The-Nighttime-Lights-at-Hogwarts-Castle-Hufflepuff

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • What possible downside could there be to a $1,000 bonus for Universal employees?
  • Find out more about the new projection-mapping experience coming to Florida’s Harry Potter castle.
  • Are monorails running through Future World at Epcot about to become a thing of the past?
  • Get the lowdown on what the dining situation in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could be.
  • Are you ready to kick it with Kung Fu Panda at Universal Studios Hollywood?
  • And more!

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star wars galaxy's edge planet

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • What’s it like to ride the monorail at Disney World with the door hanging wide open?
  • Find out about the connection between Disney Springs and Prohibition-era rum-runners.
  • See time-lapse satellite imagery of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge construction site.
  • A new patent would seem to indicate lightsaber-wielding could be in the future for Disney parkgoers.
  • Calling all Dick Tracy fans. Come in, Dick Tracy fans …
  • And more!

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Star Wars Secrets of the Empire

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Get a sneak peek of the VR attraction Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire.
  • The Edison is now open and drawing 5-star reviews at Disney Springs.
  • Find out about the Wrinkle in Time preview coming to Disney parks.
  • See video of the Hogwarts New Year’s Eve fireworks at Universal Studios.
  • Details on the upcoming Peanuts Celebration at Knott’s Berry Farm.
  • And more!

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Metropolis_7x3

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Get details on the new Up show coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for its 20th anniversary.
  • More exciting news on the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge development at Disney parks.
  • See surreal video of Trump sharing the stage with Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents.
  • Few have been able to glimpse what Shanghai Disneyland’s Club 33 looks like inside … until now.
  • Ever wanted to visit the Hall of Justice or Metropolis and Gotham City? Soon you’ll be able to.
  • And more!

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There Will Be Blood 10th Anniversary

At the height of a certain meme, you could name-drop There Will Be Blood and casual filmgoers would actually scrunch their noses and say, “Is that the milkshake movie?” In the intervening years, however, Daniel Day-Lewis’s powerhouse performance as Daniel Plainview has continued to cast a long shadow over cinema. In many ways, writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s oil drama/“milkshake movie” is actually a monster movie, with a dissonant score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and a title that deliberately invokes horror.

With Anderson and Day-Lewis re-teaming this Christmas for Phantom Thread, the time is optimal for a look back at this landmark 21st-century film. Anderson’s “friendly competitor,” Quentin Tarantino, who professed to like the exuberance of Boogie Nights over the formalism of There Will Be Blood, nonetheless rated the latter as “one of the best movies made” in the decade of the 2000s.

Let’s jaw about There Will Be Blood and the way it plays off themes in Anderson’s body of work. Let’s properly celebrate the There Will Be Blood 10th anniversary. Oh, yes. There will be spoilers.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

the last jedi luke

Critically and commercially, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been an unqualified success. In that respect, writer-director Rian Johnson’s prayers have been answered. Yet over its opening weekend, a narrative of swift backlash built up around the film. Usually, it’s fans who have to defend a big blockbuster against critics; this time it’s the other way around.

Though it received an “A” CinemaScore, The Last Jedi received the lowest audience score on Rotten Tomatoes out of any of the Star Wars movies, even the much-maligned prequels. Some have called into question the validity of that score, attributing it to possible vote brigading, whereby people set up fake user accounts to manipulate ratings. However, there are enough intelligent voices out there raising issues of genuine concern with parts of the movie that it might be constructive to look at what some of those issues are.

Let’s address the reasons why certain storytelling choices might have been made. To do that, we will need to go into full spoiler mode, so if you have not seen the movie yet, feel free to turn away.

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luke-skywalker-binary-sunset-screencap

Years ago, when the American Film Institute released its list of the 100 greatest movie heroes and villains, three Star Wars characters made the cut: Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Obi-Wan Kenobi. There is no disputing Darth Vader. He’s a pop culture icon. As a movie star, Harrison Ford is an icon, too – he also gave us Indiana Jones, the #2 hero on that list. And Sir Alec Guinness is just a legend, plain and simple.

So those are the winners of the high school popularity contest. Those are the Star Wars characters who show up in the senior superlatives section of the yearbook, boasting titles such as “Most Likely to Receive a Spin-Off.” But while I love Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, and have been equally charmed by new characters like Rey and Finn, I would argue that there is an even greater Star Wars character, one who is — with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi — about to make his return on-screen as a speaking character for the first time in 34 years. That character is Luke Skywalker, the greatest hero that no one seems to give the time of day.

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13th Disney theme park

Disney currently operates 12 theme park properties around the world, not counting water parks. In the early days of Disney California Adventure, before Cars Land and other elements of the 2012 redesign went into effect, the eighth of those 12 parks took flak for offering a tacky recreation of things people would associate with California…in the middle of the real California. Take a Superstar Limo ride! Do a wine-tasting! Visit a faux national park!

At a preview of the park before its opening, one Disney Imagineer famously said, “I liked it better as a parking lot.”

Perhaps the park would have been better received if it had opened in Tokyo with a Japanese theme instead. As it so happens, something like that might now be in the works, as reports have surfaced of an all-new Japanese-themed park development being planned at Tokyo Disney Resort. Whether it winds up being a whole separate park, as is rumored because of the budget, or just a massive 2.68-billion-dollar expansion on Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, the notion of such a development teases fans of immersive environments with some interesting possibilities. Given the cross-pollination that occurs between Disney parks across the world, this is a case where properties like Epcot as well as Japan’s existing theme parks allow us to make some informed speculation about what a “Disney Japan Adventure” type park or land could look like.

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insideout-float-frontpage

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • See concept art of new Pixar parade floats and the Disney Skyliner Transportation System.
  • Take a Christmas peek inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Hollywood.
  • Shanghai Disneyland has issued the opening date for its Toy Story Land.
  • Find out why Chris Hemsworth was at Disneyland this week.
  • Marvel continues to beef up its presence at theme parks everywhere.
  • And more!

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Justice League Defense

(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or show or sets their sights on something seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: we’re all too jaded to enjoy a comic book movie as fun as Justice League.)

It’s been two and a half weeks — and three underwhelming box office weekends — since Justice League hit theaters. Some people have already forgotten about the movie.

Fans of DC Comics characters might still be grappling with it. As a comic book collector in middle school, the “Death of Superman” storyline shook my world; in high school, on the Wednesdays when new issues were released, Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s tenure on the JLA comics title put it at the top of my reading list. But as an adult moviegoer who is not a fan of Zack Snyder’s work, I went into this film called Justice League with low expectations. I had already heard that Steppenwolf was the worst comic book movie villain of all time (a sentiment that Joss Whedon, who directed the film’s extensive reshoots, appears to have enjoyed). It was not even one of those movies where I felt the need to rush out and see it right away. My significant other and I just happened to have a slot in our Thanksgiving schedule.

Maybe the spirit of holiday gratitude put me in an overly thankful mood and has affected my judgment. I know I’m in the minority here. In fact, my Spider-Sense is already tingling, warning me that I was entering Unpopular Opinion territory. As I watched Justice League, I found myself… actually enjoying it.

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