Universal Orlando fans react to addition of Earl the Squirrel holiday character at park

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Theme park stans can get a little nutty about the park lore.

Mintaie that goes unnoticed by thousands of passersby, once placed in the clammy hands of uber-fans, becomes the origin for thousands of t-shirts, pins and tattoos. So it's been with Earl the Squirrel, a semi-official holiday mascot for Universal Studios that the park just turned into a walk-around character that guests can meet.

The character has appeared in merchandise and as an Easter egg at the park's Christmas tree. The story says he's based on a real life squirrel who took up residence inside the park's tree over a decade ago, helping himself to lights and other items. Universal began hiding a stuffed squirrel in the tree's branches as a nod to the odd incident and the fan lore grew.

Now, Earl is a full-on character in the plush. He'll be walking around the park and available for meet-and-greets between now and January 2. Needless to say, the fans were more than a little excited.