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…

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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Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Officially Opens at CityWalk Hollywood

Margaritaville at CityWalk HollywoodAs part of Universal Studios Hollywood’s epic transformation, CityWalk welcomed the official arrival of their newest restaurant and venue, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. At exactly 5 o’clock on Thursday evening, March 30th, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band performed on the restaurant’s stage to celebrate the grand opening and first-ever Margaritaville in California with hundreds of fans, friends, and press with margaritas in hand.

While Margaritaville just made its debut in California, the Caribbean-themed restaurant is no stranger to the dining world and Universal. For many years, the restaurant has been celebrated and loved by fans around the world and has shown enormous popularity at destinations like Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort, the Las Vegas Strip, and 60 other global locations. I’ve never personally dined at a Margaritaville other than at CityWalk Hollywood, but have always admired the laid-back vibe and famous hand-crafted margaritas and dishes that they offer.

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Forbidden Journey 4K Comes to Universal Studios Hollywood

Forbidden Journey 4KFans visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood may have noticed a big change that’s been made to the Forbidden Journey attraction. The projected segments have been upgraded to vibrant 4K, and the ride no longer features 3-D media.

When the gates to Hogsmeade opened last spring here in Los Angeles, it was the third iteration of the Warner Bros./Universal endeavor – the first being in Orlando in 2010, and the second in Japan in 2014. While each version of Hogsmeade features the massive Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, the Southern California installation was unique in that the projected media guests encounter throughout the ride was presented in 3-D. Riders had to wear “Quidditch goggles” for the duration of the experience; customized 3-D glasses made exclusively for Universal Studios Hollywood. The added component of 3-D media was met with mixed reviews. Some fans felt that it absolutely pulled them further into the suspension of disbelief while on the ride; others felt the glasses were distracting, and felt they were wearing “blinders”, which made them miss a good portion of the ride’s detailed practical sets.

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VR Showdown in Ghost Town Comes to Knott’s Berry Farm April 1st

VR Showdown in Ghost TownVR Showdown in Ghost Town has come to Knott’s Berry Farm, making its debut April 1, during the kick-off of this year’s Boysenberry Festival. Theme Park Adventure was fortunate enough to preview the brand-new family attraction at Knott’s this week, and we came away with some really positive observations to share.

I’ve long said that virtual reality as we know it is best suited for home console gaming. It’s taking off by leaps and bounds in the home market, resulting in some pretty amazing video game experiences. In theme parks, VR is a really hard sell for me, for several reasons. Typically, VR is an operational nightmare – the headsets are bulky and require constant cleaning and maintenance, guests need assistance putting the gear on properly and then removing it, and depending on your luck, it’s very easy to get a piece of hardware that isn’t calibrated properly or out of focus, which ruins the experience. To be completely transparent, the only VR-equipped attractions I have experienced are roller coasters, and I’m not a huge fan to be honest. When I ride a coaster, I want to experience the coaster – I want to see where I am, what the train is doing, and I want to have interaction with other riders, whether it be screaming and laughing, or putting our hands up as a group. When rumors started flying of virtual reality coming to Knott’s, I was less than excited. I guessed that Montezooma’s Revenge was going to get the VR treatment, as many other older coasters across the nation and around the world are getting these days. I’ve never been happier to be wrong!

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Pirates of the Caribbean 50th Anniversary at Disneyland Resort

Pirates of the Caribbean 50th AnniversaryPssssssssssst! Avast there! Pirates of the Caribbean, the greatest adventure to ever set sail has been sacking the Spanish Main celebrated its 50th Anniversary this weekend at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

To mark the occasion, Disneyland offered mouth-watering treats in New Orleans Square including Golden Churro, Buccaneer Pulled Pork Sandwich, Jolly Roger Punch, and Lost TreasureBeignets. In addition to themed food items, guests found live entertainment popping up throughout the Square, including special appearances by Captain Jack Sparrow himself. As would be expected, Disney also released limited edition merchandise, including T shirts, commemorating the occasion.

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“Hurry Home” World of Color Feature Showcased During Lunar New Year Celebration 2017 at Disneyland Resort

It’s exciting to see theme parks across Southern California stepping up their game each year when it comes to celebrating cultural events and holidays. Such is the case at Disneyland Resort as they celebrate Lunar New Year 2017 at Disney California Adventure with specialty foods and beverages, beloved characters wearing festive costumes, live entertainment, event-driven merchandise, and a 6-minute feature experience called Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration that is showcased each night before World of Color.

What started out several years ago as a small-scale overlay in Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland has now become a major event at DCA, found within the Lunar New Year Marketplace – the section of California Adventure from The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure to Paradise Garden.

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Kung Fu Panda Characters and More Part of Lunar New Year Celebration 2017 at Universal Studios Hollywood

Kung Fu Panda and more at Lunar New Year 2017, Universal Studios HollywoodDespite a fairly cold and wet weekend here in Los Angeles, Universal Studios Hollywood kicked off its Lunar New Year 2017 celebration, to the delight of thousands of guests. On Saturday, Mother Nature gave us a decent break in the rain, so we made our way up the hill to Universal to check out the park’s decorations and Lunar New Year festivities, which are held in Universal Plaza on the Upper Lot.

As in years past, the physical footprint for Universal Studios Hollywood’s Lunar New Year event isn’t terribly large. There is, however, a lot of content crammed into Universal Plaza, including multiple character meet-and-greet locations, tasty treats for sale, and several spots throughout the space where guests of all ages can fill out red message cards and attach them to Chinese Wishing Trees. We watched as many visitors filled out red cards and attached them to the trees – some were sincere, while others were often humorous, including one that merely said, “Muggle Lives Matter”.

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Holiday in the Park 2016 Showcases Christmas and Coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Holiday in the Park 2016The mention of Six Flags Magic Mountain may instantly conjure mental images of some of the best roller coasters in the world… and rightfully so. However, in recent years, Magic Mountain has really stepped up its game – as has many of the other Six Flags properties – and has focused a great deal of attention on special seasonal events such as Holiday in the Park.

Holiday in the Park transforms much of Magic Mountain into a festive winter wonderland of twinkling Christmas lights, whimsical walk-around characters, sweet treats, Santa Claus, and of course, amazing thrill rides. While many of our readers have Magic Mountain on their radar because of Fright Fest, it certainly should be noted that we really love what they do each year now with Holiday in the Park – and we think you will, too.

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Knott’s Merry Farm 2016 Brings Classy Christmas Festivities to Buena Park

Knott’s Berry Farm certainly knows how to do holidays. Immediately following its world-famous Scary Farm event each year, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, becoming Knott’s Merry Farm. While you’d think the team behind the scenes at Knott’s would be exhausted this time of year (and you’d be right making that assumption), they go up and beyond to deliver an event that is nothing shy of world-class.

Merry Farm 2016 is the best we have ever seen the park look during the Christmas season, and we’ve grown up with Knott’s. Each year, Cedar Fair management works with Knott’s, raising the bar and really pushing everyone involved to dig deep and go big. The company doesn’t throw millions at the Christmas season the way Disney or Universal do – but they go head-to-head with those very companies by way of live entertainment and quaint, classy decorations that truly resonate with guests and create a gorgeous setting to celebrate the holidays in with friends and loved ones of all ages.

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