Universal Studios

Christmas is such a magical time of year; The sound of Christmas carols, the extravagant decorations, the experience of delicious food, & a world full of holiday cheer to be explored! It can seem overwhelming at times to plan your festivities with the world wide supply of cheer! What better place to explore than the “Awesomest Celebration of the Season” with the return of fan favorite “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” and “Grinchmas” at Universal Studios Hollywood!

Hi! I’m January and this is your guide to exploring Universal Studios Hollywood at Christmas time! Universal Studios brings an undeniably strong game with it’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” which brings holiday Hogwarts magic to the streets of Hogsmeade! Enjoy a Hot Butterbeer, have a magic wand fight with interactive wands, or fly your broomstick through a Harry Potter Adventure!

There is no shortage of fun or festivities inside this Harry Potter world. Its easy to spend the day holiday shopping for exclusive items within the village! Every store is lined with Harry Potter merchandise for everyone on your magical list!

As night falls on the snowy town, Hogwarts Castle will come to life in a dazzling and extravagant spectacle, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”. The impression light projection show will amaze audiences with its stunning imagery and animation as the castle infuses the land with joyous wonderment and features music and sounds from the Harry Potter film series.

The cheerful “Grinchmas” Who-bilation is another reason Universal Studios is a must go destination during the Holiday Season. Festive park-goers can marvel in amazement at the topsy turvey 65 foot-tall “Grinchmas” tree decorated with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of LED lights. Every evening, a jovial tree lighting ceremony will excite guests as they listen to the Grinch himself tell his story along with the Who-ville Whos ending ins a slowball flurry, bringing joy and merriment to all.

A variety of activities are available to guests looking to get into the “Grinchmas” spirit. The Grinch and his faithful dog Max will be available for photo opportunities through out the day. Cindy Lou Who leads daily story time for young visitors looking to learn of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and the Who-ville post office will be accepting postcards with holiday messages. Additionally an array of sweet holiday treats, including hot cocoa.

With so much going on this article will help you to prepare and make the most of your time in the park! Obviously, our number one goal is to have fun and fully experience the experience, if that rings true for you keep reading!

Packing & Preparing for Universal Studios:

Visiting universal studios during the winter season is a phenomenal experience that you do not want to miss out on! To ensure that you have the best time possible you want to be sure to pack adequate clothing! It’s going to be cold! Pack thick socks & comfortable tennis shoes. Keep in mind that one of the coolest things you’ll see is the Universal City Walk, so there will be plenty of opportunities to buy a hoodie or beanie on site too!

How cold is Hollywood? We did our Christmas visit around December 10th & the temperatures were in the 50-60 ranges. There was also a 60% chance of rain but luckily it only sprinkled lightly towards the night. Being from Arizona we don’t handle the cold as well! Ultimately we ended up buying beanies at City Walk to keep our heads warm as well!

If you are planning on attending the “Grinchmas” Who-bilation make sure to plan your outfit! This is a celebration dripping in Green pride at every turn! Feel free to bring your Grinch clothing, Ugly Light up sweaters, or even full on Grinch cos play to show your Grinchmas spirit!

Another great way to prepare for your Universal Studios trip is to download the app! There’s a version for both Hollywood and Orlando so make sure your downloading the correct one! Some of the biggest benefits of the app include; Real time wait times, upcoming show times, Bathroom Locations, & electronic express passes.

On the day the trip it’s of highest holiday importance to enter the park WITH A PLAN! I can’t express this enough. The reason why is because by noon certain areas of Universal Studios Hollywood will be packed. The good news is Universal Studios does a phenomenal job of managing the park at capacity.

With planning and execution its 100% possible to experience all the park has to offer in one day! To execute this during Christmas time you’ll need to do a few key things:

One; you’ll need to purchase the express passes here! The pass includes 1 Day general admission to the park and express entry to participating attractions, rides, and shows. This allows you to bypass long & unpleasant wait times – key to keeping that Christmas cheer riding!

Two; you’ll need to start your day EARLY. Set multiple alarms early, pack your bag for the park the night before, get adequate rest and food the night before, & charge all your devices. Make sure you stay at a hotel that offers on site breakfast or plan on Eating a Big Pink Simpsons Donut at Lard Lad Donuts!

Three; Get to the park early enough to line up! Go STRAIGHT to Harry Potter Magical Hogwarts & then follow the Ultimate Universal Studio One Day Plan. Do not stop to get pictures, do not stop to get a drink, Go. STRAIGHT. There. During the holidays or really any time of the year for that matter the Harry Potter attraction is by far the most popular. There are two rides Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey & the Flight of the Hippogriff. The key to experiencing both it in their totality is making it first priority.

Ultimate Universal Studio Plan

Our formula to conquering Universal Studios at Christmas Time is: Priority Rides, Food, Shows, More Rides, More Food, Shows = Full Christmas Experience!

Our Order of Priority Rides was: Harry Potter, Flight of Hippogriff, Simpsons, Mummy, Transformers, Studio Tour, Animal Show, Minions, Kung Fu Panda, Secret Life of Pets, Special Effects Show.

Universal Studios opens at 8am, we left the hotel at 7am and we were parked by 730am. They opened the gate for us at 745am and we made a bee line for the magical world of wizardry at the Harry Potter world. We were some of the first riders to get to the attraction which is identified by its iconic castle all the way back in the furthest corner.

We held onto our express passes and went into the general admission line. The line has a wait time of 4 minutes and was TOTALLY AWESOME! The most amazing way to wake up and by far one of if not THE BEST ride at Universal Studios! Even better is because the park was so empty we were allowed to ride it twice in a row! From there we did the regular lines at Simpsons, The Mummy, and The Transformers. At no point did we wait more than 10 minutes. Around 9am we decided to get some food.

Some of the best places to eat in the park are broom sticks in Hogwarts or Krusty Burger in Simpsons Springfield! There are also a variety of iconic drinks such as butter beer, minion colored churros, Pink Sprinkle doughnuts. We dinned in at the Krusty Burger and it was absolutely delicious! The atmosphere was amazing and it was the perfect break from our busy morning of rides.

Once we were done eating we decided to let our food settle while enjoying some of Universal Studios notorious shows & tours! There’s not better place to come if you are looking for action or wow factor! The first thing we did was the Studio Tour; the ride that lasts an entire hour! A perfect activity after eating a a Krusty Burger. Sit back and relax as you drive through Hollywood history and even find yourself in the middle of a a king Kong battle or a hurricane with a flash flood!

Once we were done with the studio tour we went straight to the Animal Show where we saw a variety of famous acting animals and learned a ton about the behind the scenes of being an animal star in Hollywood! We were so impressed by the majestic appearance of the owls but without doubt the dogs stole the show! One thing that really stood out was the compassion of the staff with the animals, no doubt these lucky actors have a great life!

By this time it was about noon so we headed over to Minions, Kung Fu Panda, and Secret Life of Pets to use our fast passes and bypass the lines! We stopped multiple times between rides to load up on churros, Grinch Funnel Cakes, and Hot Cocoas. It was nice being able to still enjoy the park as it was becoming more occupied. Sadly Jurassic Park was closed on the day of our visit so at about 4pm on day one we had enjoyed all the rides without wait times!

The bonus of the express pass in combination with our Formula to Conquering Universal Studios is that now you can go back and ride the priority rides from your early Morning experience. We got to use our fast pass for both Harry Potter Rides, The Simpsons, The Mummy, and Transformers – which really topped off the day! As nighttime was approaching we headed toward Universal Plaza, located in the heart of the theme park.

We settled in at the base of the topsy turvey 65 foot-tall “Grinchmas” tree in anticipation of the tree lighting ceremony. It was truly amazing to witness The Grinch himself tell the story of how he stole Christmas! The lighting ceremony was by far one of the most magical Christmas experiences we have ever had! Enjoy the snow fall and the spirit of Christmas! The show ended just in time for us to head over to “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” where Hogwarts Castle came to life in a dazzling and extravagant spectacle, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle”. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Once “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” was over we had finally done it all… and then some! We noticed a lot of people leaving around this time of 7pm so we decided to avoid any crowds by exploring Cityscape. Who goes all the way to Hollywood to shop at Sephora? This girl! We put some reservations in at the best Italian restraint and did some shopping! We got stocked up on our Minions merchandise, hoodies, beanies, and of course Harry Potter thigs!

After the most amazing dinner we headed back to our hotel room to recharge our batteries! We had the most amazing time partying it up with the Grinch and Magical Wizards of Hogwarts! Please feel free to comment below on your family experience at Universal Studios at Christmas time!

Merry Christmas!