Author Archives: Rick West

Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle Dazzles Universal Studios Hollywood Guests

Most major theme parks have their own “kiss goodnight” – an end-of-day spectacular of some sort designed to keep people around until after dark. Universal Studios Hollywood finally has theirs – The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.

When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in April 2016, media and VIPs attending the grand opening party were treated to a stunning projection show on the Hogwarts facade, featuring a live orchestra conducted by John Williams, accompanied by fireworks behind the castle. When all was said and done, many of us in attendance agreed that it was the best projection show we’d ever seen, and that it absolutely needed to become a nightly occurrence in Hogsmeade – minus the orchestra and legendary composer, of course.

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Blood Alley 3 Sinks Its Teeth Into Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group

Blood Alley 3There’s a hot show in town called Blood Alley 3, presented by the extremely dedicated men and women who make up Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood, California. You’ve heard of this team before via Theme Park Adventure; we love their Urban Death productions, as well as other spooky offerings they come up with throughout the year.

As you may have guessed, the “3” in the title indicates there have been previous Blood Alley productions at Zombie Joe’s, and you would be right. The sad fact is, we’d never experienced this particular show until just last week. A ticket and front row seat scratched that itch quickly – and as we arrived, I messaged one of the actors… “It’s our first time… be gentle!”

What came next was a rapid descent into avant-garde, extremely adult theater that blurred the lines of horror, erotica, and other genres that pretty much defy category. What is Blood Alley? If you have seen Zombie Joe’s Urban Death shows, you already know the gist of things – strange vignettes that depict all sorts of gross and frightening subjects, lasting only seconds for the most part before the lights go out and the next scene is readied. This repeats itself for about an hour. Blood Alley 3 is the same type of production – but much, much more intense in every aspect than Urban Death.

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45 Years of Knott’s Scary Farm Presentation Announced for Midsummer Scream 2017

This Halloween season marks a special milestone for our friends at Knott’s Berry Farm. When the fog begins to billow across Ghost Town, and strange creatures begin to emerge from the shadows later this year, it will be time to celebrate the 45th Halloween event the park has hosted – known around the world as Knott’s Scary Farm. Fans need not wait until late September or October to begin celebrating, however. On Sunday, July 30th, Midsummer Scream will proudly present 45 Years of Knott’s Scary Farm, hosted by author/historian Ted Dougherty.

45 Years of Knott’s Scary Farm will close Midsummer Scream 2017 with a special 90-minute presentation on Sunday, July 30th, beginning at 4:30pm in the Terrace Theater, which will accommodate up to 3,000 fans. The unique presentation will feature historical photos of Knott’s Scary Farm, and an unprecedented “rotating panel” that will spotlight individuals key to the creation of, and crucial to the continued success of the haunt that pioneered similar events at theme parks around the world.

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Voodoo Doughnut Debuts at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles

“Good Things Come in Pink Boxes!”

The signature pink boxes, multi-colored icing, that iconic voodoo doll-shaped doughnut. The legendary Portland pastry shop Voodoo Doughnut has officially opened its first-ever California location at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood.

It’s no secret that Voodoo Doughnut may be the most popular doughnut shop in the world. I’ve read, watched and heard about this original Portland creation for years. From Travel Channel to friends boasting about their jelly-filled purchases, Voodoo has been a part of popular conversation for a long, long time.

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Volcano Bay Opens at Universal Orlando Resort – Full Review

On the morning of May 25, 2017, Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort welcomed its first public guests as Florida’s newest major park opened. Theme Park Adventure was fortunate to be there for the momentous occasion. New attractions open with regular frequency here in the United States; entirely new parks – those are rare happenings that are truly unique moments for all involved. It was an honor to sit front row and center for the park’s opening ceremony, as fabled Waturi people gathered on a white sand beach in the shadows of Krakatau – a 200-foot-tall steaming volcano – to perform tribal dances, songs, and to bestow a special Māori stone from the ocean near New Zealand on Bill Davis, the President & Chief Operating Officer of Universal Orlando Resort.

The opening of Volcano Bay is a significant event not just for NBCUniversal as a whole, but in the continuing evolution of Central Florida’s unparalleled tourism corridor. There is no hotter “battle zone” in the world of theme parks than the Orlando area – Universal and Disney are slugging it out on an unprecedented level these days. In the end, we all win; it’s an amazing time to be a theme park fan.

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Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle Show Coming to Universal Studios Hollywood

Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts CastleA new after dark spectacular is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer: The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle!

Following the incredible grand opening ceremony of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles last spring, fans have been begging for a similar nighttime projection show to be brought back to the theme park for everyone to enjoy as Potter’s own “kiss goodnight” each evening. Guess what? Universal listened. Beginning June 23, 2017, guests visiting Universal Studios Hollywood will be treated to a spectacular projection show on the Hogwarts exterior several times each night, after the sun has completely set and it’s dark.

According to Universal Studios Hollywood, the Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle show will showcase the four houses of Hogwarts: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, with a finale of a fan of lights beaming upward into the night sky. The dazzling visuals will be accompanied by a brand-new state-of-the-art sound system that has been installed in Hogsmeade, as well as other special effects surprises that will “wow” guests viewing the spectacle.

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Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Panel Announced for Midsummer Scream 2017

One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare. That door is opening once again, and this time it’s opening for fans of the iconic Disney attraction – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – as they converge on Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival at the Long Beach Convention Center this July.

Kicking off this year’s world-class presentations in the Terrace Theater at 12 noon on Saturday, July 29, is a must-see panel discussion titled, “Beyond the 5th Dimension: Creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror”.

Hosted by Midsummer Scream Creative Director Rick West, this thrilling panel discussion will feature Cory Sewelson, who served as the Production Designer/Art Director for the Florida version of Tower, and the Producer/Creative Director for California and Paris’ versions of the attraction; Michael Sprout, who was the Show Writer on each Tower project, including Tokyo’s, which does not carry The Twilight Zone theme; and Mark Silverman, the amazing voice actor who brought the persona of Rod Serling to life for the Florida, California, and Paris attractions.

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Universal Cinema Opens at CityWalk Hollywood During Star-Studded Ceremony

As one of the many new developments at Universal Studios Hollywood’s ongoing epic transformation, Universal Cinema is an exciting multi-million dollar renovation of its AMC Theatre at CityWalk. Boasting a state-of-the-art and contemporary design, the new theater incorporates the most up-to-date technology in audio and visual technology that truly breathes new life into the movie-going experience for guests.

Theme Park Adventure was thrilled to attend the official grand opening of this new venture. As part of the Universal Cinema grand opening, high-profile guests were able to celebrate with us including Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal; legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg; Jordan Peele of Get Out; Will Packer of Straight Outta Compton; producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions; and Karen Irwin, President & COO, Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Final Weekend for Knott’s Boysenberry Festival 2017

It’s not too late! If you haven’t treated your tastebuds to the goodness that is Knott’s Berry Farm’s Boysenberry Festival 2017, there’s still time to do so… but not much! This weekend marks the end of the wildly-popular “food and wine” event at Knott’s, which has been going on since April 1st. The final day is April 23rd.

Now in its third year, the Boysenberry Festival has definitely become a well-oiled machine. We haven’t once encountered issues we have in years past, such as food running out or associates not knowing much about the event they were working. Notable this year was the much easier process of paying (in most cases) at the point of food distribution for those who didn’t want to buy tasting cards in advance; that was a huge snag in the past – waiting in a long food line only to be told you had to go pay somewhere else first. Now, in most cases, you can just walk up, pay, and get your treats; simple. The best method however, is to buy a tasting/sampling card at any of the multiple locations throughout Ghost Town; additionally, we recommend the alcohol tasting card as well, if you’re going to indulge in adult beverages throughout your visit. In the long run, this method is cheaper and you’ll be stuffed!

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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas Programming Announced for Universal Orlando Resort

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas is coming to Universal Orlando Resort!It’s the stuff of dreams, really: Universal announced today that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando would receive an extensive Christmas holiday overlay at both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

Since Universal began rolling out their Wizarding Worlds, fans have been begging for a Harry Potter Christmas celebration, which would transform both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley into holiday spectacles, even more enchanting than they are already.

Between November 18, 2017 and January 6, 2018, visitors to Universal Orlando Resort are in for a huge holiday treat as both theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – are transformed into a winter wonderland with all the sights, sounds, and sweet treats that come with an epic Harry Potter Christmas celebration for the whole family!

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