Archives for December 13, 2015

Queen Mary’s NYE: One Ticket, Five Cities Around The World

Leave your passport at home; this New Year’s Eve around-the-world-party only requires a ticket to the Queen Mary. Regally berthed in Long Beach harbor since 1967 she will again host an epic night of entertainment festivities and culinary adventures inspired by international destinations; five hours of dining, dancing and toasting aboard three acres of floating maritime history, as New Orleans, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo and Hollywood celebrate 2016 as only the Queen Mary can.

 

The Promenade Deck will evoke Bourbon Street at Mardi Gras, vibrating with the sounds of New Orleans Jazz spiced by Cajun cuisine and Hurricanes, the city’s famous rum-filled concoction raised high in the hands of bead-wearing revelers.  Trade the Hurricane toasts for Moscow Mules in the Royal Salon, transformed to Red Square and a Russian celebration with DJ Mickey O spinning Hip Hop backed by dazzling aerialists.  Good fortune and Chinese traditions await those on the Sports Deck where dragon dancers, lion dancers and a Kung Fu show will welcome the New Year, Beijing-style. Tokyo-bound guests will liberate their inner dancer on the Queen’s Verandah Deck turned ‘Tokyo at Night’ featuring a Hip Hop Dance Show and DJ Barbie’s Top 40 hits. Sushi, sakitinis and karaoke complete the Japanese adventure.

 

The international fete ends where it began, sipping champagne and dancing to the Hedge Hog Swing Band in the Grand Salon where Hollywood’s glamour lives forever within the ship’s Art Deco decor. An exclusive island destination VIP ticket invites a limited number of guests to spend the night in Lahaina, Hawaii and Havana, Cuba. The Queen Mary’s NYE party brings the best of New Year’s celebrations around the world to Long Beach.  “This year’s celebration takes on new meaning – as it becomes the first major event timed to the ship’s 80th Anniversary year. Offering global nighttime adventure and a glittering fireworks show the 2016 New Year’s Eve Party launches an important year for the Queen Mary and it all begins at midnight, December 31” said Steve Sheldon, Director of Entertainment Events.

 

New Year’s Eve runs 8PM – 1AM. Guests must be at least 21 years old. Reservations for dining at Queen Mary’s restaurants are required. Bottle Service packages and private cabanas are available.  For more information, pricing, hotel packages and more, visit: http://www.queenmary.com/events/new-years-eve/or call 877-342-0742.

 

General Admission “Cabin Class” Boarding Pass –($99) includes admission to the ship with access to the “Cabin Class” decks, salons, and bars featuring live bands, strolling entertainers, and DJ’s and view of the midnight fireworks. VIP “First Class” Boarding Pass ($199) includes VIP admission to the ship with exclusive access to the “1st Class” & “Cabin Class” decks, salons, and bars featuring live bands, strolling entertainers, and DJ’s PLUS 3 complimentary cocktails, party favors and premiere view of the midnight fireworks.

 

NYE 2015 Video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/-iOmeAryU7E?rel=0&autoplay=1

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About the Queen Mary

Located in the Port of Long Beach, the Queen Mary features a rich maritime history, authentic Art Deco décor, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Long Beach city skyline. At the time of her maiden voyage in May of 1936, she was considered the grandest ocean liner ever built. The Queen Mary features award-winning restaurants, historical attractions, numerous special event salons and 364 staterooms.

Find the Queen Mary here:

Website: http://queenmary.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thequeen.mary

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheQueenMary

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/thequeenmary/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheQueenMaryinLB

Credit: The Queen Mary.

“Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros” – New Family Holiday Album

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Washington, DC’s award-winning power trio for kids and families, Rocknoceros, continues its 10th anniversary celebration in high spirits with their recent November 24th release of an exuberant holiday album, Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros.

Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is a musical “Norman Rockwell” that captures the essence of the procession of holidays that punctuate each year with a festive exclamation point.

Kids nowadays are often too connected to their electronics to feel a connection with the change of seasons and the flow of life on earth.  It’s hard to notice that the moon is spinning around our world when one is consumed with text message and social media. So, with Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros, Rocknoceros has created a little drama out of the last act of the year, structured by holiday observations beginning with Halloween and continuing with Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

“This Thanksgiving” is a big, bold, exuberant ode to Thanksgiving, all done up in three-quarter waltz time.  “The Dreidel Song” dresses up the ubiquitous Chanukah number in a Caribbean rhythm and imbues it with an energy that never lets up.  On “Oh Christmas Brie”Rocknoceros engages in a bit of “cheesy” conversation to the background of a piano bar style “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

In the spirit of “Winter Wonderland” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Snow Day” celebrates the weather while celebrating the season.  Updated lyrics grace the beloved carol melody “Wenceslas” and, like the original, narrate a tale of generosity that embraces the joy of giving at Christmas time.

A one-of-a-kind Rocknoceros version of “Up On The Rooftop” evolved from the band’s holiday shows, while the treasured Christmas poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is given a special Rocknoceros treatment that could only be described as “the works” on “The Night Before Christmas.”  For a grand finale, the Scottish ballad “Auld Lang Syne” is combined with “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think),” with the guitar providing a funky fade-out that escorts a soundtrack of New Year’s frivolity.

Rocknoceros has been at the forefront of the Washington, DC children’s music scene since its inception, winning a remarkable eight Washington Area Music Awards.  In its first decade as a band,Rocknoceros has entertained tens of thousands of fans throughout the country and has gained significant national recognition with performances at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Wolf Trap, and The Kennedy Center.  In addition to Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros,Rocknoceros albums include Plymouth Rockers (2015), Colonel Purple Turtle (2011, with an accompanying picture book), the NAPPA award-winning PINK! (2009), Dark Side of the Moon Bounce (2007), and Rocknoceros (2006).

Happy Holidays from Rocknoceros is available at rocknoceros.com, amazon.com, CDBaby.com, and iTunes.

Check it out! This one is perfect for the holidays and such fun and funky music!

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. 

Universal Studios Hollywood Introduces Three All-New Annual Passes Providing Insider Benefits, Exclusive Perks and Access to The Entertainment Capital of L.A. over a 12 Month Span Gold Pass and Two California Resident Passes Featured

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In celebration of Universal Studios Hollywood’s five year epic transformation that has substantially altered its familiar footprint to essentially define it as an entirely new destination, The Entertainment Capital of L.A. is rolling out three all-new Annual Pass ticket options, inviting guests to visit the theme park as if for the very first time.

Effective immediately, new Annual Passes will provide guests with an array of privileges reserved for passholder membership, including access to Universal Studios Hollywood over a 12 month period to enjoy the park’s compelling thrill rides and attractions, including “Fast & Furious: Supercharged” as the grand finale to the world famous Studio Tour, “Transformers:  The Ride 3D“ and “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem,” as well as the much-anticipated “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” when it opens in Spring 2016.

Each new Annual Pass member will embark on an exciting journey with Universal Studios Hollywood receiving regular newsletter updates, exclusive preview event invitations, discounts on food and merchandise, eligibility for sweepstakes opportunities that include the chance to win tickets to coveted Hollywood red carpet movie premieres, and more.

The Gold Pass, available for $299, includes 312 select days of fun. The California Resident Plus Pass, available for $199, invites members to enjoy 244 select days of fun, and the California Resident Pass, available for $139, includes 182 select days of fun.  To learn more about the Annual Passes options, please visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com/tickets.

Additional information is available at www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.

 

Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A.SM, includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour; the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the “5 Towers” state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue. World-class rides and attractions include the renowned, behind-the-scenes Studio Tour featuring the intense “King Kong 360 3-D” attraction and the all-new “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” thrill ride as the Studio Tour’s grand finale.  Other popular rides include the 3D-HD adventure, “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and immersive “Super Silly Fun Land,” the critically-acclaimed mega-attraction, “Transformers™:  The Ride-3D,” “Revenge of the MummySM—The Ride,” “Jurassic Park® —The Ride,” “Springfield,” hometown of America’s favorite TV family, adjacent to the award-winning “The Simpsons RideTM” and the “Nighttime Studio Tour” which runs on select evenings.

Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood.

Here Comes Christmas! From the original Yellow Wiggle, Greg Page

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Kick off the holiday season with Here Comes Christmas! from Greg Page, the original Yellow Wiggle of children’s entertainment phenomenon The Wiggles!  A Christmas package stuffed with twenty-two traditional and original holiday songs for the whole family, plus four “just for kids” bonus tracks, Here Comes Christmas!  released on November 24 on the Yellow Entertainment label.

Here Comes Christmas! marks Greg Page’s first children’s/family album since his departure from The Wiggles.  A treasure trove of seasonal cheer, Here Comes Christmas! was arranged and produced by Chicago-based Alec Miller, who harnessed Greg’s passion for old-time, favorite Christmas songs and framed the richness of his golden baritone with sparkling, contemporary settings.  The resulting collection enfolds children and adults alike in the warmth of Yuletide music and the holiday spirit.

Greg Page has for many years aspired to record a Christmas album that pays homage to the old-school style of musical arrangements, andHere Comes Christmas! does just that.  The settings for many of the songs can trace their lineage to those splendid orchestral arrangements made famous by the recordings of Bing Crosby, Perry Como, and Dean Martin.

Here Comes Christmas! opens with three Greg Page/Alec Miller originals, presented with panache, substance, and personality.

A splendid array of favorite, traditional holiday tunes follows.  Highlights include “The Little Drummer Boy,” in which Greg Pageprovides a dramatic study of symphonic proportions that greatly expands the canvas of earlier versions by the Harry Simeone Chorale, the Ray Conniff Singers, Andy Williams, etc., along with superb renditions of such beloved holiday perennials as “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Christmas Song,” “Let It Snow,” “Silent Night,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Silver Bells,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, “Winter Wonderland,” and more.

Greg Page has long been at the top end of children’s entertainment and is respectfully regarded as one of the genre’s leading performers. While studying Early Childhood Education at Sydney’s Macquarie University, he teamed up with fellow students Anthony Field and Murray Cook in 1991 to form what would become one of the world’s most successful children’s entertainment brands, The Wiggles.

During Greg’s nearly seventeen years with The Wiggles, he performed more than 7,000 shows to over seven million people, recording more than 20 CDs and 22 DVDs, with combined sales of more than 20 million.

Greg Page has been awarded the Order of Australia (knighthood) for his services to the arts, in particular to children’s entertainment.  He has also received an Australian Record Industry Hall of Fame Award, honorary Doctorates from Macquarie University and Australian Catholic University, and an Australian Record Industry Outstanding Achievement Award.  Greg Page is a seven-time ARIA (Australian Grammy) winner.

Here Comes Christmas! will be available from iTunes and theButterscotch TV website, HEREGreg Page’s Butterscotch’s Playground DVD is also available from iTunes and the Butterscotch TV website.

This one is just perfect for the Holidays!!

Visit Greg Page’s websites HERE and HERE.

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample of the CD and highly recommend for younger kids!

COOKINA®’s Non-Stick Gooey Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 2 tsp Hot water
  • 1 cup Milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Candy cane/or peppermint candy pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175ºC)
  2. Cream the butter, white sugar and brown sugar on medium/high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, incorporating after each addition. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then mix into the batter with the vanilla and salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips and candy pieces. Drop large spoonfuls or scoops onto a baking pan lined with a COOKINA® Cuisine Reusable Baking Sheet, spacing cookies 2” apart.
  3. Bake on the middle rack, in a preheated oven for 10-13 minutes or until edges are golden.
  4. Let cookies cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Credit: COOKINA.

Book Based Films Offer Evergreen Entertainment in a Soft Way

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The Snowman is one of my all-time favorite pieces of animation. Directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by Jonathan Coates, this non-narrative film truly is filled with wonder. The haunting music by Howard Blake, “Walking in the Air,” stays with me for days every time I watch this film. Based on the best-selling book by Raymond Briggs, this animation is true to the original story and one to share with your family during the holiday season. N Circle Entertainment has done a brilliant thing in creating a DVD containing both The Snowman and the its sequel, The Snowman and Snowdog which was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the original. Also a non-narrative film, the sequel introduces a  new character and is as charming as the original. Dedicated to John Coates and featuring the new song, “Light the Night” by former Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows, it is an extremely thoughtful sequel and was made using traditional hand-drawn animation, not CGI. This collection is really a treasure!

 

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing… Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!” Kamren W. adds, “I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable.” See their full reviews below.

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The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature – Collector’s Edition

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

 

 

These extravagant films have a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog is a double feature masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The two short films are based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.  This double feature collector’s edition is a true keepsake that includes the original film, and its sequel. It also includes three bonus features: The story of The Snowman, an alternate introduction from David Bowie and a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with the writer, Raymond Briggs. The total length of the two films is 60 minutes, plus the bonus content.

 

In The Snowman, a young boy James wakes up one morning and finds snow on the ground. He quickly gets dressed and runs outside. He then builds a huge snowman. He gives it eyes, a nose, a scarf and a hat. He even gives it a big smiley face. After building the entire snowman by himself, it is time for James to go to bed. When he wakes up he notices that the Snowman has moved a little, so he runs downstairs and out the door. He then notices that the Snowman is glowing, moves some more and then, totally comes to life. James is flabbergasted to see a live Snowman. The Snowman and James introduce themselves and become great friends. The rest the film shows the two flying around having so much fun and adventure throughout the day.

 

In The Snowman and the Snow Dog, a young boy and his mother move to a new house. The boy finds a box with a snowman-making kit under the flooring. He then runs outside and starts to build a snowman.  After he is done, he uses all the leftover snow to make a little, adorable snow dog. When he is finished, it is time to go to bed. When he wakes up he sees the dog move a little, he then jumps with joy and races down the stairs to see what is happening. To his surprise, the snowman and the snow dog start to glow and move. Even more to his surprise, they come alive. He then becomes friends with them and they travel and have adventures all around the North Pole and meet a special someone.

 

The book, The Snowman was adapted for the screen in 1982. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated short film. The animation of the drawings is just amazing, bringing to life so many memories from the days of movie shorts. The silence in the film, meaning that there is no dialogue, makes it even more beautiful and old fashioned.  The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing. It fits perfectly with everything the boy and the snowman are doing at given times. Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. The songs in the movie are also catchy and addicting to sing along with.  I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!

 

The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snow Dog are appropriate for ages 1 to 12.  I rate this whimsical double-feature 5 out of 5 stars. It is available on DVD now.

Clayton

The Snowman and The Snowman and the Snow Dog Double Feature – Collector’s Edition

By Kamren W., KIDS FIRST! Film Review Critic, age 9

 

 

These two enjoyable silent films are made with great hand-drawn animation and easy-to-follow storylines about a little boy who builds a snowman that comes to life. The theme is very simple and fun to watch, plus, who doesn’t love snowmen? Both films remind me of the picture books by Raymond Briggs that they are based on. I was amazed how, even with no voices, they are easy to follow and very enjoyable.

 

The two films have been released as a double feature, the 1982 film The Snowman along with the 2012 sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog. In The Snowman, the little boy brings the snowman inside! The snowman becomes curious and starts to mess with things around the house, he even starts messing with hot water and melts a little. The snowman and little boy go on a flying adventure to a party where they meet Father Christmas. The sequel, The Snowman and the Snowdog, although very similar to the first, introduces a new boy who finds a snowman making kit. In this film, there is also a dog made from snow who accompanies the little boy and the snowman on an adventure.

 

The animation team does not use 3D or a lot of colors. There are funny scenes in both films. In the first film, the snowman starts to dress up in the boy’s parent’s clothes. This made me think of how kids like dressing up in their parent’s clothes. One interesting thing in both films was the different cultures of snowmen. In the first film, the Hawaiian snowman stood out to me. In the second film, there are many Asian snowmen at the parties.

 

The musical score is played by an orchestra in both films. The music is very calming. Through the songs you experience different emotions, especially in The Snowman and the Snowdog. The boy, dog and snowman are in a race and the music is very happy and, in one scene, very fast which adds a new emotional element.

 

I recommend these films to children ages 2 to 6. Parents will enjoy not having to worry if it is appropriate or not. I give both films 4 out of 5 stars. There are a few bonus features which talks about how popular the classic picture book was and why author Raymond Briggs decided to make the film. This Collector’s Edition Double Feature DVD is available in stores now.

Kamrenss

Credit: KIDS FIRST!