Features

In addition to news and reviews, Theme Park Adventure often takes a closer look at the people and attractions that are shaping the themed entertainment industry. These are our Features…

Jon Cooke Steps Down from Knott’s Berry Farm, Launching Brand-New Horror Attraction

The interwebs are buzzing, and the word is quickly spreading like wildfire through Southern California’s haunt community. After 13 years at Knott’s Berry Farm, Jon Cooke has stepped down from his daily position there as a designer, and has been working quietly on a brand-new horror experience in a nondescript industrial building in Upland, California, which will open its doors to the curious public in the weeks ahead.

Recently, we paid a visit to Jon’s new venture and stepped into his world – a highly-immersive escape experience/haunted attraction he’s named MurderCo: An R-Rated Horror Experience. MurderCo is an ambitious haunt-escape room hybrid that is going to thrill the hell out of SoCal fans looking for the next big deal.

Before we look ahead at what Jon Cooke is about to unleash on the Southland, it’s important to acknowledge his departure from Knott’s, and what it means to events such as Scary Farm; it’s the elephant in the room that everyone is buzzing about, so we would be remiss not to discuss that a bit. The good news is, it’s not a bleak as some are assuming.

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Lunar New Year 2018 Delivers a Kung Fu Panda-Packed Festival at Universal Studios Hollywood

Seasonal events at theme parks everywhere are big business. Lunar New Year 2018 at Universal Studios Hollywood is no exception, and this year’s festival is by far, the finest we’ve ever seen USH produce.

Lunar New Year in general is short – a two-week celebration that is highly-concentrated and pretty much completely contained within the Universal Plaza area on the park’s Upper Lot, although the main entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood also features hanging red lanterns – a hallmark of Lunar New Year festivities around the world.

Visiting Universal’s event this year was extra interesting for me personally, as I spent last week in Beijing, China, where the real Lunar New Year 2018 festival is underway. Normally, you’d assume that theme park versions of these age-old festivals are in a way, cheesy and “plastic” Westernized overlays, geared toward making extra revenue for the parks. I’ve got to say, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Lunar New Year festival is as legit as anything I saw during my travels through Asia; I am really impressed.

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The Cauldron Casts a Spell on Buena Park

Southern California is dense with bars, gastropubs, speakeasies, lounges and taverns. However, no one has quite seen anything like The Cauldron Spirits & Brews, which has officially opened in Buena Park, directly across the street from Knott’s Berry Farm.

A long-time dream of owner Lara Hanneman, The Cauldron is unique in that it’s an upscale bar setting wrapped up in an environment one would expect to find in a haunted house maze at Knott’s Scary Farm. That’s no surprise, as Lara worked at Knott’s for over two decades, ultimately becoming the park’s Creative Director, overseeing all aspects of Halloween Haunt and the property in general throughout the years. For Haunt fans, it is a familiar environment – like stepping inside the event’s now-famous Trick or Treat maze for the evening to enjoy cocktails and food. For guests not familiar with Lara’s past or Knott’s Scary Farm, it’s a walk on the slightly spooky side – without any gore or anyone jumping out of the shadows; it’s a moody, dimly-lit immersive experience that speaks to all ages.

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Holiday Magic Comes to Universal Orlando Resort in Big Ways for 2017 Season

The 2017 Holiday Season is in full swing at Universal Orlando Resort, and this year’s offerings are the biggest ever for the company. Theme Park Adventure was in town for the debut of Universal’s Christmas celebration, so we were able to stop in and check some of it out!

For years, Universal Studios Florida has hosted its Holiday Parade, featuring Macy’s balloons and a wide variety of performers on the ground, dazzling the thousands of fans who line the parade route each day to catch a glimpse of this Central Florida tradition. This year, Universal’s Holiday Parade has been taken to spectacular new heights (literally), with awesome floats, characters, and massive balloons featuring favorite films such as ShrekDespicable Me, and Madagascar. We staked out a spot along the parade route in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida (where else would we watch from!?) and watched as the crowds became several people deep in each direction in the hour or so leading up to step-off time. It was surreal for us to actually be there to see a parade that TPA has posted about for years on behalf of the resort – and it didn’t disappoint!

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Halloween Horror Nights 2017 at Universal Studios Hollywood Review

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 is well underway at Universal Studios Hollywood, bringing with it a bevy of monsters and a laundry list of intellectual properties, with The Shining at the top of most everyone’s “curious to see” list.

As has been the case for more than a decade, Halloween Horror Nights here in Southern California has been spearheaded by John Murdy (Creative Director), and Chris Williams (Art Director), with a dedicated and very talented team behind them, helping to make these collections of living nightmares a reality each year. HHN is one of the biggest events in the Southland, attracting tens of thousands of hard core haunt fans to the Hollywood area each night as they pour through the gates, eager to have terror unleashed on them.

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