One of the best times of year in the theme parks is the holiday season, and one of the holiday events I look most forward to each year, is Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood. I’ve been lucky enough to attend Grinchmas there every year since it started being done annually over a decade ago. It has seen lots of changes through the years, but this year in particular it feels as though The Grinch got his hands on the event and stole most of it away.
Grinchmas initially started as a way to market the Jim Carrey-starring movie, but years later it returned as an annual event and has been in the parks ever since. It’s the way that Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando celebrate Christmas. I can’t speak for the east coast version since I’ve never experienced it, but in its heyday, the west coast version was an absolute delight.
There was real snow for kids to play in, celebrity narrators reading the classic story, a full stage show lighting the Whoville Christmas tree, activities for kids, photo-ops, show stop moments on the World-Famous Studio Tour, and more. Basically, Grinchmas was a very big deal at Universal Studios Hollywood and took over a lot of the park. It started as a little experiment, but like The Grinch’s small heart, it grew three sizes (if not more) through the years.
After Grinchmas hit its crescendo in the early 2010s, the event started to get smaller. Some of it was because of park construction that affected the event. And then there’s that evil “B” word, budget. But even with its downsizing, Grinchmas still always felt like a very special way to enjoy the holidays (or Who-lidays). The smaller-scale entertainment still delighted, along with The Grinch and Who’s endlessly entertaining with their improvisation skills. Having said all that, I have one major problem this year that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In the past, Grinchmas was typically scheduled on weekends and would move to a daily schedule during the week of Christmas. To my delight this year, the holiday offerings at Universal Studios Hollywood (including Grinchmas) are advertised as taking place from Nov. 26, 2021 through Jan. 9, 2022. I was thrilled to see this. Even though Grinchmas isn’t as big as it once was, at least there would be more opportunities to experience the Who-bilation. Or so I thought.
What the misleading advertising doesn’t tell you is that the main Grinchmas event is still sticking to its weekends-only schedule until closer to Christmas. This was a big surprise to me when I decided to attend on a weekday evening in early December. I went back to check the website and see if I made a mistake in reading something incorrectly. I did not. There is no mention of the weekday Grinchmas experience being any different than the main event.
Other than photo-ops with The Grinch and Max, and story time with Cindy-Lou, there were none of the typical Who-citizens around to interact with. No performances on the stage. Not even a Who-DJ as they had in the 2019 edition in order to make up for the cancelation of regular shows and performers. During the short tree lighting “ceremony” (if you can call it that), we would hear The Grinch’s voice, but he did not appear on stage. From what I understand, there is more to it during the weekends than what I just described. I personally feel as though it’s a big mistake for Universal Studios Hollywood to make their event smaller and smaller as each year passes, but ultimately that’s their decision. I’m not as upset about the change in the event as I am about the misleading advertising claiming that Grinchmas is happening for over a month long. It is not. During most weekdays, guests are getting what I hear Team Members backstage calling “Grinchmas Lite.”
As an annual passholder, I can go back into the park some other time to experience Grinchmas during one of the weekend performances. But if I were someone who purchased a one-day ticket to experience the holiday festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood, I would be very upset.
Overall, the way Grinchmas has been marketed this year is misleading and disrespectful to park guests. I wish Grinchmas would become a bigger event once again, but at the very least, I wish they were more honest about what the event actually is… or isn’t.
What do you think? Do you find the advertising to be confusing, or have you been disappointed when attending Grinchmas this year? If you’ve been going to Grinchmas for years, what’s one element you would like to see brought back? Leave a comment and let me know.
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Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.