If you're so enchanted with the Harry Potter stories that you get a lump in your throat at the thought of Wizarding World, you may need to bring a handful of tissues to visit it during the Christmas holidays. That's because of Universal's holiday experience called Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™.
During the day, you may notice that the young wizard's world is decked out in evergreen garlands and decorations. You might also catch a performance of the holiday frog choir. In The Three Broomsticks™ restaurant you'll find a holiday menu. Warm butterbeer will be on the menu alongside the standard cold versions.
Near the end of the day is when the magic kicks in. What happens then is reason enough to visit during the holiday season. In a feat of visual wizardry worth of Hogwarts’ most talented professors and students, the castle comes alive. Singers hover on the ramparts. Floating candles appear, and owls swoop past. Snowmen appear on the hillsides, only to be the hapless victims of the Weasley’s car running amok as usual. Castle walls turn in to giant billboards advertising everything from Boggarts Bangers to Decoy Detonators.
If that wasn't enough, you can experience nightly snowfall in Hogsmeade, that is sure to make your trip more magical.
The best viewing spots for this spectacular scene are near the castle in front of the stage and don’t be shy about trying to get at the front of the crowd. If you arrive early and try standing in an open spot further back with a good view, you’re likely to have that blocked by someone else who’s a foot taller than you who steps right in front of you at the last minute.
The holiday season at Wizarding World starts in late November and continues through the first week of January. You can get the current schedule at the Universal Studios Hollywood website.
Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios also celebrates the holiday film "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," morphing the name of the holiday into "Grinchmas" and launching a "Wholibration." It's a long-standing tradition at Universal that many visitors enjoy.
What to Expect at Grinchmas
Shows and other activities created around the Grinch theme take center stage. Grinchmas activities and events vary from year to year, but they almost always have tongue-twisting names like Martha May Who-vier and the Who-Dolls." Santa Claus is often on hand, and you can have a photo taken with the Grinch and his dog Max.
Grinchmas festivities start early December and runs on weekends early in the month and every day closer to the holidays. You can get the current dates at the Universal Studios Hollywood website.
Tips for Visiting Universal Studios at Christmas
Universal Studios Hollywood is open every day, and many of the holiday activities listed above are available all day during regular park hours, with tree lighting in the evening. No extra admission fee is required, but you can save time and money if you know how to get Universal Studios tickets.
Harry Potter and the Whos aren't the only ones celebrating the holiday at Universal Studios. You'll also find lots of whimsy at “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and “Super Silly Fun Land” with a crew of very merry mischievous Minions spreading their unique brand of Christmas cheer.
At Universal CityWalk, a 40-foot tall Christmas tree goes up in the 5 Towers plaza, glammed up out with 200,000 LED icicles whose display is choreographed to the lights and sounds of the season.
The dancing water fountain at the heart of CityWalk also makes a colorful splash, with colored lights and holiday-themed music.
Going to Universal Studios on Christmas Day
If you go to Universal Studios on Christmas Day (December 25), expect some of the largest crowds of the year, with long waits that are sure to dampen your holiday spirits. These tips may help you make the most of your day:
If your schedule allows, get there as soon as the park opens in the morning and take in the rides you want to do most while lines are short. As the day goes on, lines and wait times can grow longer than Santa's list, as season pass holders drop by for one more visit before year's end.
If the holidays are the only time you can visit Universal and you want to spend more time enjoying the attractions than in line, consider buying a Front of the Line pass, which costs more but allows you to bypass the long lines. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.
If you can't get there at opening time, think about arriving in the early afternoon instead of morning. Enjoy the snow play area first, then plan to be in Wizarding World an hour or more early for the light show or waiting for the tree lighting ahead of its scheduled time.
Celebrities are recruited to narrate the tree lighting show and often, they're stars of popular television shows. Check the schedule at the Universal Studios website to see if any of your favorite performers are participating (and when). You may also choose to avoid crowds that some of the more popular stars might draw.
To find out more about what the park is like, check out the Universal Studios slideshow to see it all - without leaving your chair.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of reviewing Universal Studios at Christmas. While it has not influenced this review, TripSavvy.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.