It’s never too early to start thinking about how you want to spend the holidays! Our frog squad looks forward to our tradition — celebrating Christmas at Universal Studios Hollywood at the beginning of the holiday season! Each year, we time our visit to occur on the opening weekend of Grinchmas so we can enjoy the Holiday Who-bilation and then hop over to The Wizarding World to experience the magic of the holiday season in Hogsmeade. Last year, they both began on Thanksgiving Day! With shows, decorations and delicious food, there are so many fun holiday experiences for the Universal Studios Christmas 2020 celebration! We will not have exact dates for 2020 until fall, but here's a look at what to expect.
What to Expect for Universal Studios Christmas 2020
We got an extra special gift from Universal Studios Hollywood in 2019 ... more days of Grinchmas! The Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood and Grinchmas ran from Nov. 28 to Dec. 29, 2019. In past years, Grinchmas only took place on select days. You’ll find all of Universal decorated for the holiday season, with colorful lights, bows, ornaments and even a dusting of snow. Look for themed Christmas trees throughout the park, from dinosaurs, to wizards, to minions, to Seuss-ian! Your favorite characters don their Santa hats or ugly Christmas sweaters and scarves to greet guests. And behold the merry (and mischievous!) minions, who also help you get into the holiday spirit.
Plus, if the holidays will be your first visit of 2020 to Universal Studios, you'll have a new ride to celebrate. The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash! will be open for Universal Studios Christmas 2020. Be sure to add it to your list of must-do rides. It's located just around the corner from the Grinchmas celebration in the Upper Lot.
We enjoyed visiting Grinchmas — with a new Whoville Christmas tree! — and Christmas in Hogsmeade in 2019. Hold onto your wizard hats and join us for the complete guide to Universal Studios Christmas 2020.
Celebrate the Holidays in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
In the Harry Potter books and movies, Harry wakes up on Christmas morning to gifts that magically appear at the foot of his bed. Hogsmeade is covered with snow and decorated with greenery and enchanted candles. Harry experiences his first-ever Christmas feast of roast turkey and mounds of side dishes and other goodies ... and now, so can you! Here’s your chance to magically transport yourself to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter this season! You’d better add Universal Studios Hollywood tickets to your wish list this year so you can experience all of the Universal Studios Hollywood holiday events and magic too.
You do not want to miss one bit of this celebration, which runs daily, usually from late November until late December. Here’s what to expect:
- Festive holiday décor throughout the streets of Hogsmeade, including lights, wreaths, garland and the largest ball of mistletoe you’ve ever seen.
- The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle — A nighttime show with projection, music and dazzling lights.
- Holiday Frog Choir — Ring in the holiday season with holiday songs sung by a choir of Hogwarts students and their croaking frogs.
- Holiday food — Try hot Butterbeer, the way Harry Potter and his friends enjoy it. Seasonal foods may include the English Holiday Dinner with juicy turkey, gravy, sourdough stuffing, carrots, Brussels sprouts, bacon-wrapped sausage and cranberry sauce at the Three Broomsticks. It's quite tasty! The Three Broomsticks also offers a Cheese Toasty with Chicken sandwich (think fancy grilled cheese with chicken, bacon mustard sauce and sliced tomato) served with salad or potato wedges.
- Holiday shopping — Pick up your wizarding ornaments, stockings, figurines and tree topper so you can take the holiday magic home with you.
Universal no longer prints out show times, so you’ll need to ask team members in wizard robes for them. The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show times don’t always appear on the Universal Studios Hollywood app or ushwaittimes.com, although you can find the Frog Choir and other show and music times (under music). When we visited, the castle show was expected to start at 5:30 p.m. and run every half an hour until park closing (there was a surprise early bonus show a little early!).
We recommend getting in place an hour before the first scheduled show on peak days because Hogsmeade reaches capacity during show time, and team members may stop letting guests enter Hogsmeade. If it is crowded and dark enough, you might get treated to an early showing! If you are visiting on weeknight in early December, you do not have to invest much time before the show. On the other hand, you will have fewer opportunities to catch a show on a quieter night when the park closes at 6:00 p.m., so do not delay too long or you might miss out!
The park may begin limiting entry into The Wizarding World to control crowds on busy days, and may only admit people as space allows, so be sure to plan around that. Chances are, you'll want to see The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle show and also hop over to the Grinchmas tree lighting. Let's hop over to all of the naughty (and nice!) details of Grinchmas 2020!
Grinchmas 2020 at Universal Studios Hollywood
Some of my hoppiest holiday memories involve reading and watching Dr. Seuss’s "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as a young froglet. That’s why I am always just as excited as the kids to ring in the Wholiday season during Grinchmas. Here is the Who (get it?), what, when, where, why and how of Grinchmas, all neatly packaged for you.
Many costumed Whos are just “who” you will find waiting to greet and entertain you during Christmas at Universal Studios Hollywood 2020. Not to mention, the Grinch himself and even his dog, Max, will be present. Meet Cindy Lou Who and her many Who friends, from the tall to the small, as they are walking around, posing for pictures and making guests laugh.
The Grinch has become quite popular and chatty since his heart grew three sizes, so be sure to visit him and take a photo early — lines grow throughout the day. Max, being a real dog, does not have much to say, so his line is quite short. We recommend visiting the Grinch in the morning shortly after he arrives for the shortest line. And if you send the Grinch a postcard promising three good deeds, donations will be made to help support tutoring for homeless youth!
The Grinch steals the light from the tree — and the show — for the tree lighting. But his growing heart makes him put the light back, and you can enjoy the tree in all its wonder. Christmas at Universal Studios Hollywood 2020 is the most Grinchful time of the year at the park. You can’t miss him!
There is so much to celebrate during the Wholidays. You can meet the Grinch, Max or other Who citizens. Holiday music sets the tone. Starting when it gets dark enough, (5:30 p.m. on the night we visited) the Whos (along with the Grinch) gather on stage for the Christmas tree lighting for the new Whoville Christmas tree. The lighting usually occurs every 30 minutes. Each lighting is followed by a brief snowfall.
In terms of other treats, there are some Grinchy treats, such as green cotton candy, giant Grinch doughnuts and green popcorn to buy. Find other holiday favorites in the Grinchmas area. Bite into one of the yummy Wholiday cookies (we were hoppy to see a Hanukkah cookie, as well as a Christmas pinwheel cookie in 2019). You'll also find hot chocolate cupcakes, coconut holly cupcakes and chocolate peppermint rice crispy treats. Sip flavored hot chocolate drinks (great for warming up when it gets dark). Mel's sells cans of Who Hash, made from tater tots with beef, gravy and green onions.
When can you experience Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood 2020? Grinchmas used to fall on only on select days in December with a lot more entertainment. But in 2020, Grinchmas ran every day from Nov. 28 to Dec. 29, 2019, with fewer shows. We'll see what 2020 brings.
Note that in 2019, there was no longer a musical act with the Grinch during the Studio Tour, nor was there storytime with Cindy Lou. The Wholiday Singers and Martha May no longer had musical acts. The tree lighting was the main event at night. Benches appeared before the first show, so guests could hop on over and take a seat!
The Frog Family likes to hop in and out of the Grinchmas Who-bilation in the Upper Lot throughout the day. We love meeting the various Who characters! They are so funny! Look for signs with all of the Wholiday event times posted at Grinchmas entrances so you can plan accordingly. There are lighter crowds during the day than at night. You'll also encounter lighter crowds during the week in early December than closer to the holidays. Be sure to visit Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood during the night, too, starting at 5:30 p.m. The lights after dark make the whole scene even more festive.
You’ll find Grinchmas in the Upper Lot in Universal Plaza. It is just a hop, skip and a jump away from The Wizarding World, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (where you can also meet Minions and other "Despicable Me" characters) and Super Silly Fun Land. This makes Grinchmas one of the most fun times of year at Universal Studios for young tadpoles!
Why go to Universal Studios Hollywood at Christmas time? It’s toadally fun, of course. Where else will you see a Seuss-ian wonky Christmas tree and real-live Whos? The Grinch is hilarious now that he is not trying to ruin your holiday (and he’s green, right? Can I get a ribbit, ribbit for my favorite color?!). It is something new to try at Universal and provides holiday fun for the whole family. Snowfall in Southern California is already pretty magical, but snowfall in Whoville is even more amazing. After visiting Grinchmas, hop on over to The Wizarding World for a cup of hot Butterbeer or a holiday dinner. Yum! Click here for more on the best food and drinks in the Wizarding World.
How should you approach Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood? Hit the Grinch line as early as you can, and then hit the Studio Tour or your must-see rides in the Lower Lot early in the day. Then, return to see the tree lighting and snowfall. Note that the Grinch leaves his post meeting guests to do the tree lighting show every half an hour in the evening.
Kick Off the New Year at EVE
If you happen to be visiting on Dec. 31, 2020, you can ring in the new year at EVE, the New Year's Eve party. Enjoy multiple party areas with music, dancing, drinks and souvenirs. The midnight countdown celebrates with fireworks.
Tips for Universal Studios Christmas 2020
With so much hoppening during the Universal Studios Hollywood holiday events this season, you need to plan ahead to see it all. Here are our tips for maximizing your time during the Universal Studios Hollywood holiday events — consider them an early Christmas present from us:
- Know the park hours before you arrive.
- Arrive early.
- Plan to stay until the park closes.
- Visit during the week in the first half of December for the lightest crowds.
- Consult the app for show times so you can catch all of the shows you want to see.
- Be sure to check the Grinchmas signs for tree lighting times.
- Ask the employees in The Wizarding World about show times.
- Bring a sweatshirt or Hogwarts robe and scarf — even if it is warm and sunny during the day, it can cool off significantly at night.
- If there are multiple Hogwarts Castle shows, see a later one for lighter crowds, or hop in place an hour before the first show to hopfully catch a bonus early show.
- Stay at a nearby hotel.
- Meet Santa Claus at Universal CityWalk.
- Enjoy the CityWalk musical entertainment and Christmas tree, with 200,000 choreographed LEDs that move to the music (usually through Dec. 26)!
- Check out the Hanukkah décor in the window of Saul & Sons New York Deli and Market façade in Upper Lot.
- Try holiday treats, but save room for the English Holiday Dinner and hot Butterbeer in The Wizarding World.
- Purchase a Universal Express Ticket so you can fit everything in.
- Take advantage of Single Rider lines and Child Switch service.
- Enjoy the Jurassic World Christmas tree in the Lower Lot (as well as the minion tree near Super Silly Fun Land and many other colorful trees near Despicable Me Minion Mayhem).
- Consult ushwaittimes.com to locate Dreamworks characters, Scooby Doo and friends, Simpsons characters, Frankentein’s monster, the Mummy, Sponge Bob and Patrick, Curious George, Hello Kitty and more. Many are dressed to impress in their holiday clothes.
Even though the earlier and weekday dates of Grinchmas are not as crowded as peak times near holidays and weekends, the park hours are much shorter on weekdays in early December. The closing times vary from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the season. A shorter night can definitely cut the fun off early. You'll want to plan to fit it all in. Having Express access any of those days can help you experience more of the park. You want to hit all the seasonal entertainment, rides and shows no matter which day you visit.
What are you most looking forward to during Christmas at Universal Studios Hollywood 2020? Share a tip or two in the comments below. If you are looking for a hoppin’ deal on lodging in the Los Angeles area, Undercover Tourist offers discount hotel rooms near Universal Studios Hollywood. Beat the traffic and save time by staying nearby. Merry Grinchmas and Hoppy Wholidays!