Tag Archives: Rick West

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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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas Programming Announced for Universal Orlando Resort

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas is coming to Universal Orlando Resort!It’s the stuff of dreams, really: Universal announced today that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando would receive an extensive Christmas holiday overlay at both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

Since Universal began rolling out their Wizarding Worlds, fans have been begging for a Harry Potter Christmas celebration, which would transform both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley into holiday spectacles, even more enchanting than they are already.

Between November 18, 2017 and January 6, 2018, visitors to Universal Orlando Resort are in for a huge holiday treat as both theme parks – Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure – are transformed into a winter wonderland with all the sights, sounds, and sweet treats that come with an epic Harry Potter Christmas celebration for the whole family!

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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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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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Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor 2016 a Grand Mix of Mazes, Monsters, and Boozy Mayhem

Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2016There may be no place on Earth more storied than the Queen Mary when it comes to legends of paranormal activity. The massive ship now rests permanently moored in Long Beach, California, where she hosts visitors from around the world – they come to gawk at the titanic ship of yesteryear, to shop, to enjoy fine dining experiences, and they come to stay overnight in one of the cabins, as the Queen Mary was converted into a hotel in 1972 (the number of guest rooms and amenities on the ship have grown vastly since then). People also flock to the Queen Mary for much darker reasons. Paranormal investigations are on-going within the creaking hull of the ship, within her cavernous bowels, and in every narrow crawlspace – some of which haven’t been explored for years. Considered a virtual hotbed of ghostly activity, it is only fitting that the Queen Mary is home to one of the largest Halloween events in the world. Dark Harbor 2016 marked the 7th season for event, which grows in scale and popularity here in Southern California each year.

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