Lunar New Year the Hollywood Way

Although Lunar New Year is not an American festival, it is significant for more than 350,000 Asian families living in Los Angeles as well as tourists who come to spend the Winter in Californian sunshine.

The festival is usually celebrated over dinner table with the entire family, just like how Americans celebrate Christmas. Everyone wears red for attracting good fortune and dumplings are must-haves at the New Year’s Eve dinner. The elders in the family usually are the cooks and others help in any way they can. The children get to play all day unless they are called to participate in making dumplings, as long as their creations are edible that is.

Aside from the custom, Lunar New Year can be celebrated a little differently in Los Angeles. Due to the nice weather and abundance of entertainments, people have the opportunity to embrace the New Year spirit through attending a variety of events available in the daytime. And one of many is currently being held at Universal Studios Hollywood.

From January 30- February 14, Universal Studios Hollywood will have their own special celebration of Lunar New Year- the “Year of the Monkey”. The series of celebrations will take place at the Universal Plaza, a spacious courtyard at the heart of the theme park. Many traditional events will take place throughout the week, including Asian-inspired food, thematic decor, a Mandarin-speaking Megatron character from “Transformers: The Ride-3D”, and Shenzhen performances on Sunday, February 14, 2016.

The courtyard is decorated with red Chinese lanterns, pink plum blossom arch, praying cards to write your New Year wish on and the artificial trees you can hang them onto. Banners of the twelve zodiac animal signs and three symbolic attributes are also displayed on all the lamp posts. Within the polygon-shaped piazza, cartoon character the Curious George will be posing in festive attire at one side of the piazza to symbolize the “Year of Monkey”, and a Mandarin-speaking Megatron character will be posing at the other side.

On the day we attended, Megatron’s appearance attracted quite a crowd. Many were Chinese tourists and they didn’t speak much English. A film character who spoke the same language grabbed their attention immediately. They enjoyed conversing with him and hearing his villain-like responses.

Li YiFeng, 65, told the University Times, “It’s very thoughtful that they put [Mandarin-speaking Megatron character] here, it’s interesting for me to interact with a character like that in Chinese”. It was Li’s first time in Los Angeles as well as his first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood, and meeting this special edition Megatron character put a smile his face.

Not only the elders loved talking to him, the young ones also had a good time. Zhang YiTing, 11, said, “I can’t speak English very well, so I’m really happy that he speaks my language”. Many children are like Zhang, they kept giggling and smiling around this giant transformer, waiting for him to say something “mean”.

Being long-time visitors of Universal Studios Hollywood, the editors got sucked to another side of the piazza. There was a food truck that offers Asian-fusion hot dogs. The most famous dishes were Kimchi Hot Dog, Chinese Hot Dog, and Pineapple Fusion Hot Dog. Our Web Editor Pablo was especially in love with the Kimchi Hot Dog. “Perfect combination of American and Korean food”, he commented while he was debating to get another one. The food truck would stay in the piazza for the entire week.

In addition, the special celebration series are included in the price of admission to Universal Studios Hollywood. With the brand new Harry Porter section opening on April 7, 2016, the company has established three new passes: the Gold Pass, the California Resident Plus Pass, and the California Resident Pass. The pricing also changed, but don’t worry, Cal State LA students get discounts. For more information, please visit

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