In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Velociraptor greetings at Universal’s Islands of Adventure just got a tad more interesting.
  • The Incredibles are about to join the “Paint the Night” parade at Disney California Adventure.
  • Watch Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy concert and learn about another cool Marvel stage show.
  • Get the deets on some FOMO-worthy glamping … starting with what that means in English.
  • Is there a person (or duck) alive you’d be willing to wait 600 minutes to meet?
  • And more!

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After months of rumors and speculation, Tokyo Disney Resort has finally announced concrete details of a major new expansion, the largest ever for the second of its two parks, Tokyo DisneySea. The projected $2.3 billion expansion will see DisneySea building out into an adjacent parking lot, much like Disneyland Resort did two decades ago when it first began construction on Disney California Adventure.

DisneySea actually opened in 2001, the same year as California Adventure, and now the sea-themed park — which contains “ports” instead of lands — will be adding an eighth mega-port with three new areas themed to Peter Pan, Tangled, and Frozen. These are all three straight-up Disney movie properties, so it should come as good news to more traditional fans who have questioned the encroachment of newer IPs like Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars on their favorite Disney parks. While the Star Wars hotel coming to Walt Disney World will be the first stateside hotel connected to a Disney park, DisneySea already has one in-park hotel and now it will be adding another as part of this expansion.

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Prepare to puzzle further over continuity issues between Epcot and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Now’s a good time for a children’s book narrated by John Lasseter to be store-bound, right?
  • Disney World Annual Passholders will have exclusive access to Toy Story Land on some dates.
  • Are you ready to hitch a ride in your own Minnie Van around Disney World?
  • Take a tour of Tokyo Disney Resort with The Tim Tracker and Jenn Tracker.
  • And more!

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The Truman Show Revisited

In 1994, Jim Carrey broke big, starring in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, three box office toppers that catapulted the rubbery-faced comedian to global superstardom. There’s an entire generation of kids that went around quoting those movies, repeating Ace’s catchphrase of “Alrighty then!” while affecting the same overly confident voice that Carrey had first workshopped as a different character in sketches on the TV show In Living Color.

One thing Carrey wasn’t was a critical darling. It may have taken his Batman Forever co-star, Tommy Lee Jones, to come right out and say it, but it was implied often enough in reviews that not everyone could “sanction” Carrey’s “buffoonery.” This would change somewhat in 1998 when the actor reinvented his slapstick schtick with a film that Popular Mechanics later ranked as one of the 10 most prophetic sci-fi movies ever. Released on June 5, 1998, The Truman Show famously presaged the reality TV boom and saw Carrey passing through the door to more seriocomic fare like Man on the Moon and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

20 years later, The Truman Show remains Carrey’s best film. But what makes this movie timeless is the level on which it functions as a beautiful, satirical allegory.

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Take a peek at what’s happening in the Incredible Tomorrowland Expo at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Wireless charging stations for lightsabers might be a thing when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens.
  • See an Ewok walk around the Ewok Village like he owns the place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Cast members at Disneyland Resort have won a victory in their ongoing wage negotiations.
  • Get an update on Hong Kong Disneyland’s new Moana show and its future revamped castle.
  • And more!

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

It’s the movie news that demanded an emergency podcast last week: Boba Fett is apparently locked in for his own Star Wars spin-off, to be directed and co-written by James Mangold. The Fett film had long been rumored, so for many fans, the bigger surprise probably came from seeing Mangold’s name attached to the project. However, the news makes perfect sense if you consider Mangold’s filmography.

It may not be outwardly apparent just from scanning the list of movies he’s made, but when you focus in on his best work, it becomes clear that Mangold is a filmmaker who draws great inspiration from a genre whose heyday has largely passed: namely, the Western. If the American Western is a fable in the same way that Star Wars is a fairy tale, then throughout his career, Mangold has consistently been able to reimagine that fable in new film settings. This is what makes him such a good match for a space western about everyone’s favorite Mandalorian bounty hunter.

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • There’s a new Incredibles character coming to Disney parks on both coasts.
  • Watch an Imagineer-led tour of the scale model and concept art for Pixar Pier.
  • Find out what the names and themes of Pixar Pier’s four neighborhoods will be.
  • Chewbacca flew a Star Tours mission at Hollywood Studios this week.
  • Kylo Ren will be happy to meet you if you have the right debit card.
  • And more!

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Return of the Jedi Creatures

Jabba the Hutt is 35 years young and he’s never looked better than he did as a one-ton puppet in Return of the Jedi. Weight like that is precisely what so many other CG characters since 1983 have lacked. As Solo: A Star Wars Story rules the box office, it’s worth remembering that the original Star Wars trilogy wrapped up this same time three and a half decades ago.

Return of the Jedi has a lot going for it, but it often suffers by comparison to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Even David Fincher, who got his start working at Industrial Light & Magic on Return of the Jedi, seems to find the movie less interesting. He referred to it as the “one with all the creatures,” and the movie still is the zenith of creature effects work in the Star Wars franchise. On that front, it remains unassailable even as advances in motion capture technology have given us more and more highly expressive characters in Hollywood films.

Let’s take a look back at what made Return of the Jedi so special and what future Star Wars movies can possibly learn from its unforgettable alien line-up.

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Rinko Kikuchi westworld

This week’s episode of Westworld, “Akane no Mai,” finally walked us into Shogun World, a sister park set in Japan’s Edo period. As different as the costumes, culture, and scenery are, viewers looking forward to the introduction of a brave new world, unlike anything we had seen on the show before, may have been slightly underwhelmed by some of the deliberately samey aspects of Shogun World. As our own Chris Evangelista put it in his review: “Shogun World may not be all it’s cracked up to be.”

The park has noticeable similarities to Westworld and there are two very good reasons for that. To talk about the similarities and how they fit both the story Westworld is trying to tell and its cinematic influences, we’ll need to venture into spoiler territory for Westworld, season 2, episode 5.

So unsheathe you samurai swords and let’s charge right in like a band of ronin show-watchers in the age of Peak TV.

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • See video of a parade float going up in flames at the Magic Kingdom.
  • Guess which theme park has surpassed Epcot’s annual attendance.
  • You can now wear the Infinity Gauntlet (and drink from it) at Disney California Adventure.
  • Rumors peg Islands of Adventure for a new Jurassic Park coaster and Jurassic World re-theme.
  • Watch the full Spectacle Night Parade with Harry Potter floats at Universal Studios Japan.
  • And more!

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