Grinchmas is back for another year at Universal Studios Hollywood but, sharing equal ground in the holiday festivities this year at the park is Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was looking forward to seeing what changes had been made this year at the park and I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t been looking forward to seeing Hogsmeade all lit up for the Christmas holiday season.

First, we hit up Grinchmas which, for many years at Universal Studios Hollywood, has taken center stage. The looming 55-foot tall “Grinchmas” tree is hard to ignore with its topsy-turvy whimsical state and it has received a technological upgrade this year! If you look closely enough, there are colored LED lights that are choreographed with the EDM-style “Grinchmas” music that gets bumped up by the resident Who-J (aka a Whovillian DJ). It’s hard not to be completely sucked in by the tree as it is covered with so many ornaments that just thinking about how difficult the task of decorating the tree might be will make your head spin. In front of the tree is the stage, which features the Who-J making sure that all present have festive music to listen to while they take in the sights of the Center Plaza. However, while we were there, it didn’t appear that there were any shows that would take place and make use of that stage aside from the Who-J. This made the Grinchmas seem less active than previous years, which was a bit of a bummer.

However, despite the lack of shows, the character actors occupying the Whoville Grinchmas space worked hard to immersive attendees in the space. The handful of Whovillians perfectly embodied their characters the entire time, especially when they were asked to help out in taking photos. This interactivity helped out in creating more energy in the space, which seemed more designed this year for the Meet and Greet opportunities with The Grinch and Max. The Grinch was, of course, a hoot to interact with. We walked away from our time with him with smiles on our faces and I’m pretty sure our hearts grew three sizes after our encounter with him.

Once we wrapped up at Grinchmas, we moved onward to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which takes place within the realms of the quaint town of Hogsmeade village. The village was all decked out in Christmas cheer, with uniquely-themed decorations on some individual storefronts. As a frequent visitor to the shops at Hogsmeade, I’m quite familiar with the merchandise available (I have a problem and I fully admit this), so it was a real treat to be able to point out all the new holiday merchandise that the shops in Hogsmeade had to help out in bringing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to people’s homes for the holidays.

After taking the time to peruse the shops of Hogsmeade, we settled in to listen to the a cappella Frog Choir made up of Hogwarts students from each of the houses and their lovely adorable frogs perform various holiday songs for the guests. I always find it personally fun to see how the Frog Choir tweaks the holiday songs we are familiar with and giving them an extra magical twist. It just helps with the immersion process. If Universal ever decides to produce a Frog Choir album, I will probably end up snagging it just for those little tweaks and twists. After the Frog Choir was done and I lived out my miniature dream of petting one of the frogs used in the Choir, we settled in for the Triwizard Tournament performance to see if anything was changed for the holiday season. I can report that the performance was not changed, but it was still really epic regardless. Those Durmstrang boys slay me every time.

While we did not have the chance to see it due to approaching inclement weather, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter does have a special themed light show projected onto the Hogwarts castle for the holiday season. As the holidays have a special emphasis on both the book series and the film series, it makes perfect sense for Universal Studios to incorporate that magical Christmas cheer into their light show. Make sure to stay once the sun sets to get a full glimpse of this particular projection show. You won’t want to miss it.

Overall, I’d say spending the holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood is still a real treat. While it did feel that Grinchmas was a little pulled back in terms of what was available for guests to engage in while there, it still was pretty magical, especially taking into consideration guests who have yet to experience a Grinchmas before. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is also a must-see for guests because it really does feel like Christmastime when you walk through the streets of the Hogsmeade village. Taking your family and friends to Universal Studios Hollywood during the holidays is still a must and I recommend it for all.

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Grinchmas will be running daily through Sunday, December 29, 2019.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the California Neighbor Pass makes the perfect holiday gift, providing guests with the opportunity to experience 175 days of fun for $149 when purchased online. Visit for more details. Blackout dates and restrictions apply.

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Sarah Musnicky
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