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The latest in themed entertainment industry news…

Busch Gardens Tampa Expecting Another Gorilla Birth

BUSCH_GARDENS_TAMPA - BOLINGO with MARYAfter a successful gorilla birth last December, Busch Gardens Tampa is excited to announce the pregnancy of 27-year-old endangered western lowland gorilla, Mary. Mary is expected to give birth in March 2015.

Mary came to Busch Gardens in February 2010 from Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas with daughter Pele, who gave birth to a male this past December. While Mary has given birth five times, this is her first pregnancy at Busch Gardens, and would be the park’s third successful birth. Bolingo, the suspected sire, was Busch Gardens’ first gorilla birth in 2005.

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Winter Nights at Don’s 2 TPA Mixer Announced

TPA-Winter-2014-Winter-Nights-webIt’s been a long, cold, bitter winter here in Southern California (yeah…), and as the season begins to change (yeah…), it’s time we bid farewell to winter 2015 as we come together on Sunday, February 15th at 7 P.M. at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach for a night of networking, laughter, great tiki drinks, and mouth-watering eats!

TPA’s Winter Night’s at Don’s 2 will be our final winter mixer of 2015, and will make for the perfect ending to Valentine’s Day weekend! Talk about a nerdy love fest! Couples, groups, and single folks are encouraged to come out for the evening – who knows… your nerdy soul mate just might be there waiting for you! As usual, our monthly mixer will take place at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, and is open to all theme park fans, haunters, and industry professionals alike – you never know who’s going to show up!

If you’ve never been to one of our mixers, now is the perfect time; even if you come alone! You’ll be welcomed into the community and instantly surrounded by like-minded individuals. Plus, it’s Valentine’s weekend… we’ll have candy. Oh, yes; there will be candy.

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Jimmie Van Zant Kicks Off Velvet Sessions at Universal Orlando

Jimmie-Van-ZantHard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando’s 2015 Velvet Sessions lobby concert series will kick off with Jimmie Van Zant performing hits Sweet Home Alabama, Free Bird, Simple Man, Traveling Man, What’s Your Name?, Southern Rock and more!

Velvet Sessions is Hard Rock Hotel’s special rock ‘n’ roll cocktail party and lobby concert held the last Thursday of the month (January through October). Log onto velvetsessions.com to buy your tickets and to receive monthly updates on who’s playing.

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Arciniaga Wins Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland Resort

star-wars-marathon-disneylandThe Force was obviously with Nick Arciniaga at Disneyland Resort. The Fountain Valley, California native blasted along an intergalactic journey last weekend to win the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon presented by Sierra Nevada Corporation at Disneyland Resort, his second runDisney victory here in the past five months.

Arciniaga, 31, who now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, won the Disneyland Half Marathon in August before breaking the finishing line tape first again Sunday, this time greeted at the finish by Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy dressed as their favorite Star Wars characters. Jason Ryf of Oshkosh, WI was second (1:10:56) and Jacob Abrego of Corpus Christi, Texas, was third (1:14:49).

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Bardot Brasserie Now Open at Aria Las Vegas

bardot-aria-las-vegasBARDOT Brasserie, Las Vegas’ debut French concept from James Beard award-winning chef Michael Mina, is now open for dinner and weekend brunch at ARIA Resort & Casino. Paying homage to the skillful culinary techniques, celebrated libations and sexy atmosphere for which The City of Light is renowned, Chef Mina has created a stylish and unforgettable interpretation of a Parisian brasserie in the center of The Strip.

“Upon entering BARDOT, every detail transports guests to a café along the Champs-Élysées in the 1920s,” said Mina. “I am thrilled to introduce this restaurant to Las Vegas and for it to be a part of one of the most dynamic culinary scenes in the world.”

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African American History Celebration at Los Angeles Zoo

Dancer from the Lula Washington Dance TheatreThe Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens observes African American History Month and the rich diversity of African American culture with AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY CELEBRATION AT THE LOS ANGELES ZOO on Saturday, February 7 and Sunday, February 8, 2015, 10 am to 4 pm, featuring programing co-curated by the research library at the California African American Museum (CAAM); a vibrant array of music and dance entertainment; crafts; and animal feedings, keeper talks and up-close visits with small animals, all spotlighting animals from Africa.  Selections from the museum’s permanent collection will be highlighted with educational signage adjacent to related animal exhibits and landmarks.  Also on hand are Ragin Cajun, Sista Soul Food and Peaches Truck food trucks offering authentic flavors.

Throughout the weekend, guests will find photographs of paintings, sculptures, masks and head dresses depicting animals displayed next to their inspirations (or similar animals) and other figurative art from CAAM’s collection with information and a QR code through which to access more via the STQRY app.  Performances by the Lula Washington Dance Theatre take place from 10:30 to 11:30 pm both days; by Michael D. McCarty, Storyteller – Have Mouth. Will Run It! from 12 noon to 1 pm both days; by African Soul, the African dance company, from 1:30 to 2:30 pm both days; and by blues band Leo Key & The Company from 3:15 to 4 pm both days.

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George Lopez Returns to The Mirage in March

George Lopez Returns to The MirageGeorge Lopez will return to the Terry Fator Theatre at The Mirage March 13 – 14. Lopez is a multi-talented entertainer whose career encompasses television, film, stand-up comedy and late-night television. Throughout his career, Lopez has made more than 200 television comedy, talk show and hosting appearances including co-hosting the Emmy Awards and twice hosting the Latin GRAMMYs.

•    Friday, March 13:  10 p.m.
•    Saturday, March 14:  10 p.m.

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Reign of Terror Opens Friday the 13th to Fight Cancer

Reign-of-TerrorReign of Terror haunted attraction in Thousand Oaks, California, has announced that it will open its doors on Friday, February 13th this year for a very special cause – to help one of its own fight cancer. To be clear: this is a call to action for the entire haunt community here in Southern California (and beyond) to come together as a family and speak loudly with our hearts and wallets to help one of ROT’s team members and his family in this time of great financial and emotional need.

One of the most elaborate haunted attractions in the world, Reign of Terror is known throughout the Southern California haunt community not only for its legendary theming and immersive environments – it’s also admired for its generosity. What many in the general population may not be aware of, is that Reign of Terror donates 100% of its annual haunt profits to two local charities – The Young Artists Ensemble’s Conejo Theatre for Everyone Program, and The Thousand Oaks Teen Center. Over the past six years, Reign of Terror has donated nearly $90,000.00 to these organizations. On February 13th, ROT will focus its attention and financial might inward, for one of its own.

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Garden Rocks Concert Series 2015 Announced for Epcot

En Vogue to Perform at "Garden Rocks" Concert SeriesEleven pop bands with hits spanning several decades will play the Garden Rocks Concert Series at the 22nd Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival March 4-May 17, 2015. The Garden Rocks Concert Series debuts in 2015 to span a broader range of decades and popular artists.

Pablo Cruise and Little River Band will rock Epcot audiences for the first time. Jon Secada, Taylor Dayne and En Vogue, fan favorites who’ve played the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, will make their Flower & Garden Festival debuts. And 1990s chart toppers Gin Blossoms, also new to this spring festival, kick off the concert series March 6-8.

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MGM Resorts Awarded Seven AAA 2015 Five Diamond Ratings

Fountains Of Bellagio Programmed By TiestoRecognizing exceptional service and accommodations, AAA has awarded MGM Resorts International seven 2015 Five Diamond Awards for its resorts and restaurants. Included on this prestigious list are Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino, ARIA Sky Suites and SKYLOFTS at MGM Grand. Renowned restaurants Picasso and Le Cirque, both at Bellagio, and Joël Robuchon Restaurant at MGM Grand also received the accolade.

Bellagio, the first resort in Las Vegas to achieve this milestone received its 14th consecutive AAA Five Diamond this year. Two of the resort’s restaurants were also bestowed Five Diamond status: Chef Julian Serrano’s celebrated Picasso received the distinction for the 15th consecutive year and Le Cirque for the 13th year.

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