Have you had a very, merry “Grinchmas” yet? If not there is still time to enjoy the festivities of “Grinchmas” at Universal Studios Hollywood. In fact, any day from now until January 1, 2012, you can join in the all the fun “who-bilations”!
My family had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios Hollywood and see what “Grinchmas” is all about. I have to admit since I’m due with baby #2 on December 28th; I have been a little Grinchy this year and not into the holiday season as I normally would be. Luckily “Grinchmas” provided me with some wonderful memories with my daughter as we spent some quality time together before she ends her time as an only child.
When we arrived at Universal Studios Hollywood, I immediately thought we should have arrived when the theme park had opened as it is much bigger than I expected. I figured we would easily be able to see everything I wanted to by arriving after my daughter’s nap and then we wouldn’t have to worry about her being cranky during our visit. I also didn’t think that there would be very much for me to do, since I couldn’t ride any of the rides in my current state. Let me tell you, I was very wrong.
The first thing we set out to see was the Grinch’s Winter Playground which is where the whimsical, curving “Grinchmas” tree towers 60 feet above the play area filled with fresh snow. There was a little kid area complete with a snowman that we explored, but my daughter wasn’t exactly sure what to think of the wet, cold stuff that we kept trying to place in her hand. Some areas were packed down a bit, making them slick, but there were several workers breaking up the packed snow to keep it as safe as possible.
After we had our fill of snow, we headed towards the Studio Tour, but were detoured as we saw that the Curious George area was not only a water play land, but it also had a couple dry areas. We played on the playground equipment, which had small slides little enough for my daughter but also more challenging equipment that was definitely entertaining the older children that were in there. The other dry area was absolutely crazy. There were foam balls everywhere that flew out of every direction. When we walked into the chaos, I thought there is no way I can make sure my little girl doesn’t get run over in here, but since we were there for review purposes I carried her in a bit farther so we could get a better idea of what it was like. There fortunately were several less wild areas where little tikes could safely explore. My daughter enjoyed picking up the balls and putting them in the various ball collection places. Once these places were full, the balls would drop, shoot, and pour out all over the floor again. There were several vacuum tubes on the floor that you could use to suck up the balls and my daughter tried to figure out where the ball she had just put in there went. My only real complaint for this area would be that it was noisy with all the devices shooting the balls out with air.
After leaving the Curious George area, we continued on down towards the Studio Tour. I decided not to go on it since there were warnings for expectant mothers and I wasn’t positive that my daughter wouldn’t be frightened by King Kong portion of the tour. My husband and in-laws had a wonderful time on the Studio Tour and were so enthralled that they forgot to take pictures to share with me.
Meanwhile, my daughter and I went to check out the cookies and crafts at Mt. Crumpit. Here you could decorate cookies, buttons, or even have your face painted! We ended up purchasing a cookie decorating kit and sat down to spend some mommy-daughter time together. The kit came with different colors of frosting, a gingerbread man, sprinkles, and M&M’s. I quickly set the M&M’s aside for my hubby since those are his favorite candy. I then just let my daughter play and soon she discovered that the frosting tasted very good and more went into her mouth then on the cookie. I did attempt to add sprinkles to her gingerbread man, but she promptly wiped them off with her hands, which led to a very dirty child and an interesting smeared-on-frosting decorated gingerbread man. After my clean up attempt, we then switched gears to color a little picture that they would make into a button. My daughter by this time had enough “sitting” time and colored more on the tablecloth then on the little picture. Either way, we had a souvenir button to go home with and a surprise gingerbread man for her Dad.
Since the Studio Tour takes about 45 minutes, we still had some time left before my hubby and his parents returned, so we headed back to the wild Curious George play area to burn off some of my daughter’s energy. After a little bit, we were all together again and my hubby was so excited that we had Front of Line passes. Apparently, the Studio Tour line had been long, but since they had the Front of Line passes, their line was pretty much non-existent. In fact, when they walked down for the tour, they were able to get on right away and even sat in the second row! As we were deciding where to go next, we encountered Frankenstein and I love this priceless picture of my hubby, his mom, and our daughter!
After Frankenstein departed, we checked out the park schedule and saw that it was about time for the next animal actors show. Since my daughter loves animals and I definitely could use a sitting break since I had been chasing her around the play area for awhile, we headed out to see the show. This also was around the same time as the first tree lighting event for “Grinchmas”, so it was a bit chaotic finding our way through the crowds to the animal actors show entrance. Luckily, even though we were cutting it close, our Front of Line Pass got us in quickly and with decent seats. The show was really cute and there was a wide variety of animals. My daughter liked the orangutan and the different birds that flew around. With the Front of Line Passes, you also have behind-the-scenes privileges, so we were able to meet some of the animal actors after the show. Below is my daughter patting the dog from the most recent “Lassie” movie.
After the animal actors show, we headed over to get in line for the next tree lighting ceremony. Since we did attend “Grinchmas” on its opening day, I did expect the tree lighting event to be busy, but I have to admit, the line was intense. We dropped our stroller off in the plethora of strollers and weaved our way to the Gate A entrance to use our Front of Line Passes again. We found out the next show was already full, but if we waited they would open the gate soon and we would be first in for the following show. We happily waited since this was the main reason for coming to the park that day, but soon the general admission gate opened up next to us so they could start prepping for the next show and it wasn’t pleasant. The workers were awesome and tried very hard to keep people from pushing, but people are impatient and I was just happy that we didn’t have to fall into that line and be smooshed together during the wait for the next show. I seriously would have spent the extra money for a Front of Line Pass just to avoid that line. When our gate opened, everyone calmly walked down into the area we were to wait and I wasn’t pushed or smooshed. I also felt relief that if I started having contractions, I could at least be able to maneuver through the line safely. When our line was allowed to go in for the show, we had our choice of seating and we were able to get seats right up near the stage, so my daughter would be able to see the action even if someone tall sat in front of us.
Since we attended a later show, we had a celebrity, J.R. Martinez, read the Dr. Seuss classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” After the reading, many Whos appeared and their performance began. My daughter was entranced by the show and I’m not sure which one I liked more, the performance or my daughter’s reaction to the performance. Both were awesome, but honestly the wonderment on my daughter’s face was absolutely priceless. The show ended of course with the lighting of the unique “Grinchmas” tree and I was happy that we hadn’t decided to sit in the very front row, so we were able to get a great view of the lighted tree.
After the tree lighting ceremony, it was almost 7pm, which is when the park closes, so we decided to mosey through a few stores and pick up souvenirs on our way out. Once outside, we ventured through the Universal CityWalk, which was lit up with lights everywhere. The five light tower sculptures illuminated the outdoor concert arena with a light show every 20 minutes. As my daughter was getting sleepy by this time, we didn’t stay to listen to the music, but I was able to find a few last minute gifts from the great selection of shops along the walk.
Overall, I really enjoyed “Grinchmas” at Universal Studios Hollywood. I was surprised how much there is to do even without riding the rides and we could have easily spent all day there and still not have seen everything. I definitely recommend purchasing Front of Line Passes since you’ll want to spend your time enjoying the park and not waiting in line. Another great deal is the “Buy A Day, Get 2012 Free”. So if you attend “Grinchmas” this year, you can get an annual pass for next year free! How awesome is that! Plus the new “Transformers: The Ride 3D” is opening next spring, so you will be able to check that out at your leisure with your 2012 annual pass.
“Grinchmas” is included in the price of theme park admission. More information, including updates on the “Grinchmas” celebrity readings, is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.
I was given tickets to review “Grinchmas” at Universal Studios Hollywood. Opinions are my own and/or my families and are not influenced by any form of compensation.