By Laurel Busby
Fans of the Grinch, the Minions and Harry Potter can get an extra fix at Universal Studios this month as the theme park decks out its offerings with Christmas cheer.
Hot Butterbeer, a dreamy confection that tastes a bit like warm, liquid butterscotch, spices up the Three Broomsticks menu in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while the park’s “Super Silly Fun Land” hosts a crew of merry and mischievous Minions.
But the center of the festivities is “Grinchmas” in the grand piazza of the theme park where Dr. Seuss’ Whoville comes to life. The Mayor of Whoville, Cindy Lou Who and various other Whos are fully decked out with the fanciful prosthetics and makeup from the movies while they roam the area and interact with guests.
Visitors can easily chat and get their pictures taken with multiple Whos, or if they’re willing to stand in line for a bit, the Grinch and his trusty dog Max are also available.
Grinchmas at Universal began in 2008 and has been growing each year. The Grinchmas area was probably the most packed part of the park on this year’s opening day Dec. 3, especially in the evening when each half hour, the twisty 60-ft. tall Grinchmas tree was re-lit as part of a short comic play with the Grinch and the Whos.
In addition, the Who-liday Singers—a boy band—regularly performed a cappella concerts in full Who makeup—while the energetic Martha May Whovier and the Who dolls sang songs like Santa Baby to the crowd. Cindy Lou Who also retold Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas a number of times each day. (The festivities continue Dec. 10-11, and daily from Dec. 16-Jan. 1.)
Throughout the Grinchmas days, a num- ber of kid-friendly activities are available. For example, the Whoville post office offers a “Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes” campaign for visitors to list their good deeds on a postcard to mail to the Grinch. In return, a book is donated to a child in need on behalf of the sender. Kids and adults can also participate in a scavenger hunt and receive a small prize if they find six items.
Riders of the studio tram tour are also entertained by the Whos, who emerge when the tram reaches the original film sets from Ron Howard’s movie. Instead of simply passing by Whoville as it does during most of the year, the tram turns into the original Whoville set, and the Whos and the Grinch emerge to dance and sing.
Universal City Walk also has its own fes- tivities. A 40-ft. tall tree is decorated with 200,000 LED icicles that are choreographed to match the lights and sounds of the “5 Towers” plaza. Each evening, Santa sits on his sleigh to welcome and take pictures with visitors.
In addition, the dancing fountain and its 230 jets of choreographed water get a holiday makeover with red, green and white lights plus holiday music. The attraction typically is surrounded by a crowd of watchers. Brave souls try to dash through the dancing streams of water without getting wet and, of course, frequently end up getting drenched, to the crowd’s delight.
Concerts at “5 Towers” and an ensemble of street performers complement the festivities at City Walk. Parking is $10 after 5 p.m. or $18 all day. Theme park tickets range from $99 for children 3 to 9 years old to $359 for a VIP experience. A one- year California resident pass is $119.