It’s beginning to look a lot like Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood.
This time of year is truly joyous for our guests and Team Members. You can sense a feeling of magic in the air when you see the first strands of garland being perfectly hung along the city street buildings or when catching a slight glimmer from a tree topper in the not-so-far-off distance.
And we’re always so excited for the Holidays, we can’t wait to get started! Literally, the moment our Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) event wraps, we put away the skeletons and haul out the jingle bells, ushering the park into the holiday season.
Transitioning from “gore to garland” is a highly-detailed, collaborative process led by Kamber Moen and Jared Cox, managers of entertainment production. We asked them to give us a peek into how they transform the park from ghastly ghouls to a winter wonderland.
How long does it take to remove the HHN haunts and put up the Holidays décor?
[KM] In general, we complete the transition from HHN to Holidays for our guests in just three and a half weeks.
How many teams participate in the park transformations? What are the departments?
[JC] There are three full project teams managing the transition — HHN, Holiday Décor and Grinchmas — along with our Entertainment Logistics team. Our Tech Services partners do a lot of the physical infrastructure work: electricians, painters, constructionists. And we have specialty décor and scenic vendors that install the bulk of the décor. It takes coordinating with practically every department in the park to complete the “gore to garland” transition.
Can you estimate how many decorations are added for the Holidays?
[JC] A lot! It takes well over 100 crates to store all the décor, and each crate holds as much as a full-size walk-in closet.
When do you have time to do all the décor with guests in the park every day?
[KM] In general, we have to work after park hours in any guest-facing areas to ensure we don’t disrupt daytime operations. It requires lots of long days and nights in various weather conditions to be able to bring the holidays to all of our guests.
For Universal Plaza, we actually restrict access to the entire plaza so we can work day and night getting ready for the Grinch.
What is your favorite decoration?
[KM] My favorite decorations are our movie cars from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”. They are so unique and really help bring Who-ville to life.
Who creates the decorations?
[JC] The Entertainment Department has a team of talented designers who create concept art for new décor. They and the project team then work with our vendors to help execute those designs into actual garland, wreaths, and scenic pieces.
Are there any new items this year?
[KM] Yes! We have a two-story scenic Who-ville set that is modeled after the set that was formerly part of the Studio Tour experience. Along with that impressive backdrop comes a brand-new stage as well.
What areas of the park are decorated for the holidays?
[JC] Holiday décor reaches almost every corner of the park. With minor exceptions, no matter where you stand in the park, you’ll see us celebrating the holidays.
Where is the best photo op with the holiday decorations?
[KM] In my opinion, it’s our amazing 65 ft. tall Grinchmas Tree in Universal Plaza.
How many lights are on the Grinchmas Tree?
[KM] We have over 20,000 lights on the Grinchmas Tree alone.
What inspires the team every year?
[KM] For me, it’s the families that come every year to get their picture with the Grinch and enjoy their day. They embrace the fun that is Who-ville and all our characters. It is truly a magical experience being there and watching our guests be in awe by all the team’s hard work and dedication.
What’s the ultimate feeling you want guests to have when walking around the park during this season?
[JC] I’d like the guests to feel surrounded by holiday cheer, of course! It would be great if they were inspired to make a visit to Universal a part of their annual holiday tradition.
We cannot wait to celebrate this joyous season with our guests. Helping families create holiday memories with our Universal Studios Hollywood family is an annual tradition we cherish.
Come visit us soon to enjoy the hard work of Kamber, Jared, and the countless Team Members who help make this the most magical time of the year. Happy Holidays from Universal Studios Hollywood!