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A big thanks to Universal Studios Hollywood for gifting us tickets to report on our experience. 

On Friday, my wife and I took our kids to Universal Studios Hollywood for the opening of Grinchmas. You might recall, we went to the entertainment park for the first time in August and absolutely loved it. My wife Natalie’s name means ‘child of Christmas’ in Italian and I can’t think of a more fitting name for her. She loves Christmas more than anyone I know. So naturally, she really wanted to take the kids back when they decorated for Christmas. It did not disappoint.

When visiting any major attraction, we always find it best to go right when they open so that’s what we did. The early bird really gets the worm as the lines are so short you don’t even need to use the Express Pass for many of the rides.

Walking from our car to the entrance, we saw cars from all over the country: Alaska, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, New Mexico, Utah … and that was just what we saw walking along one aisle of the massive parking structure. Living in Southern California, we’re so fortunate to be surrounded by so many entertainment attractions, including Universal City. As evidenced by the parking lot, many people travel from all over the country to come here. 

The last time we visited Universal Studios Hollywood, we stayed at The Garland hotel in North Hollywood, which is just a mile away and offers a free hourly shuttle. The shuttle cuts down your walk to the front entrance by at least a thousand steps as it drops you right in front. However, what we missed by taking the shuttle was walking through Universal City Walk, which is full of restaurants, shops and a movie theater. My wife looked like a kid in a candy store since she never knew it existed. 

My kids’ favorite rides are the Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. We also visited the Dreamworks movie theatre for the five-minute Kung Fu Panda Adventure, which our kids enjoyed so much, they came home and watched the movie. I loved it, too.

But of course, this visit was all about experiencing Christmas at Universal Studios so after checking out their two favorite rides first, we headed straight to the Who-ville Who-bilation, a feast for the senses. In this area, set up to feel like you’re stepping into Who-ville, you really get into the holiday spirit …

… especially because of the topsy-turvy Grinchmas tree.

There’s lots to do in Who-ville. The kids can enjoy storytime with Cindy Lou …

… and the whole family will enjoy the Christmas doo-wop performance.

There’s also a food station with fun treats like hot chocolate and Grinch donuts.

My kids love the 2018 animated movie The Grinch so when they saw the Grinch above (from the 2000 Jim Carrey version), they didn’t want to take a photo with him, saying he looked creepy. I couldn’t disagree. But this Grinch won everyone over quickly with his humor. He really was hilarious and meeting him turned into one of the highlights of the day. Note: They have two meet and greets with The Grinch. One for the general public, which had an 80-minute wait at 11am and another (pictured above) for Pass Members (which Universal provided us with) located at Jurassic Cove above Jurassic World—The Ride, which had about a five-minute wait.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is dressed up for the season …

… and there are lots of other signs of Christmas and winter throughout.

If you’re really into Christmas like my family, then you will want to visit Grinchmas and Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which runs daily through Monday, January 1. Highlights include:

  • Meet and greets with The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster for Who-ville Whos
  • Topsy-turvy “Grinchmas” tree, twisting and turning over 65 feet in height with nightly tree lighting accompanied by a snowfall flurry
  • Story Time with Cindy-Lou-Who and performances by the Who-Bee-Doo-Whop Singers
  • “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” dazzling light show nightly
  • Holiday-themed fare throughout the park, including hot butterbeer available at Three Broomsticks

Since we arrived so early, our kids (ages four and seven) were exhausted after about six hours, so we didn’t get to experience the park at night, which I’m sure is even more magical. Next time, we will get a hotel so we can go back and rest in the afternoon and return to the park at night.

If you want to check out Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood, the Christmas decorations are up until January 1. Next time, we will get a hotel so we can go back at night and see the magic once the sun sets.

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