Hosts Banks Lee and Elisa Goldman bring you this week’s theme park and attraction news. On this week’s episode: [Read more…]
Several hit performers are scheduled to play at this year’s Mardi Gras in Universal Studios Florida, including Barenaked Ladies (pictured above) and Kelly Clarkson. [Read more…]
Hosts Banks Lee and JeniLynn Knopp bring you this week’s theme park and attraction news. On this week’s episode: [Read more…]
Several hit performers of yesterday and today are scheduled to play at this year’s Mardi Gras in Universal Studios Florida, including The Wanted (pictured above) and Foreigner. [Read more…]
On Feb. 6, Universal Orlando Resort will kick off its 15th year of Mardi Gras – the biggest and most authentic Mardi Gras celebration outside of New Orleans. Guests will experience the spirit of Bourbon St. in the heart of Universal Studios, with festivities including live concerts, authentic Cajun cuisine, a parade and tons of beads.
With a combined total of more than half a billion records sold worldwide, this year’s Mardi Gras lineup features an eclectic mix of 13 of the biggest names in music. From hip-hop to pop, country to rock, and R&B to disco, there will be something for everyone. Along with Flo Rida, Sheryl Crow and Chicago, Mardi Gras guests will enjoy live performances by headliners like “The Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, country sensation Dierks Bentley, hip-hop artist Akon, multi-platinum selling rock band 3 Doors Down and the number one selling American band of all time, Beach Boys.
In addition to seeing top-name talent perform on the main stage, guests can also visit Universal’s very own “French Quarter” – a replica of the New Orleans’ famed district – and groove to the authentic bayou sounds of bands directly from New Orleans.
To commemorate this special year, guests will enjoy a heritage-themed Mardi Gras parade featuring new colorful renditions of floats from past year’s events. Universal worked with New Orleans-based Blaine Kern Artists to incorporate new elements into some of the most memorable floats in the event’s history. The 12 vibrant floats will cruise the streets of Universal Studios during the festivities, filled with riders tossing beads by the handful to excited park guests.
Guests will also enjoy the aroma and taste of authentic Cajun cuisine – such as jambalaya, gumbo, beignets and king cake – along with hundreds of costumed characters and stilt walkers dancing and mingling in the streets. Party-goers can also enjoy the park’s most popular attractions, including the all-new Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2010 Mardi Gras celebration runs every Saturday night from Feb. 6 through April 17, with additional dates on Sunday, Feb. 14 and Friday, April 9.
Headliners (Performances at The Music Plaza)
Saturday, Feb. 6 – KC and the Sunshine Band
Saturday, Feb. 13 – Heart
Sunday, Feb. 14 – Kool & the Gang
Saturday, Feb. 20 – Blondie
Saturday, Feb. 27 – Dierks Bentley
Saturday, March 6 – Akon
Saturday, March 13 – Aretha Franklin
Saturday, March 20 – Miranda Lambert
Saturday, March 27 – 3 Doors Down
Saturday, April 3 – Beach Boys
Friday, April 9 – Sheryl Crow
Saturday, April 10 – Flo Rida
Saturday, April 17 – Chicago
New Orleans Band (Performances in French Quarter)
Saturday, Feb. 6 – Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band
Saturday, Feb. 13 – Lil Malcolm & the House Rockers
Sunday, Feb. 14 – Lil Malcolm & the House Rockers
Saturday, Feb. 20 – Mem Shannon & the Membership
Saturday, Feb. 27 – Chris Klein & The Boulevards
Saturday, March 6 – Honey Island Swamp Band
Saturday, March 13 – Big Red & The Zydeco Playmakers
Saturday, March 20 – Rockin’ Jake
Saturday, March 27 – Soul Project
Saturday, April 3 – JJ Callier & the Zydeco Knockouts
Friday, April 9 – Lil’ Brian & the Zydeco Travelers
Saturday, April 10 – Lil’ Brian & the Zydeco Travelers
Saturday, April 17 – Daddy Mac Blues Band
All of the concerts and activities are included with park admission. Visit UniversalOrlando.com for special offers.
By Andy Guinigundo
Mini Vietnam Memorial for Veterans Day
Carlsbad, Calif. – While many attractions around the U.S. have ongoing specials for military and sometimes family, I haven’t personally heard of too many Veterans Day events that are taking place in the parks. Well, Legoland is honoring veterans by dedicating a Vietnam War Memorial Lego model on Veterans Day. I have sometimes implied that it is “easy” for Legoland to build new displays for current events. Perhaps that downplays the time and artistry involved. Let examine some of the stats for this display:
• Six Lego model builders were utilized.
• Sixty hours to create the model.
• The display is 10 feet long.
• More than 2,000 Lego bricks were used.
• The model’s orientation is true to life – one wall faces the Washington Monument and the other the Lincoln Memorial. These monument models are in place now in “mini” Washington D.C.
• “Flat-faced” bricks were used instead of traditional Lego brick to give the illusion of writing.
The original memorial was dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982. It was picked among more than 1,400 designs. It was designed by then Yale architecture student Maya Ying Lin who hails from Athens, Ohio. The wall was specifically designed to memorialize those who lost their lives in the war or are officially unaccounted for without making a commentary on the controversial war itself. There are 58,261 names inscribed on the wall. The National Park Service that maintains the grounds collects nonperishable items that are left at the wall daily, catalogs and stores the items.
The mini Vietnam Memorial joins the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Iwo Jima Memorial along with other Washington D.C. landmarks in the Miniland USA area of Legoland.
Disney one step closer in Shanghai
Shanghai, China – In the April/May issue of “Orlando Attractions Magazine”, I reported that Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai had held a press conference in January in which he stated that Shanghai and Disney had come to an agreement on the “major issues” involving a Disney park coming to Shanghai. This announcement came after several years of rumor and failed negotiations. Here we are almost a year later finally receiving further word. The velocity of the negotiations has been slow motion glacial, but here are the latest details:
Disney submitted a Project Application Report (PAR) to build a Disney theme park in the Pudong district of Shanghai. Disney reported last week that authorities in the central government of China have approved this application. This approval now allows for yet another “final” set of negotiations to be completed between Disney and their Shanghai partners. Disney states that development and planning can begin on a Magic Kingdom-style park after this agreement has been reached.
This park would be the third Asian Disney resort following the Tokyo Disney Resort that includes Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, and Hong Kong Disneyland. The Hong Kong park is in the process of a major expansion itself.
No Nick Park
New Orleans, La. – It wasn’t too long ago that I posted in this very column that Nickelodeon, Southern star Amusements and the city of New Orleans had come to an agreement to open the first stand-alone outdoor Nick theme park on the site of the old Six Flags New Orleans.
The Six Flags park had been under water post-Hurricane Katrina and had simply not reopened. Southern Star Amusement had been the driving force behind the opening of an amusement attraction on this site since a few years after the storm. It had previously resigned to the fact that there simply was not enough interest and capital. They posted a press release on their Web site stating that they would keep the door open in the future if a suitable partner and renewed interest arose, but at that time, they were ending their quest.
Along came Nickelodeon. In August, Nickelodeon agreed to lend their brand to the new/refurbished park. Apparently no local public funds were to be used. It was to be a combination of government bonds and Southern Star’s money. Somewhere along the line, Southern Star dropped the ball.
It was announced in late October that Southern Star had failed to meet an investment deadline. They were supposed to have deposited $500,000 in “good faith funds” in an escrow account by late October but simply did not. The good faith funds would have allowed them access to $100 million in government bonds. Nickelodeon, feeling the ship beginning to sink, jumped off before they got wet. They ended their licensing deal with Southern Star early this week.
I wish the city of New Orleans continued growth and recovery. This is certainly a setback. I believe everyone deserves theme park fun within a gas tank’s distance. Unfortunately, although it seems Southern Star had big ambitions and good intentions, they never really had the funds to back up the dream. As for Nickelodeon, who knows where they will turn next? They were nicely placed in kids areas in several Cedar Fair parks, but no more. It seems unfortunately but there are no winners here.
• Andy Guinigundo is the author of the Out of The Loop column in “Orlando Attractions Magazine”. Out of the Loop keeps you up-to-date with attraction news outside of Central Florida. Andy lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and three daughters. He grew up frequenting theme parks around Ohio and making trips to Orlando with his family. While for most of the year, he’s out of the Orlando loop, he tries to visit Florida at least once a year.
A host of Disney characters welcomed Princess Tiana this morning following her horse-drawn carriage ride to Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Tiana is featured in the upcoming Walt Disney Pictures animated film “The Princess and the Frog” which marks Disney’s return to traditional 2-D hand-drawn animation.
Today’s special welcome was a one-time event in honor of Disney’s newest princess making her way to Walt Disney World’s most magical theme park. Here’s a video of the welcome ceremony:
Shortly thereafter, the official premiere performance of Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee took place. Following a jazz-filled procession through Frontierland and Liberty Square, Princess Tiana, Prince Naveen, Dr. Facilier, and Louis the alligator performed with dancers, musicians, and even park guests in a live musical production that takes place on board the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Belle riverboat.
Here’s video of a complete show of Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee, including the processional beforehand: