It’s Grinchmas time at Universal Studios Hollywood! This year’s event now runs daily from November 28 through December 29, offering numerous more opportunities for guests to catch it this season.
Speaking on a personal note, Ron Howard’s Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is by far my favorite Christmas story of all time, and Grinchmas my absolute favorite seasonal event at any theme park. With this year’s event marking my tenth Grinchmas since 2008, I’ve watched the who-liday celebration grow and change significantly from the days when it took place in the Nickelodeon Blast Zone, and then the vacant lot that previously housed the Wild Wild West Stunt Show. As a longtime fan of the event, it can be difficult to accept and welcome the various changes that come each year, but it simply is something that must be done.
However, despite the event’s abundant modifications over the years, one thing has always remained the same: the magical quality of Grinchmas itself that never fails to bring about smiles all around.
Each year, a cast of phenomenal actors and actresses bring the characters of Dr. Seuss’s heart-warming story to life for guests of all ages at the event. There’s an indescribably optimistic twinkle of cheer that surrounds every Who – and of course, the Grinch – as they wander about in character, each sporting a distinct personality that uniquely distinguishes them from one another. Whether it be the Whoville postman, the Emerald Emissary, Martha May Whovier, or even the Grinch himself, you’re always sure to have a memorable interaction with the citizens of Whoville that brightens your day.
Universal graciously gave us the opportunity to interview the mean one himself, and it was nothing short of entertaining to listen to his contagiously energetic responses to every question. Even if you’re usually not a fan of character meet and greets, we highly encourage you to take some time out of your day to visit the Grinch, inspired by Jim Carrey’s iconic portrayal. As usual, it’s recommended that you enter the queue as early as possible, for the meet and greet tends to accumulate wait times ranging anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes in the peak hours of the afternoon.
After meeting the Grinch, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet his dog, Max, at his meet and greet location on the right side of the tree against the backdrop.
Though last year’s photo-op area in the plaza has been removed and replaced with additional seating, guests can still take a photo in front of the Grinch snowman, found in the former location of the Whoville Post Office to the left of the Grinchmas tree.
In terms of entertainment, this year’s event features periodic performances throughout the day in which a Whoville DJ spins some holiday tunes to get all into the festive spirit. However, one of the most substantial changes this year is the removal of the Martha May and the Who-Dolls and The Wholiday Singers shows, respectively. The benches usually spread out in front of the grand Grinchmas tree have been removed to clear space for the Whoville DJ dance party by day, and for the Wholiday Tree Lighting by night.
Inarguably, the Wholiday Tree Lighting remains the highlight of the event, with showtimes beginning as early as 5:30 PM and running every half hour until park closing. Though this year’s show is about the same length as last year’s, much of the storyline has changed. The show begins with the Mayor of Whoville informing the audience that the Whos consider it “tradition” to remember how the Grinch taught everyone the true meaning of Christmas, and then jumps into a reenactment of some of the events from the story as if the town is putting on a play. Of course, it wouldn’t be Grinchmas without the show concluding with the lighting of this year’s brand-new, 55-foot-tall tree and a subsequent snowfall above the audience.
Outside of these offerings, guests can also grow their heart three sizes at the Whoville Post Office, moved from its usual location in the Whoville backdrop to a handful of tables near the entrance to Universal Plaza by Baker Street/Pets Place. Similarly to previous years, anyone can grab a postcard addressed to the Grinch and write down three good deeds they have done in 2019. In return for every postcard filled out, Universal will make a charitable donation to School on Wheels – a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the homeless youth.
Additionally, Grinchmas offers a selection of festive treats available for purchase at a food cart located near the side of Universal Plaza facing Mel’s Diner. Items include a massive Grinch donut, peppermint hot chocolate, pinwheel cookies, and more. Though it may look intimidating at first, we also especially recommend trying the Who Hash (available at Mel’s Diner for $10.29), which is a mixture of corned beef, tater tots, scallions, and Mornay sauce served in a decorative can. For additional options, both the Palace Theater Café and French Street Bistro serve Grinchmas-inspired sandwiches, such as the “Roast Beast”.
Though this year’s event has brought along many changes, the purely magical feeling of Grinchmas lives on through the abundant energy of the Whos, and of course, the Grinch himself. However, this year’s lack of daytime entertainment can be apparent to guests without small children, and we can’t help but wonder whether or not Universal should expand their Grinchmas offerings to other areas of the park – something that would surely give the event some breathing room after being constrained inside Universal Plaza for the past few years.
While we will miss seeing Martha May and the Who-Dolls as well as The Wholiday Singers, Grinchmas nevertheless continues to warm the hearts of all guests with its cheerful ambiance and joyful spirit, making it again an event that you will not want to miss.
Be sure to catch Grinchmas, Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and all of the other offerings at Universal Studios Hollywood this holiday season.