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Midsummer Scream Announces Hall of Shadows 2017 Participants

Hall of Shadows 2017Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival, the West Coast’s premier Halloween, haunt, and horror convention returns July 29-30 to the Long Beach Convention Center for a weekend of world-class thrills and chills. One of the stand-out components of Midsummer Scream’s impressive array of entertainment is the Hall of Shadows – a large portion of the convention’s show floor that is shrouded in darkness and filled with billowing fog, and roaming monsters on an unprecedented scale. For 2017, the Hall of Shadows will feature 14 highly-themed “mini haunts” representing professional and home-made attractions that fans can look forward to visiting this Halloween season here in Southern California.

“Hall of Shadows is a substantial component of Midsummer Scream,” says the convention’s Creative Director, Rick West. “Last year, we featured 9 mini haunts within the Hall; this year, we are upping the count to 14. We are thrilled with the diversity of participating groups this year, from extremely popular pro haunts, to some of the greatest home haunts in existence. Add the awesome spectacle of the Decayed Brigade slider team into the mix, and you’ll find that we have a Hall of Shadows experience this year that is truly epic. Hall of Shadows is a cornerstone of Midsummer Scream, as there is nothing that defines Halloween in America more than haunted houses and lurking monsters. It’s going to be a blast, and all of our participants are raring to go!”

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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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Midsummer Scream 2017 Tickets on Sale Today!

Midsummer Scream 2017Tickets are on sale today for Midsummer Scream 2017, which will be hosted at the Long Beach Convention Center Saturday and Sunday, July 29-30. After a stellar debut last year, Midsummer Scream returns to Long Beach with a vengeance for a weekend of non-stop Halloween fun, haunted attractions, world-class panel presentations, live entertainment, makeup demonstrations, amazing vendors, and a sinister after-hours party in one of the most iconic paranormal activity locations in the world – the Queen Mary.

Ticket options are available beginning today at MidsummerScream.org.

Fans attending Midsummer Scream 2017 are in for an early Halloween treat, as virtually every aspect of the convention is bigger and better this year, including:

World-Class Presentations and Bigger Main Stage Venue
As the official kick-off event for the Halloween season in Southern California, Midsummer Scream features an unparalleled lineup of major presentations by the largest tourist attractions on the West Coast. This year’s epic Main Stage lineup includes Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, Knott’s Scary Farm, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest. These Main Stage presentations will be held in the beautiful, state-of-the-art Terrace Theater, which features comfortable seating for up to 3,000 screaming fans.

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Tortured Souls Presented by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group Delivers Sex and Despair

Tortured Souls ArtTortured Souls is the name of the latest horror-filled production that we have experienced at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood. As the name implies, this particular engagement is all about discomfort; anyone familiar with ZJU knows that most things this avant-garde group does is not for the squeamish.

While not really what I would call a “haunt” or even haunt experience, there definitely are some frightening visuals and creepy characters throughout Tortured Souls that lend themselves very nicely to that type of attraction. Guests are escorted through the doorway to Zombie Joe’s small NoHo theater and into the afterlife – a strange, dark place that makes no real sense, and is packed full of nightmarish vignettes of people in purgatory, I suppose, forever stuck in the vicious life cycle that landed them there in the first place. Drugs. Sex. Whatever.

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Mark Woodbury Named Vice Chairman, Universal Parks & Resorts

Mark WoodburyIn a move that doesn’t surprise industry folks, but will resonate very nicely with hard core theme park fans, Universal has named Mark Woodbury Vice Chairman of its Parks & Resorts division.

Fans consider Woodbury to be a big deal – elevated to a place rarely occupied by anyone out of the realm of traditional industry figureheads such as Tony Baxter, Phil Hettema, or Gary Goddard. However, after being heavily involved with projects at Universal for the past 28 years – including of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter projects, Mark Woodbury has become a very common name throughout the fan community. He may not be as fan-accessible as other industry leaders, but he’s definitely become synonymous with Universal Creative.

Mark Woodbury will continue in his role of President of Universal Creative, and will continue to report to Tom Williams, the Chairman and CEO of  Universal Parks & Resorts.

“Mark has been a driving force for creativity, innovation, growth and development across the entire Parks group,” said Williams. “As we continue our incredible journey, I am happy that Mark will be by my side, playing a vital role in shaping our future and leading the greatest creative team in the world.”

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Reign of Terror Haunted House Special Event in March Announced

Reign of Terror Haunted House in Thousand Oaks has announced that it will be open Saturday night, March 4, 2017 for a special event benefiting local animal rescue charities in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Anyone familiar with the haunted attraction scene here in Southern California is certainly aware of Reign of Terror; it is one of the largest and most elaborate haunts in the United States. We often say that we’re lucky to have ROT in our own backyard here in Los Angeles, as it truly is a spectacle to experience and appreciate year after year.

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Universal Orlando Unveils Volcano Bay Virtual Line TapuTapu Band

Universal Orlando Volcano Bay TapuTapu bandUniversal Orlando has unveiled its new TapuTapu band – a wearable accessory that will allow guests to spend more time exploring the resort’s new Volcano Bay water park, and less time standing in a traditional queue while waiting for a water slide or attraction.

TapuTapu will be given to every guest with their admission to Volcano Bay, which opens to the public on May 25, 2017.

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