Though it was pouring rain as the gates opened at Universal Studios Hollywood on Tuesday morning the theme park was ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year rain or shine. The skies cleared up just in time for Master Po from DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda” to take the stage in the decked out Universal Plaza to lead a quintet of young fans through the Dragon Warrior Training Show. The Lunar New Year festivities are included with theme park admission and will run through Monday, Feb. 18.
The activities are centered in the Universal Plaza, which is decorated with customary red Chinese lanterns, plum blossom wishing trees and banners that display the 12 zodiac animal signs and explain each of the sign attributes with emphasis put on this year’s animal: The pig. The “Despicable Me” Minions are out sporting traditional Chinese clothing and posing for photos with park guests and international icon Hello Kitty is also donning a brand new red and gold dress in celebration of the Lunar New Year.
A Mandarin-speaking, 12-foot-tall Megatron from “Transformers” greets guests at the entrance to the plaza, his looming presence made less intimidating by his welcoming demeanor as he banters in Mandarin with a group of young kids. Speaking of banter, the animatronic Mr. Ping is quite chatty as he encourages patrons to visit his noodle shop where peddles Po’s Dumplings ($8.49), Dragon Warrior Bao ($8.49), Oogway Egrolls ($4.49) and “Secret Ingredient” Stir Fry Noodles ($10.49). But you better pay, Mr. Ping doesn’t like freeloaders. You can also find Banh Mi sandwiches, baos and dumplings at the Plaza Grill and Asian entree bowls at Hollywood and Dine and Gru’s Lab. There’s even specialty desserts including Year of the Pig cookies, chocolate matcha cupcakes and a ginger cheesecake that comes with a fortune cookie.
Guests can leave a wish for the New Year on the plum wishing trees and take a quick art class with experienced animators and there’s also exclusive Lunar New Year souvenirs available in the gift shops including T-shirts, coffee mugs, collectible pins and a Year of the Pig calendar ($11.95-$24.95). New to the theme park this year are traditional dance and martial arts cultural performances. Hangzhou Performance Groups will be in the plaza Feb. 9-10; Southern Wind Lion Dance Feb. 16-17; and Wong Tai Sen Lion Dance Feb. 18.
Out at CityWalk, Voodoo Doughnut is celebrating Lunar New Year with a specialty-crated Year of the Pig doughnut complete with sprinkles.
Universal Studios Hollywood Lunar New Year Celebration
When: Daily through Monday, Feb. 18
Where: 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City
Tickets: $99-$129 for general admission; $169-$259 Universal Express admission.