Have you ever been to Universal Studios during the holidays? It is a month-long celebration that includes hot Butterbeer, holiday shows, food, decor and merchandise in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, including a dazzling light spectacular that transforms Hogwarts Castle with a wave of a technological wand. Plus a new addition for 2018: magical snowfall in Hogsmeade!
But that’s not all! Want to meet The Grinch in a real-life Who-ville? The theme park’s main plaza transforms into Dr. Seuss’s imagined world, where a giant Dr. Seuss-style Christmas tree presides over Grinchmas. Here you will encounter dancers, singers, merchandise, more mouthwatering treats and the Grinch!
This year Richard and I were accompanied by our friend Bryn MacKinnon and her 12-year-old daughter, N. Read on for their unique perspective!
Grinchmas: In this land, my favorite thing is the post office. For every postcard you write to the Grinch about the good deeds you’d done this year, a donation is made to School on Wheels (which provides tutoring, supplies and educational support to homeless students).
The Christmas season is all about giving, and it’s important for us to remember those who have less than we do at this time of year — and always, really. I love that in the midst of enjoying ourselves at the Grinchmas area, we could take a minute for others. And the postman who talked with us at the post office was great. All of the actors in the Grinchmas area were really funny and entertaining. I’d love to have a job like that in high school or college. It seems so fun and creative.
Grinchmas & Post Office Walk-Through
“The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”: I love that Universal Studios incorporated different Hogwarts-y themes like the ghosts and the Yule Ball. They really went all out with all the twinkle lights in the trees that changed with the light show. It was really impressive.
Full Video: “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”
While watching the show, we had peppermint hot cocoa. It was OK, but the peppermint flavor could have been a lot stronger. I only got halfway through because it was on the sweet side.
Grinchmas: If I’m being totally honest, my favorite thing about Grinchmas was the excellent prosthetic noses on most of the Whos. I was obsessed. They looked SO REAL! Especially from the stage.
I also thought the Who-liday Singers (a sort of pop barbershop quintet with a beat-box guy) did a really great job. They had me clapping and singing along, and their choreography made it all visually interesting without being distracting. Conversely, I was a little disappointed by the brief appearance of Martha-May Who-vier and her Who-dolls. Lasting only about 5 minutes, the show never really had a chance to get interesting.
Full Video: Grinchmas Who-liday Singers
Full Video: Grinchmas Martha-May Who-vier and her Who-Dolls
“The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”: I was excited to see this year’s light spectacular, because I had seen it only once before and really liked it. It did not disappoint. This year, it struck me how effective the totally instrumental music is in carrying us through the different scenes. If this were happening at Disneyland, we would have been talked through the experience along with the music. But letting the beautiful Harry Potter music do its thing is really, really lovely and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Hogwarts Frog Choir: I thought the Christmas-specific carols performed by the frog choir were very cute. A nice change from their usual fun repertoire.
Full Video: Hogwarts Frog Choir – the Holiday Set
And I’m so very glad we happened upon the gingerbread hot chocolate! I know N wasn’t a huge fan of her peppermint cocoa, but the gingerbread version hit me in all the right spots. Loved it. Wasn’t too sweet and really conjured that gingerbready deliciousness.
Author’s Note: Hot Butterbeer is sold at The Three Broomsticks Restaurant in the Wizarding World. You can find gingerbread and peppermint hot chocolate at any place that sells warm drinks and coffee throughout the theme park.
More Information on Universal Holidays
So have Bryn and N sold you on Universal Holidays? As a group of one pre-teen and 3 adults, we all had a great time. We decided to focus on Grinchmas and Christmas in the Wizarding World this year, but don’t forget that your Universal Studios ticket also includes the Studio Tour, world-class rides like Transformers and Minions, and so much more.
Grinchmas in 2018 occurs on 12/1-12/2, 12/8-12/9 and then daily from 12/14-12/30. Holidays in the Wizarding World will be decked out from 11/17/2018 to 1/6/2019.
For more information and tickets, head to www.universalstudioshollywood.com.