I gave my son three options for his birthday. For the past 7 years we gave him a simple celebration with ice cream cake and a trip to Toys R Us, but we wanted to do something extra special for him this year. His options were: 1) A day at Disneyland, finishing with the World of Color Dessert Party, 2) An overnight stay at Universal Studios Hollywood, or 3) a movie followed by Dave & Busters.
He chose Universal Studios.
It turned out his birthday weekend fell on the opening weekend of Universal’s Lunar New Year celebration, so we were excited to check it out. I was curious to see how it differed from Disneyland’s Lunar New Year, which we had been to a couple of weeks before. I gotta say….. I think I liked Universal’s offering better.
The festivities are located in a large circular plaza in the center of the park, marked by strings of large red lanterns and golden lion statues. A mandarin-speaking Transformer stands at one entrance, while another entrance featured a photo-op with Minions clad in Chinese clothing. Walk into the plaza and you are surrounded by a sea of activity. Five cherry blossom trees stand in the center of the plaza, dripping in red paper carrying New Years wishes. Large banners featuring the 12 zodiac animals were hung around the plaza. Po, the Dragon Warrior from Kung-Fu Panda, was performing on stage on one end to a crowd of happy kids. Another area to the side hosted drawing lessons for those who wanted to learn how to draw the characters from Kung-Fu Panda.
My favorite attraction was Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop…. A meticulously detailed replica of the movie’s counterpart featuring a talking animatronic Mr. Ping. Yes, you can wait in line to have a one-on-one talk with that saucy cartoon duck. He was nice enough to wish my son a happy birthday, before droning on about missing his son, Po. I guess my only complaint here would be that he talks a little too much, haha! But it was fun, and the pictures came out great!
Next to Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop is the actual food vendor, serving up stir fry, eggrolls, dumplings, and bao. I was really bummed that they didn’t serve soup noodles…. You know, like in the movie. It was a chilly day in the park, and a bowl of won ton min or ramen would have been so nice to have. I thought the food they had was tasty, but I would have loved to see a bigger selection.
Overall, this part of the park was really enjoyable! I loved that everything was in one area, making the whole experience much more immersive and fun. It actually made me happy to see everyone enjoying the different stage shows and writing some very sweet wishes to tie on the trees. Disney has more to offer, but it’s so spread out that it kind of feels like an afterthought rather than a proper celebration. Go check out Universal’s offering if you get a chance!