Seth Kubersky, coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, tells us all about the live entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The theater attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood operate according to the entertainment schedule available with handout park maps. The number of daily performances of each show varies from as few as 3 a day during less busy times of year to as many as 10 a day during the summer and holiday periods.
Characters like Gru’s Minions, The Simpsons, and the Transformers can be spotted hanging out near their respective rides. Characters from DreamWorks films—including the Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, and Madagascar series, as well as Trolls—greet guests at designated photo ops around the central Universal Plaza, while others (SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Beetlejuice, Dracula, and Scooby-Doo) frequently wander the Upper Lot.
Don’t miss bantering with the New York apartment dwellers leaning out of the second-story windows above the candy shop.
Near the Jurassic Park ride, you can take a selfie with a real-life velociraptor (actually an actor inside an impressive full-body puppet) and her wry wrangler.
Two brief street entertainments are staged in a raised outdoor alcove at the Forbidden Journey end of Hogsmeade. Showtimes aren’t listed in the park map, but performances usually start every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour.
THE FROG CHOIR (★★★) is composed of four singers, two of whom are holding large amphibian puppets sitting on pillows. Inspired by a brief scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the group sings three or four a cappella wizarding-related songs, including “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” The 13-minute show concludes with a photo op. Though cute, The Frog Choir isn’t much more than filler for USH’s attraction list and probably not worth going out of your way for.
THE TRIWIZARD SPIRIT RALLY (★★★½) showcases a group of three men performing martial arts–type moves, including jumps, kicks, and simulated battle with sticks, as well as a group of five women performing rhythmic gymnastics. The entire performance lasts about 6 minutes. After each show, the students of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and the Durmstrang Institute are available for group photos. Hollywood’s version of this show is more exciting than Orlando’s, with some impressive acrobatics, but it’s still only a must-do for major Potter fans.
Don’t miss the nighttime lights of Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios Hollywood
THE NIGHTTIME LIGHTS OF HOGWARTS CASTLE (★★★★) is a dazzling digital projection show introduced in the summer of 2017 that transforms The Wizarding World’s central icon through magical video mapping effects, synchronized to a newly recorded score of John Williams’s symphonic themes. The Sorting Hat narrates the show, which honors each of the four Hogwarts houses with colorful creatures that seem to soar across the castle walls. There are no fireworks, but the stirring music and spectacular lighting effects make it worth staying late for. The 5-minute performances repeat every 15 or 20 minutes after sunset; check the park map for showtimes. People tend to camp out for views of the first two showings of the evening, making it a perfect time to ride the Potter attractions; you should have plenty of elbow room if you stick around for the final runs of the night. During the holiday season, the standard light show is swapped for one with a Christmas theme.
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