Are you craving fun new experiences and delicious food to celebrate the Lunar New Year? Then head over to Universal Studios Hollywood from now until February 18 to experience their beautiful celebration of the Year of the Pig. Anchored in (but not isolated to) the heart of the park at Universal Plaza, this year’s Lunar New Year celebration at the park gives you the opportunity to see and interact with some of Universal’s most beloved movie characters as they bring the Lunar New Year festivities to life with shows, programs, food and more. And even on a rainy day like we had, there was still plenty to keep us happy and entertained.
Head to the Jade Palace Performance Stage in Universal Plaza for a rotating schedule of entertaining and educational performances. Just as we arrived, we were lucky enough to be just in time for the first storytelling performance of the day. During this interactive storytelling event, a storyteller and her assistant tell us the story of the origin of the Lunar New Year. Select members of the audience get to help make the come alive by using special props throughout key parts of the tale. My 8-year-old particularly enjoyed learning the reasons behind the tradition of drums and firecrackers to keep away evil spirits and why the color red is significant.
Once the storytelling is through, don’t leave your seat because the Dragon Warrior Training Show begins immediately afterward, with the opportunity for guests of all ages to train learn some martial arts moves with the Dragon Warrior himself, Kung Fu Panda’s Po. And if you know Po, you’ll know to expect some fun and funny moments to come along in the process of learning.
This year also brings beautiful new traditional cultural performances to the Jade Palace stage. The day we were there, we were treated to a lovely opera and dance version of Romeo and Juliet by two performers from the famous Hangzhou Performance Group from China. They also did a meet and greet with audience members after the performance. Other cultural performances during the Lunar New Year celebration include lion dancers and martial arts demonstrations.
You can also learn how to draw your favorite Kung Fu Panda characters from professional animators or how to weave a small bamboo basket. You’re not only learning a new skill, you get a keepsake to take home with you.
The Lunar New Year festivities don’t stop there, though. If watching all the performances makes you hungry, you have plenty of on-theme food and beverages to choose from. The biggest concentration of options is found at Mr. Ping’s Noodles Shop, where you can get stir fry noodles (we tried the vegetable version and the 8-year-old was pleased), dumplings, egg rolls. Fans of the Kung Fu Panda franchise will recognize Mr. Ping as the father the titular panda, Po. And lucky for all of us, Mr. Ping is waiting to talk to you right around the corner from his noodle shop (similar to the stand just outside Universal Plaza where you can talk with Donkey from Shrek). We had a great time chatting with this father goose after munching on our noodles. It’s a great photo op and sure to be a fun, real-time conversation.
Other special food and drink items can be found elsewhere in the park, too, such as lunar popcorn at the Plaza Cart, green tea lychee Icees at the DreamWorks Concession Stand, Year of the Pig cookies, and teriyaki turkey legs at the Tower Cart. And you can take a little piece of the festivities home with you in the form of Lunar New Year merchandise available for purchase around the park, too.
If character meet and greets are right up your alley, you have a few fun options. Head over to the left side of the Jade Palace stage to get a picture with Po or Tigress of Kung Fu Panda fame. Stop by the Universal Animation Studio Store to snap a pic with the iconic Hello Kitty dressed in her Chinese-style outfit. So cute and on trend. You can seek out the Minions wearing their own special festive attire and keep your eyes open for the imposing and also hilarious-in-his-own-way Megatron, who dusts off his Mandarin for the occasion.
Make sure to take advantage of this limited-time festival, as it will all disappear after February 18!
DISCLOSURE: Bryn MacKinnon was hosted by Universal Studios Hollywood and received admission and a voucher for food. However, all opinions expressed are those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on instagram, twitter and “like” our facebook page too.