June 15, 2012 | 8:06 p.m.
Steps away from the honking traffic jam of humanity crushing into the grand opening of Cars Land on Friday, Disneyland quietly welcomed back one of its icons – the Matterhorn Bobsleds. The Swiss-Alps themed ride was the park’s first roller coaster in 1959 and has been undergoing much-needed minor repairs and refurbishment during the last six months. The most notable alteration is completely cosmetic, and instantly recognizable – the mountain simply looks better, much brighter and sharper. Despite global warming, more snow has fallen over the venerable Matterhorn. It pops, and frankly, is a considerable improvement over its former battered and worn appearance. Extra snowflakes and frost won’t be the only change visible on the peak’s ridges. After a lengthy absence from the park, real mountain climbers return to the 147-foot mountain and will begin scaling the slopes that separate Tomorrowland and Fantasyland (just as the […]
June 06, 2012 | 11:41 a.m.
How’s the new ride at Universal? Los Angeles Times television editor Martin Miller is our guest reviewer. There is only one measure of a marquee amusement park ride if you have children, and that is whether the parents hear “Can we go again?” before you hit the ride’s gift shop. Moments after stepping off Transformers: The Ride – 3D, which opened Memorial Day weekend at Universal Studios Hollywood, both of my sons – ages 12 and 10 – fired off the question. No hesitation, no cold feet, no concern for their safety (or their parents’) as I remember a couple summers ago from my older son after tangling with Knotts Berry Farm’s GhostRider. The Transformers reaction was immediate, utterly certain and completely enthusiastic. After declaring their interest in at least a repeat, if not three-peat, of the experience, other family […]
June 06, 2012 | 6:00 a.m.
This post has been corrected. See the note below for details. Film critics who put down Michael Bay’s “Transformers” movies by calling them theme-park rides in disguise won’t change their mind after hopping on Transformers: The Ride — 3D at Universal Studios, but they might have a dramatically improved opinion of theme-park rides. The $100-million ride, which officially opened May 24, is being hailed as a game-changer by the reviewers and bloggers who cover such things (yes, there is quite a bit of room on the Internet), and even rivals at Disney Imagineering have, in private, acknowledged that the shiny new kid on the block is pretty impressive and possibly, well, transformative. Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure in Anaheim, opening this month, has been the big theme park story this summer due to the scale of the project and […]
Feb. 02, 2012 | 6:42 p.m.
If you tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday you’ll see a parade of commercials for Hollywood’s upcoming heavy-hitter hopefuls (“The Hunger Games,” “The Avengers,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “John Carter”) but two even bigger box-office brand names — “Transformers” and “Star Wars” — will be selling something beyond the silver screen. “Star Wars” is back in a Volkswagen ad (after last year’s super-popular tiny-tot Darth Vader spot) while the massive space robots from Michael Bay’s film franchise will be bringing their unique version of heavy-metal combat to a pre-game, 30-second ad for Transformers: The Ride 3-D, which opens in May at Universal Studios Hollywood. Here’s a snippet that, if you think about it, is a promotional teaser for a commercial about a ride based on a movie created around a toy line. The ad will also introduce the website PrepareForBattle.com, where fans can check out tie-in videos or […]
Oct. 25, 2011 | 2:56 p.m.
Every Halloween is a career moment when your name is Alice Cooper. This particular October is especially notable for the veteran rock star — he’s back with a new album, an attraction at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights and a recently completed cameo in Tim Burton’s upcoming “Dark Shadows,” which features the singer as himself in all of his gory glory. “This is my season,” the 63-year-old singer said with a satisfied grin during a recent visit to Los Angeles. “Welcome to the nightmare, all over again.” “Welcome to My Nightmare” was the name of Cooper’s 1975 concept album that delved into the nightmares of a child named Steven. That vintage vinyl moment is echoing now at Universal Studios Hollywood, where this year’s elaborate Halloween attraction includes a “Welcome to My Nightmare” maze with music and imagery from that album and others by Cooper. Halloween Horror Nights runs through Monday […]
Sept. 21, 2011 | 6:39 a.m.
When James Cameron’s “Avatar” hit theaters in 2009, many moviegoers were so dazzled by the lush, 3-D world of the alien moon Pandora that they wanted to step right inside. Now the Walt Disney Co. is aiming to offer that kind of experience to its theme park patrons. Disney’s Imagineers are working with Cameron, his producing partner Jon Landau and studio 20th Century Fox to bring the fantasy world from “Avatar” to its theme parks, beginning with a multi-attraction themed land at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla. Though the attraction is still in its earliest development stages, Cameron has clear ideas about what he’d like any Pandoran land to include, which he shared in an interview on Tuesday. “I definitely want to do a flight attraction of some kind,” the director said, citing the “Soarin’ Over California” flying […]
April 07, 2011 | 10:28 a.m.
The new and improved Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida will be a force to be reckoned with, including 54 “truly amazing” variations that give riders an ever-changing experience, according to Anthony Daniels, the actor who portrayed C-3PO in the “Star Wars” films and revisits the role for the theme-park attraction. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is the name of the reimagined attraction, and Daniels put an emphasis on the plural: “It’s adventures, not adventure.” It speaks to the variable nature of a ride that will take visitors through different landscapes and scenarios in the Jedi universe — be it the frozen tundra of Hoth, the gleaming spires of Coruscant or the unfinished innards of a still-under-construction Death Star space station. Work is still underway on both attractions, which have been billed as state of […]
Feb. 07, 2011 | 12:28 p.m.
Brady MacDonald writes about theme parks for the Los Angeles Times, and he’s excited about the green movement at Six Flags… What I’ve dubbed the “most anticipated new roller coaster of the summer” has arrived at Six Flags Magic Mountain — and I’m already salivating. Magic Mountain took delivery this week of the rocking and spinning Green Lantern coaster trains, which join portions of the emerald green track already on site at the Valencia amusement park. (Watch the concept video of the Green Lantern.) Ground clearance is currently underway for the first-of-its-kind ride in the U.S., with vertical construction expected to begin in March in advance of a scheduled Memorial Day weekend unveiling. Crews still have to add the Green Lantern symbols and throwing-star designs to the sides of the five trains before on-track testing begins in late spring. THERE’S MORE, […]
Jan. 06, 2011 | 11:57 a.m.
A new “Star Wars” themed area at Legoland California with 2,000 Lego models will take visitors chronologically through scenes from the epic film saga. Scheduled to make its debut March 31, the “Star Wars” area will be part of the Carlsbad kiddie park’s Miniland, park officials said Thursday. It will feature animated scenes from the six movies in the series and the “Clone Wars” animated television show — complete with special effects and sound effects. Eight model makers and two animators based at Legoland Germany have been working for a year with Lucasfilm to create 1:20 scale versions of “Star Wars” characters, spacecraft and landscapes using 1.5 million Lego bricks. In addition to posing for photos with life-size Lego models of Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader, visitors will be able to wander through seven Lego-fied “Star Wars” scenes… THERE’S MORE, […]
Oct. 18, 2010 | 7:26 p.m.
Ben Fritz at our must-read sister blog Company Town reports that the Mouse is moving into a new phase with Marvel… Disney wants to dominate the Marvel universe as soon as possible. Resolving a long-standing question since Walt Disney Co. bought Marvel Entertainment last year for $4 billion, the Burbank studio has signed a deal to take over marketing and distribution of “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3” from Paramount Pictures…. Later in the story he makes an interesting connection… For Disney, the deal enables the studio to exploit “The Avengers” and “Iron Man 3″ across all of its entertainment businesses, including movies, television, consumer products and theme parks. Capitalizing on the Marvel properties in such a way was the primary reason Disney cited for its acquisition of the comic company. “In completing this agreement, Disney will leverage these two highly anticipated films across the multiple global platforms of the […]