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Fun Stuff

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to bring VR experience to Disney Resorts

by on Aug.04, 2017, under Fun Stuff, Movies

[Reposted from our sister site, WDW Untangled]

A collaboration between Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB division (which works on immersive entertainment) and VR experience startup THE VOID, will see a VOID Entertainment Center open at both Disneyland’s Downtown Disney and Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, which will feature Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a fully immersive VR experience, which The Void calls “hyper-reality”.

THE VOID already operates locations in New York City (inside Madame Tussaud’s), Toronto, Lindon, Utah and Dubai, where they have Ghostbusters Dimension.

The Void says Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire “will plunge guests directly into the iconic Star Wars galaxy. They will move freely throughout the untethered, social, and multi-sensory Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience in a way that allows them to interact and engage with friends, family and Star Wars characters. This ground-breaking experience will open to the public at two new VOID Experience Centers at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort beginning this holiday season.”

“At The VOID, we combine the magic of illusion, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at The VOID. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of The VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”

Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge of ILMxLab, said, “At ILMxLAB, we want people to step inside the worlds of our stories. Through our collaboration with The VOID, we can make this happen as guests become active participants in an unfolding Star Wars adventure. By combining Lucasfilm’s storytelling expertise with cutting-edge imagery, and immersive sound from the team at Skywalker Sound, while invoking all the senses, we hope to truly transport all those who experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to a galaxy far, far away.”
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire marks an important milestone in the continued expansion of The VOID, which also joined the 2017 Disney Accelerator earlier this year,” said Cliff Plumer, CEO of The VOID. “Through the power of The VOID, guests can now experience the magic of Star Wars firsthand.”

Expect to have to make reservations FAR in advance…


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Disney considering two-night immersive Star Wars experience

by on Apr.19, 2017, under Fun Stuff, Movies

Before I say more, I want to preface this by pointing to the second word in this article’s headline – “considering”. There have been a number of “breaking news” articles in the last 24 hours that say “creating”, and the two are VERY different.

According to Tom Corliss of WDW News Today, Disney has been sending a survey to guests via Swagbucks (an earn-rewards-for-surveys site), that asks them their interest in a new form of Star Wars experience – a two-night all-inclusive stay aboard a “starship” (think something like a Star Destroyer or Republic cruiser) with a fully immersive experience where you take part in the story via training programs including lightsaber training, secret missions, and more. The reported price tag would be $900-$1000 per person. You can see some concept art on the original article. This would be a resort next to Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, which is currently getting a massive makeover for a Star Wars “land”, and the price would include some exclusive access to that area (due to be completed in 2019).

Although I think this is a GREAT idea and would totally do it (I’m still considering the price tag, however – I could spend a week on a cruise for that), I’m cautious mainly because I am very familiar with Disney and all these plans that never come to fruition. First, historically a lot of “blue sky” ideas (basically the first level of coming up with ideas, long before practicality and budgets get looked at) get leaked through social media. I’m still waiting for the extra-immersive Adventurers Club over at Animal Kingdom, for example, or the return of River Country.

Second, Disney sends LOTS of surveys with all sorts of ideas to gauge guest interest. I’ve taken dozens of them. Many things on those surveys can be outlandish, and never come to be, but may lead to other ideas. Usually Disney does such surveys internally as well, but this one was done by a third party.

There are various stages of bringing any idea to fruition – this is somewhere above “blue sky”, since they have some concept art showing they are thinking of this seriously), but this is still far below “announced” – and if you know about Disney’s history with announcements, even then that doesn’t mean it gets built.

I place this right now as a 10% confidence of it happening. So while I’m thrilled at the possibility of this existing, my practical Disney side is also saying it is a long shot. I’d like to see this more like a special Star Wars cruise – at least then you are on a real ship. 🙂


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Rhode Island Comic Con continues to grow, but is it running out of space?

by on Nov.16, 2016, under Conventions, Fun Stuff

Myself with Brent SpinerThis was our third year in a row attending Rhode Island Comic Con, which is easily the largest comic and media convention in New England, and likely second in the northeast U.S. behind New York Comic Con. Two years ago they outgrew their venue at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence after scoring most of the surviving cast of the original Star Trek to headline the event. So they immediately planned to expand to to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center arena located next door and last year, but a new venue presented new challenges in how to organize all the dozens of celebrities, the hundreds of vendors and the thousands of fans, resulting in other issues with finding where some celebrities were and not enough space for the lines.

Now this year’s guest list – Stan Lee?!? You could probably fill a convention on just that. But add other hot guests like Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who had just proven himself as one of the meanest, craziest bat-wielding psychos on The Walking Dead, Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things, Gal Gadot who plays Wonder Woman…that’s filling up fast. And that’s just a few. How about Billy Dee Williams, Alice Cooper, Christian Slater, Summer Glau, Arthur Darvill, John Ratzenberger, Ric Flair…and I’m still only a fraction of the way through the list.

It won't be this empty again...The convention opened on Friday, but due to other commitments we weren’t able to arrive until early Saturday. From all accounts, Friday went quite well. I was able to enter early and see the new setup, and the changes I saw made a lot of sense…more line space and corrals for guests in line for celebrity meets, better layout for vendors on the main floor, etc. The one gotcha – there is only one indoor path between the arena and convention center, via a narrow sky bridge, and due to crowd control and regulations they needed to make that a one-way corridor from the arena to the center. To get back to the arena for some of the headline guests and photo ops, you actually had to exit (and scan out your badge, so they had a better idea on the number of people inside) and walk back to the arena and enter via a special “re-entry” entrance.

I would never see the place that empty again. 🙂
(continue reading…)


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Hot Topic acquiring Her Universe

by on Oct.28, 2016, under Fun Stuff

Her Universe and founder Ashley Eckstein announced today that the Her Universe brand is being acquired by pop culture retailer Hot Topic. Hot Topic will take over operations of the e-commerce and wholesale operations. Eckstein will stay on and continue to develop the brand.

“We are very excited to partner with Ashley Eckstein and Her Universe,” said Steve Vranes, CEO of Hot Topic. “We have worked closely with Ashley, Araca, and Her Universe over the past six years, together bringing fangirl fashion to a growing community of passionate fans. Ashley and Araca have built an incredible brand with a loyal customer base, and we look forward to supporting Her Universe in this new capacity.”

“I am thrilled to be bringing Her Universe to the Hot Topic family of brands,” said Ashley Eckstein, Founder of Her Universe. “Six years ago I founded Her Universe with the mission to create an empowering community and t-shirt brand for fangirls. We’ve since grown into a fashion, entertainment, publishing and lifestyle brand. Operating as a division of Hot Topic, Her Universe will continue to be a stand-alone brand selling to various retailers but with the support needed to grow the company in ways I have always dreamed.”

Eckstein, in a separate letter, said, “I imagine your next question probably is, ‘Will Her Universe only be a brand at Hot Topic now?’ The answer is emphatically ‘no.’ Her Universe will continue to be a stand-alone brand that is available at multiple retailers and on HerUniverse.com just like we always have been. We will also be continuing with the Her Universe Fashion Show and Her Universe Press. Honestly, the Her Universe brand that we’ve all grown and built together will continue as you’ve known it, but exciting growth and amazing opportunities lie ahead.

“What can you expect? Here’s just a sampling:

* We’ll finally be able to offer more plus sizes
* We’re going to offer our designs in Europe
* We’ll be designing some fashion for men
* We’ll be re-launching a new and improved Her Universe Press
* We’re going to add more licenses, more active wear and more fashion categories

“I am personally going to focus on continuing to build our amazing community and offering more content and ways for fans to connect. Honestly, I cannot contain my excitement over what’s ahead! Hot Topic has been such an important partner of ours and now that we are joining forces, we are listening and we are excited to bring you more!”

I met Ashley just over six years ago, and I’ve been asking for men’s items since then, so yes, we’re happy about this announcement! Good luck to Ashley and Her Universe!


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Tidbits: A Wrinkle In Time, Captain Marvel, Caves of Steel movie, Wynonna Earp renewed

by on Jul.26, 2016, under Fun Stuff, Movies, Television

Some tidbits as I get a break from vacation/traveling…

On the movie front, Oprah Winfrey is near set to star as Mrs. Which in a new adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time to be directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma) for Disney. Amy Adams and Kevin Hart are also in talks.

Speaking of Disney, Disneyland is about to rebuild it’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction with a whole new theme based on Guardians of the Galaxy. The new attraction will be called “Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout” and be ready for next summer. Here is a video of Joe Rhode explaining the attraction:

Also on the Disney park front, if you can get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida, you have to check out the “Star Wars Galactic Spectacular” fireworks and light show. It is AMAZING!

The new Captain Marvel has been announced, and it will be Brie Larson. Kevin Feige made the announcement at Comic Con, but wouldn’t say what movie she might first appear in.

Syfy renewed Wynonna Earp for a second season.

Lastly, Fox has tapped Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) to adapt Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel, which has been in the works for a few years with Simon Kinberg with Henry Hobson. Ironically, Akiva Goldsman co-wrote 2004’s I, Robot, which is often mistaken as an Asimov story due to similar themes with a collection of stories Asimov wrote with the same title, but the movie was based on a short story by Eando Bender.


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Tidbits: Ford to preview Disney’s Star Wars park plans; American Gods gets Shadow; Time After Time pilot order

by on Jan.28, 2016, under Fun Stuff, Movies, Television

Just some quick stories…first, Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, will star in a Wonderful World of Disney special called “Disneyland 60” where he will preview the upcoming Star Wars-themed park areas at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Walt Disney World. Filming of the special starts tomorrow and will air on February 21st on ABC. The special itself will focus on Disneyland’s 60th anniversary, with Derek Hough as host and Elton John, Josh Gad and Witney Carson already announced as guests.

The 100‘s Ricky Whittle will be protagonist Shadow Moon in the upcoming Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, about the struggle between the old gods of mythology and the new gods that represent modern society’s influences – money, power, technology, etc. Ex-con Shadow find himself as a bodyguard to the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, “a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.” Bryan Fuller and Michael Green are writers/showrunners, and David Slade (Hannibal) is directing the pilot and will direct additional episodes. Shooting is expected to start in April.

The Time After Time series remake for ABC we reported on in September has gotten a pilot order from ABC. It’s still early in the process as there does not appear to be any casting contingency in the pilot order, but I understand that studio Warner Bros. TV had one or more “if come” deals with casting directors if the project got picked up.


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Disney scuttles Star Wars Weekends while construction begins for new Star Wars area

by on Nov.09, 2015, under Fun Stuff, Movies

Star Wars Weekends, a multi-weekend event that Disney has hosted for annually for the last 13 years and occasionally before that, is over.

It was announced on the official Disney Parks Blog today, although we believed it already to be the case.

Construction will begin next year in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, where the Weekends were held, in order to provide a whole new “land” dedicated to Star Wars. Previously, the Star Wars presence was limited to the Star Tours attraction, the Tatooine Traders shop, and more recently the Jedi Training Academy (where children get trained by a Jedi and then face Darth Vader!) With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 everyone expected a bigger park presence and it’s on the way. A few details were released about that expansion:

  • On December 1st, “Star Wars: Launch Bay” opens, giving fans a look at the franchise and the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, special merchandise and opportunities to encounter Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will feature a new scene inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens: a chase following the Millenium Falcon through the ship wreckage on the desert planet of Jakku. Those familiar with the random scenes in the attraction might be glad to know that for a few months, the Jakku scene will be in every ride, and then it “will be up to the will of the Force”.
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (opening early December) is a re-imagining of the Jedi Training Academy which will take younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they will face Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister – a new villain from the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi will feature scenes from the complete Star Wars saga, also giving anyone new to the Star Wars galaxy an opportunity to get acquainted with the films.

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Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds

by on Oct.30, 2015, under Fun Stuff, Video/DVD

In honor of the original radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, here is the audio of my favorite rock opera, which is an impressive adaptation of the original story in music. And if you think the music is awesome, you need to see the concert…it is UNBELIEVABLE.

However, I do apologize in advance…some of these songs will stick in your head. But it’s a brave new world…


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Walt Disney World plans Opening Night event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios

by on Oct.19, 2015, under Fun Stuff, Movies

From our sister site, WDW Untangled

tfasoirwe872417-613x908On the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17th, Walt Disney World Resort will host a special ticketed event at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios park for fans who want to be among the first viewers of the movie and celebrate with other fans.

Guests will have a confirmed seat at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theater for a showing between 7pm-8pm, and then celebrate over at Hollywood Studios at a private party afterwards until 2am. The party will include special access to the new Star Wars: Launch Bay exhibit, the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction, a DJ dance party, and a preview of the all new fireworks display set to Star Wars music. Costumes are encouraged! But follow standard Disney guest costume guidelines – if you dress like a Disney character, for instance, you may not pose for pictures with other guests or sign autographs, etc.

Characters will also appear at Launch Bay – it is sounding like a private mini-Star Wars Weekends!

Tickets will go on sale immediately after the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens airs tonight during Monday Night Football. And in fact, tickets for showings at theaters around the country will go on sale at the same time!

Ticket prices will depend on which format you see the movie in: 2D ($94.99), 3D ($98.99) and 3D ETX ($99.99).

Note: Direct transportation between Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios will NOT be provided. Parking is free at Disney Springs, and parking at Hollywood Studios is included in the price of the ticket. Guests staying at a WDW Resort will be able to take transportation from Disney Springs to their resort, and then on to Hollywood Studios.

More FAQs can be found here.


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Profiles In History auctions Star Wars props and lots of other cool stuff this week

by on Sep.27, 2015, under Fun Stuff, Movies, Television

Profiles In History kicks off their “Hollywood 74” auction this week, and they have lots of cool toys up for auction, including stuff from Star Wars, Star Trek and many, many more!

Some examples from the Star Wars collection:

An original “Rebel Fleet Trooper” helmet from the opening scene of Star Wars: A New HopeSlave Leia costume

The original Blockade Runner filming miniature from Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars “Ridgeback” Stormtrooper helmet

Carrie Fisher’s “Slave Leia” costume from Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi

The catalog is MASSIVE at over 600 pages. Take a look at the online version but prepared for a lot of time and clicking!


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