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…

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Fans Are a Devoted Community, Preparing to Gather at Midsummer Scream 2017

The Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorIn just days, thousands of Halloween and horror fans will pour into the Long Beach Convention Center to experience Midsummer Scream 2017 on July 29 and 30. One of the most-anticipated presentations of the weekend will kick the event off at noon on Saturday – Beyond the 5th Dimension: Creating The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This hour-long presentation will feature several individuals key to the design of the original attraction in Orlando, as well as the subsequent versions that were installed at Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Tokyo DisneySea.

What will drive guests to this particular presentation? Their undying love of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the fact that Midsummer Scream is going to give Southern California fans a truly fantastic way to come together as a community to listen to the attractions creators, and give it a proper farewell together as a group.

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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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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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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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