It is the Year of the Rat, inspiring Lunar New Year celebrations across the globe. We celebrated the occasion at Universal Studios Hollywood, which hosts one of the most immersive and inclusive Lunar New Year events in the Southland. In true Hollywood fashion, Universal Studios integrates their most iconic characters into the celebration, and festivities include traditional food, cultural performances, interactive art workshops, and a beautiful display of wishing trees.
Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year)
Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in China and has strongly influenced Lunar New Year celebrations across the globe. The festival celebrates the beginning of the new year on the Chinese calendar and is associated with a number of traditions.
The timing of Lunar New Year varies due to its connection to the lunar calendar. It begins with the first new moon and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. This year, Lunar New Year culminates on February 8th, 2020.
Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor ancestors, however customs and traditions vary across Asian cultures. Traditions can include a thorough house cleaning to remove ill-fortune and usher in good luck, the gifting of red envelopes with small amounts of money, dances, fireworks, and the lighting of colorful lanterns. Food is an integral part of Lunar New Year celebrations and can include prosperity cake, sticky rice balls (signifying family unity) and raw fish with vegetable salad.
Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood
Celebrate the Year of the Rat during Lunar New Year at Universal Studios. The festivities run through February 9th and are designed to unite families through new and traditional experiences. Highlights include a curtain of customary red Chinese lanterns, an array of stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees, and the 12 zodiac animal signs accompanied by their symbolic attributes.
Share your wish for the new year
Universal Plaza has undergone a beautiful, festive Lunar New Year transformation. In the center of the plaza, you can write your wish for the new year on red paper before placing it on one of the plum blossom wishing trees. Be sure to snap a photo as the backdrop is absolutely stunning.
Enjoy traditional Asian food
Ramen, Egg Rolls, and Pho are just a sampling of the Lunar New Year food available at Universal Studios during their celebration. Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop returns and is serving up beef pho, pork ramen, glass noodle salad, and vegetarian secret ingredient noodle soup. You can also grab smaller dishes like Po’s dumplings, Oogway egg rolls, and Asian sausage on a stick or enjoy a traditional dessert, including cherry cheesecake and sesame balls.
If you plan to dine at Universal CityWalk, Dongpo Kitchen offers modern Sichuan cuisine.
Learn to draw Po from Kung Fu Panda
During Universal’s Lunar New Year Celebration, families can visit Feng The Palace Artist’s Stand for a hands-on drawing lesson. Once you have completed your artistic masterpiece, you can choose to display it or bring it home as a keepsake.
Experience an authentic cultural performance
On select days throughout the celebration, families can enjoy community
cultural performances featuring traditional lion dances and martial arts.
Character Meet and Greets and Photo Opps
Meet Hello Kitty, Mandarin-speaking Megatron (Transformers), Mr. Ping at his Noodle Shop, Po, Tigress, and the Minions, dressed in traditional Chinese attire during the Lunar New Year celebration. Standouts include Kung Fu lessons from Po, wisdom from Mr. Ping, and the Minions’ beautiful photo opp!
Tips for Visiting Universal Studios Hollywood During Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year at Universal Studios runs through February 9th, 2020. In order to make the most of your visit, here are my best tips:
- Arrive early! Parking, security, and ticketing take time, so allow at least an 30-60 minutes to enter the park, depending on crowds.
- Plan your day! Pick up a show schedule (or download the free Universal Studios app) and prioritize your favorite experiences. I like to start on the Upper Lot and then proceed to the Lower Lot to ensure we experience our favorites. I highly recommend starting at Universal Plaza to enjoy the Lunar New Year festivities before experiencing rides and shows.
- Dress in layers! During late winter, daytime temperatures can dictate short sleeves and shorts, but evenings at the park can get quite cool. You can also opt to store clothing and other essentials in one of their lockers (for a fee).
- Consider purchasing Universal Express! This pass allows you one-time express access to each show, ride, and attraction at the park and is well worth the investment.
- Save by purchasing an Annual Pass! If you plan to visit Universal Studios more than one time throughout the year, an annual pass can save you money on your visits. There are four passes available, including a California Neighbor Pass which is just $144 for 9 months!
For more information or to plan your visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, visit their website at UniversalStudiosHollywood.com.