Top 5 Reasons to Visit Universal Studios Hollywood for the 2017 Holiday Season – Grinchmas and the Wizarding World!

Heading to a theme park for the holidays? Make Universal Studios Hollywood a tradition! Each year the theme park steps it up with Christmas cheer. New this year to Universal Holidays is Christmas in the Wizarding World! Those snow-capped roofs of Hogsmeade are just begging for jolly decorations, and boy did Universal deliver.

“The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” light projection spectacular as part of “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood.

This year also happens to be the 10th Anniversary of Grinchmas. The holiday celebration based on Dr. Seuss’ famous book How The Grinch Stole Christmas is right in the middle of the theme park’s plaza and boasts a Dr. Seuss-style Christmas Tree topped with a glittery star, as well as a slew of other activities. The festivities for both holiday celebrations are included with park admission. Read on for descriptions, pictures and our Top 5 Recommendations for Universal Studios during the holidays.

Universal Studios Grinchmas

1 – Wizarding World Decks the Castle, and Streets, with Holiday Cheer

If you are a Potterhead, then Universal Studios during the holiday season is a MUST. Hogsmeade already boasts a year-round sprinkling of snow on the rooftops, so added holly, ivy and wreaths are the perfect accompaniment. Everywhere you turn in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a new “Christmas Card” photo.

In the evenings the holiday spirit culminates in “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” – lights dazzle and Christmas music surrounds you as you gaze on a transformed Hogwarts Castle. Luckily, the show happens every half hour after sundown.

Our Recommendation: see the later shows after 7:30pm. It often gets so crowded at the Park that employees implement crowd control and one-way walkways. For earlier showings there is a line to get in to the Wizarding World itself, much less right in front of the castle. (We opted to eat dinner at Mel’s Diner, then headed to Hogwarts with no wait at 8pm)

2 – Warm Butterbeer

Served in a “Starbucks-like” sustainable coffee cup, warm butterbeer looks expensive and is warm to the touch. Then you drink. It’s like liquid gold running down your throat, with that amazing butterscotch taste. Between frozen butterbeer, iced butterbeer and warm butterbeer – the warm one is definitely my favorite.

Our Recommendation: Drink 5!
But seriously, an unexpected surprise at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade was the English Holiday Dinner. Warm Butterbeer is the perfect accompaniment to the turkey, pigs in blankets, celery sage stuffing, roast potatoes and veggies with cranberry sauce. I’d eat and drink this very meal for Christmas dinner!

Holiday fare served at Three Broomsticks for “Chrstmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood.

3 – Grinchmas Activities

No joke, you could spend your entire day at the park in Who-ville, where Grinchmas is in full swing. There is a TON of stuff to do and see. When you enter Who-ville, you are greeted by these signs:

What to do first? It depends on what’s important to you. If you love live music and performances, you are in for a treat. The main stage boasts shows every 15-30 minutes. We were lucky enough to see the “boy-band” Wholiday Singers, but I would love to have seen Martha May and the Who-Dolls as well as Story Time with Cindy-Lou.

Our Recommendation: If you’d like a seat to watch a particular show, come before the previous show ends. As some people vacate the area, you can wind your way up to a seat if you’re quick.

4 – Grinchmas Meet & Greet

If character pictures are a must, head to the line to meet Max – the Grinch’s favorite furry friend. He is the most adorable thing! Of course, a picture with the Grinch is an absolute must. He is very interactive and his poses are to die for. You may be waiting about an hour to meet the Grinch, but luckily you can benefit from hearing all the amazing shows and singers on the main stage.

Photo by David Sprague for Universal Studios Hollywood

Our Recommendation: Divide and conquer! If you have little ones, you can do crafts with no wait! One adult can wait in line for the Grinch while the other accompanies the kids as they color their own paper ornament or join a scavenger hunt at the Post Office. Even if you are an adult and just need some down-time, these activities rock.

5 – Grinchmas at Night

Who doesn’t love a festive tree-lighting ceremony? Who-ville does it right. The crazy Christmas Tree lights up in several different colors, projections and more, to rockin’ holiday music. The ceremony is about 7 minutes, and happens every half hour starting at 5:30pm. Colors pop and the atmosphere is even more merry at night!

Bonus: The Grinch and Max make an appearance together during this show, so if you didn’t nab a family pic with either one, you can snap a quick photo of both in front of the amazing Christmas Tree.

Image result for grinchmas tree lighting

Our Recommendation: The earlier shows are PACKED and it may be hard to see everything happening on stage, Wait until 7:30pm or later and you may be able to snag a front row spot.

Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood

While Grinchmas and Christmas in the Wizarding World took up most of our time this year, 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 occurs on 12/2-12/3, 12/9-12/10 and then daily from 12/15-12/31.
Holidays in The Wizarding World will be decked out from 12/2-1/7/2017.

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About Richard & Sarah Woloski

Richard and Sarah Woloski are the co-hosts and creators of the Disney / Star Wars Podcast Skywalking Through Neverland. The husband and wife team strives to create a polished, positive and fun weekly show celebrating fandom. They also love writing for Adventures By Daddy. Find them @SkywalkingPod