A Midsummer Night’s Dream has always been one of William Shakespeare’s most accessible works. It tells the story of four lovers lost in an enchanted wood while being pranked by the fairies that live there. [Read more…]
Adapted from the movie of the same name, and based upon the play “The Man Who Was Peter Pan,” “Finding Neverland” tells the story of playwright J.M. Barrie as he struggles to write a new play. [Read more…]
By Andy Haynes
The Red Fish Theatre company with their partners at AntiGravity Orlando have created a production of the Rocky Horror Show that defies expectations.
Before I go any further, I need to emphasize that this show is definitely “adults only.” The language and themes of the Rocky Horror Show are not appropriate for children, but that shouldn’t stop those of appropriate ages from enjoying this wonderful production.
Presented at the AntiGravity Orlando theater on Highway 192, the production ramps up the classic musical through the integration of Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatics. “The cast is a blend of AntiGravity aerialists, local theme park performers and local theater professionals,” said Red Fish Theatre’s artistic director Adam Graham. “Together we’re taking a traditional classic and letting our audience view it from new, different angle. Sometimes quite literally.” And he certainly isn’t wrong.
During any given number, performers might be spinning on wheels, leaping off trampolines or flying through the air above you. The stunt work in the show was breathtaking and apparently performed by professionals who teach the same acrobatics during the day at the facility. I was worried that the stunts would feel “tacked-on” but, in the crazy world of Doctor Frank-N-Furter, they fit right in and added to the show. The rest of the cast were equally talented in their singing and acting abilities.
Working in theme parks means artists don’t typically get to show their full range, so when an opportunity comes to see them really open up, it’s worth taking. Unfortunately, the production I saw was marred by some technical issues with some of the microphones going in and out, which was especially disappointing considering that when we did hear the performers they were amazing across the board. These issues can be chalked up to the growing pains of a venue putting on a production like this for the first time.
This show appears to be a sign of things to come for AntiGravity as they look to begin incorporating more theatrical style productions into their future. With a prime location in the tourist district of Kissimmee, the AntiGravity theater could be just the thing to bridge the gap between tourist attraction and classic theater. By combining the spectacle of stunt work and aerial performers with traditional stage productions, they might have found a winning formula. With more productions in talks for the future, hopefully this new theatrical outlet is here to stay.
The Rocky Horror Show has a final performance Oct. 24 at 9 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit redfishtheatreantigravity.ticketleap.com.
By Andy Haynes
Catharsis is an all new immersive haunted experience currently unsettling guests in the Orlando area. The experience was created by Pseudonym Productions, the company who brought us “When Shadows Fall,” and indeed, takes place in the same venue. Without giving too much away, there are even some references to the story of When Shadows Fall throughout Catharsis.
Catharsis bills itself as “unlike anything Florida as ever encountered” and for me at least, that was definitely true. It’s hard to talk too much about it without giving away any spoilers, since not knowing exactly what to expect is the crux of the experience.
After we arrived at the venue and signed in, we found our way to the deadly sins bar to enjoy a drink and sign a wavier. We were then summoned to the back and our trip through Catharsis began. The whole experience from arrival at the venue to unceremonious departure lasts about an hour, after which you are asked to leave immediately. This makes sense due to the attraction’s fast turnaround and the limited parking available at the venue.
Without going into detail, the experience itself involved a lot of uncomfortable situations and invasion of personal space all of which served to underline the unsettling nature of Catharsis. There is a story that underscores the event although on our trip through we were a bit confused about exactly what it was and left wondering if we had missed something. It was ultimately unnecessary though as the individual moments in Catharsis are what made the experience unique. Again, I don’t want to spoil it, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten quite that up close and personal with actors as I did at Catharsis!
Due to its location and immersive features, Catharsis will definitely draw some comparisons to When Shadows Fall. Although similar, the two events had very striking differences. The open-ended freedom to explore that was offered in When Shadows Fall doesn’t show up in Catharsis, as you are led by the hand (sometimes quite literally) through the structured environment. This leads to a loss of control by the audience and actually allowed greater enjoyment by those seeking a more passive experience. That’s not to say you won’t be moving around and getting your hands dirty, but just that most of the active decision making that defined When Shadows Fall is absent from Catharsis. Another unique feature of the attraction is the ability to go through in small groups or even alone. This is in sharp contrast to the conga line style of Halloween Horror Nights and the free-for-all feel of When Shadows Fall. I do have to compliment the designers on this, as at no time throughout the experience was did I feel the presence of other audience members beyond my group. The whole event felt very personal and isolating.
In the end, I will say I enjoyed Catharsis. I would recommend this for someone looking for a more immersive experience and something different from the jump scares of a traditional haunted house. I think experiencing it alone is definitely the way to go since having less people in the group heightened the attraction. Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to be pushed outside of your comfort zone!
Catharsis runs select nights through Oct. 30. Tickets are $24 for standard entry and $34 for the private experience. For more information or to make a reservation, visit fearcatharsis.com.
By Andy Haynes
Escape Goat, an all new escape room experience, is now open in Winter Garden, Fla. The Escape Goat (a play on the word ‘scapegoat’) follows the typical escape room style, locking players in a puzzle-filled room and giving them an hour to find their way out. Attendees are also encouraged to try and complete special achievements such as finishing a room under a certain time or not using any hints.
Family owned and operated, the attraction currently features two complete rooms with additional rooms planned for the future. Each room contains a variety of puzzle types ranging from math and word problems to complicated mazes and mechanical devices. Also present is an attendant who remains in character to provide hints and additional story elements.
The current room offerings, themed after Sherlock Holmes and a haunted summer camp, feature state of the art light and sound effects as well as practical effects such as moving walls and scenery. Their upcoming room, themed around Area 51, will feature props and scenery created by some of the designers and craftsmen who have previously worked on Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.
To book a room at the Escape Goat or to find out more, visit their website at escapegoatroom.com
Guests at Sandusky, Ohio’s Cedar Point can now experience “The Battle for Cedar Point,” an interactive, competitive gaming experience inside the new Cedar Point mobile app.
The free game allows guests to compete against each other in a fun new way as they walk through the park, wait for a ride or sit down to enjoy a meal.
Guests who choose to play The Battle for Cedar Point will first join one of five “clans” on the day of their visit – Valravn, GateKeeper, Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster or Maverick. Each clan is signified by its own unique character avatar, along with a custom battle shield.
They will then “battle” against other guests inside the park that day as they earn points by scanning select ride signs, T-shirts and game symbols located throughout the park. Once scanned, these items will come to life on the guest’s Apple or Android mobile device, enabling them to see characters, animated signs and achievement symbols as they appear to co-exist with the real world. They can then share these interactive experiences on social media, encouraging others to join their clan.
In addition, players who ride the new Valravn dive coaster will have the opportunity to earn even more points by unlocking the “Secrets of Valravn” as they walk the queue line. Hidden clues are located along the path; the more secrets that are found, the more points players will achieve. Points can also be earned by answering park trivia questions inside the game.
Throughout the day, guests can scan park maps located throughout the park to see which clan is leading the battle. They also have the opportunity to purchase their chosen clan’s souvenir pin, located at select gift shops, once they reach a specific point level. Guests in the clan claiming victory at the end of the day can purchase an additional “victory pin,” signifying that they reigned supreme from the day’s battle. A special T-shirt is also available for purchase. When scanned inside the game, the front of the T-shirt will appear to transform, adding even more points to the selected clan’s total.
The victor of the day’s crusade will be revealed nightly at the park’s Luminosity show. The Battle for Cedar Point will reset each operating day.
“Cedar Point is once again redefining what the guest experience is like. The Battle for Cedar Point is interactive, it’s immersive and most importantly, it’s just plain fun,” said Jason McClure, Cedar Point’s vice president and general manager. “Guests have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional day at the park, or, they can take their visit to the next level by playing the game in our new mobile app. It adds a unique twist to their summer visit.”
The Battle for Cedar Point is now available inside the new Cedar Point mobile app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
An all new Shanghai Disney Resort gallery is now open in the China pavilion at Epcot. At the gallery, guests can view artwork, props and more from the recently opened Shanghai Disney Resort. [Read more…]
The Shanghai Disney Resort has officially celebrated its grand opening. [Read more…]
A tragedy occurred on Tuesday evening at Walt Disney World when, while playing in the water near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a two-year-old boy was reportedly grabbed and dragged into the water by a large alligator. [Read more…]
Guests of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida will soon be greeted with a dramatic sense of arrival when the new Heroes & Legends exhibit, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, opens on Nov. 11. [Read more…]
The charity organization, New Hope for Kids, has released the full list of mascots that will participate in the 2016 Mascot Games. The event will take place at The Amway Center on Friday, June 17, at 12:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 18, at 2 p.m. Participating Mascots include Stuff from the Orlando Magic, Albert and Alberta from the University of Florida, Kingston from Orlando City Soccer and Lil Red from the University of Nebraska. The complete list is below.
“The collection of Mascots that will be showcased at Amway Center will be unrivaled anywhere in the world,” said Dave Joswiak, executive director of New Hope for Kids. “Our ambassador, Orlando Magic’s Stuff, has invited top notch talents, all who love to compete, and who also love knowing they’re helping kids.”
Twenty-three mascots from across North America will join Stuff, the event’s host mascot, for the annual competition. Mascots from MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, ECHL, MSL and NCAA will be divided into four teams as they compete against each other in wild and zany games to determine the true champions of the mascot world.
Tickets for the Mascot Games are now on sale. General admission tickets start at $12 and can be purchased through mascotgames.org, amwaycenter.com, Chase Box Office at Amway Center, Ticketmaster retail locations, charge-by-phone at 800-745-3000, or at Ticketmaster.com. A limited number of VIP “Mascot Huddle” tickets, which include a Mascot meet and greet and reserved seating for Saturday’s performance, are available for $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Reserved seating will be available for $20 while supplies last. Group seating for Summer Camps is available by downloading a form from the event website at mascotgames.org under the “Summer Camps” tab.
All proceeds from the Mascot Games benefit New Hope for Kids, which provides support to children and families grieving the death of a loved one, and grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in Central Florida. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $400,000 for New Hope for Kids.
2016 Mascot Games Participating Mascots:
- Albert & Alberta – University of Florida
- Baxter – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Captain Fear – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Carlton – Toronto Maple Leafs
- Champ – Dallas Mavericks
- Chomps –Cleveland Browns
- Fin the Whale – Vancouver Canucks
- Franklin – Philadelphia 76ers
- Howler – Arizona Coyotes
- Jaxon De Ville – Jacksonville Jaguars
- Kingston – Orland City Soccer Club
- Knightro – University of Central Florida
- Lil’ Red – University of Nebraska
- Louie – St. Louis Blues
- N.J. Devil – New Jersey Devils
- Rowdy – Dallas Cowboys
- Rumble – OKC Thunder
- Sebastian – University of Miami
- Shades – Orlando Solar Bears
- Stanley – Florida Panthers
- Stuff – Orlando Magic
- ThunderBug – Tampa Bay Lightning
- Tommy Hawk – Chicago Blackhawks
The all new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Member Lounge at Epcot is now open and welcoming members and their guests daily throughout the year. [Read more…]
This fall, Universal Orlando Resort is bringing back AMC’s hit series, “The Walking Dead,” to Halloween Horror Nights, propelling guests into the most horrifying highlights of all six seasons – all in one single haunted house.
Guests will walk – or run – in the footsteps of the show’s cast of survivors, fending off packs of flesh-hungry walkers at every turn. They’ll step inside instantly-recognizable locations, such as the hospital from Season 1 where Rick awakens to a world overrun with the dead, the unnerving home of the Governor in Season 3 and the seemingly-safe refuge, Terminus, from Season 4.
The experience will culminate with iconic scenes from Season 6, where guests will trudge through a decomposed sewer and try to evade the brutal pack of villains, The Wolves, after they’ve invaded Alexandria. Along the way, they’ll rush to avoid the bite of the show’s most memorable walkers – including some that have never been seen before at “Halloween Horror Nights.”
For more information on Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando.
Here’s a look inside The Walking Dead maze from last year’s event:
Busch Gardens has announced the dates and times for this year’s Summer Nights and Adventure Island’s Island Nights.
The night time annual event at Busch Gardens will run this year from June 24 to Aug. 7. Guests can experience thrill rides in the dark, including the all new Cobra’s Curse, enjoy rock-fueled music and acrobatics at the award-winning Kinetix show and end the night with a fireworks show. Plus, Busch Gardens is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, giving guests even more time to experience Summer Nights. The park will close at 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.
This year, Adventure Island will be presenting Island Nights, Thursday through Saturday, from June 16 through Aug. 6. During Island Nights, guests can enjoy island-inspired performers, a live DJ and games on the beach, starting at 5 p.m. each event night. The event will also showcase talented sand sculpture artists and a nightly finale featuring Polynesian Fire Dancers.
New this year, Island Nights extends its hours until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 9 p.m. on Thursday nights.
With “Finding Dory,” the sequel to the critically acclaimed “Finding Nemo,” opening soon, fans will soon have an opportunity to see both movies back to back with Dory After Dark. [Read more…]
Via Napoli, the popular pizza restaurant in the Italy pavilion at Epcot, served its one millionth pizza on May 23. “We opened in 2010,” said Charlie Restivo, pizza chef at Via Napoli, “and computing the number of pizzas we bake every single day, today someone in the restaurant is enjoying the millionth.” That averages out to around 450 pizzas a day!
Via Napoli’s pizzas are crafted using methods and ingredients that are as authentic as possible. The wood-burning pizza ovens were designed to closely match those found in traditional Italian restaurants and many ingredients are imported directly from Italy. Even the water used to make the dough is sourced from a spring similar to those found in Italy’s Campania region.
According to the staff, the most popular pizza served is the margherita pizza with the all-American pepperoni pizza coming in a close second. Other popular pizzas include the prosciutto and melon pizza and the affumicata, which is made with smoked salmon and arugula.
While pizza is the main attraction, Via Napoli does serve other types of Italian cuisine as well including eggplant Parmesan, lasagna, spaghetti and a specialty linguine carbonara with truffle oil.
Fun Spot America has just announced a new partnership with Old Town USA as well as several expansions for their theme parks. The partnership with Old Town USA will see Fun Spot America relocating several rides to Old Town’s new entertainment district as well as taking over operations of a new ferris wheel, scheduled for install this September.
Fun Spot America’s also announced the addition of a new attraction called Head Rush 360 as well as the addition of an all new New York Burger Company themed building. This new restaurant will complement their planned expansion of their open-aired seating area and upcoming Beer Garden.
John Arie Jr, Fun Spot America’s COO stated, “This is huge news, not just for us but the city of Kissimmee and Osceola County 192 tourist district. As we all continue to strive to keep this region the number one destination in the world. Our goal is for all our guests to have the hashtag BestDayEver when they are at one of our locations.”