Tag Archives: #Tips

“Once Upon a Time” Turns the Page at D23 Expo

Today, we celebrate the release of Once Upon a Time Season 6 on digital, DVD, and Blu-Ray by sharing our article teasing Season 7 coming this fall.

We were there for the UOAT panels at D23 and San Diego Comic-Con, and share them here in a two-part article.  This article was  originally featured on LaughingPlace.com on August 4, 2017.

Fans of Once Upon a Time streamed into the D23 Arena on July 15, 2017 to get the latest news on their favorite characters.  Show creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz sat down with host Jeffrey Epstein for this much-anticipated panel.

Ed Kitsis D23 panel

Season 6 Finale Bombshell

The Season 6 finale shattered norms that we had come to know as canon for Once Upon a Time (OUAT).

Why is there a new storybook?  How does adult Henry have a daughter he doesn’t remember (Lucy)? And who is her mother?  What happens to Emma, Snow, and Charming in Storybrooke?  There are so many unanswered questions, and fans are asking ‘why?!’ Continue reading “Once Upon a Time” Turns the Page at D23 Expo

How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

Epcot Sunset Over Spaceship Earth

When you think of Epcot, you may recall fragrant florals from the “Flower & Garden Festival.”  Or, perhaps, delectable dishes from the “Food & Wine Festival.” (I, too, love to ‘eat my way around the world.’)  Most of all, I enjoy Epcot as a gathering place to meet friendly cast members from various countries.  My last visit to Epcot’s Italy Pavilion did not disappoint.

Venice, Italy vs. Italy at Epcot

Through the years, I have come to love the “real” Italy, especially Venice.  Epcot’s Italy Pavilion transports me back to Venice every time.  Strolling through, I see architectural reminders of Saint Mark’s Square: the delicately intricate façade of the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile (bell tower).

Italy Pavilion at Epcot – Detail of Doge’s Palace and Campanile

The entrance is guarded by two columns, topped with Venezia’s patron saints: Saint Mark’s Lion and Saint Theodore standing above a crocodile.  (Though Epcot’s version is actually reversed)

Admittedly, Disney puts a spin on their presentation of each country.  (Germany’s Bavarian region is famous for their large, scrumptious pretzels.  But they certainly are not Mickey-shaped, nor come with cheese dipping sauce.)

To their credit, though, Disney is committed to recruiting native cast members to represent their countries’ pavilions at Epcot, creating a more authentic experience. Continue reading How I Made a Cultural Connection at Epcot: My Italian Adventure

9 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at Disneyland Paris Resort

Good advice is worth its weight in gold, especially when you’re traveling.  Getting first-hand advice can save you time, ensure you don’t miss an essential moment, and help you make good decisions on how to spend your hard-earned vacation dollars.  This is especially true for specialty locations like Disneyland Paris.

Disneyland Paris is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in 2017 (the park opened as Euro Disney on April 12, 1992), making this the perfect year to enjoy the festivities.  The anniversary theme – “It’s Time to Sparkle!” – introduces new spectaculars to make your visit even more memorable.  You’ll want to be prepared, so you won’t miss a second of the magic.

Here are my top 9 things you definitely won’t want to miss – gained from experience as a DLP annual passholder.  Some are unique and found only at Disneyland Paris Resort.  Some are delightful variations of classic Disney attractions.  All are outstanding.

There are two parks at the Disneyland Paris Resort:  Disneyland Park, and the Walt Disney Studios (now celebrating its 10th Anniversary).  I divided this List into “family-friendly” and “wild side” features, with notations in which park they’re located.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on April 10, 2017.  Continue reading 9 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at Disneyland Paris Resort

Christmas Magic to Enchant the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood

"Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" - Universal Studios Hollywood
“Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” – Universal Studios Hollywood

It may be difficult to think of Christmas during this summer heat, but Universal Studios Hollywood has more magic in store at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Just two weeks after their announcement of the new “Nighttime Lights” projection show spectacular this summer (evoking memories of the grand opening of the Wizarding World just one year ago), Universal Studios Hollywood tops that with a Christmas show bound to delight.

The holidays at Hogwarts were pure magic in the original novels by J.K. Rowling.  The massive tree, the decorations in the Great Hall, the delectable treats, the Yule Ball.  How I wished I could have stepped into that world.

Now, Universal Studios Hollywood offers the next best thing.  Here’s a preview of “Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” Continue reading Christmas Magic to Enchant the Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood

Why You Need to Visit Disneyland Paris This Year

If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Paris, and wished upon a star to walk through Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle), this is the year to do it.  Disneyland Paris – the sparkling European jewel in the Disney crown – celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2017.  And they have been diligently preparing for you to ‘Be Our Guest.’

Park improvements progressed throughout 2016 to prepare for “It’s Time to Sparkle” the Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary celebration starting March 26, 2017.

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on April 7, 2017.

Troubled Beginnings

The path wasn’t always sprinkled with pixie dust.  “Euro Disney” – the fourth Disney castle Park – opened on April 12, 1992 to much controversy.  There were protests against this invasion of American culture in France, including a one-day train strike that effectively cut off the Disney resort to anyone without a car.

Continue reading Why You Need to Visit Disneyland Paris This Year

The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Star Wars Celebration Europe (SWCE, July 14-17, 2016) ended with a much-anticipated panel featuring the upcoming Star Wars films, Star Wars Episode VIII and Han Solo.

SWCE Ep. VIII and Han Solo Director Panel

Pablo Hidalgo hosted a panel featuring Kathleen Kennedy (Lucasfilm President) and Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL).  First up: writer-director Rian Johnson discussed the filming of Episode VIII (code named: Space Bear).

(This article was initially published on LaughingPlace.com after Star Wars Celebration Europe, on September 20, 2016). 

A New Look from Lucasfilm: Star Wars Episode VIII delves deeper into character

Kathleen Kennedy is very happy with their choice of director. “Rian moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.”  And she doesn’t say that lightly.

Rian Johnson’s goal was to “tell a story that feels alive right now.”  Writing for Episode VIII corresponded with principle photography for Episode VII.  Johnson spent six weeks working on Story at Lucasfilm, watching ‘dailies’ of Episode VII with Kennedy and Hart to ensure continuity of story details.

Pablo Hidalgo’s hint: to impress leaders at Lucasfilm, bring homemade ice cream (Rian Johnson did).

Johnson was influenced deeply by classic Hollywood films such as Bridge on the River Kwai, Twelve O’Clock High, Letter Never Sent, Three Outlaw Samurai, and Sahara (Humphrey Bogart version).  He had the Episode VIII story team (Kathleen, Kiri, and Pablo) watch these films together ‘like a film camp’ for inspiration developing Story on VIII.

“We are gonna end up breaking kind of a longstanding Star Wars tradition, and for the first time, Continue reading The Future of Star Wars: Episode VIII and Han Solo

Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on July 25, 2016.

Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 is in the books, but the shockwaves are still resonating like an ion cannon.  Lucasfilm shared their latest news with fans from around the world who congregated in London July 15-17, 2016 for a Celebration to be remembered.

Star Wars Celebration Europe after Rogue One Panel
Star Wars Celebration Europe Rogue One Panel

Rogue One was certainly THE highly-anticipated panel, and Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm and Rogue One Producer) did not disappoint.  Accompanied by Gareth Edwards (Director), Kiri Hart (Head of Story, LFL), and John Knoll (Executive Producer), Kathy welcomed us to the new world of stand-alone Star Wars films.

Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma, and our host for this panel) opened with a moment of silence for the lives lost the night before in the terror attack in Nice, France.

Rogue One, the first stand-alone Star Wars film.

The production team was initially concerned about whether there needed to be more introduction for Rogue One.  It is the first of the planned “stand-alone” Star Wars stories (not part of the saga trilogies Episodes IV-VI, Episodes I-III, Episodes VII-IX).

From early screenings, Lucasfilm realized that fans understood immediately where Rogue One fit into the Star Wars timeline.  This is the story of how the first Death Star plans were stolen; many lives were lost to get this intel to the Rebel base, to set up Luke Skywalker’s mission in Episode IV.

John Knoll (Executive Producer) developed the idea for Rogue One as a Mission Impossible-style story during the filming of Episode III in Sydney.  While this story did not fit in with the live action Star Wars TV series planned back then, an opportunity arose when Disney announced a whole new set of Star Wars films.

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, Gwendoline Christie

Gareth Edwards as Director

Kathleen Kennedy described her visits to the set during the filming process of Rogue One.  When she looked for director Gareth Edwards, she consistently found him with “a camera on his shoulder” trying to capture “different angles.”  His style creates an “immersive” experience for the viewer unlike any other.

Continue reading Star Wars Celebration Europe: A Closer Look at Rogue One

Soarin’ Around the World: From California to Shanghai

First published on LaughingPlace.com on July 7, 2016.

With the Grand Opening of Shanghai Disneyland, you literally can ride Soarin’ around the world.  From Disneyland, to Disney World, and now to Shanghai Disneyland: we compare the three versions of this attraction.

Soaring Collage DCA Epcot SHDL
Soarin’ California Adventure, Epcot, and Shanghai

The Original Soarin’ over California at Disneyland Resort

Soarin’ Over California debuted on February 8, 2001 with the Grand Opening of Disney California Adventure (DCA).  The unique ride system, designed by Imagineer Mark Sumner, was inspired by an Erector toy set.  It was an immediate success.

Guests love the sensation of flight as they are raised skyward into the 80-foot domed projection screen, while safely seated in a theater.  The original attraction highlighted California landmarks such as the Golden Gate bridge and Yosemite National Park.

Soarin’ Over California ran on IMAX HD film until its refurbishment in 2015 with digital projectors.  The attraction building resembles a large aircraft hangar, built in homage to California’s record-setting aviation history.  As you enter, you pass commemorations of historic aircraft – the SR-71 Blackbird, the Bell X-1 – and notable aviators: Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, and Amelia Earhart.

Continue reading Soarin’ Around the World: From California to Shanghai

Answers to 10 Essential Questions About Shanghai Disneyland

This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on June 15, 2016.

Questions and rumors about Shanghai Disneyland abound.  As Disney’s newest theme park prepares for its debut June 16, 2016 there are so many questions still unanswered.

I was privileged to preview SH Disneyland in May during Trial Operations, and was truly impressed with the scope of this park (even after seeing all the other Disney castles).  Opening with five noteworthy E-ticket attractions and three stage shows, SH Disneyland is poised to be a key player among Disney parks.

Here, I answer 10 essential questions about Shanghai Disneyland.

1.      Why is there no Main Street USA?  When is the next Train?

Shanghai Disneyland is distinguished by many record “firsts.”  First Disneyland without Main Street USA.  First Disneyland without a train.  (Yes, in this spacious park, the train station was built only as a nod to tradition).  First to substitute Tron for Space Mountain. And that castle!

Carthay Circle Mickey Ave SHDL
Carthay Circle Mickey Ave SHDL

The local population in China has not had the same exposure to Disney characters that the Western world has.  Many Disney films were never released in China.

Chinese guests know Mickey and Minnie.  They adore Winnie the Pooh for being cute, cuddly, and red and gold (popular Chinese colors).  They love Anna and Elsa.  Other characters may all be new to the locals. Continue reading Answers to 10 Essential Questions About Shanghai Disneyland

5 Must See Attractions Unique to Shanghai Disneyland

As you may know, I have been publishing articles on LaughingPlace.com. This article was published June 13, 2016, for the opening of Shanghai Disneyland.  I am also posting it here to keep all my articles in one place.  I have included a link to original publication.

Around the world, people are eagerly awaiting news about Shanghai Disneyland, set to open on June 16, 2016.  Will Pirates live up to the rumors?  Can TRON replace Space Mountain in Tomorrowland?  What about that massive Castle?

I just returned from an exclusive preview visit to Shanghai Disneyland during Trial Operations, and this park will live up to expectations.  SH Disneyland will be opening with five impressive E-ticket attractions and four stage shows, many unique to this Park.

Attendance and expectations are anticipated to be high, and SH Disneyland is prepared.  Wide thoroughfares and carefully trimmed gardens make exploration enjoyable.  Ride queues are extensive and covered.  Soaring Over the Horizon (boasting a new film that also debuts stateside June 17, 2016) easily swallowed up over 2 hours’ worth of queue from the rest of the park.

Continue reading 5 Must See Attractions Unique to Shanghai Disneyland