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This week Universal CityWalk in Hollywood celebrated the start of the festive holiday season with a spirited tree lighting ceremony featuring Carson Daly from “The Voice,” along with Santa Claus and the show’s top 10 finalists. In addition to these scheduled stars, coaches/musicians Blake Shelton and Adam Levine made a surprise appearance just moments after they wrapped one of their live TV shows.

Watch the full lighting ceremony in the video below.

After the ceremony, the finalists performed for the crowd – though no Christmas tunes were sung. But fans didn’t mind as they were treated to performances from contestants worthy of being called “The Voice.”

CityWalk’s holiday festivities will feature free concerts and hourly snowfall at Santa’s Snow Zone, where guests may take photos with Kris Kringle himself aboard his giant sleigh. Event dates are Friday, November 28 through Thursday, December 25, 2014.


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This year’s Halloween season was busier than ever, as we expanded our coverage to haunts not only in Florida and California, but also New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania – mostly featured on our spin-off site, Outside the Magic.

Even bigger was my role at the Radley Haunted House as producer and technical director, as well as writing and directing a 2-night special event. But I certainly didn’t want to leave our own home without some Halloween fun.

So this year at Inside the Magic HQ, we took a simpler approach to the decorations in favor of entertaining trick-or-treaters with a talkative pumpkin patch surrounding our front door.

And yeah, we still scared a few kids too. Check it out in the video below, including the return of our Trick-or-Treater Cam!

Though the overall decorations weren’t quite as over-the-top as in the past, our visitors LOVED the change, raving about the interactive experience they just had.

And for those of you who may have missed it, here is the incredible experience I helped bring to life at the Radley Haunted House down in St. Petersburg, Florida:

Next year we’ll be back with an all-new, bigger and better show at Radley!


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Destination D: Attraction Rewind reached back to 1964 World’s Fair, ahead to “Tomorrowland” in Walt Disney World event

Destination D: Attraction Rewind reached back to 1964 World’s Fair, ahead to “Tomorrowland” in Walt Disney World event

This past weekend, fans gathered at Walt Disney World’s Contemporary Resort Hotel for the opening of D23’s look back on a pivotal point in Disney’s history: The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. This was day one of Destination D: Attraction Rewind and the “D” could have easily described delight AND discovery.

Inside, some large pieces of Disney history welcomed attendees.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

The event experience began as guests received their credentials a surprise loomed inside the bag of swag: Stamp’d23 – a mousterpiece of modern technology: on a mobile device with the D23 website open, the ‘stamp’ is placed on the screen and exclusive content is unlocked, the first of which was a welcome video by Colonel Critchlow Suchbench (the half bodied, gin and tonic loving Grenadier from the Adventurers Club) that set the tone for the weekend.

In main event room, ceremonies were brought to order with a welcome from the new head of D23 and the Disney Archives, Adam Sanderson. He introduced day’s topic, the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, celebrating its 50th anniversary. Hostess Kristen Rodack from D23 then reminded attendees of that the treat they were about to experience was the most comprehensive look back at the World’s Fair that the Disney Company has shared publicly.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

It all began as Disney Historian Bill Cotter set the stage with an overview of the historic event, a presentation called “Welcome to the World’s Fair.” An overview of the mammoth event was revealed in dozens of images from the time.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World

Highlights included:

- References to the 1939 World’s Fair held at the same site; the same roads and fireworks techniques were again used in the 1964-65 fair.

- Several Fair Firsts: including a family sized photo booth that featured a new “touch tone” technology, carbonless copy paper introduced by NCR, and computers (the size of a hotel room) had their first ‘use’ by the public (IBM, NCR and NY State)

These gems and more can also be viewed on Mr. Cottler’s World’s Fair website: worldsfairphotos.com.

Disney Legends Marty Sklar and Bob Gurr then discussed “Walt Disney – A Giant at the New York World’s Fair”. The playful interaction between Marty and Bob had the amusing delight that would make any topic entertaining, and almost eclipsed their passionate presentation.

Destination D: Attraction Rewind D23 event at Walt Disney World


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FEATURED STORY

Disneyland celebrates holiday fantasy at special Annual Passholder event with character surprises

Disneyland celebrates holiday fantasy at special Annual Passholder event with character surprises

This week saw another of the newly instituted Annual Passholder parties at the Disneyland Resort. For APs whose passes are set to expire in the coming quarter, the fine folks at Disney have been organizing a time of celebration and wooing to remind people why they love coming to Disneyland.

In the fall, the party had a decades theme, and this quarter’s theme was holiday fantasy. The event took place after hours from 8:00-midnight in a decorated Disneyland Park.

Each guest received a special guide to the park for the night.

After checking in and receiving wrist bands, guests were free to galavant around Disneyland in very light crowds. Many rides were “walk ons,” and those that were not had the benefit of being visited by seasoned park-goers, making the lines move extra quickly. The crowd was also largely populated by adults; strollers and kids were scarce.

All we want for Christmas is light crowds during the normally teeming holiday time.

Although the nightly Christmas fireworks went off before the official start of the event, plenty of other entertainment filled the air. Wintertime Enchantment was a new way for guests to experience Disneyland snow. At three times throughout the night, a brief dialogue played over Main Street while the castle, garlands, and Christmas tree sparkled in time.

Sleeping Beauty Castle was all aglow.

The Enchantment lasted about 5 minutes and was capped by a gentle snowfall. In comparison to previous experiences, the snow seemed very sparse. The usual magical blizzard was not to be found.

A Christmas Fantasy Parade roused guests with its high spirits and traditional floats. Unlike at other times during the holiday season, the parade was easily viewable with no wait time. All the characters and dancers gave 100% in their performances for the eager and appreciative crowd.

Excellent viewing made for an up-close-and-personal parade.

Christmas favorites from years past kept the parade the tradition that it is for so many passholders.

New floats fit right in, too.

Throughout the park, rare walkaround characters greeted guests. Esmerelda and Clopin, Pocahontas, John Smith, and Miko, Cinderella’s step-mother and step-sisters, a band of rare villains, the three little pigs and big bad wolf, and the entire cast of Pinocchio were among the special appearances. Even characters from Disney Afternoon and the Country Bears came out of retirement.

The entire cast of Pinocchio was there – one of several groups to appear together throughout the park.

Princesses and their princes were also on hand for extended meet and greets at the Fantasy Faire Royal Theater. Passholders queued in one area and were brought to another for personal talk times away from any crowds.

In Tomorrowland, Tomasina rocked the night away.

The only truly long  lines in the park were at food vendors. People came hungry after long drives from around the area, and since only a few dining locations were open, guests had extended waits for dinner and snacks.

The gingerbread was not even close in comparison to the heavenly pieces at Walt Disney World resorts in Florida, but hey. You have to at least try. Why not just share the recipe, though? Just sayin’.

Overall, the event was well organized and enjoyable, with unique touches that made passholders feel welcome and festive. Announcements of thanks and appreciation from Disney to its guests peppered the night. Special lighting celebrated passholders’ attendance, and every attendee received a holiday gift as they went on their merry ways.

It’s nice to be celebrated!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?!


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FEATURED STORY

Great Movie Ride to get updated as Walt Disney World partners with Turner Classic Movies in new sponsorship

Great Movie Ride to get updated as Walt Disney World partners with Turner Classic Movies in new sponsorship

When Walt Disney World recently announced the giant Sorcerer Mickey Hat would be removed from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fans wondered what would happen to the Great Movie Ride behind it.

Disney has announced a new partnership with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to breathe some new life into the classic attraction.

In partnership with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, TCM will sponsor the Great Movie Ride, making some changes to the experience along with featuring the TV network’s name and logo on signage throughout the attraction.

Changes at the ride will be complete by spring 2015, updating the queue and finale videos to include TCM host Robert Osborne. The sponsorship also gives fans confidence that Disney does not plan to tear down the park’s iconic Chinese Theater replica once the big hat disappears, returning the view that the park had back when it opened decades ago.

The queue line will feature new digital movie posters and the finale will feature a new montage of classic movie moments. After guests exit the attraction, they will have a photo opportunity with a classic movie theme.

A web page has been launched to showcase the partnership on TCM.com.

The deal with TCM extends to Walt Disney Studios, which will allow vintage programming for the network, including “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” for a new programming block called “Treasures From the Disney Vault” to debut on Dec. 21.

TCM.com offers a schedule for Treasures From the Disney Vault airings.

It’s not the first time Disney and Turner Classic Movies have partnered, recently hosting two TCM cruises aboard the Disney Magic and regularly taking part in the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

More details are expected when Disney makes the announcement tomorrow.


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