Tag Archives: #Tips

10 Amazing Reasons to Go to HawaiiCon

As if I needed another reason to love the Big Island of Hawaii… I just learned about HawaiiCon.  The Big Island is not just full of palm trees, beaches, and resorts.  It is home to Kilauea, one of the longest-erupting volcanoes in the world.  And, it is one of the few places on earth where you can ski and surf in the same day.  The Big Island has numerous cultural festivals – and HawaiiCon is one of them!

HawaiiCon caught this fangirl unprepared.  We found out about it while vacationing on the Big Island, thanks to a featured article in Ke Ola Magazine.  I had packed some Hot Topic tank tops, but not my wardrobe of Her Universe dresses.  Nevertheless, I welcomed the opportunity to see a new con.

Even though I’d been to many conventions including San Diego Comic-Con, Star Wars Celebration, and D23 Expo – I found many reasons to love HawaiiCon.  Here are my Top 10 reasons why you should put HawaiiCon on your calendar next year.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com

1. Opportunity to really get to know celebrity guests

Celebrity guest stars were scheduled at multiple panels and activities over the HawaiiCon weekend.  This allowed a rare opportunity to really get to know them, and interact in a more informal setting.

It was personal ‘story time’ with your favorite celebrities.  This was my first encounter with Temuera Morrison (Chief Tui, Moana / Jango Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  And Paul Blake (Greedo, Star Wars Ep. IV), who answered the question ‘Who Shot First?’  We enjoyed ‘solo’ time with Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett, Star Wars Ep. II).  Q&A was amazing during these small panel sessions.

2. Attend uniquely Hawaiian panel sessions

Several sessions stood out as uniquely Hawaiian, offering great opportunities to learn about the local culture.  Navigate like Moana highlighted wayfinding – sailing by the stars like Hōkūleʻa, the voyaging canoe, just did by just navigating 60,000 miles around the world.

Participate in a hula lesson on the beach.  Feel the grass between your toes as you dance to music from Moana.  Gaze past the white-sand beach onto the open ocean, alongside Guest Stars like Gina “GK” Bowes (voice actor and audio book narrator for Disney’s Moana).

Bring your camera to the Night Photography session, and learn to capture your own astonishing Milky Way shots.

3. Attend a Luau with your favorite celebrity guests

As an additional-fee activity, HawaiiCon guests can sit at a table with their favorite celebrity at an exclusive luau.  You choose which celebrity to sit with when you purchase the luau tickets.

The menu included a traditional luau buffet, and entertainment showcasing Hawaiian, Tahitian, Maori, and Samoan cultures.  One of the highlights was when the luau ‘Maori chief’ made an offering, and New Zealand-native, Temuera Morrison picked up the offering.  That does not happen every day.

The Samoan fire-knife dancer is always a highlight of any luau.

4. Go adventure-seeking with celebrity guests

(These opportunities were separately-ticketed, sold-out events). What other convention allows you to go ziplining with the Guest Stars?  Or snorkeling with them through coral reefs?

Hawaii Island has the best scuba diving in the state, with its Manta night dives ranked Top-10 in the world.  What a unique opportunity to socialize with celebrities while manta night-diving or snorkeling!

5. Intimate setting means short lines

Imagine the luxury: short lines for autographs, photo-ops, panel sessions, registration – everything!  Instead of camping out overnight for a seat, you can sleep comfortably in your hotel room, and simply arrive a few minutes early to your chosen panel.  Here is the 2017 program schedule.

Walking from one panel to another took about two minutes, instead of twenty minutes.  Of course, the venue is much smaller than SDCC.  But smaller has its advantages.  I also enjoyed sampling the many food trucks that provided ‘ono’ (delicious) local bites, with no wait time.

6. You’re supporting a non-profit that promotes science education

HawaiiCon is self-dubbed the “World’s First Sci-fi, Science, and Fantasy Tropical Vacation Convention.”  And it is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that champions science education for the keiki (children) of Hawaii.

So, rest assured, the registration fees go to a worthy cause, bringing up the next generation of fans.  There’s also a ‘Science Track,’ with panels like Maui, Demigod of Science, the ‘Ohana Planetarium Show, and SciFi Weather on Mars.

7. Incredible backdrops for cosplayer photo shoots

Are you a cosplayer in search of unique photo shoot locations?  The Big Island of Hawaii – and Mauna Lani Bay Hotel – feature breathtaking vistas and sunsets to perfectly highlight your cosplay.

Hawaii Island has 10 of the world’s 14 climate zones.  So, if you’re scouting for a specific type of location, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.

HawaiiCon was a unique opportunity to let your inner fan shine.  Here were some of the great cosplays, including some from the cosplay contest.

8. Feel at home with perfect hospitality from the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows is a devoted supporter of Hawaiian culture.  In addition to HawaiiCon, they support activities such as “Twilight,” a free monthly Hawaiian music concert series.

The resort also raises endangered Hawaiian green sea turtles in its saltwater ponds to give them a chance at survival.  When the turtles are old enough, they are released into the ocean at the annual “Turtle Independence Day” celebration every 4th of July.

Mauna Lani Bay welcomes HawaiiCon attendees with special room rates.  Booking early can get you an Oceanview room for $179/night at this four-star resort (regularly $400/night).  Two-star hotels in San Diego can cost much more than that during SDCC!

9. Become part of the Hawaiian ‘ohana’ (family)

This was the most relaxed convention I’ve ever attended.  Hawaiian locals welcome you with aloha.  The ambience is casual.  Flip flops are the dress code for Guest Stars as well as attendees.  Bring your lightsaber for an impromptu lightsaber battle on the lawn.

Slow down, and enjoy the present.  Treat everyone with respect.  What a great way to enjoy the spirit of aloha.

10. Stay and explore the rest of the Big Island

You’re only scratching the surface when you see the northwest (aka: the sunny, dry) side of Big Island.  Don’t forget about Kilauea, the live volcano, on the east side of Hawaii (best viewed by helicopter or hiking/biking onto lava fields to the ocean entry with a guide).

Milky Way and Kilauea caldera: view from the Jaggar Museum

Did you know about the extraordinary stargazing and observatories atop Mauna Kea?  Which is, by the way, the tallest mountain on earth when measured from its base on the ocean floor.  Go horseback riding and experience the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) lifestyle.  Explore black-sand and green-sand beaches, and countless hiking trails with dreamy waterfalls.

Honaunau National Historic Park: Ki’i at Sunset

Take advantage of the breath-taking vistas of this tropical oasis, and mark your calendars for next year: HawaiiCon is September 13-16, 2018 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel.  Early registration for a four-day pass is $129, and proceeds benefit the HawaiiCon non-profit organization.

Mahalo (thank you) to HawaiiCon for hosting such a wonderful event!  And May the Force Be with You.

 

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on October 4, 2017.  See more here on my Author Page

 

 

 

Disney Ufufy Arrive in the U.S.!

Disney Ufufy have finally arrived in the U.S.!  These adorable little fluffy friends were originally released in Japanese Disney Stores on November 3, 2016.

We were there to witness Release Day in Tokyo last year, with huge crowds of Disney fans collecting their favorite Ufufy.

After nearly a year of waiting, you can finally purchase Ufufy friends at your local Disney Store!  Just released in the U.S. on October 6, 2017, these plush friends join the ever-popular Tsum Tsums as the latest kawaii (cute) export from Japan!

The American Ufufy were released in three different sizes

  • the original ‘small’ size — about 4.5 inches tall (priced at $5.95)
  • the ‘mini’ size — about 2.5 inches tall (set of 2 priced at $9.95)
  • and the ‘medium’ size — about 12 inches tall — Pooh and Donald, priced at $16.95

Continue reading Disney Ufufy Arrive in the U.S.!

Yo Ho! Celebrating Over 50 Years of Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

How many of you love Pirates of the Caribbean?  Was your first memory of Pirates from Disneyland? Or perhaps Disney World?  For younger generations, their first Disney pirate may have been Captain Jack Sparrow from the blockbuster films.  Well, if ye come seekin’ adventure, keep a weather eye open.  There be pirates in these waters as we explore their history through Disney Archives.

This article was originally published on Laughingplace.com after D23 Expo.

A Tribute to Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Pirates have been such an integral part of Disney history, even before the landmark attraction at Disneyland (now commemorating its 50th year).  D23 Expo celebrated Disney pirates in a special exhibit, showcasing treasures from the Disney Archives.  These are highlights from the D23 Expo and “A Pirates Life for Me: Disney’s Rascals, Scoundrels, and Really Bad Eggs.”

The queues snaked on and on for this exhibit.  The mood was set with music of Disney’s pirates – from X Atencio’s classic ‘Yo Ho! Yo Ho!’ to the Hans Zimmer film soundtracks, to songs from Muppet Treasure Island and Hook’s solo “Revenge! Revenge!” from Once Upon a Time.

Jail Scene photo op

Before entering the exhibit, many guests stopped for a photo op in the classic ‘Jail Scene.’ Continue reading Yo Ho! Celebrating Over 50 Years of Disney Pirates at D23 Expo

Ghoulishly Delightful Halloween Experiences at Tokyo DisneySea (Part 2) 

Not traditionally celebrated in Japan, Halloween at Tokyo Disney Resort is a ghoulishly delightful experience for local (and visiting) Disney fans alike.  Join us as we continue our Halloween experiences at Tokyo DisneySea in Part 2 of this article.

In Part 1, we shared the cheerful Halloween festivities at Tokyo Disneyland.  Tokyo DisneySea harbored a darker (yet, not scary) Villain’s theme for the season.

Love Halloween?  You’ll find many delightful Disney details, but also some fascinating differences at Tokyo DisneySea.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com, from our experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort last Halloween season.  

Halloween Decorations at Tokyo DisneySea

Monorails don’t escape the magic at Tokyo Disney resort.  It was festively Halloween from the time you set foot on the resort line monorail.  Each Mickey-shaped monorail hand-grip was charmed with a colorful witch’s hat.

Banners along top advertised ‘Disney’s Halloween 2016.’  Each banner showcased pictures of the iconic Disneyland castle, as well as Mount Prometheus, the symbol for Tokyo DisneySea.

Tokyo DisneySea’s entry arch was draped in festive orange, purple, and black banners for Halloween.  Jewel-toned pumpkin lanterns completed the look.

These decorations continued throughout the Portofino-inspired buildings of ‘Mediterranean Harbor.’  Claude Frollo’s hat adorns this Halloween banner above the Il Postino Stationery store.

This year’s Halloween theme, “Welcome to the Villain’s World: Wishes and Desires,” complemented Tokyo DisneySea’s 15th Anniversary “Year of Wishes” celebrations.

Continue reading Ghoulishly Delightful Halloween Experiences at Tokyo DisneySea (Part 2) 

Ghoulishly Delightful Halloween Experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort (Part 1) 

There’s a chill in the air.  The leaves are changing colors.  Pumpkin spice is everywhere…. It’s Halloween time again.  See how Tokyo Disney Resort celebrates Halloween from our visit to Tokyo Disneyland  last season…

Americans have exported many things… and Halloween at Tokyo Disney Resort is one of them.

Not traditionally celebrated in Japan, Halloween at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea is a unique experience for visitors and locals alike.

Join us as we share our Halloween experiences at Tokyo Disneyland from last season in a two-part series, originally published on LaughingPlace.com

We will highlight Tokyo Disneyland in Part 1 of this article , and Tokyo DisneySea in Part 2.  There are many delightfully Disney similarities, but also some differences that may fascinate Disney fans.

This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com

No extra tickets needed. 

Unlike domestic Disney parks, there is no separately-ticketed event for Halloween celebrations.  Everything is included in the day-ticket price.  If you know the dates you want to visit Disneyland / DisneySea, it is advisable to purchase your tickets online ahead of time, as tickets are known to sell out for the parks.  Even annual passholders are not guaranteed entry when parks have reached capacity.

Halloween Decorations Welcome Guests

A beautiful floral Mickey-shaped Jack-o-lantern greets guests at the main entry to Disneyland, just outside the Grand Bazaar.  (The Grand Bazaar replaces Main Street USA, and is a covered shopping arcade).

This year’s theme for “Disney’s Halloween” was Halloween Music Festival.  The branding on merchandise does not specify Tokyo Disneyland, just “Disney’s Halloween.” Continue reading Ghoulishly Delightful Halloween Experiences at Tokyo Disney Resort (Part 1) 

“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