Monday, July 21, 2014

"The Purge: Anarchy" Scare Zone Coming to Halloween Horror Nights

By Zach Cooper
Earlier today, Universal's Halloween Horror Nights announced a scare zone based off of the film THE PURGE: ANARCHY

The synopsis is that for 12 hours, all crime is legal. This new scare zone at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando will bring the story to life in a scary, terrifying experience. This will be the second time The Purge is at the event, as Hollywood had a "Survive the Night" scare zone last year. 

Halloween Horror Nights will begin September 19th on both coasts. 


-Graphic and information courtesy of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. 

Weekly Recap of News

By Beemerboyz803
For this week, there are a lot of big news making headlines. Here are some of them.

Sam and Cat Cancelled; Final Episode Airing Thursday
Despite its humongous popularity, Nickelodeon has cancelled Sam and Cat amid backstage issues. The show has been on hiatus since April after a feud between McCurdy and co-star Grande erupted on set. McCurdy dissed the Kids' Choice Awards in March, despite her show grabbing several awards and its creator receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, and slammed rumors to Nick about her salary, about how Grande had a higher one and was treated more fairly. Production on the show was shut down in April, with 4 episode out of its 40-episode season left to film. As of Sunday, that "hiatus" has become permanent.

Ariana Grande has taken off with her music career, and Dan Schneider, the brains behind Nickelodeon's star shows, will be returning to Nickelodeon in the fall with his new series Henry Danger.

Missing Bench from "The Fault in Our Stars" Returned to Amsterdam
Fans of June's The Fault in Our Stars rejoice as the news was announced that the bench featured in the movie, which Augustus and Hazel sat on and kissed, was returned to its location in Amsterdam. The bench was stolen earlier this summer anonymously, and replaced with a large flower pot. However, the bench was returned, and Amsterdam confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the bench returned was the real bench.

New "From Dusk till Dawn"-Inspired Maze Coming to Universal Studios
Universal Studios Hollywood a new maze for their Halloween Horror Nights inspired by the 1996 film From Dusk till Dawn. Guests will be transported into the movie into this maze. The maze will debut at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights onSeptember 19.

Diagon Alley Takes Off at Universal Orlando
Last Tuesday, Universal Orlando opened their "Diagon Alley" expansion for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The expansion quickly took off with popularity. Guests had to wait 3/4 hours to get into Diagon Alley, and fans waiting to board the park's new attraction (which replaced the Jaws boat ride), Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, waited up to 7.5 hours to ride. 

Disney's "Jessie" Concluding Season With a Channel First
(This contains spoilers so if you like Jessie, do not read for spoilers). Disney Channel's Jessie, recently renewed for a fourth season, is making headlines with a Disney Channel first. At the end of its third season, its current, Jessie will get engaged in a four-episode arc. The show, much like many other Disney series, was renewed for another season, probably its final because three or four seasons is the average for a hit Disney show. 

Disney's "Gravity Falls" Returning Within Several Weeks
After a long wait, the time has come. Gravity Falls, Disney's popular animated series, will debut its second season within a month. The series concluded its first season on August 2, 2013 with Grunkle Stan stating in the credits that "Gravity Falls will return". The time has come. The first episode of the new season, "Scary-oke", will air on August 1, 2014. If you've been waiting, don't worry...you'll be returning to Gravity Falls, Oregon in a matter of weeks.

Germany Knocks Out Argentina to Win FIFA World Cup
This past Sunday, crowds gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the final game of the FIFA World Cup 2014. Germany, which beat its opponent, Brazil, 7-1, managed to beat Argentina, who took out Belgium, for the title. Fans around the world were cheering, and some of Germany's players shed tears in interviews. Who will win in 2018? What are your predictions? Where do you think it will be?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Halloween Horror Nights: Haunted Houses and Mazes Announced

By Zach Cooper
Over the last week, Universal Creative has announced much about the upcoming Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort. 


FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: Based on of the popular film and television series will be a terrifying maze that will bring guests face-to-face with "Culebras, a group of vampires who walk over the earth.  You will also get to visit "The Twister," a nightclub built above cursed ancient ruins. This will be at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando. 



HALLOWEEN: Guests at Universal Orlando will also have the frightening opportunity to meet Michael Myers. Since this was announced via social media, no other details have been provided. 






FACE OFF: Both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando will get to step inside of the SyFy series "Face Off". Characters will be brought to life in a scare zone in Orlando, which will be packed with mysterious creatures. In Hollywood, there will also be a maze inside the House of Horrors walkthrough. This will be called "Face Off: In the Flesh".



-Photos, videos and all information courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort for Halloween Horror Nights. 

Disneyland Announces 60th Anniversary for 2015

By Zach Cooper
Earlier today, Disneyland Park celebrated it's 59th birthday. On July 17th, 1955, Walt Disney opened up his dream park, which only took 364 days of construction to complete. 

In 2005, the company held a year-long 50th anniversary celebration: "Happiest Homecoming on Earth". 

For the 60th anniversary, the park will have a Diamond Celebration

Today, the park started a special online promotion called #Disneyland60Contest, where you can use the hashtag on social media, sharing your photographic memories from over the parks 60 years. Users are asked to include the decade and description of the photo. One guest will be given the oppertunity to win an exclusive trip to the resort to start the Diamond Celebration! Contest ends August 27th. 


“It’s an incredible time at the Disneyland Resort as we prepare for next year’s Diamond Celebration. We’re excited to honor our rich history, to celebrate the incredible magic that fills our resort today, and to create unforgettable memories with our guests for many years to come.”

- Mitchael Colglazier, president of Disneyland Resort.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Expanded Wizarding World of Harry Potter Opens



By Beemerboyz803

On Tuesday, July 8, Harry Potter fans gathered at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida for a momentous occasion. After a long year or so of construction, the expanded Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley opened to the public. 
 
 
In May 2010, Islands of Adventure opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a new land that took guests to Harry Potter's world. It had two roller coasters: Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey was an innovative dark ride that utilizes KUKA-robot technology. The innovative technology allows the seats to pivot for a more realistic experience, while the vehicles are attached to a robotic arm.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter also opened with a replica of Hogsmeade Village, the only British village in the books inhabited by wizards. Just like in each movie Hogsmeade was featured in, the village's buildings are topped with thick, white snowcaps. Hogsmeade Village featured popular shops from the movies, such as The Owl Post, a post office, The Three Broomsticks, a very familiar pub and diner from the franchise, The Hog's Head Pub, another familiar pub from the books (based off of the Hog's Head Inn, owned by Albus Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth, Honeydukes, a popular sweet shop in Hogsmeade introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban, Dervish and Banges, a store for magical supplies like Quidditch equipment, Ollivanders Wand Shop, a wand shop where guests can get their own wand (just like Harry did in the books) and Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods, a shop not featured in the books or movies, but is based off of Mr. Argus Filch, the Hogwarts Innkeeper who confiscates anything from his students that looks dangerous. 
 

 
Several days after New Years' Day 2012, the neighboring Universal Studios Florida closed their popular Jaws ride. It was quickly demolished. Following the days after Jaws' demolition, construction began on the new expansion. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley would feature both parks with Harry Potter theming. The Islands of Adventure area features two roller coasters, a dark ride, and a replica of Hogsmeade.
The new area, located at Universal Studios Florida, contains a replica of Diagon Alley, another famous village/alley from the series, introduced in The Sorcerer's Stone, and a popular Hogwarts hangout in the days before school begins. Guests can ride on a full-scale model of the Hogwarts Express to the other park, if they have a two-park pass. It also features a replica of Gringotts Wizarding Bank, a famous wizard bank from the movies heavily guarded by gremlins. Inside the bank (show building) is Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a high-speed roller coaster that takes guests through the dark dungeons and vaults twenty floors underground (not literally).  
 


 
When speaking of shops and restaurants, the expanded area features many classic wizarding shops and restaurants from the franchise. There's The Leaky Cauldron, a shabby wizarding pub and inn (usually where Harry stays in the days before school begins in the books), another installation of Ollivanders Wand Shop, originally located on Diagon in the franchise (where Harry received his first wand in the first book/movie), Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, a popular joke shop owned by the Weasley twins that sells any novelties sure to make a prank foolproof, there's Borgin and Burkes, a shop that sells dangerous items (not really, but they seem like it, just like from the book), Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, a shop that sells Quidditch robes and Hogwarts cloaks, Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, which sells wizard equipment (in fact, Harry purchased his first telescope here for Astronomy class at Hogwarts), and, probably the most popular of all, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor, a popular ice cream parlor, and one of Harry, Ron, and Hermione's favorite summer hangouts before Hogwarts, where guests can buy any kind of ice cream known to mankind (not really, but seems like it).  

 

 
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will not be located at just Orlando. Construction on the themed area has begun at Universal Studios Hollywood. Currently, as of July 2, 2014, they are constructing a huge building that looks like it will be Hogwarts itself, and some smaller buildings below it look like the replicated Hogsmeade. The Hollywood replication will open at an estimated 2016, as of staff reports (I was wearing a Hogwarts shirt, going down to the Lower Lot. A staff member passed me and said, "Come back in two years, and Hogwarts will be here."). 
At Universal's Tokyo park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, excluding the Diagon Alley expansion, will open to the public next Tuesday, July 15, almost an identical counterpart to Orlando's version.
 
If you can, get to Orlando for your magical new experience!
 
 
Sources:
-Images © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Full Look at the Wizarding World of Hary Potter- Diagon Alley

By Zach Cooper
On July 8th, 2014, Universal Orlando opened up Diagon Alley, an expansion to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter.



HOGWARTS EXPRESS: In the Harry Potter film trilogy, Hogwarts students are taken to the castle by boarding the Hogwarts Express. In order to make it onto the train, the characters must enter Platform 9 and 3/4 at King's Cross Station. To do this, you have to run directly into a stone wall, in the center of Platform 9 and 10.


Universal Creative was able to bring this to life in Diagon Alley. Soon after you run through the wall, you board onto the Hogwarts Express, identical to film.
 

 
On the trip, the windows feature many characters and tributes to the film. Though not all the characters are one your good side.
 
The Hogwarts Express takes you on a trip directly from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade or from Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley. Requires a ticket to both parks.
 

 
A full POV of the attraction courtesy of Inside the Magic.
 
 
 
 
 
HARRY POTTER AND THE ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS: A true example of the future of theme park attractions is for sure this ride.
 

 
The attraction is located in the center of Diagon Alley, with a large dragon on the top. Very often the dragon blows real flames into the air.
 

 


A walkthrough of the queue courtesy of Inside the Magic.

Inside the queue, you get to see many goblins working hard on wizard deposits and banking. The lobby's main centerpiece is a large chandelier.
 

 
These goblin animatronics are very similar to the ones in the film and look so real.
 


The ride vehicle is a replica of the train that took Harry Potter to his vault in the film. Each vehicle seats 12 people.
 

 
Above is an on-ride snapshot courtesy of Universal Orlando. The real attraction is not allowed to be filmed, as it is in 3D. Inside the attraction you go on a wild ride through the vaults, encountering the films villains and heroes.




KNOCKTURN ALLEY: An offset path from Diagon Alley leads you to the dark world of Knockturn Alley. By using the interactive wands, you transform yourself from muggle to wizard. With just one spell, you can make anything happen. Also inside is a small store with purchasable dark arts merchandise.
 
 
A video walkthrough of Knockturn Alley courtesy of Inside the Magic.
 
 
 
 
WEASLEYS' WIZARD WHEEZES: Inside is a fun and crazy joke shop. In the movie, it is owned by the Weasley twins: George and Fred. Some items are available for purchase.
 

 
A video walkthrough of the shop courtesy of Behind the Thrills.

 
 
 
 
OLLIVANDERS WAND SHOP:
 

 
Video courtesy of Inside the Magic.
 
Ollivanders is both a show and gift shop. In the show, an Ollivander employee helps find a wand for a wizard. There are many special effects that go into this. You can also purchase a wand in the gift shop. The interactive wands are also sold here.
 
 
 
 
 
SINGING SORCERESS- CELESTINA WARBECK & THE BANSHEES: This musical performance is a fun jazz routine.
 

 
 
There is so much else in Diagon Alley, this post could go on forever. There are many other shops and even another show! Diagon Alley opened today, July 8th at Universal Studios Florida.
 
 
Sources:
-Images © 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.
 These images though can be traced back to other websites.
-Videos courtesy of  Inside the Magic and Behind the Thrills.
-Information courtesy of Inside the Magic and Universal Orlando.
-Images traced from Relive the Adventure.
 

Relive Optimistic Times...

By Zach Cooper
Here are a few videos that show all the fun we had during our 6 week journey last year of Disney's The Optimist. Be sure to click the video preview to see all the YouTube video uploaders.
 

 
Clues and carvings at the Tam O' Shanter, all at Walt's table.

 

 
A visit to the private restaurant of Club 33 at Disneyland. There we received a phone call from Wallace who gave us clues for our in-park mission.

 

 
Optimist record with New York World's Fair songs and hidden messages.

 

 
Griffith Park carousel horse reveals secret message.




A trip to Walt's Carolwood railroad and barn.


 
The first time we meet Wallace in real person in the Disneyland Opera House.
 
 
Wallace answers questions via Twitter on a livestream.


 
Interview with Wallace at his D23 Expo booth on August 9th.
 
 
Full highlight of the D23 Expo and Disneyland hunt.


 
Amelia's mom visits Disneyland.

 
 
Tomorrow documentary put together by Amelia.
 
Visit geekcentralblog.blogspot.com/theoptimistlog for a full write-up of the 6 week journey from 2013.