Tag Archives: #Travel

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

Spectacular Harry Potter “Nighttime Lights” this summer at Universal Studios Hollywood

"The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle" at "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" - Universal Studios Hollywood -- Hufflepuff house featured
“The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle” at “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” – Universal Studios Hollywood — Hufflepuff house featured.  Photo: Mike Danenberg/Universal Studios Hollywood
Attention Harry Potter fans! Universal Studios Hollywood will enchant guests this summer with a brand-new experience at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: “The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle.”
 
Do you remember the grand opening of the Wizarding World at Universal Hollywood a year ago? John Williams mesmerized guests, conducting a full orchestra playing his themes from the Harry Potter films.  

I get goosebumps every time I hear John Williams’ score and see Hogwarts.

Continue reading Spectacular Harry Potter “Nighttime Lights” this summer at Universal Studios Hollywood

Reflections: 6 Pearls We Learned from the Creators of Disney’s Mulan

When the creative team of a Disney animated classic shows up and shares stories of how a film was made….it’s an unforgettable experience.  As an unadvertised treat, the creators of Disney’s Mulan surprised movie-goers at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood with an impromptu pre-screening panel discussion on January 26, 2017.

“Throwback Thursday” at the El Capitan offers the chance to see a Disney classic on the silver screen.  And in honor of Chinese New Year, the film was Mulan (1998).  Our ‘inside source’ for the panel discussion was director Tony Bancroft (@pumbaaguy1 on Twitter).

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Continue reading Reflections: 6 Pearls We Learned from the Creators of Disney’s Mulan

 “Once Upon a Time” Season 6 Teasers: San Diego Comic-Con

Can’t wait for Once Upon a Time Season 6 to return on March 5, 2017?  Here’s a refresher, with previews from San Diego Comic-Con 2016…

[This article was written for and originally published on LaughingPlace.com on September 25, 2016]

Once Upon a Time returned to San Diego Comic-Con for the sixth year, delighting a packed Ballroom 20 on the most popular day of the convention.  Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen all the episodes of last season, we dive right in at the panel.  We review the highlights of Season 5 as we prepare for the next mind-twisting season our producers have in store.

Yvette Nicole Brown moderated this panel, offering a refreshing perspective (as she herself is a huge fan of OUAT).  Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (executive producers) returned with favorites from the cast: Colin O’Donoghue (Killian / Captain Hook), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Lana Parilla (Regina/ Evil Queen), Josh Dallas (David / Prince Charming), Emilie DeRavin (Belle), Rebecca Mader (Zelena/Wicked Witch), Jared Gilmore (Henry / the Author).

Notably absent were Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White / Mary Margaret) and Robert Carlyle (Rumplestiltskin).

A Review of Season 5

An emotional Season 5 followed our heroes’ journey from Camelot to the realm of Hades in the Underworld.  Emma embraced her role as Dark Swan.  King Arthur was not as honorable as history recalls, obsessed with his broken Excalibur sword fragment, and striving to re-forge the blade with the Dark One’s dagger.

Killian almost dies in Camelot.  Emma turns him into a Dark One in an attempt to save his life, and erases everyone’s memory that this happened.  When Killian discovers he is a Dark One, he gives in to the darkness, resurrecting all the previous Dark Ones through a portal to the Underworld. Continue reading  “Once Upon a Time” Season 6 Teasers: San Diego Comic-Con

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

Marty Sklar’s “One Little Spark” Signing at Walt’s Barn

 

Marty Sklar, the Legend

Marty Sklar, Disney Legend and Imagineering Ambassador, charmed guests as he signed copies of his newest book at Walt Disney’s Barn on August 21, 2016.

Before Disneyland opened in 1955, Marty Sklar started as an editor of The Disneyland News.  For a decade, he served as publicity writer for Walt Disney himself.  When Marty was recruited to Imagineering in 1961 (for the New York World’s Fair), he found his true calling.

Marty served as President at Walt Disney Imagineering from 1987 to 1996.  He was personally involved in shaping nine of the twelve Disney parks: Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland, Disney-MGM Studios, Disneyland Paris, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney California Adventure, Tokyo DisneySea, Paris’ Walt Disney Studios, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Sklar is the only Disney cast member who has contributed to opening all twelve Disney parks around the world, yet he remains humble.  “I quickly realized how many shoulders I was standing on.”  He credits icons such as John Hench, Herb Ryman, Marc Davis, Harper Golff, Claude Coats, and Harriet Burns … mentors, friends, and his Imagineering team.

(This article was first published on LaughingPlace.com on September 2, 2016)

One Little Spark!

The idea for One Little Spark! Mickey’s Ten Commandments and The Road to Imagineering came to Marty as he toured the country for his first book, and speaking at conventions and universities.

People wanted more stories about Walt Disney and how he accomplished the impossible.  They also wanted advice on how to become an Imagineer.  With Marty’s 53 years at Disney and having worked directly with Walt, he is uniquely qualified to share his experiences about both.

Continue reading Marty Sklar’s “One Little Spark” Signing at Walt’s Barn

Floyd Norman: A Disney Legend’s Animated Life

What would you give to spend an evening with a Disney Legend – an animator, a story artist who was hand-picked by Walt Disney himself, a creative mastermind and self-dubbed ‘troublemaker’?  Floyd Norman is all of these.  He was also the first African-American artist to work at Walt Disney Productions.

We gathered at nine in the evening during Comic-Con to celebrate the amazing story of Floyd Norman’s career.  His many adventures are featured in the new documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, co-directed by Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey (opens August 26, 2016).  Fiore and Sharkey were the acclaimed team behind the Drew Struzan documentary (Drew: The Man Behind the Poster,2013).

(This article was originally published on August 18, 2016 after San Diego Comic-Con, on LaughingPlace.com. )

Distinguished Panel Members – Contributors in the Documentary

The panel member list read like a list of “Who’s Who” in entertainment.

Front Row: Adrienne Norman, Leo Sullivan, Leonard Maltin, Gary Trousdale, Don Hahn, Jane Baer

Back Row: Floyd Norman, Nirali Somaia, Ryan Shore, Erik Sharkey, Michael Fiore, Ken Mitchroney

Floyd Norman – as himself.

Adrienne Norman – Art director at Disney. Senior artist, digital paint for Disney Publishing group. Photographer. Disney consumer products.  Married to Floyd Norman.

Leo Sullivan – Layout artist, collaborator and partner with Floyd Norman in their independent production studio, Vignette Films, in addition to other animation credits (Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert, Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures).

Leonard Maltin – legendary film critic and historian, reviewed films for 30 years on Entertainment Tonight, creative force behind the Walt Disney Treasures series.  Teaches in the School of Cinema at the University of Southern California.

Continue reading Floyd Norman: A Disney Legend’s Animated Life

Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

The world of Geek Fashion has blossomed, thanks in big part to Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe.  This was my article published July 29, 2016 on LaughingPlace.com reporting from San Diego Comic-Con’s Her Universe Fashion Show!

her-universe-fashion-show-runway-2016

The third annual Her Universe Fashion Show was an absolute runway success at Comic-Con 2016. Growing each year, the Her Universe Fashion Show returned with 27 Finalists premiering their Geek Couture gowns to a packed ballroom at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on July 21, 2016.

For the first time, the entire audition-to-runway process was recorded as a docu-series on Comic-Con HQ, a novel video-on-demand channel.  Also new this year was also an open call audition at Hollywood & Highland a few months before Comic-Con.  Contestants had an opportunity to present their designs, explaining their ideas in front of the panel of judges.

This year’s Fashion Show was a joint effort between Her Universe, Hot Topic, Blondie Girl Productions, Espionage Cosmetics, and Comic-Con HQ.

“27 contestants. 4 weeks. 1 dream.”

all-finalists-on-stage-2016

Winners of the Fashion Show receive an opportunity to develop their own fangirl clothing line in collaboration with Her Universe, to be sold exclusively at Hot Topic stores nationwide.

In previous years, there were two winners of each fashion show: one Judges’ Choice, and one Audience Choice.  This year, a third winner was announced on July 28, 2016, based on voting online with Comic-Con HQ.

Meet Ashley Eckstein, Founder of Her Universe.

Ashley Eckstein has been a popular on-screen and voice actor, with screen credits including Muffy from That’s So Raven, and Ahsoka from Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.  During recording for Clone Wars, Ashley noticed that there really wasn’t anything for her to wear except for boys’ T-shirts when she wanted to show her fandom.

ashley-signing-at-sw-celebration

Ashley set out to create a Star Wars clothing line for women, and pitched this idea to Lucasfilm, who turned her down. She did not have enough experience creating a clothing line.

This did not discourage our favorite Fangirl.  Ashley did her research, partnered with The Araca Group (a merchandising and production firm), and pitched her idea again.  In 2010, Lucasfilm granted Her Universe a license.

Continue reading Runway Success at Her Universe Fashion Show, Comic-Con

Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)

 

Moana is the first Polynesian Princess to join the Disney ohana.  Director and Producer team Ron Clements and John Musker (Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog) were joined by screenwriter Jared Bush (Zootopia), co-head of Animation Amy Smeed (Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6), and producer Osnat Shurer (Pixar shorts) on the “Moana: Art of Story” panel July 21, 2016 at San Diego Comic-Con.

Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con
Moana Panel, San Diego Comic-Con

We were lucky to get a closer glimpse into the next Disney Animated Feature, Moana.

(This article was originally published on LaughingPlace.com on July 27, 2016 as part of our Comic-Con coverage)

The Story of Moana

“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.”

This is a tale of how Polynesians came to navigate across the seas again, and how one person made a difference.

AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
AULI‘I CRAVALHO lends her voice to the title character, MOANA, a teenager who dreams of becoming a master wayfinder. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Princess Moana Waialiki (Auli’i Cravalho) is the 16-year old daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison, Jango Fett, Star Wars).  She is strong, independent-minded, “spitting vinegar” and a bit of a “Bada$$” as described by our panel.

TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” “Once Were Warriors,” “Six Days, Seven Nights”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI, the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End's "Cats") voices Moana’s mother, SINA, who always has her daughter’s back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina appreciates Moana’s longing to be on the water, but also wants to protect her daughter from the fabled dangers beyond the reef. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TEMUERA MORRISON (“Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”) voices Moana’s father, CHIEF TUI.  NICOLE SCHERZINGER (Grammy®-nominated singer, West End’s “Cats”) voices Moana’s mother, SINA.  ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

With generations of sea-faring ancestry, Moana cannot resist the call of the ocean, despite her father’s decree that “no one goes beyond the reef.”

Continue reading Moana Sails Into San Diego Comic Con, and Into Our Hearts (Part 1)