Tag Archives: Rick West

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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“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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Trick Eye Experience Comes to Monte Carlo Resort and Casino Las Vegas

Trick Eye Experience at Monte Carlo Las VegasAs if the Las Vegas Strip wasn’t bursting with crazy, cool, and unique things to see and do, there’s a brand-new experience that’s caught our attention – and is sure to be turning heads. Trick Eye Experience has come to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, where it will continue to evolve into 2018.

What is Trick Eye Experience? It’s a series of life-sized 3-D art displays that encourage people to walk up and pose for photos in front of. The unique way in which the art has been created messes with your perception of depth and space, making for some truly fun photo ops! Trick Eye Experience is a collaboration between Monte Carlo and We Talk Chalk, a full-service art firm with West and East Coast studios that offers turnkey 3-D street painting, street art and chalk art solutions for companies and organizations around the world.

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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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