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Frozen is taking over Disney parks, and old rides have to close in order to make room for the new stuff. Read about that and much more in this edition of Theme Park Bits.

  • Universal Studios is planning their biggest park yet in Beijing.
  • The Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has closed.
  • The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage has reopened at Disneyland.
  • Watch the final ride on Maelstrom, which is being replaced by Frozen.
  • The Bill & Ted component of Horror Nights may be in the past.

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SNL Group Hopper

2014 has brought us no fewer than three major dystopian YA adventures (Divergent, The Giver, and The Maze Runner), with one more (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1) still on the way. That adds up to about eight hours of watching fake teenagers run around uncovering conspiracies.

So why not save yourself some time and watch Saturday Night Live‘s The Group Hopper, which essentially mashes up all four of those and then some? It even includes a weird Effie Trinket / President Snow combination, played by SNL alum Bill Hader. Watch the SNL Group Hopper “trailer” after the jump.

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Dark Arts Harry Potter Studio Tour 3

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, the Harry Potter Studio Tour is London is heaven. Located at Leavesden Studios, on one of the stages where all eight of the films were shot, almost every single prop, set and costume from the series is displayed like you were visiting Hogwarts itself. You can walk through the actual Great Hall where they shot big scenes, look into the Gryffindor common room, and see Hagrid’s cabin, the Dursley home and so much more. I had the good fortune of going last month and was truly blown away. It honestly feels like every single thing that’s in the films is there. However, I was wrong.

On October 14, the Harry Potter Studio Tour is embracing the dark arts. The full set of Malfoy Manor is being installed, giving attendees a glimpse into the sinister set from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. They’re also adding props from Borgin and Burkes and a full replica of the snake Nagini. Below, see the first photos of the Dark Arts expansion of the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Read More »

STAR WARS: BATTLE POD

I mentioned the Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game in the last edition of Page 2, but now that we have video of the game in action, I think this is worth a stand-alone post. As far as I can tell, Star Wars Battle Pod is the first Star Wars arcade machine in 14 years (Sega released a podracing arcade machine called Star Wars: Racer Arcade in 2000 following the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace). Probably like many of you who grew up in the 1980′s, I spent tons of quarters at the arcade (Fun n Games in Framingham, MA) on the original 1983 Star Wars arcade machine produced by Atari or (more so) 1993 Sega’s Star Wars Arcade and the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade which was produced alongside the original trilogy special editions.

Now-a-days arcades are few and far between, but the Barcade revolution is playing upon nostalgia and giving arcade games a small renaissance.  So I was a little surprised when Bandai Namco Games announced they would be making a new Star Wars arcade machine. Star Wars Battle Pod made its debut in a preview during New York Comic Con and looks INCREDIBLE. After the jump you can see the trailer, some video of the new game in action and read some more information about the Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game.

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up star wars

Star Wars Episode VII speculation, scenes, and cold, hard Star Wars Rebels facts highlight this edition of Star Wars Bits. Below, read the following:

  • Star Wars Episode VII star Pip Andersen made a visit to Andy Serkis‘ Imaginarium Studios.
  • Star Wars Rebels premiered Friday to 6.5 million viewers and is coming to New York Comic-Con.
  • Star Wars in Concert might be returning.
  • Simon Kinberg analyzed every moment of Star Wars Rebels for StarWars.com
  • Read a possible description of a hanger space in Star Wars Episode VII as well as a lightsaber showdown.
  • ABC will air an episode of Star Wars Rebels on October 26 with a new scene.
  • Read an excerpt from James Luceno‘s Star Wars novel Tarkin.
  • Watch a video of the Director of Music and Scoring at Skywalker Sound.

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Toy Story Annabelle

This past weekend, it took every dollar and cent for David Fincher’s latest to beat Annabelle. A prequel to last year’s hit horror film The Conjuring, Annabelle tells the story of the evil doll seen briefly in The Conjuring. Evil dolls are not a new thing though. Just today, the creator of Chucky said he’d love his creation to appear in a showdown with Annabelle. Now, a clever video has hit the net that takes the idea of Annabelle and mashes it with a very unlikely bedfellow: Pixar’s Toy Story. Watch the funny trailer for the Toy Story Annabelle film, WoodyRead More »

fastpass only

As you know, I’m a huge theme park fanatic and cover the Disney theme park beat here on the site. I’m a Disneyland Annual Passholder, and make trips to the park quite frequently. You may have also heard about the new FastPass+ system that Disney has implemented in Florida that allows resort guests to pre-book fast passes during their visit. It sounds like a great idea. Through the reservation system, guests choose the rides and morning, afternoon and evening times for the three attractions they’d like to experience during that day. This can be done many months in advance of a trip. But I have found there are many downsides to this system.

And now Disney is apparently doing a test in Orlando that could dramatically change how you experience their theme parks: Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios will be instituting FastPass-only access to the popular ride Toy Story Mania. What this means is that you can’t even wait hours in line for the ride, even if you wanted to experience the attraction that badly. Already a huge chunk of the Fast Pass slots is being reserved for guests of the resort who book months in advance. So after the morning batch of fast passes are gone, will theme park guests no longer be allowed to ride any of the popular E-ticket attractions?

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Interstellar IMAX TV spot

Movie studios are always looking for new ways to market movies. These days, a trailer and poster simply aren’t enough. You do documentaries. You do viral experiences. Maybe you do mobile games. And one of the newest tools studios have is Oculus Rift.

At San Diego Comic-Con this year, the immersive, 360 virtual reality simulator was used to promote multiple films, such as Pacific Rim and X-Men Days of Future Past. Now, they’re teaming up with Paramount to offer a unique experience tied to Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar. It’s coming to theaters next week. Read More »

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