Universal Studios Hollywood “Grinchmas” Review

In Art, Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
Courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

At Universal Studios Hollywood, Grinchmas time has come. The Grinch has spread his long spindly fingers into a couple key locations of the park, a small recreation of Whoville and a portion of the tram giving the park an injection of Dr. Seuss’ charm. While the event is sure to be fun for children, adults will find the Christmas decorations and hot butterbeer festive, if not spectacular.

An important note is that the festivities for Grinchmas are nowhere near the intensity or scope that could be expected based on “Halloween Horror Nights.” In comparison, the way in which Universal brings about holiday cheer is downright modest. That is not to say that Christmas time is not a fine time to visit the park.

The decorations are all very charming, but if guests have already seen everything that Universal Studios Hollywood has in store, it is difficult to recommend buying a ticket based on the Grinchmas festivities alone.

A quick stop near the set of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” features the Whos from the film dancing and singing jovially about Christmas on the studio tour. The Grinch eventually joins the number and the choreography is fun in a way that one would expect from a Seuss inspired tribute.

It is followed, however, by a jarring tone shift as the tram heads towards the Bates Motel, where Alfred Hitchcock’s original, “Psycho,” can be seen disposing of a presumably dead body into the trunk of the car. It is a reminder that Universal embraces a large selection of cinema icons, even when they feel a little awkward brushing elbows with each other. Surely, neither Seuss nor Hitchcock would have found the scene transition ideal, but those who frequently visit Universal will find it par for the course.

The Whos of Whoville can be found on the upper lot of the park dancing around a strangely curved Christmas tree. The tree is one of the star attractions of Grinchmas, both impressive in its height and design. While it doesn’t tower over guests quite the same way that the tree at Disneyland does, the design is far more unique.

The actors each performed with clear passion for the roles, even if the makeup may be a bit unnerving to anyone not familiar with the Ron Howard film. It is exquisitely done and true to its source, but one can’t help but wonder if the scrunched faces and elongated noses will frighten children who haven’t made the movie a Christmas tradition.

Three shows fill out the Grinchmas events, one of which is a story with Cindy Lou, a song and dance show with Martha May and the Who-dolls and a third event featuring Whoville’s greatest boy band. The Cindy Lou story reading is cute and fits with the Dr. Seuss theme perfectly, though both the Who boy band and the Who-Dolls feel a little off. All cast members involved are energetic and talented. It is still strange seeing characters inspired by Dr. Seuss staged as heartthrobs and saucy dancers.

The Who-Dolls move across the stage in rather sizable high heels, many of which have their midriffs exposed as they sing Christmas tunes with strong innuendos such as “Won’t you come and trim my tree.” There is nothing outright offensive, it just doesn’t feel true to Seuss’ work.

Kids have the opportunity to meet the Grinch at a meet and greet. However, on the weekends, guests shouldn’t be surprised to find the line lasting for over an hour. Max the dog also has his own meet and greet, with a real dog sporting decorative antlers for children to pet.

For those looking to get away from the Grinch and the Whos, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter offers hot butterbeer to enjoy. During colder weather, this simple beverage may be just the highlight of some park-goers experience. It is, by far, the best tasting iteration of the drink. As the drink travels down the throat, it literally feels as though it warms guests up from the inside. It is well worth the price, even for those not familiar with the fictitious drink’s magical origins.

Christmas decor can be found throughout much of the park, one particularly clever wink being one of the dinosaur animatronics on the Jurassic Park ride wearing a santa hat. The holiday spirit doesn’t only exist with Grinchmas.

Grinchmas time is just another normal day in a fantastic park with a few different events thrown in for good measure, and there is nothing wrong with that.

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