Grinchmas has once again returned to Universal Studios Hollywood and I, while not quite sure what to expect when driving to the famed movie studio/theme park, had a wonderful time that made my heart grow three sizes that day. When we first walked up to the front gates of Universal Studios, the park decorations were striking. They are a blend of whimsy and class, with elegant ornaments and swooshing lines all throughout – especially in the Grinchmas themed area. It’s a delicate mix of Hollywood and Seuss that they balance extremely well. The security checkpoint was on top of their game, using metal detectors and going through belongings to look for any dangerous items (they have such an important job in keeping the guests safe – please give them some patience), and into the park we went!
The area of the dedicated to Grinchmas is a kid’s dream come true. There is a gigantic, Seuss-inspired christmas tree with some seriously cool lighting effects, as well as numerous activity stations where people can do festive things. Things like decorate a Grinchmas tree, buy holiday themed food and drinks, take a their pictures with the Grinch himself, and even scout out a good spot to watch the tree lighting ceremony which takes place every half hour. This fast turnaround time is excellent for guests as, unlike some other Southern California theme parks where people have to line up for hours on end to watch one show, if they miss one show another one is just around the corner.
Hogsmeade and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are in full form, although not really decorated for the season. We ate at the Three Broomsticks and had a great lunch – the establishment offers a wide variety of food – from beef stews to full English breakfasts! This is where I discovered the unsung hero of Grinchmas, hot ButterBeer. I love frozen ButterBeer – way moreso than the regular ButterBeer. However, this hot butterscotch-y beverage with full head of sweet foam warmed me up nicely on the cold Winter’s day we attended the park. The biggest thing that I would like to see in Hogsmeade is decorations to coincide with the season at hand. Christmas and Halloween are both displayed in the Harry Potter film and book series, it would be nice if story-themed decor graced the land for these holidays.
We ended up hitting the Universal Studios Tour a bit later in the day – I would say around 7:00 PM which, right now, is already in basically darkness. The tour was a lot of fun and, although some stuff was a bit too dark to enjoy comfortably, we saw some really cool movie locations. I finally came to the conclusion, however, that 3D film and glasses are being used way too much by the Studio these days. Peter Jackson’s King Kong 3D and the Fast and the Furious 3D drive-through areas are fun, but don’t feel real at all.
Back in the “good old days”, the back-lot tour attractions were created with physical effects. The best case for this is still in use at the tour – the Earthquake building. That stop is riveting, with actual objects coming loose, fire effects, scary lights, and a lot more. When things are physically right there in front of your eyes, they carry a lot more weight than 3D movies projected onto large film screens – but I digress…
Overall, the 2016 holiday celebration known as Grinchmas is a wonderful, fun attraction where families can come for some fun and joy. Plus, you get to enjoy all of the other attractions that Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer – attractions like HOT BUTTERBEER! You must try it – it is delicious and warms you up from the inside. Grinchmas runs until January 1st, so check it out before it’s too late!