Universal Studios Hollywood Launches Grinchmas with Whomanitarian Award

Written by Norman Gidney. Posted in In the Parks, Universal Hollywood, Universal Studios

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Published on November 28, 2013 at 2:30 am with 4 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Did you know that today is not only Thanksgiving but the start of Hanukkah as well? Oh, and one more holiday kicks off today . . . Grinchmas! Yes, Universal’s Grinch themed Christmas festivities officially start today, but the park kicked off the celebration early yesterday with a special ceremony in the new Universal Plaza area of the park. We’ll give you a tour of the festivities and show you the perfect recipient of the award. We’ll also show you the remarkable progress on the upcoming Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction and gaze upon the space that will soon be the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It’s big folks, let’s begin.

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot,
But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not.
The Grinch hated Christmas — the whole Christmas season.
Oh, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!


Grinchmas Begins

It was a bright, sunny morning in the Hollywood hills as Universal Studios kicked off its annual Grinchmas celebrations with a very special ceremony.  Invited press and special guests gathered in the new Universal Plaza area to witness Florence Henderson, Carol Brady herself, receive this years Whomanitarian Award for her charitable work with City of Hope.










Located in Los Angeles, California, City of Hope is a world leader in compassionate patient care, innovative medical science and groundbreaking research.  Florence addressed the crowd during the ceremony explaining her passion for City of Hope.  It’s a facility, she explained, that treats the body as well as the soul.





Grinchmas begins at the park today, November 28th, then continues weekends through December 15th.  Grinchmas will then run daily from December 20th to the 31st.  While included in park admission, things are decidedly different from years past.  According to the Universal website here is what is offered…

Enjoy a helping of Wholiday cheer:

  • Take photos with Grinch and his dog Max and make it a Grinchmas to remember
  • Join the Backlot Whobilation as the Whos sing and dance through Whoville
  • Stand beneath the towering 60-foot Grinchmas tree and soak in the festive Park décor

Okaaaaaaay, so, this year, it appears that due to the extensive construction happening in the park, along with the brand-new venue in the center of the park, things are tremendously scaled back.  No nightly tree lighting ceremony, no celebrity readings, and certainly no snow.  You can still meet the Grinch of course, play and cavort in the sparkling new plaza, but that will be it.  So far anyway.

Along the Tram route guests will still be able to enjoy the Whobilation show that is performed on the Whoville set in the backlot.



Rehearsals were happening yesterday for the big opening.

We suppose it’s understandable that, in a year of such change, that things would be scaled back.  We are just hoping that after all is said and done, we see a reinforced Grinchmas that is better than ever.

Holidays Throughout the Park

Meanwhile the rest of the park has enjoyed a festive dusting of snow and lavish decorations on many of the façades.


Near the main entrance, the New York buildings are all redecorated.


French Street has some lovely decorations as well.





Baker Street wishes everyone a Happy Christmas!




Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem

The new Despicable Me attraction continues to impress as the neighborhood surrounding Gru’s home is constructed.




Around the side, the Super Silly Funland has little to see just yet.





Studio Tour Restrooms

Near the entrance to the Studio Tour they have completely removed the obtrusively placed restrooms and built a brand new facility mere feet from the last one.  The reason?  It opens the area in front of the Studio Tour up tremendously and allows for much better crowd flow.



The new restrooms here, closer to the Simpsons attraction.


You can actually see the footprint of the previous building here.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Let’s take a look at the construction area which will soon become the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


In the distance, Citywalk, in the foreground, what used to be the Gibson amphitheater .




Studio Tour

On the Studio Tour itself there are a few things to note as well.


The Fast and the Furious stop on the tour has been closed for months now. Fingers crossed that it will not return.



It appears that even the backlot is going through some major refurbishment. Spartacus Square is leveled.


Also, some of the buildings in Little Europe are getting a bit of care.



Here you can see more of the old Spartacus Square, now a hill of fertilized grass seed.



The Chicken Ranch is getting new neighbors in the form of façades replicating the architecture of the original building.


On Falls Lake, construction trailers have been set up, along with direct access to the Harry Potter construction zone nearby.


The green fence to the left is a pathway to the trailers.



Looking back from the route near the end of the tour


There you have it.  Philanthropy, Potter and Priceless memories.  This is a very exciting time at Universal Studios Hollywood.  They are going through the same growth that Disney California Adventure struggled through not too long ago.  Look how that paid off for Disney.  Let’s hope that it pays off just the same for Universal.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!!!

About Norman Gidney

Norman Gidney, also known as Fishbulb, produces and edits many of the articles on MiceChat. Tune in every Tuesday for the Orlando Parkhopper and every Friday for In The Parks. But you'll also find his photos in the Weekly Round Up, SAMLAND, and numerous other columns on the site.

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  • sean317

    Thank you for the great update! I live out of the LA area (N. CA) & was just recently at the Disneyland Resort, to see Cars Land. With no new major projects slated for either park in the coming years, looks like I will be planning my next trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, once Harry Potter opens up. I am going to include Knott’s Berry Farm also, since I have not been there in ages. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

  • DuckyDelite

    Thanks for a great update. The holiday decorations look fantastic. I might have to take a trip out there.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks Norm, this was a great update.

    I didn’t realize that the Gibson Theater had been razed already. Looks like they are going after Harry Potter construction as actively here as in Florida. I guess we’ll have to tolerate the walls and suspended entertainments just like we did at DCA during its rebirth. Looking forward to the final product though.

    Thanks again.

  • Malin

    Despicable Me is one of my favourite Movies and has given us a host of new wonderful Characters. So I’m thrilled to see an expanded area being given to the new ride. Shame about the cutbacks in entertainment but that Tree is still breathtaking.