Event Review: Monster Jam @ Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

I cannot even remember the last time I went to Monster Jam. I would think it has to be nearly 20 years by now at least. I have always been yearning to go back though and this year was the year! I have always been a huge Grave Digger fan and I remember cars like Big Foot that are no longer around. So I think it was about time for me to revisit this action packed event. This year Monster Jam headed back to the Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL on January 13th and it was one hell of a time! This definitely just became a yearly event for me again! Let’s just say that!

The event featured more than 12 trucks and drivers including: Grave Digger driven by Dennis Anderson; Son-uva Digger driven by Ryan Anderson; Team Hot Wheels driven by Scott Buetow; Monster Energy driven by Coty Saucier; Jester driven by Matt Pagliarulo; Xtermigator driven by JR McNeal; Rage driven by Cory Rummel; Barbarian driven by Devin Jones; OVER Bored, Bounty Hunter, Knucklehead, Madusa and Wrecking Crew.

Like I mentioned I have always loved Grave Digger (I mean seriously who doesn’t). He is just bad-ass. I mean the guy loses a damn wheel on his first go-around and still managed to come back and get second place at the end. During this event there were a few spotlight trucks who really just nailed every run! Monster Energy ended up winning the night, hands down! Their freestyle had me on my feet screaming! Wrecking Crew also tore up the stadium for sure! The audience was literally on their feet the entire event!

The part just wasn’t at the Stadium though! We arrived hours in advance and had an awesome time tailgating and enjoying the big open field. They also had the “Party in the Pits”, which was an additional $10.00 but gives a good opportunity for fans to get up close and personal to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers. They also had ramps setup with bikers doing tricks hourly. So very cool event for sure! Family fun! Plenty of families gathered at this event to show this wonderful event together and I will be one of those families for sure moving forward!

Blu-ray Review “The X-Files: The Event Series”

Directors: Chris Carter, James Wong, Darin Morgan, Glen Morgan
Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis
Number of discs: 2
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Run Time: 264 minutes

Event Series: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

It has been 14 years since “The X-Files” left television. Hardcore fans have always wanted more and we never left satified from the sub par feature films. This year marked the much anticipated return to TV with a limited 6 episode “event series” run. Some fans were ecstatic and some felt still unsatisfied. Personally, I was just happy to see the major cast return to the series and get back in the game, even if it was just for 6 episodes. Obviously, this was a test from Fox to see how it was received and due to the dazzling rating, I would say it went quite well. I hope that they continue this series with more episodes, but I have a feeling that if it does happen it will not be right away. Hardcore fans will have to keep hope and stick with this series cause the truth is still out there!

Official Premise: Almost 14 years after the original series run, the next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES is a thrilling, six-episode event series from creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI agents FOX MULDER and DANA SCULLY. Mitch Pileggi also returns as FBI Assistant Director WALTER SKINNER, Mulder and Scully s boss, who walks a fine line between loyalty to these investigators and accountability to his superiors. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy®- and Golden Globe® Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history.

The BLu-ray presentation is a nice improvement over the earlier series, of course, due to the age of the older episodes. This new series packed some great visuals and really showed up its 1080p transfer. Same goes for the DTS-Master Audio 5.1 track, just hearing the theme song once again gave me chills. The special features are pretty solid as well. There are three commentary tracks on episodes, “Founder’s Mutation” with Chris Carter and James Wong, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and “My Struggle II” with Chris Carter, Gabe Rotter.

The rest of the bonus features include some featurettes and a gag reel and some deleted scenes. The first featurette is “Season X”, which runs just over 20 minutes and gives a series overview. “Monster of the Week: A Recap of the Wildest and Scariest from the Original Series” is a flashback to the original series with host Kumail Nunjiani. “The X-Files: Green Production” looks into this series’ efforts to be ecologically aware. Lastly there is a short film called “Grace” by Karen Nielsen, the series’ script coordinator.

Event Coverage: New York Comic Con 2015

New York Comic Con 2015
Date: Thursday, October 8th – Sunday, October 11th
Venue: Jacob K. Javitz Center, New York, New York

As the leaves begin to fall and Halloween decorations begin to go up it marks the change in season for most but for pop-culture fans it acts as the tell tale sign that New York Comic Con is just around the corner. The ginormous four day event which marked its 10 anniversary this year and once again acted as the culmination of the week long “Hero Week”. Fans of all walks of filed into the vast Jacob K. Javitz center where over the course of the events four days more than 160,000 fans would walk the halls of the center making it easily the largest convention on the East Coast

Thursday of the convention was once reserved for press and special ticket holders however in the last two years the day has been opened up for single ticket holders and pretty much anyone else who wanted to traverse the ever expanding crowd. In comparison to previous year’s attendance was definitely up as several panels we planned to cover couldn’t even accommodate press due to the at times overwhelming numbers. Thursday’s panel highlights included those by HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, Tru TV’s “Impractical Jokers” a special panel appearance by “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman along with appearances by the cast of AMC’s “Comic Book Men” with the panel being moderated by none other than Kevin Smith. Even though the entire cast of the show was present a majority if not all of the questions were directed towards Smith. Over the course of the hour long discussion Smith detailed his ideas behind the creation of the show and his thoughts on the series success which will celebrate the start of its 5th season on Oct. 18th. Prior to the panel’s conclusion Smith announced that he will begin filming the long awaited sequel to his film “Mallrats”. The sequel which will begin shooting this winter in Pennsylvania centers on Brody played by Jason Lee attempting to save his beloved mall from terrorists. Shooting for the film will begin shortly after Christmas and casting for extras for the film will be announced via Facebook. Smith noted that this is the first of two movies he has planned to shoot in 2016 however he did not say what the other film would be. My hopes would be “Clerks 3” which Smith has said in previous panels he does plan to shoot. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

In between attempting to squeeze into the several desirable panels we wanted to cover we ventured to Artist Alley which is always a hot spot for those wanting to meet their favorite comic artists. Atop the rooms upper tier on this day was Seth Myers who had brought his set to the con and was interviewing attendees for a segment of his show “Late Night with Seth Myers”. This certainly added traffic to an already bustling room which showcased booths by some of today’s top artists including “Amazing Spider Man” artist Humberto Ramos, “Deadpool” writer Gerry Duggan, “Wonder Woman” artist David Finch and former Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin who is currently drawing for IDW’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

With time beginning to dwindle we made our way to the main convention floors which were packed not only with various vendors but every sort of cos-play character you could think of. We even managed to bump into a shoeless Thomas Jane who was attending the convention with his daughter. All the costumes and media personalities jamming the isles only added to the massive amounts of eye candy which were on display.

Everything from the latest in vinyl figures to endless amount of comic books both new and old was available for purchase or pre-order. Some of the bigger more impressive set ups included the always prevalent Midtown Comic’s and one by Pepsi who was on hand to promote the upcoming release of “Pepsi Perfect” the futuristic soda originally featured in the film “Back to the Future II”. The display was complete with sleek looking tables and counters which displayed the curvy bottles. To top it all off the display included its very own Delorian time machine flanked by none other than Marty and Doc Brown impersonators.

After an exhausting day of searching crowded aisles for numbered display booths, a thwarted attempt at getting a picture of the one and only Grumpy Cat and being shut out of several high profile panels we took account of all the positives we saw throughout the day despite the few negatives and made our way to the 7 train for our journey home. With final attendance be calculated at around 167,000 for the events four days it’s unsure if the Javitz Center will be able to handle the conventions continued growth. However with numbers which are rivaling San Diego Comic Con the future seems bright for the NY show and we couldn’t be happier to see it continue to grow.

Event Coverage: The Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair, Hosted by Satin Ice

“An event to bring together hobbyists, teachers, bakers, cake artists and housewives, alike.”

Welcome to the Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair hosted by Satin Ice. The Orange County Convention Center hosted this lavish event and it was a great place for it. The layout was open and welcoming. It was a different type of tradeshow that welcomed all types of people connected to cake. Those of us who love to bake on the weekends with our kids could find some fun cookie cutters and edible glitter to make baking at home exciting. Those who bake wedding cakes for a living and are on the lookout for new ways to ship their wares or find a new stand to put there amazing cakes on, could find them here too. This one event managed to bring the Americas’ love of cake and meld it with some of the most talented cake makers from across the land.

On top of Kevin O’Reilly’s incredibly easy to navigate event, there were some of the most talented celebrity cake makers and chefs on hand to share their knowledge and talent with the crowd. The ‘Cake Maker to the Stars’ Mich Turner was on hand to share her passion for structure, refined opulence and detail. Roland Mesnier was there to share some of his incredible memories of his 25+ years of cooking and baking in the White House under 5 different Presidents of the United States. Food Network’s judge on the new series, “Cake Wars,” Ron Ben-Israel was on hand to share how his dance background helps him create incredible cakes with movement and beauty.

Friday night brought a completely different fashion show than we have ever been to before. CakeCentral presented the Sugar Arts Fashion Show and Cocktail party. The show included almost all edible fashions walking down the runway. There were incredible gowns, skirts, belly dancer costumes and more. The fashions were made from edible ingredients such as isomalt jewels, wafer paper, gum balls, dark and milk chocolate, gum paste and a new gelatin-based material known as Flexique. It was mind-blowing to see some of the edible items that really truly looked as if it was fabric and moved like typical clothing. The show favorite was by far the incredible Neo-Victorian fashion created by Cake-decorator, Joseph Cumm. It was a masterpiece dipped in a variety of chocolates. Sidney Galpern’s flower-inspired creation was a beautiful, glittery work of art. The amount of time that went into each unique piece was communicated throughout the show.

Here’s to having this incredible event come back to Orlando for years to come! Happy Baking!

Mich Turner and Ron Ben-Israel

Roland Mesnier

The Mind-Blowing Event That Was E3 2015

 

The most hotly-anticipated event in the video gaming world has come and gone for the twentieth time, leaving in its wake a gaggle of fan-boy adoration, critique and hope for the next year of gaming, touted as to be one of the best seen in years. If you haven’t been up to date on the events, announcements and showcases that made up the Electronic Arts Expo (E3) however, don’t worry; here were the best bits of the trade fair!

In terms of huge, ground-breaking releases, E3 was truly a sight to behold! We had DICE’s beautiful-looking Star Wars: Battlefront, where both thrilling co-op and multiplayer game modes were shown in breathtaking detail, and Rainbow 6: The Siege, where players will be given a hearty dose of strategy at a time when many shooter fans are growing tired with the over-the-top, arcade-y approach driven by titles such as Call of Duty.

Then there was the announcement that RPG fans would soon be able to play through a twenty-first-century remake of the utterly popular Final Fantasy 7, plus a remake of the much-derided, but critically-appraised Doom. There was a lot of this sort of nostalgic leaning at E3 2015, with Sony bringing back The Last Guardian (produced by the makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus) and kicking off a Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue 3, that despite the exciting prospect, did make one wonder why a tech giant was asking for funding from the public-at-large. Perhaps this is the moment that crowd-funding went corporate?

There wasn’t much shown from the online casino gaming world, a glaring omission given the utter, ever-growing popularity of sites such as Royal Vegas Casino. These sorts of sites, where players are afforded access to virtual versions of casino games, are booming worldwide, with the industry as a whole set to be worth nearly $60 billion by 2018. As such, it’s hard to see why such developers have yet to be invited to E3. Nevertheless, fans of casino thrills will have to wait until the iGaming Super Show later this month in Amsterdam to find out the new developments within this skyrocketing gaming sub-industry.

Fallout 4 was, for many, the highlight of the show. Fans of the series have been waiting for years for RPG-extraordinaire Bethesda to create a new iteration of the utterly popular post-apocalyptic franchise, but were treated with a gloriously long trailer and gameplay reveal that did much to reignite the hype!

Sci-Fi fans were also bestowed with a healthy crop of releases. Mass Effect: Andromeda looked set to continue our love affair with all things alien; Star Fox Zero – unfortunately one of the few Nintendo showcases at E3; and the still-hazy No Man’s Sky, which seems to appear more and more gorgeous every time we ravenously lap up another shred of gameplay footage!

The future of gaming was also spelled out at E3 in two letters – V.R. Facebook’s Oculus, Sony’s Morpheus and Microsoft’s HoloLens were all present, showing the gaming public that gaming is about to get all the more immersive. HoloLens was perhaps the most promising though; instead of taking gamers out of the real world it aims to project the game on to the real world, something that might satiate the fears of those who fear the escapist nature of other headsets.

So with one whole year to wait until E3 2016, what parts of this year’s show did you like most? Let us know your thoughts below!

 

Event Review “Festival of Trees: Tis the Season” Orlando Museum of Art

Entering its 28th year, the Council of 101’s Festival of Trees kicked off the holiday season in Central Florida with this year’s holiday event “Tis the Season.” For a few weeks, the Orlando Museum of Art become a winter wonderland filled with designer decorated trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses, which are also all for sale BTW. If you have never been to a Festival of Trees event, you are missing out. The wife and I have been going since around 1999 and this year was one of the first years that our two year old daughter was able to attend and really enjoy it. This year the event runs from November 15 – 23, 2014, 10am – 5pm daily. If you are looking for a fun holiday event, this is a nice day out.

It is isn’t all just look at trees though at this event, there are tons of other holiday shopping available in the Festival Boutique, drawings for various prizes and a fantastic Toyland Town activity area and shop for the children, which is great when you have a two year old. Mostly importantly the jolly red man himself, Santa, is there to meet the kids and take pictures for free. This is not just a department store Santa, this guy was the real deal. My daughter probably sat on his knee actually chatting with him for quite a while. Plus, there is also face painting and free holiday tattoos for kids.

Compared to the Festival Of Trees that we have attending in the past in New York, this is a definitely a little more cultural and upper class since it takes place at the Orlando Museum of Art. I will use the word “arty”. But it is a still a good event. The admission is a little high personally $10 Adult and $6 Child (ages 3-11) but it also includes admission to current Orlando Museum of Art exhibitions including Lamar Peterson: Suburbia Sublime and David Rathman: Stand By Your Accidents.

Last time I attending this event at the Orlando Museum of Art, it was a little bit different. In the main room, it was transformed in a Christmas world with a stage and band playing music through, there was also a band in the main hub hallway as well. This year, the main room had a more artistic feel to it, playing out more like the them of the art museum. Also before you leave be sure to stop by the Festival Café for some amazing food. This is not just quick service amusement park food. This is quality hand made sandwiches and salads. ‘Till next year!

Event Review “Disney On Ice Presents: Frozen”

“Disney On Ice Presents: Frozen”
Feld Entertainment
Amway Center
Orlando, FL
September 4th-7th, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Feld Entertainment returns“Disney on Ice” to the Amway Center this month with the instant classic and record breaking film “Frozen” taking center stage. “Frozen” came out nearly a year ago and has not cooled down since. People really love this film. Everything about it from its characters to its music. What little girl doesn’t go crazy when “Let it Go” comes on the radio, including my own two year old daughter. Disney and Feld Entertainment really brought the magic again with this new show. It was truly one of the best Disney on Ice shows that I have seen in recent years and will leave every single “Frozen” fan 100% satisfied.

The show kicks off with our hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and a few familiar faces such as Disney Princesses Snow White and Rapunzel as well as characters from favorites like Disney∙Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King. The focus of the show is the celebration of love and friendship and it really hits home. What I really loved about this show is the fact that it was decided to focus on “Frozen” entirely. When I have seen past shows of Disney on Ice, they have split the bill between various different set but this one is almost a word for word adaption of “Frozen” but on ice. They changed a few things here and there and re-ordered a few of the songs but it works extremely well and the audience was going absolutely crazy for it.

Official Premise: Enter a fantastical winter wonderland beyond all imagination at Disney On Ice presents Frozen! The heartwarming, Academy Award-winning tale you love is now LIVE and skating into your town. You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintery world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Elsa and Anna, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all!

I have been to plenty of rock concerts and it is funny to say but when Anna and Else hit the ice, they were like rock stars. No joke, these girls were screaming like their lives depended on it. It really brought the energy up in the venue. I should also point out that this was only a preview night, the attendance was very exclusive and the audience was less than half capacity. But still, this event reached some very high decibels. Also one of the best feeling as a father is looking over and seeing my two year old daughter going crazy with her favorite songs, dancing and singing along! Disney and Feld Entertainment continue to bring the magic to their audience and if you have chance to see this show, I would highly recommend it. “Frozen” fan or not, it will melt and at the same time warm your heart right up.

Click here to purchase tickets to “Disney On Ice Presents: Frozen” during it’s visit to the Amway Center

Universal Orlando Resort And Warner Bros. To Host Second Annual “A Celebration Of Harry Potter” Event In January 2015

“A Celebration of Harry Potter” will Feature Incredible Experiences at Both Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida Jan. 30 – Feb. 1

Vacation Packages with Exclusive Benefits, Including Exclusive Q&A Sessions with Harry Potter Film Talent, Go on Sale Thursday, August 21 at Noon EST

ORLANDO, Fla.Aug. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. announced today that they will host the second annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter” event – a special event for fans celebrating the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter.

Beginning January 30, 2015, fans will enjoy three days of incredible experiences – including the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo, Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent and more. Special vacation packages, including annual passholder packages, will go on sale August 21 and will include exclusive benefits such as access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and the all-new The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.  Full vacation package details are below.

All general admission park guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter film talent and other special guests (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Experience and participate in the interactive and unique exhibits of the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
  • Enjoy special discussions regarding various aspects of the Harry Potter franchise
  • Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. Plus, ride the Hogwarts Express between the two lands with a park-to-park ticket.
  • And much more!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley officially opened in Universal Studios Florida on July 8, 2014 bringing even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life at Universal Orlando Resort. The new land features incredible shops with windows full of magical surprises, authentic dining experiences, a fire-breathing dragon and the new multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Guests with a park-to-park ticket will also be able to board the iconic Hogwarts Express and enjoy a unique journey as they travel between London and Hogsmeade. The new immersive area expands upon The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, launched in 2010 in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and doubles the size of the sweeping area already dedicated to Harry Potter’s adventures to create a spectacularly themed environment across both Universal theme parks.

While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando park guests and annual passholders, only guests who purchase the exclusive event vacation package or annual passholder package will enjoy certain special benefits and reserved seating for select events. Packages are limited and will go on sale at noon EST on Thursday, August 21, 2014. See below for full package details.

Packages for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando Resort

On Sale at Noon EST on August 21, 2014

On-Site Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at  $219 per adult per night, tax inclusive

  • 3-night on-site hotel accommodations at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal Orlando Resort’s all-new retro-themed moderate & value priced hotel
  • 3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
  • Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
  • Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
  • Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
  • Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
  • Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
  • Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
  • Complimentary on-site transportation to and from both theme parks and Universal CityWalk
  • Note: This package does not include complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access

On-Site Deluxe Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at   $285 per adult per night, tax inclusive

  • 3-night on-site hotel accommodations at one of Universal Orlando’s spectacular deluxe on-site hotels:  Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Royal Pacific Resort
  • 3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
  • Complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access to skip the regular lines in both theme parks for all three days – a FREE benefit worth up to $89 per person, per day
  • Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
  • Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
  • Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
  • Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
  • Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
  • Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
  • Complimentary on-site transportation to and from both theme parks and Universal CityWalk

Universal Partner Hotel Celebration Vacation Package ~ Starts at $185 per adult per night, tax inclusive

  • 3-night accommodations at a Universal Partner Hotel near Universal Orlando
  • 3-day park-to-park ticket to both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure (includes access to the Hogwarts Express)
  • Exclusive Q&A session with select Harry Potter film talent
  • Access to an exclusive evening event in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, including light desserts and Butterbeer
  • Specially themed Welcome Parcel and complimentary commemorative merchandise item
  • Special Guest access to the “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Expo
  • Reserved seating or viewing area for select Celebration events
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the parks open
  • Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, one per person
  • Free scheduled transportation between the hotel and Universal Orlando Resort
  • Note: This package does not include complimentary Universal Express Unlimited ride access

 To book special annual passholder event vacation packages, please call 1-888-343-8991 starting August 21, 2014 at noon EST.

Access to select events within “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is included in regular admission to Universal Orlando or with an annual pass. For more information about the event, tickets and vacation packages, visit www.universalorlando.com/celebration.

About the Harry Potter Series
Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. Each of the seven books by author J.K. Rowling has broken sales records, with the series to date having sold over 450 million copies worldwide and translated into 77 languages. The Harry Potter films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $7.7 billion to date worldwide at the box office, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.

About Universal Orlando Resort
Vacation like you mean it at Universal Orlando Resort – where every heart pounding, jaw-dropping, goose-bumping second counts. It is the only place where you can turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family. Together, you can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, become a Minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride, and join Optimus Prime in the fight to save mankind on the new mega-attraction, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D. And now, you can step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two incredible theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; four magnificently themed on-site hotels: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort and the newest addition, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort; and Universal CityWalk – a unique dining and entertainment complex featuring one-of-a-kind restaurants, shops and nightclubs.  And located just minutes from Universal Orlando Resort is Wet n’ Wild, Orlando’s premier waterpark.

Universal Orlando Resort is part of NBCUniversal, a Comcast company.  Follow Universal Orlando Resort on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

About Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment is a global leader in all forms of entertainment and their related businesses across all current and emerging media and platforms. A Time Warner Company, the fully integrated, broad-based studio is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainment production and worldwide distribution to DVD, digital distribution, animation, comic books, video games, product and brand licensing, international cinemas and broadcasting.

HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

Feld Entertainment and Marvel Entertainment Unveil Cast for Highly Anticipated Live Event Spectacular “Marvel Universe Live!”

More Than 50 Performers Prepare To Bring The Marvel Universe To Life In This Summer’s Live Action Arena Spectacular

Ellenton, FL, (June 12, 2014) – After scouring the country to find the best of the best in live action performers with an amazing array of disciplines and skills, Feld Entertainment, Inc., the worldwide leader in live touring family events, today reveals the final cast of more than 50 performers ready to bring its most ambitious live event experience to life in Marvel Universe LIVE!. Debuting this July in Tampa, FL, before having its world premiere at New York City’s Barclays Center on Wednesday, August 13, the show will be the most physically demanding in Feld Entertainment’s storied history and will stop in 85 cities nationwide.

Featuring the most Marvel characters ever in one production, Marvel Universe LIVE! will be headlined by a cast trained in everything from martial arts to motocross in order to bring the Marvel Universe to the live action arena. Supported by a unique blend of aerial stunts, pyrotechnics and state-of-the-art special effects, the performers will bring an epic live action experience right in front of audiences’ eyes every time.

After an intensive eight month cross-country casting process that took place in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando and Ellenton, Florida, with hundreds of hopefuls representing the United States, Mexico, Hungary, France, United Kingdom, Russia, and Japan showing off their considerable skills, the final ensemble is set. When the spotlight finally shines, spectators will see some of the world’s most gifted athletes and performers including professional snow-skater and three-time X Games champ Phil Smage (Captain America), WMX Pro National champion and two-time X Games winner Ashley Fiolek (Hydra Agent), and 2012 X Games Silver Medalist Louise Forsley (Black Widow). To depict the superlative athleticism of some of Marvel’s most renowned heroes, Feld Entertainment also has signed martial arts expert and AAU Junior Olympics/National Champion Kirk Jenkins (Wolverine) and long-time American Ninja Warrior professional course tester Eric Foster (Hawkeye).

“From the beginning we knew that to pull off a show of this magnitude we had to have a cast that was the closest thing we could find to real life Super Heroes,” said Shanda Sawyer, director of Marvel Universe LIVE! “These are intense roles that require performers who are experts in their fields with the ability to take those skills and apply them to a number of meticulously crafted sequences, all designed to push the limits of anything the audience has ever seen in an arena show of this caliber – and they need to do this day in and day out.”

Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original story that brings more than 25 Marvel characters together on one epic quest. The story is framed around the battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe, that has been shattered into pieces by the mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. With the pieces scattered across the globe, Thor’s villainous brother, Loki, devises a scheme to clone its powers, inciting a threat that could not only decimate Earth but also obliterate the Universe.

For an inside look at the audition process, see below:

For a complete cast list and more information, visit the Marvel Universe LIVE! website
(http://www.marveluniverselive.com) and stay current on the latest developments through social media, including:
• Facebook (www.facebook.com/MarvelOnTour)
• Twitter (@MarvelOnTour/@JulietteFeld (show’s producer twitter feed))
• YouTube (www.youtube.com/MarvelOnTour)
• Instagram (@MarvelOnTour)
• Google+ (http://gplus.to/MarvelOnTour)

About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Nuclear Cowboyz®, AMSOIL Arenacross, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Disney On Ice and Disney Live! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.

More information on Marvel Universe LIVE! is available at www.marveluniverselive.com. About Marvel Entertainment, LLC Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information, visit www.marvel.com. © MARVEL

Attraction Review: ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring Frosty the Snowman

ICE! at Gaylord Palms featuring Frosty the Snowman
November 23 through January 5

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

If you’re looking for a little holiday spirit you should head over to the Gaylord Palms “ICE!” attraction. From November 23 through January 5 you can join Frosty and his friends on a quest to the north pole. There you will see exciting displays of the Christmas classic Frosty the Snowman, hand-carved out of more than two million pounds of ice. But be sure to bundle up because they keep the display at 9°F!

We moved to Florida in June of 2010 and every year since we have been attending this event and every year it just gets better and better. Frosty the Snowman, this year was done so well and has easily been one of our favorite years visiting this attraction. New this year you can enjoy “Artisans in Action” where you can watch ice carvers from China up close and personal as they create amazing sculptures before your eyes!

When you’re finished the attraction make sure you warm-up with a nice cup of hot chocolate! Don’t forget the catch the Luminescence stage show in the exhibit hall. There’s a live band and singers that will perform some of your favorite holiday classics. There’s also an acrobatic display that will amaze you! There is so much to do at Gaylord Palms during Christmas and it is fun for the world family to enjoy!

So hurry up and catch Frosty and friends now – before they melt away!!!

Event Review “New York Comic Con” October 10-13, 2013

New York Comic Con
Date: Thursday, October 10th – Sunday, October 13th
Venue: Jacob K. Javitz Center, New York, New York

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The annual New York Comic Con kapowed its way into the Jacob K. Javitz center once again this year for 4 days of fandom and craziness. From 10/10-10/14 the massive multi level convention center played host to the annual event which showcases everything from comics and video games, to pop culture icons and informative workshops. With 2012 convention attendance being reported as over 100,000 attendees for the 4 days this year’s events would easily be able to match if not top that number.

This year’s con featured a slightly different layout than that of previous years which proved to be a plus as several high traffic areas which normally wreaked havoc on fans were redesigned allowing for smooth passage to the different areas of the venue. This also included the entrances of the venue which saw expansive security fencing and added staff to help keep fans from spilling over into the bustling streets surrounding the hall. These two changes right off the bat made my time at the convention a lot better and a lot less sweaty. (If you have ever experienced the con you know what I mean). Though the convention seemed smaller than that of previous year there was certainly still plenty to keep fans busy over the 4 days. On the main convention floor fans were treated to impressive booth displays by Nintendo, Ubisoft and New York’s own Midtown Comics which all played host to a number of cool merchandise. As my assistant and I made our through the packed isles we stumbled across a number of different media personalities. Charlie Adlard of “Walking Dead” fame was spotted working commission pieces, Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria/ Evil Ink was signing for fans as were a number of other guests though out the event. To the left of the main hall was “The Block” which like in previous years was home to a bevy of multi medium artists who were on hand showcasing their newest works and products. Once again you never know who you will run in to as this time around I was lucky enough to meet punk icon Jerry Only of the Misfits who was on hand for the unveiling of the new Misfits Records logo.

Artist Alley was a buzz of excitement as hardcore comic fans filed in to meet their favorite artists and have their most prized books signed. Some of the longest lines on Friday belonged to the likes of artists Aaron Kuder (Amory Wars, Amazing Spiderman), Humberto Ramos (Superior Spiderman, Uncanny X-Men) and David Finch of “The Dark Knight” and “JLA” fame. There was certainly lots of talent on hand in this area of the convention which in my opinion was like a whole other convention in its self.

The Autographing area which much like last year still seemed worlds away from the constant bustle and activity happening on the main floor however a break from the crowd noise is always nice. On this day the longest lines belong to “The Office” star BJ Novak, “Star Wars” Anthony Daniels and “Dr. Who’s” Colin Baker. It wouldn’t be until Saturday/Sunday that the Hollywood heavy weights would turn out as booths laid in waiting for the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sylvester Stallone who after a bit of research I found out was charging $395 per autograph and an additional $445 for a photo! Yes you read that right.

Also in the same vicinity as the autograph area was the always popular panel viewing rooms. Everyone from AMC’s “Comic Book Men” to the 25th anniversary of “Child’s Play” had events going on in one of the various rooms. Probably two of the biggest events for this day would be the “Comic Book Men” panel hosted by none other than Kevin Smith himself and the 10th anniversary panel for “The Walking Dead” comic which featured creator Robert Kirkman. Featured panels for the weekend included talks with “Robot Chicken”, “The League” and AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” which featured a majority of the cast.

Though this year’s event seemed a bit scaled back in the way of big celebrity guests other than the above mentioned and the main floor seemed lacking in several big name companies many of which are on the verge of major releases (Sony PS4 and Xbox 720 where both nowhere to be found) NYCC 2013 was a great time. Both my assistant and I were left shell shocked by all in which we took in and will probably use the time between this year’s event and next year’s event just to re-cooperate we certainly can’t wait to do it all over again in 2014.

Event Review “Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes” Amway Center – Orlando, FL

“Disney on Ice: Princesses & Heroes”
Produced by: Feld Entertainment
Amway Center
Orlando, FL
September 13, 2013

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been attending Disney on Ice events ever since I could barely walk.  Now with a 15 month old daughter of my own, I have new reason to enjoy and experience these shows. Last year, I was blown away with Feld Entertainment’s presentation of Disney On Ice with “Rockin’ Ever After”, which was a blend of hip music with Disney classics, basically it was like a big dance party. Tons of fun. The latest show “Princesses & Heroes” sang a bit of a different tune. It was much more minimalist performance. Each set was quite simple and there wasn’t much in terms of a big production. Don’t get me wrong we were still singing along and having a grand ‘ole time but the “WOW” really wasn’t there for this show.

The show starts off with just Mickey and Mickey introducing each set along with Tinker Bell to sprinkle her fairy dust. We to see our favorites like Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie from “Aladdin”, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”, Ariel, Ursula and Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid”, Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog”, Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent, Cinderella and closing the night with Rapunzel from “Tangled”. Easily the best out of these in terms of production was Maleficent’s dragon, which looked great and, of course, breathed fire. My person favorite was Rapunzel, I love this movie and I am glad that they have my best for last. The others like Tiana and Snow White were very simple and didn’t really seem to catch the audiences attention.

If you are looking for a more contemporary Disney experience with the classic stories and songs, then you should enjoy this show but those looking for a fun and exciting experience, I found myself checking my email a few times throughout.  My 15 month old daughter enjoyed herself but after Tiana leading into Cinderella, she definitely started to loose interest, despite the fact that it was past her bedtime. I hope that Feld Entertainment is planning on bringing the Sofia The First and Jake & The Never Land Pirates – Disney on Ice show to Orlando soon because we will be first in line and running to the merchandise stands for sure.  Till next time, see ya real soon!

If you are interested in catching this great event while it visits the Amway Center in Orlando FL from September 13h-15th, 2013.  Click here for tickets and more details.

Event Review “The Rain Room” at The Museum of Modern Art

Rain Room
The Museum of Modern Art
May 12–July 28, 2013

The line stretches through the lot and down the sidewalk, and it’s moving at a snail’s pace. As the hours go by and tempers rise, people begin to question if this is all worth it.

And then you walk inside.

And directly into a dream.

The first thing you sense when you finally enter the darkened space, is the sound. It’s the sound of falling water, and as you turn the corner, you are met with an arresting sight: a darkened room, lit with only a spotlight, and a large block of rain falling from the ceiling. The guard nods at you, and you slowly approach it, your nose now picking up on the smell of water. You tentatively reach a hand into the falling droplets, expecting to be drenched in seconds, and instead feel…nothing. There’s a dry area surrounding your outstretched hand- a type of force field that is keeping it dry. As you make a slow wave, the dry area follows you. You take a deep breath and step fully into the room. Miraculously, no water touches you, and you start to feel a sense of joy and of play. You can control the rain!

Rain Room (2012) is rAndom International’s installation art piece currently on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the MoMA PS1 Exhibition (EXPO 1: New York). It is, in the simplest of terms, a literal room of rain. Hundreds of gallons of water are cycled through the room per minute, and 3D tracking cameras line the space, sensing its occupants and their movements, and repel the water from releasing up above them. It is best to move at a moderate pace- too fast, and the sensors are unable to keep up, and you will get wet. rAndom International’s founders, Stuart Wood, Florian Ortkrass, and Hannes Koch, have been reticent in revealing the specifics of how it all works, allowing it to continue to be a fantasy and mystery to those who experience it.

Perhaps the best thing about Rain Room is the audience interaction component. Every person will experience the room in their own way and will become part of an unexpected show of immersive meteorology, so the room is always changing. It challenges participants to go against their ingrained responses while experientially engaging four senses at the same time. There’s a feeling of romance, delight, and contemplation at being able to literally control the water falling around you.

Rain Room is located in the lot space directly next to the MoMA and is included in the regular ticket price. It is open daily during normal museum hours. Entry is limited to only ten people at a time. The exhibit runs until July 28th.

Event Review: Hero Bot Con – Elmira, NY

Hero Bot Con
Date: Saturday, October 27th 2012
Venue: Chemung County FFC, Elmira, NY

The second annual Hero Bot Comic and Art Convention was held on Oct. 27th at the Chemung County FFC located in Elmira, NY. The event is ran an organized by Heroes Your Mom Threw Out Comic Shop located in Elmira Heights, NY and features a number of top industry comic book artists, writers and vendors.

Upon entering the venue I was quite surprised at the attendance for a relatively underground/grassroots convention. Various vendors and artists lined the gymnasium with countless collectibles, art and comics. Several big name artists/writers already had lines of fans waiting to have their at times stacks of items signed. Guest of Honor Mark Silvestri best known for his work on “Cyber Force”, “Wolverine” and “Incredible Hulk” had a line of fans patiently waiting just about all day long. Other notable guests that also were quite busy included Mark Hawkins (Cyber Force), Roger Stern (Superman, The Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man) and Jamal Ingle (Kiss, Supergirl). When not searching boxes of vintage comics for missing pieces to my collection I was able to attend a few of the Q/A panels which were quite fun as I was able to get some interesting pieces of behind the scenes info.

From the reactions of those in attendance myself included it seemed as though Hero Bot Con was a hit again this year. I do think the event organizers will have to look at bringing in more/higher profile guests and vendors in if it wants to keep fans coming back year after year however, for an independent con like this to be able to offer special VIP ticket/gift packages and Q/A Panels with the guests is pretty impressive as a lot of similar sized cons do not offer these opportunities. Next time Hero Bot Con comes around make sure to get your tickets and check it out as there is definitely something for everyone.

A big thank you to Jared Aiosa and Jesse Reib for all of their help and allowing us to attend the event.

For more info on Hero Bot Con you can visit the official website at www.herobotcon.com

Eddie Mekka talks about “Laverne and Shirley” and his appearance at the 31st Omaha Film Event

Massachusetts born Eddie Mekka didn’t follow a dream to show business. He followed his heart. Smitten with a young lady in high school he followed her to Boston. Within five years he had appeared on Broadway, scored a Tony Award nomination and headed to Hollywood.

Best known as Carmine Ragusa (The Big Ragu) on television’s “Laverne and Shirley,” Mekka continues to sing and dance. He just completed a production of “The Rocky Horror Show,” where he played both the narrator and Eddie and will next be seen as Pseudolus in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” This Friday, November 2, he will be appearing with his “Laverne and Shirley” co-star Cindy Williams at a special screening of “American Graffiti” in Omaha, Nebraska. The screening, the 31st Omaha Film Event produced by Bruce Crawford, will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. For more information, click here http://www.omahafilmevent.com/upcoming.htm

While enjoying a rare travel break at his Las Vegas home Mr. Mekka took the time to talk with Media Mikes about his career.

Mike Smith: What inspired you to pursue musical theater?
Eddie Mekka: When I was a senior in high school I kind of fell in love with a girl. She went on to study at the Boston Conservatory of Music so I followed her there and got a scholarship. I was taking voice at the Conservatory. Dinner theatres were big in Massachusetts and I attended a performance of “Hello, Dolly.” Afterwards I asked around as to how you got into something like this. The theaters were Equity houses and they told me you had to be a member of Actor’s Equity. I asked how you got into Equity and they said I had to be in a show. How does anybody get in? (laughs) They told me I could work as an apprentice and earn points. Or if someone just decided they wanted to hire you then you join the union and pay your money (dues). So I went back to the theater a few days later and gave them my photo and resume’. One of the other dinner theaters was doing the show “Promises Promises” and somebody got sick. Rather than go all the way back to New York City to audition a new actor they auditioned me there and I got the job. I quit school and that night I went into the show. I did the show for eight months. Most of the actors in the show were from New York City and when the show ended they told me to go to New York. And that’s what I did. I drove a cab and studied hard and started getting into Broadway shows. I got a Tony nomination as Best Actor, headed to Hollywood and in three days I got “Laverne and Shirley!” That’s the long and the short of it!

MS: Wow! That’s the story you never hear. It’s always “I washed dishes for 10 years.”
EM: Well in New York I did drive a cab as well as help clean up at a dance studio. After two years I started teaching dancing. In fact, there were people who had graduated with degrees in Dance from the Boston Conservatory who became my students.

MS: Since you highlighted you dancing, I’ve noticed that in a lot of your on screen appearances….be it “Laverne and Shirley” or “A League of Their Own”…you always manage to work a few dance steps in. Of all of your talents is that your favorite?
EM: I’ve always been a song and dance man…Gene Kelly…Tony Bennett…I’m from the old fashioned school where you had to learn how to sing and dance and act and be funny. You couldn’t just walk onto a television program overnight and then learn how to act. I’m from the old school where you had to learn it all first. Then you go out into the world and pay your dues. You did it the right way…that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Because once they find out you can do something special…that you can sing and dance…they try to incorporate that into your role. Besides, I love dancing. As long as I can walk I can dance and as long as I can talk I can sing.

MS: You earned a Tony Award nomination as Best Actor in a Musical for your performance in “The Lieutenant.” You’ve also appeared in shows like “Grease” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” Do you prefer musical theater to film or television?

EM: I prefer the theater artistically. I prefer the others as far as it being a business, making money and getting recognition. There’s no fooling people in the theater. You get on stage and you’ve gotta be good. There’s no faking it. People don’t care how cute you are – they want to be entertained. You don’t get two chances to get it right. You learn the whole script from beginning to end and that’s how you do it. There’s no “CUT.” There’s no switching with a double to make you look good. The theater is honest and there’s no fooling it. And when you take your curtain call at the end you feel absorbed. You’ve done something. And you have to do it again the next day. But not the same way because each audience is different. You actually have to be on your toes. You have to listen and see what they’re laughing at from the very beginning…what the audience is responding to. A lot of the fun of live theater is judging the audience. You just don’t go up there, say your lines then go home and take the money. It’s an art. It’s an art of communication. And in that respect I like it. In television and film you get paid ten times more and do ten times less work. Go figure.

MS: You mentioned that when casting people find out an actor’s talents they try to work them into the character. Was Carmine’s singing and dancing an original part of the character or something you developed with the directors?
EM: It came about through Garry Marshall, who created “Laverne and Shirley” as well as “Happy Days,” which is where Garry first introduced “Laverne and Shirley.” When he cast the show he was looking for a wise-guy Italian. I had just come out from Broadway and an agent I met with was looking at me through her hand. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was trying to see what I looked like on television. I said why not just give me a screen test. She said “it doesn’t work that way, Sonny.” Actors are products. If we don’t know our products we can’t sell them. I told her that someone had told me she was a ballsy lady…that I thought we could have done business together. I shook her hand and left. She was having dinner with a friend of hers from Paramount that night and the friend told her she was helping cast a new show called “Laverne and Shirley” and they were looking for a third character named Carmine…sort of a wise guy Italian. She told her about this guy who had just left her office and her friend said, “bring him in!” I went in the next day and auditioned. That night I did a screen test along with a lot of other “Carmines.” They were also looking at a lot of other “Shirleys.” At first Cindy didn’t want to do it…she had just finished “American Graffiti.” Anyway, during a taping of “Happy Days” Garry Marshall addressed the audience and informed them they were going to see a scene with some new characters. We came on, did the scene and the audience loved it. Garry Marshall told us, “we’ve got a show!” As the show progressed Garry sat down with me and asked me “what else can you do?” I told him I could sing and dance. “Yeah…let’s see.” The following week in the show Laverne tells Carmine that she’s trying to get Shirley to jump out a bachelor cake for the Fonz. I tell her that I can’t get Shirley to do anything but “she’s a sucker for my Tony Bennett (in a perfect Bennett impersonation) YOU KNOW I GO FROM RAGS TO RICHES!” The audience applauded and that was it.

MS: Besides “Laverne and Shirley” you’ve worked several times on stage with Cindy Williams (“Grease,” “It Had to Be You”). Is it easier working with someone you’re so familiar with?
EM: Oh yes. When we did “Grease” we shared the same bus. She had the suite in the front and I had the one in the back. We really go to know each other. On “Laverne and Shirley” we really didn’t talk much, except on set. We didn’t really socialize. It wasn’t until we did “Grease” that we became great friends. We just spent 10 weeks in Canada doing a play called “Sylvia.” And we did a show for 6 weeks the previous year. Our timing now is perfect…it gels. We work really good together.