle soundtracked by a John Williams medley of music from the score is the perfect way to wrap up the night. However, it’s a bit challenging as the pathway to see it does bottleneck to the right of the Hogsmeade entrance. As of this article, it’s the only way toward anything in the area even if you’re not watching the light show. This can prove pretty tricky if you’re seeking a bite to eat, just wanting a hot butterbeer, or to get on the rides. You pretty much have to wait for an entire show to pass before being able to fully enter the land. This is mostly due to space available but can use maybe some overflow queuing behind the gates that were open during HHN by Forbidden journey. During a pandemic even with strick masking outdoors enforced it can feel a little overwhelming. Since it was the start of the holiday when we visited, it definitely seems like procedures will evolve as the holidays continue.
And a Happy New Year!
Overall, it’s good to be back in the parks for the holidays and to be able to escape into our favorite cinematic worlds. There’s lot of festive foods and treats throughout the park but we can’t wait to return to try the boozy ones. We did get a spiked peppermint hot cocoa that helped combat the chilly so-call winter that’s finally upon us. So if you’re visiting this month be sure to keep a lookout for the seasonal selections. And recently announced is Universal Studios Hollywood’s NYE event EVE which turns the park into a hub of live entertainment with live music and DJs to ring in 2022. So there’s plenty to do if you’re revenge traveling into the winter as the holidays go till January 9th at the West Coast Universal Studios. Travel safe, exercise precautions, take note of state and county protocols but most importantly have a happy holiday!
For more info and to purchase tickets visit Universal Studios Hollywood.