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Topics: Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios FloridaTags: , , ,

Since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley recently debuted at Universal Orlando, guests have been rushing around to ride the Hogwarts Express and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts attractions, enjoy live performances, and watch the unmissable massive dragon breathe fire. Amidst all that excitement, it’s easy to overlook the incredible amount of small details each of the new land’s buildings, signs, and windows include.

Graphic design company MinaLima Design created much of the artwork seen in the “Harry Potter” films, so naturally their talents were called upon once again when Diagon Alley was being developed. The result is an astounding array of colorful artwork and imagery showcased throughout the new area, well worth stopping to appreciate around every corner. And beyond the graphic work, sculptures and statues can be seen just about everywhere in Diagon Alley as well.

There’s even a graphic above the Shutterbutton’s shop that I like to pretend is a tribute to our little site here. (Read the text in white.)

The photo slideshow below features more than 400 images focusing solely on the details of Diagon Alley, photographed across many hours spent throughout multiple days in the Wizarding World since its debut. While these details make for great pictures, they’re even better to see in person – one of the many reasons why Diagon Alley is much more than just a series of shops with one big ride. It’s a chance to explore an area rich with interesting and unique elements for those who take the time to take them all in.

Diagon Alley details at Universal Orlando:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


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Topics: Merchandise, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios FloridaTags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Universal Orlando recently debuted the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley with thousands of guests lining up to ride its new attractions, sample the park’s new food, and spend plenty of time shopping.

In fact, Diagon Alley mostly features stores giving plenty of opportunities to shop for toys, apparel, collectibles, and everything a “Harry Potter” fan could possibly want. There’s Quidditch equipment, Hogwarts house sweaters, model Hogwarts Express trains, plush pixies, and expensive costumes to be found. Spread across intricately detailed shops like Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Ollivander’s Wand Shop, Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, and Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, there’s no shortage of unique products to find.


Video: Diagon Alley stores tour


The slideshow below features more than 200 photos of nothing but merchandise, a thorough overview of all of the new products being sold in Diagon Alley. New items are showing up every day so this isn’t fully comprehensive, but it is a good place to start browsing to prepare a bank account for a trip to the Wizarding World.

Diagon Alley merchandise photos from Universal Orlando:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


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FEATURED STORY

New Club 33 menu revealed as Chef Andrew Sutton takes over in exclusive Disneyland restaurant

New Club 33 menu revealed as Chef Andrew Sutton takes over in exclusive Disneyland restaurant

The grand reopening of Club 33 is set for next week after months of renovation, offering a new look, new logo, and entirely new menu.

Chef Andrew Sutton is now in charge of Club 33′s menu. Sutton has successfully developed Disneyland menus for Napa Rose and Carthay Circle, now bringing his California-inspired touches to the exclusive New Orleans Square venue.

When it reopens, Club 33 will be more exclusive than ever, allowing members to make non-member reservations just 20 times per year, only 14 days in advance for Sun-Thurs and 3 days in advance for Friday and Saturday. The goal is to get more members into the club rather than filling it with their guests.

Membership dues are once again raising in 2015 – $14,400 for Platinum Memberships, $19,600 for Executive Memberships, and $6,300.00 for Affiliate Memberships.

The full new lunch and dinner menus for Club 33 have been revealed to members, reprinted in their entirety below.

Le Grand Salon – Lunch

Your choice of Three or Four Course Menu

Appetizers

Warm Blue Crab and Artichoke Gratin with Lemon Chervil Glasage
Grilled Quail with Figs and Summer Corn Velvet
Zucchini Blossom Stuffed with Mushrooms on Fresh Field Pea Coulis
Boudin Sausage and Pâté Maison with Apricot Mustard and Grilled Apricot

Salads

Heirloom Tomatoes Salad with Crispy Burrata Cheese and Green Tomato Gazpacho
Summer Garden Salad with Shaved Radishes, Baby Cucumbers and Maison Vinaigrette
Watermelon Salad with Southern Orange Crème Fraîche and Petit Greens

Seasonal Soup: Creole Summer Tomato Soup with a Mini-Muffuletta

Entrees

Citrus Lobster Salad with Tender Greens, Cucumbers and Southern Orange Vinaigrette
Iron Seared Fish of the Day with a Poached Oyster, Leek and Potato Stew
Layered Ratatouille with Red Quinoa, Black-eyed Peas and Tomato Coulis
Breast of Chicken with Grilled Peaches, Toasted Pecans, and Collard Greens
Berkshire Pork Medallion Gratin with Southern Red Bean Ragu
Pan Roasted Angus Hanger Steak with Cabernet Jus and Tender Haricot Verts

Desserts

Summer Peaches and Cream, Whipped Panna Cotta, and Meringue Chips
Warm Monkey Bread with Old Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream with Candied Pecan Praline Liqueur
Sorbet Trio: Meyer Lemon Basil, Mango and Spiced Raspberry with Fresh Pineapple
Classic “Opera Cake” Manjari Chocolate, Coffee Liquor and Almond Cake with Caramel Crème


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FEATURED STORY

Marvel Universe Live kicks off tour bringing action-packed new superhero show to arenas nationwide

Marvel Universe Live kicks off tour bringing action-packed new superhero show to arenas nationwide

Since “Iron Man” rocketed into theaters in 2008, Marvel has been more popular than ever, prompting an entire cinematic universe with a huge following of fans. Now Feld Entertainment – the company behind Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney On Ice – is bringing that universe to cities across the United States in a new touring show called Marvel Universe Live.

Its official debut will take place tonight in Tampa, Florida, but a recent preview performance revealed its action-packed scenes for the first time.


Video: Marvel Universe Live touring show preview in Tampa


Billed as featuring more Marvel characters than any other live show in history, Marvel Universe Live features favorite heroes including Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops, and Black Widow alongside villains Loki, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull and more. The list even stretches into lesser-knowns like Captain Marvel, Black Cat, The Lizard, and Madame Hydra.

Twenty-five trucks will transport the show around the country along with 53 performers and 46 crew members.

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Characters are portrayed by stunt men and women capable of performing flips, simulated fights, motorcycle aerobatics, and plenty of high-flying wire-rigged moments. They’re not exactly actors, so all voices are pre-recorded and lip synched during the show. Fortunately, some of the voices closely match how the more familiar characters sound in the recent Marvel films. Loki vaguely sounds like Tom Hiddleston, Captain America like Chris Evans, etc.

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

But don’t expect the Marvel Cinematic Universe to play a big part in the inspiration of Marvel Universe Live. Costumes and scenes more closely resemble comic books or a cartoon series than live-action films. Plenty of brightly colored spandex clothes these characters. Though The Hulk is a feat unto itself, standing 8’5″ high – the result of more than 1,500 hours of development and building work including 4 prototypes.

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

The story follows the heroes as they attempt to prevent Loki from reuniting pieces of the Tesseract (glowing cube as seen in “The Avengers”), which have been scattered across the Earth. But it takes quite a long time to get to the action as the first hour of the show feels like a whole lot of setup. Fortunately after a 15-minute intermission, Iron Man’s Jarvis recaps the story until that point, making some sense of it all for those who couldn’t follow along, and setting the stage for the entertainment that remains.

While audiences get plenty of character introductions in the first half, with just a bit of action, the second half really packs a punch with an almost non-stop onslaught of pyrotechnics, stunts, projections, and endless soundtrack of punch and kick sound effects.

The show has many stand-out moments, like Captain America throwing his shield to take down an airplane and Spider-Man web swinging across the arena to battle a floating Green Goblin.

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

But fight scenes become repetitive quickly, leaving the 2-hour show to feel even longer. Moreover, after the fourth or fifth motorcycle lap between Wolverine and Bruce Banner the audience is left wondering what exactly is going on and – more importantly – why these superheroes are wearing bulky helmets. (Yes, the performers need to be safe but… they’re supposed to be superheroes!)

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Likewise, the wire rigging is far too visible, entirely taking away from the superhero aspect of any of the characters in flight. Iron Man looks like he’s dangling like a high school “Peter Pan” play instead of a big budget touring arena show.

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Children will definitely enjoy this show more than adults. It’s perfect for young Marvel fans around age 10-12. Any younger and the long runtime might leave kids squirming.

Despite all that, Marvel Universe Live is entertaining and the character action is fun to watch. It’s also great to see all the Marvel characters play nice together, even across movie studio lines. With a bit of trimming, say half an hour shorter, the show could really be something good. But as is, it ends up being just a bit tedious, especially with tickets being way, way too expensive at $45-100 each.

And parents beware: On the way out, there is an abundance of brightly colored, low quality Marvel-themed merchandise being sold at extremely high prices. As one mother said to her son looking at the cheap toys, “How about we go to Walmart and buy something better for less money?” An assortment of plushes and light-up spinning toys fills the many merchandise stands. The only worthwhile unique item seems to be the “Lectro Link” wristband, which ties into Iron Man’s story in the show – a decent souvenir (though not worth the hefty $25 price).

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

Marvel Universe Live touring arena show

More information, a list of cities, and tickets can be found at MarvelUniverseLive.com.

More photos from Marvel Universe Live:


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Topics: Disney, Entertainment, Merchandise, Movies, Special Events, TelevisionTags: , , , , ,

As San Diego Comic-Con 2014 is fast approaching with preview night just two weeks away, Star Wars fans have learned there is no hope for an Episode VII surprise at the event.

On StarWars.com, Disney and Lucasfilm have revealed their full line-up of panels for the mega event – none of which include Episode VII:

“With Star Wars: Episode VII creators deep in production in anticipation of the film’s December 18, 2015, release, Lucasfilm will not be featuring the movie at SDCC.”

There will, however, be panels devoted to “Star Wars Rebels,” the original trilogy, collectibles, and more. Here’s the full line-up:

The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., Room 6BCF
The Empire. The Rebellion. The Beginning. Star Wars Rebels, Lucasfilm’s highly anticipated animated series detailing the start of the fight against the evil Empire, is coming this fall — but fans can get a big sneak peek at San Diego Comic-Con.

Lucasfilm’s special panel, The Heroes of Star Wars Rebels, will feature executive producer Dave Filoni, as well as the first panel appearance by executive producer Simon Kinberg and stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Steve Blum, Tiya Sircar, and Taylor Gray. They’ll discuss making the show and will reveal exclusive content from the upcoming series for fans in attendance.

Friday, July 25, Star Wars Day
Star Wars Origami: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., Room 7AB
Origami Master folder Chris Alexander (author of Star Wars Origami) demonstrates and teaches the master folding techniques to make Star Wars origami figures. Attendees will fold an exclusive Comic-Con model along with other art from the Star Wars universe. Materials included!

Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Room 7AB
For the first time, Lucasfilm has opened its Archives to present comprehensive storyboards for the original Star Wars trilogy — the world-changing A New Hope and its operatic sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — as well as never-before-published art from early conceptual and deleted scenes, in a new book from Abrams: Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy. Former ILM art director Joe Johnston will discuss the newest addition to the Abrams Star Wars library, and the singular experience of creating the iconic trilogy’s storyboards with his stellar art dept team. Johnston won an Academy Award for Best Visual effects for his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and has directed Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Rocketeer, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III, Hidalgo, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Moderated by Lucasfilm editor J.W. Rinzler.

Hasbro: Star Wars: 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Room 7AB
Join members of the Hasbro brand and design team including Jeff Labovitz (director, Global Brand Marketing, Hasbro), Bill Rawley (design manager, Hasbro), and more as they discuss the popular Hasbro Star Wars line. Attendees will also get a sneak peek of upcoming, never-before-seen action figures from the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebels animated series.

Star Wars: Collectibles Update: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00pm, Room 7AB
Join eFX, Gentle Giant Studios, Kotobukiya, and Sideshow Collectibles for product development insights and exclusive previews of the latest in Star Wars collectibles. Moderated by Anita Castellar of Lucas Licensing.

Star Wars: A New Dawn: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00p.m., Room 7AB
The new era of Star Wars storytelling begins in September with Star Wars: A New Dawn. Join New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller, Shelly Shapiro (editor, Del Rey), Frank Parisi (editor, Del Rey), Jennifer Heddle (senior editor, Lucasfilm), Pablo Hidalgo (Lucasfilm Story Group), Vanessa Marshall (Hera in Star Wars Rebels), along with Dave Filoni (executive producer, Star Wars Rebels), as they discuss the planning and process of Star Wars: A New Dawn, and present the list of upcoming Star Wars novels from Del Rey.

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Room 7AB
Ralph McQuarrie’s art for the original Star Wars trilogy is introduced to a new generation of young readers in Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Join New York Times bestselling author Tony DiTerlizzi as he talks about the conceptualization of this project and the process, challenges, and privileges of writing to the works of a legend. Moderated by J.W. Rinzler (executive editor, Lucasfilm).

Jeffrey Brown – Star Wars Insider: Booth #5537
The writer/artist of Vader’s Little Princess and other classic all-ages Star Wars books, Jeffrey Brown, will be signing copies of Star Wars Insider #151 for fans at the Titan Publishing booth. Brown created an original cover just for this issue!

Saturday, July 26:
Lucasfilm Portfolio Review: 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Room PR F
Troy Alders, now art director at Disney Consumer Products, is conducting portfolio reviews, providing critiques, and offering tips to graphic designers. Bring a portfolio selection of your best design work in and see if you have what it takes to create art for the ever-expanding Star Wars galaxy. Graphic Design degrees a plus.

Inside the Magic will once again be covering all 4.5 days of San Diego Comic-Con so check back in two weeks for all the fun!


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