Easy No-Sew Cindy Lou Who DIY for Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood

littlegraytrhead cindy lou who

The Snowflake has landed in Universal Studios Hollywood and has brought back our friends from Who-ville, new and old!  “Grinchmas” is included with park admission and runs daily from November 28 through Sunday December 29.  To prepare, I made this super easy Cindy Lou Who headband.

Supplies:

  • Headband
  • Red and White pom poms
  • pipe cleaner for ribbons
  • White fleece or felt cut into 4 ovals
  • stuffing like cotton balls or fiberfill
  • glue gun

cindy lou who supplies

Measure a couple centimeters above the ear and mark with a pen.  Glue gun the circles together and stuff with stuffing.  Glue ovals to headband letting the bottom hang over the ears.  Glue the pom poms onto the headband.

Add as many ribbon details as you like!  I chose pipe cleaner so the bow will stand up.

cindy lou who headband

I pieced together the Cindy Lou Who costume with a red gingham dress and a red half circle cape.  You can even use a red tree skirt and attach ribbons to the collar!

 

The Martha May Santa costume was purchased from Target.  It’s super sparkly and over the top, just like Martha May Whovier!

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What’s New at Grinchmas Universal Studios Hollywood

New this year is the all-new, state-of-the-art, topsy-turvy “Grinchmas” tree that twists and turns over 55 feet in height. The custom-made tree is adorned with hundreds of ornaments and thousands of sparkling LED lights and choreographed to music to brighten the merry “Grinchmas” Who-lebration.

Dazzling “Grinchmas” tree lighting ceremonies that take place every evening, accompanied by a snowfall flurry, bring this annual favorite to life, creating a festival of fun fit for The Grinch, his faithful dog Max and a roster of Who-ville Whos (Pro tip:  Line up at the main Whoville entry gate a half hour before the tree lighting to enter.  First tree lighting happens at 5:30 and occurs every half hour).  There are some new Whos visiting Hollywood for the first time!

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Tips on Meeting Characters

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Of course, meeting the Grinch himself is a must-do if you visit Whoville.  Lines can be extremely long, especially during peak season, but there are several things to do with minimal lines or no lines at all!

  • Meet Max the Dog–he’s a real animal actor!

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  • Many Whos roam around and do not have lines.  Be prepared to play!  We also met Cindy Lou Who who was roaming around and did not have a line.
  • Check out the cute Grinch decor like this Grinch snowman

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  • Write ways how your heart grew 3 sizes

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  • Eat all the Who Foods!  This Grinch Donut was available in the Whoville area and was a steal at only $7.99.  The Whoville Who Hash (tator tots, corned beef, cream of mushroom soup, onions and peppers) was found at the quick service restaurant “Hollwood and Dime” for around $10 and came with the take home can.

 

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will also transform for the Holiday season.

Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

  • Seasonal decor to each storefront and a light projection spectacular to bring the the iconic Hogwarts™ castle to life.
  • As night falls on Hogsmeade village, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts™ Castle” illuminates Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with colorful imagery and impressive dimensional animations that dance across Hogwarts castle in tandem to a musical arrangement from the Harry Potter movies.
  • Holiday themed songs from the a cappella Frog Choir
  • A wide selection of custom-made Christmas ornaments created especially for “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will be available. Collectibles include a decorative Hogwarts castle snow globe, Hogwarts crest and mascot ornaments representing each of the four houses, wizard card ornaments, unique tree topper and house pennant garland.
  • Holiday-themed fare and hot Butterbeer further complement the overall experience.

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the California Neighbor Pass makes the perfect holiday gift, providing guests with the opportunity to experience 175 days of fun for $149 when purchased online. Visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more details. Blackout dates and restrictions apply.

littlegraythread grinchmas

More information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

Admission to Universal CityWalk is free. More information available at www.CityWalkHollywood.com.

NEW Jurassic World Dinosaur Experiences at Universal Studios Hollywood

Dino Play Baby Tango

Over the summer, the newly redesigned Jurassic World water ride opened along with new dinosaur experiences on the lower lot of Universal Studios Hollywood!  My family was invited to check out the new offerings and received complementary Universal Express tickets (more on that later).  Typically, we usually don’t spend too much time on the Lower Lot since my kids are too short to ride the attractions.  However, we literally spent our entire day exploring all the new dinosaurs!  Here’s how we spent our time:

NEW Dinosaur Meet and Greet Encounters

Blue the Raptor has a new permanent meeting location just to the left of the elevators.  You can enter the line where it says “Raptor Encounter”.  The meet and greet takes place during one of her “training sessions” and you can walk up to her for a photo.  If you’re not brave enough to get that close to a dinosaur, you can also observe from a safe distance.  It’s always fun to see how many guests she can sneak up on and scare!

Raptor encounter

Juliet the Triceratops is one of the new dinosaurs that you can meet!  She is walked out with her handler on the path near the Raptor Encounter.  After she slowly makes her way out of the gates, she usually stops near the base of the escalators.  Once she stops, the handlers will welcome you to pet her gently.  You can attempt to take a picture with her, but since there is no official line, the guests rush her all at the same time.

Baby Raptors also come out with their trainer!  There are a couple of different babies, but we met the raptor named Tango.  Again, there are no official lines for these meet and greets, so the best way to meet them is to follow the trainer.  The trainer will usually do a few training activities and allow guests to pet the baby raptor if she’s ready.

Dino Play Area

Right next to the entrance of the Jurassic World ride is a playground!  The entire area is enclosed and is supervised by trainers.  Since there is only one way in and out, you don’t have to worry about your kids running away in different directions.  This area has slides, a climber, a huge walk through obstacle course, and a shaded fossil area.  The best part is that it’s surrounded by misters to overcome the heat.  My favorite part was the musical chimes where you can actually learn how to play the Jurassic Park theme!  Since we took advantage of the child rider switch, we spent a good portion of our time at Dino Play.

The Jurassic World Ride

The main attraction:  the new Jurassic World water ride!  Formally Jurassic Park, this ride has been updated with new special effects (the water dinosaur is awesome!) and animatronics.  The wait times can be extremely long (typically about 2 hours), so I definitely recommend purchasing the Universal Express ticket.  It’s not much more than a daily admission (just about $70), but it allows you a fast lane pass to every ride in the park, including Jurassic World.  Since we only had one day to explore Universal Studios, it was nice not having to spend the majority of our day in lines.  If your kids aren’t able to ride Jurassic World, you can also view some dinosaurs on the world famous Universal Studios Hollywood Tram Ride!

Is it worth visiting if your kids are too short (or scared) to ride

100 percent yes!  If your kids are into dinosaurs, they will LOVE spending the time being amongst them.  The meet and greets alone are worth it to visit and your kids will likely want to close out the Dino Play Area.  The food at the Isla Nu Restaurant is my favorite in the park so definitely plan to be there for a meal!

For more of our theme park adventures, follow us on Instagram @littlegraythread.

An Instagrammer’s Dream: Pop-up Disney! A Mickey Celebration comes to the Disneyland Resort

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DisneyGrammers GET READY!  Prep your outfits and clear up space on your phone because Pop-Up Disneyland! A Mickey Celebration is opening on Friday April 26!  We were invited by Disneyland to a Media Preview to check out this beautifully curated space that was once ESPN Zone.  I decided at the last minute to make the girls Minnie and Mickey maxi dresses and got to sewing at 11:00 the night before.  I’m so glad I did because the outfits I saw at this event were FIERCE!

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Disneyland’s first photo Pop-Up is a collection of seven Mickey themed rooms where you can pose against aesthetic walls and drape yourself on selected props.  Each room is unique and pays homage to the Mouse that started it all.  Tickets start at $30 (must be bought in advance as no tickets are sold on site) and include 5 hours of complementary Downtown Disney parking.  You select an entry time when you purchase tickets online (last reservation time is 9:00pm) and plan on spending about 90 minutes for the entire experience.  Pro tip:  reserve a weekday before 4pm for the $30 rate–the evening and weekend rate is $38.  Kids under 3 are admitted free.

Check in and Lobby

The Pop-Up is located on the far end of Downtown Disney right by the security gates at the Downtown Disney parking lot.  Be sure to allow yourself enough time to park, go through security, and check in 15 minutes before your reservation time.  The check in room is aesthetic in and of itself and you’ll probably want to spend 10 minutes taking selfies, but trust me and walk yourself into the waiting lobby.  You’ll be given a colored ticket which signifies your entry group.

The waiting lobby is a huge space decked out in the cutest Mickey art, ottomans and sitting areas.  Relax and take in some classic Mickey cartoons, listen to some Mickey music on the Beats by Dre Headphones.  This is also where the main restroom is, so be sure to use the facilities before the mass picture taking begins.  We were in the waiting lobby for about 15 minutes while other people checked in.  When your color is called, you will be escorted up the stairs to start the Pop-Up experience.  The seven rooms are (1) Mickey and Minnie’s Love, (2) It all Started with a Mouse, (3) Mickey’s Friendships, (4) Sorcerer Mickey’s Magic, (5) Mickey around the World, (6) Forever Mickey, (7) Mickey at Disneyland.

Room 1:  Mickey and Minnie’s Love

Pop up disney love bow

The first thing you see when you enter this room is the gigantic iconic Minnie Bow!  Super cute photo ops where you can sit in the center of the bow or do a boomie peeking out from behind.  There are three patterned walls:  Mickey heart hands, yellow bows and the classic red and white polka dots with huge yellow bows that you can stand under.  There’s also the heart wall that works best if one person stands at the point of the hearts and blows a kiss to the huge sequin heart.  Photos of Minnie and Mickey line the last wall where you can come up with your own creative poses (literally think outside the frame!)

Room 2:  It All Started With a Mouse

pop up disney steamboat littlegraythread family

Oh my heart and soul, a monochromatic black and white STEAMBOAT WILLIE ROOM.  I am a sucker for Steamboat Willie as he is my all time favorite Disney icon.  The focal point of this room is Steamboat Willie’s boat where you can spin the wheel and live out your steamboat dreams.  Pro tip:  take your boomies behind the wheel (I’m sad I forgot to do this!).  The other huge prop is from the first cartoon Plane Crazy where you can pose behind the airplane.  You’ll definitely want to get a photo by the plushie wall (look closely to find the one hidden Minnie plush!).  Since the entire room is black and white, pops of color like a red bow or yellow shoes would look super cute in this room.

Room 3:  Mickey’s Friendships

pop up disney friends mickey with love

As you leave the world of black and white, you get transported into a pop art museum featuring Mickey’s best pals.  Make a mad face by Donald Mickey and try to find the hidden Minnie in the Chip and Dale acorn Mickey Statue.  Daisy is represented in the topiary Mickey, Pluto has his dog house, and Goofy paints a mural on the wall.  I especially appreciated the mural on the side wall with all the characters holding hands (love is love is love).

Room 4:  Sorcerer Mickey’s Magic

Here’s where things get dark.  Literally.  The hallway is lit by gorgeous blue lights leading to Sorcerer Mickey surrounded by twinkling lights.  Pro tip:  as you enter the blue hallway, there’s one spot where the white light hits just right so you can get a photo without looking like someone from the Blue Man Group.

Room 5:  Mickey Around the World

This room gave me major Epcot vibes, but I literally gasped when I saw the setup dedicated to China.  My Asian heart soared especially since the design inside the Mickey head is the same design that was on the gate at the church where I grew up in Oakland Chinatown.  The girls loved the papel picado room and the lighting was spot on.  Some of my friends took photos with a little pinata prop, but I don’t recall seeing one when I was there.

Room 6:  Forever Mickey

pop up disney mirror pano

This brings us to what I like to call the “Mirror Rooms”.  There are so many fun ways you can incorporate the mirrors in your photos.  We discovered that the closer the girls got to the mirror, the better the reflections would interact with the overall photo.  Rylee took this panoramic photo of the girls which made me think what I would do if I really had 20 of the same children.  One of my favorite rooms was the mirrored Mickey with color changing neon lights.  Again, these rooms are pretty dark to really let the lights shine (literally), so make sure your camera can handle low light.

Room 7:  Mickey at Disneyland

pop up disney forever mickey balloon prop

The Grand Finale!  This is where you’ll find the huge Mickey Balloon that you can stand behind.  I noticed that it was hard to see the details of our faces when we were inside of the balloon, so I wish we grabbed a photo standing in front of the balloon.  You can also touch the Mickey balloons on the side which was a huge hit with the kids.

pop up disney disneyland snack wall

These were some of my favorite walls from the entire exhibit because it featured all the Disneyland snacks!  Since the design goes all the way to the ground, this is a great photo opp for little kids to pretend like they’re eating the snacks.  Since this is the last room of the exhibit, I didn’t feel rushed.  The final wall is the “See Ya Real Soon” wall and one last black Mickey against a colorful backdrop.

Is it Worth It?

When I first heard that they were installing a photo pop-up that was basically created just for people to take new Instagram Pics, I was skeptical especially since there are so many Instagrammable walls that are located inside the Parks for free.  After experiencing the Pop-Up, especially surrounded by so many hype Disney Fans who also appreciate a good wall pic, I definitely think this is worth it if you are their target audience.

Am I Their Target Audience?

pop up disney forever mirror walkway

Are you a Disney Fan?  Do you like taking pictures?  Do you like to be on the cutting edge of Disney History?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, YES, you are the target audience!  Sure, you can take photos by the Small World Wall inside the parks, but where else can you sit on a larger than life Minnie Bow or actually steer Steamboat Willie’s boat?  Think of the aesthetics, the celebration of Mickey, the WALLS!  What I noticed in the 90 minutes that I was inside of this exhibit is that my confidence was boosted as I got to play indulgent model for a tiny part of the day.  I was surrounded by other people who were equally as excited to pose by a Mickey Waffle and we got to share a brief moment being Disney fangirls.

What Should I Wear?

Ah.  The age old question.  Since this is an homage to Mickey, I say bring out your best Disney Style.  Wear something that represents your own personal fashion, but with subtle Mickey hints.  You don’t even necessarily have to break out the classic red and white polkadots.  I stuck to the classic Minnie dots and I felt like I blended in with some of the backgrounds.  A few of my friends did bring outfit changes for each room, but there are no private changing areas in between rooms.  You can try to hide behind walls and discreetly change (this is when having your girl gang there comes in handy).  I would recommend bringing different accessories like ears, belts, jackets, etc.  I brought in my Ju Ju be Starlet bag with a couple of different dresses for the girls, shoes, and extra ears.

Should I Bring the Kids or have a Girls Night Out?

The Pop-Up is definitely kid friendly and is suitable for all ages.  With that being said, if your child doesn’t like to take photos, then leave them at home.  My girls really appreciate a good photo and they had fun running up to a wall while striking a pose.  If you’re deciding between bringing your kids versus having a girls night, I would lean towards having that girls night.  You’re definitely going to want to bring your hype girls who will help you find your light and find those good angles.

Know Before You Go (TL:DR)

  • Tickets Monday through Thursday before 4pm are $30.  Tickets after 4 pm and all day Friday through Sunday are $38.  Nothing else is included in the price besides the experience and 5 hours of complimentary parking (there is no parting gift at the end).  You can purchase tickets at Disneyland.com.
  • Allow yourself about 90 minutes to get through the entire experience.
  • The Pop-Up is located in the former ESPN Zone space at the end of Downtown Disney right by the security gates.
  • Park in Downtown Disney if you aren’t planning on playing in the parks after for more than 5 hours.
  • The gift shop is open to the public, no Pop-Up Ticket required (get your new Pop-Up Disney Spirit Jersey!)
  • Strollers must be parked outside.  The rooms can be pretty tight so you’ll want the freedom to move around without your stroller.
  • You CAN bring costume changes, but there are no private places to change in between rooms.
  • Bring your best low-light camera!  Some of the rooms are very dark.
  • Keep your eye out for Hidden Minnies!
  • Pop-Up Exclusive Merchandise:  Annual Passholders can purchase an ornament at the attached gift shop.  You can also walk down to Marceline’s to purchase edible treats that is only available to Pop-Up Disney guests.  We were able to sample the white fudge Mickey Bar and cotton candy flavored marshmallows.  Yum!
  • There is no set end date for this experience, but I recommend making reservations ASAP!

This is the perfect fun night out for any Disney Fan.  If you think about it, you can easily spend $40-$60 just on dinner and drinks with friends.  I say spend the $30 on tickets, enjoy your time with your friends, and you’ll come out of it with a slew of new pics for the gram.  You’ll have a blast being silly, channeling your inner Mickey model poses, and fangirling over the mouse that started it all.  Happy picture taking!

Huge thank you to Disneyland and Disney who invited our family to preview Pop-Up Disney!  More information can be found on Disneyland.com.  Be sure to follow us on Instagram for a more in depth look at the exhibit!

 

 

 

Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood

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The girls and I were invited to check out the Lunar New Year festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood.  I was beyond excited because we have never been to Universal Studios during this time and Lunar New Year is one of my favorite holidays celebrating my culture.  I knew about some of the limited time offerings before going in (Mandarin speaking Megatron, Hello Kitty and Minions in their Lunar New Year outfits, and all the Kung Fu Panda live entertainment), and I was thrilled to be able to experience this first hand.  Most of the Lunar New Year offerings took place at the center of the upper lot.  When you first enter, follow the main walkway until you see the red lanterns.  You can’t miss it!

Limited Time Characters

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This was Hello Kitty’s first Lunar New Year and she did not disappoint with her gorgeous red dress!  She was meeting guests throughout the day right outside the Animation Studio store.  It was an added bonus that her photo location was in the shade for most of the day which made for some great pictures!

Nearby was the Minion meet and greet in their Chinese outfits.  There were two different minions that took turns meeting guests, one in a turquoise blue outfit, and one in a red outfit.  Their backdrop was gorgeous, but it was in direct sun almost all day.  When we went, the lines for both Hello Kitty and the Minions were never more than a 5 minute wait.

Mandarin Speaking Megatron

You can’t miss the larger than life metal Transformer that acts as the gatekeeper to the Lunar New Year festivities.  Usually, the Transformers only meet in the Lower Lot, but Mandarin speaking Megatron is conveniently located on the main level right by the entrance.  He literally only speaks Mandarin, so there were a ton of jokes and one liners that I didn’t understand, but the sea of Mandarin speaking guests were laughing hysterically.  You can stand in line to grab a photo with him, or congregate outside the queue to watch him interact with guests.

Lunar New Year Entertainment

There are two shows in the Lunar New Year plaza on the Jade Palace stage:  Kung Fu Academy on the main stage and Feng The Palace Artist’s Stand.

Kung Fu Academy

This show happens in two parts, and actually has two separate showtime signs.  The first part of the show is storytelling where kids are picked to help retell the story of Nien the monster who used to terrorize the city.  This story explains the traditions of Chinese New Year and why people wear red, light firecrackers, and wear masks during the festivities.

Directly following the show is Kung Fu Academy.  The trainers pick 8 kids from the audience to go on stage to learn some Kung Fu moves with Po from Kung Fu Panda.  At the end of training, each participant receives a Kung Fu Panda headwrap to take home.  Po and Tigress meet guests in front of the stage about 10 minutes after the show.  The line for the meet and greet is nearby the stage.

Feng the Palace Artist’s Stand

Across the plaza is the Artist’s area where you can learn how to draw different Kung Fu Panda characters throughout the day.  Everyone is welcome to participate and is given a board with paper to learn how to draw along.  The backdrop is gorgeous and the artist was so nice to take a picture with us at the end of the lesson.

Adding to the beauty and excitement of this year’s Lunar New Year festivities are new traditional dance and martial arts cultural performances. Select dates and performers are as follows:

  • February 9-10 – Hangzhou Performance Groups
  • February 16-17 – Southern Wind Lion Dance
  • February 18 – Wong Tai Sen Lion Dance

Wishing Trees

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The focal point of the Lunar New Year area were the gorgeous pink trees.  You can write a wish on the red paper provided and hang them from the trees.  This is a wonderful place to take some photos, although it it was in direct sun for most of the day.

Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop and Food

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Mr. Ping is Po the panda’s adoptive goose father who runs the noodle shop.  You can actually meet Mr. Ping and have interactive conversations with him!  He asked the girls if they were sisters and who was the wiser sister.  This is a great spot to take photos since it’s in the shade for most of the day.

On the other side of Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop is a food place where you can actually buy real noodles.  We tried the chicken Secret Ingredient Noodle (also available with beef or veggie) and the Dragon Warrior Bao which was a sweet bbq meet (char siu).  You can also get Po’s Warrior Dumplings (potstickers) and Oogway Eggrolls.

Outside of the Lunar New Year plaza near the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a dessert and frozen drink stand that carries some limited time Lunar New Year treats.  There, you can get the red bean vanilla ice cream sandwich, mango ice cream bar, seasonal green tea churro, and assorted pig themed cookies.

Ticket Prices

With so much to see and do at Universal Studios Hollywood, the all-new 2019 Season Pass invites guests to experience the fun all year long for $139 when purchased online.  Details and restrictions available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com

  • California Resident Day Ticket: $99-$109
  • California Resident Universal Express:  $169-$269 (online exclusive)
    • Includes ONE-TIME express access to each ride, attraction and seated show
  • One Day General Admission: $109-$124
  • Universal Express:  $179–$269 (save $10 online)
    • Includes ONE-TIME express access to each ride, attraction and seated show
  • Season Passes start at $139 (blackout dates apply, visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more information

Takeaways from Lunar New Year

One of my biggest takeaway about Universal Studio’s Lunar New Year celebration was the inclusion and care when it came to Mandarin speaking guests.  I feel like Universal Studios did an excellent job celebrating and teaching the traditions of Lunar New Year.  I love how the story of Nien was retold during storytelling because these are the stories that I grew up hearing in my family.  An added draw were the Mandarin speaking opportunities to cater to guests who might be visiting just to experience Lunar New Year.  For a truly unique Lunar New Year experience, definitely visit Universal Studios.  The Lunar New Year festivities happen daily through February 18.  For more information about the Lunar New Year offerings, you can read my previous article here.