Archives for December 8, 2015

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood Reveals Opening Date! HOGWARTS IS COMING TO HOLLYWOOD ON APRIL 7, 2016!

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It’s official:  “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” will open at Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, April 7, 2016, marking the highly-anticipated arrival of the West Coast’s dynamic new immersive experience at The Entertainment Capital of L.A.

This eagerly-awaited news coincides with the launch of the destination’s spellbinding campaign, which is stylistically designed to sweep guests into the land’s magical world through the lens of imagination.

The campaign is anchored by a new television spot designed to build suspense and enthusiasm while evoking a sense of wonder and succinctly capture the magical appeal that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has for cross-generational consumers as it announces the April 7opening date.

In making the exciting announcement, Universal Studios Hollywood illuminated the land’s Hogwarts castle to signal the arrival of today’s momentous news.

To see the new campaign spot including a glimpse of the new land and today’s news, please click here.

More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is being masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood.  The land will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which will serve as its iconic focal point.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will transport guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade will bustle to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons, but with the added element of enthusiastic guests intent on experiencing them all, including the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff™.”

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” will make its U.S. debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in hyper-realistic 3D-HD designed to further immerse guests in an already engaging storyline.  The multidimensional thrill ride features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects.  In this updated adaptation of the ride, guests will sport Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles as they venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff™ will open as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will resonate with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops will add to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

Currently, Universal Studios Hollywood in-park guests can experience and purchase authentic merchandise, including wands, robes and other collectibles from “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” available within the Features Presentation shop, located just inside the theme park’s main entry.

As the countdown to the April 7th opening date continues, the website invites guests to learn more by signing up for the latest news and information at

Join the conversation online using #WizardingWorldHollywood. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios onInstagram and Twitter.


About Universal Studios HollywoodUniversal 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.


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.


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World renowned installation artist, musician William Close, will perform a historical, breathtaking symphonic concert with his Earth Harp Collective for their first public hometown show in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec 10 as part of Downtown Art Walk and Vision LA. The newly extended Earth Harp, featuring 24-36 strings, will be a mesmerizing sight and sound experience when attached 700 feet high to the iconic City National Plaza Tower at 505 S. Flower in Downtown Los Angeles. The one hour show will run twice throughout the evening at 6pm and 8pm. This free event is all ages and makes for an unforgettable holiday outing.


The Los Angeles concert will feature new compositions played by an ensemble of musicians performing on four of William Close’s self-invented large-scale instruments, including the big/orchestral drum sculptures, drum percussion jacket and aquatar. The Earth Harp Collective will be joined by special guest violinist Shaina Evoniuk, vocalist Rafe Pearlman, and introducing Sorne, an operatic rock vocalist bringing his unparalleled hypnotic angelic falsetto and four octave vocal range.


The setting of the City National Plaza is the perfect location for William’s work, which explores the connection between architecture and music. Inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright quote “architecture is frozen music,” Close creates musical installations that utilize architecture as part of the instrument.


The N.Y. Times calls it “an instrument unlike anything Bach or Beethoven could have ever imagined.” Listening to the Earth Harp live is a rare breathtaking experience as the crowd is placed under the strings within the sound-box. After an Earth Harp experience, one knows that they have just been a part of something unique, beautiful and one of those many points where arts, music and science collide.


About his upcoming performances at the City National Plaza, Close said, “I am really looking forward to installing the Earth Harp atop one of the towers and having the chance to perform a symphonic concert in the plaza below. I’ve traveled the world installing the Earth Harp in and around many iconic pieces of architecture, but this will be the first time I’ve strung the Harp to the top of a skyscraper in my hometown of Los Angeles. The 24 – 36 musical strings will run from the resonator/bridge mounted to the stage in the plaza, straight up, over 700 feet to the top of one of the towers. When I play it, it will be as though I am playing the sky.


William Close’s installations and performances have been experienced around the globe – including major US festivals such as Coachella, Lightning In A Bottle, Burning Man, and historical locations such as The Coliseum in Rome, The Seattle Space Needle, the temples of Vietnam, Grand Theater of Shanghai International Arts Festival, and CapitaLand in Singapore, where he received the Guinness World Record for the “longest playable stringed musical instrument.” The Earth Harp is a permanent installation for Cirque du Soleil’s KA at the MGM Las Vegas and the Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas.


Watch highlights of William and The Earth Harp Collective’s performances here:


ConnectLA, a premiere corporate hospitality program housed within City National Plaza, has enjoyed working with William Close on this event. ConnectLA’s director, Xandra Myers, said, “The Earth Harp celebrates the unsuppressed imagination by utilizing the venue as its canvas, creating a breathtaking experience for the audience. We are thrilled to be sharing this masterpiece with the community!”


Come start the holiday season right with this spectacular free performance, and enjoy a delicious dinner with friends and family before or after the show at restaurants Chaya, Drago and Weiland Brewery located at the City National Plaza. Parking is available at the Central Library on 5th, at 400 South Flower across the street, or the 7th Street Metro station is just blocks away.

Credit:  Vision LA Fest, William Close and The Earth Harp.

NEW Games for the Holidays from Wonder Forge! Holiday Giveaway Opportunity!

Looking for some great games this Holiday season?

Here are some of our NEW favorites from our friends at Wonder Forge!

Have a Star Wars fan in the house? These first two are a Must-Buy!

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Pictopia™ Star Wars Edition Family Trivia Game– The Ultimate Picture Trivia Family Game! Age 7+ / $19.99 and Star Wars The Force Awakens™ Star Destroyer Strike Game – Choose carefully or the enemy will strike!  Age 6+ / $24.99.

These two games are really a lot of fun! My favorite of the two is the Pictopia game. This one is fun for the whole family! I even learned new trivia that I didn’t know!

The next one is a lot of fun! I like how creative and imaginative it is and that it is even great for younger kids too!


Disney Imagicademy Storymation Studio – Stop Motion Movie Kit Age 4+ $29.99.

This is a must-buy for all Disney fans and even older kids will enjoy playing this one with younger siblings.

But, my favorite is this next one! I love Peanuts and especially Snoopy!


The Peanuts Movie Snoopy Flying Ace Game – High-flying fun! Age 4+ / $14.99.

This is truly my favorite new family game! My favorite thing about it is Snoopy, of course!

We have teamed up for a Holiday Giveaway! One winner will win The Peanuts Movie Snoopy Flying Ace Game! To enter, leave a comment below telling us your favorite Peanuts character! Deadline to enter is December 14th, 2105 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected via

Self Disclosure: I received free product samples to facilitate this holiday post. No other compensation was received. Photo Credit: Wonder Forge.


Pretzilla is a Must-Try this Holiday Season!

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Looking for something a bit different than just your regular hamburger type buns and hotdog buns? Pretzilla is the answer! Awhile back, I received samples and was quite impressed! I just love the taste of these soft pretzel buns and recommend them this holiday season! Another great thing is that their products are nut-free, vegan, and kosher. They have quite a variety of different products such as the Pretzel Bites and the Sausage Buns. My favorite is the Soft Pretzel Mini Buns!

You can find them online or at your local Whole Foods Market!

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. 


Mike The Knight: Mike’s Bravest Mission – A Great Role Model for Pre-schoolers


Mike the Knight is a Canadian/British animated TV series created by Alexander Bar and written by Marc Seal. It airs on Nick Jr. in the US and it is available on DVD through N Circle Entertainment.  Mike is a young boy living in medieval times who has a bright future. The son of the king and queen of Glendragon, Mike is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a noble knight. The young knight-in-training is given missions to complete, which he attempts to do with the help of his two dragon friends, Sparkie and Squirt; his sister, witch-in-training Evie; and his horse, Galahad. Mike tries to be the bravest knight of all. With the help of his friends and his rallying cry, “be a knight, do it right,” Mike discovers the power of responsibility and learns to do things the right way. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “I like that Mike is very brave and confident. This program shows kids how to be confident in themselves and encourages them to believe you can do anything when you put your mind to it.” Morgan B. adds, “At first I thought the film was just for little boys but after watching it, I think that little girls will love it too.” See their full reviews below.


Mike the Knight: Mike’s Bravest Mission

Ryan R., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11


I like that Mike is very brave and confident. This program shows kids how to be confident in themselves and encourages them to believe you can do anything when you put your mind to it. I like how Mike doesn’t cheat and always plays fair. That is a great lesson that Mike shows you throughout the film.

Meet Mike, voiced by Trek Buccino, a knight in training who dreams of being a brave knight like his father when he grows up. His father, the King, is a knight who is away exploring other lands. Looking up to his father, Mike wants to learn to become a knight too. However, he is still in training. With his two dragon friends, Sparkie and Squirt, his sister, Evie, who is a witch-in-training and his horse, Galahad, Mike tries to be the bravest knight of all.

When his mom and dad think he’s prepared, they put him on a quest to solve the “Knight’s Puzzle” to see if he is ready to be a knight. Mike goes along on this journey with his friend, Richard to complete his mission. Can Mike complete the quest?

My favorite characters are Mike and Evie. Evie is one of my favorites because, unfortunately for her, her magic always goes wrong and it leads to disastrous but hilarious effects. Even though her spells go wrong she keeps persisting and never gives up. Mike is another one of my favorites because he also never gives up on the idea of becoming a knight. You see his persistence throughout the entire film which is a great message for kids to see – If you want to accomplish something, never give up and keep trying.

What I didn’t like about this show is that it has very little humor. Also, this show wasn’t very  entertaining for me as an 11-year-old. But, keep in mind that this movie is perfect for little kids. I recommend it for ages 5 to 8 and give it 4 out of 5 stars. I also recommend it to people who like action, adventure, family and kids films. The DVD has some trailers of other Mike the Knight DVDs and The Doozers DVD. It also offers bonus features where you can meet the characters or do karaoke to the theme song. That’s sort of fun!

Mike The Knight: Mike’s Bravest Mission

Morgan B., KIDSFIRST! Film Critic, Age 11
Knights, wizards, kings, dragons and more will put a smile on your face! The planes make me want to jump in and take a ride. The animation is colorful and has great details. The many action adventure scenes are spot on and flawless. The animation is so detailed that it is just mind-blowing.

At first I thought the film was just for little boys but after watching it, I think that little girls will love it too. The animals and the girl wizard will definitely be some kids’ favorites. The wizard is cute and, since she is still learning, this leads to many mistakes and funny moments. The story line includes a treasure hunt and a mystery which will capture your attention. The two story lines flow together into a fun, family-friendly, animation adventure.

The movie has great relationships between father and son. You can see all the similar qualities they share, both good and bad. The voice actors are quite wonderful and the emotions between the characters really come across. The characters show what true friends really do for each other. The characters are adorable and the voice over work matches well with the individual characters. They are all cute and quirky. My favorites are the dragons which are surprisingly kind, not your usual breed of fire breathing beasts that want to eat or barbeque you.

The villains have a beast of their own which terrifies them. I really wanted to like them because they are funny and made me laugh. However, they are not nice and think that everything is theirs. Mike the Knight: Mikes Bravest Mission teaches us to never give up. If you try and fail maybe you should look at the problem another way and try something different. No matter what, you should always keep trying and eventually it will all work out.

This new DVD is perfect for kids ages 4 to 18.The colorful movie will keep little ones entertained and older kids will love the story line. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 Dragons.


Dinosaur Toy Figures, 12 Set from Kids Imaginative are a Holiday Must-Buy!


Do you have a child who loves Dinosaurs? If so, then the Dinosaur Toy Figures, 12 Set from Kids Imaginative  is a great gift suggestion for you! My son is a little older now but my nephew is four-years-old and he really likes these! I think he likes that they come in such a variety of colors! They come in blue, pink, yellow, green, brown, silver, red, and even purple! I mean..just look how bright and colorful these dinosaurs are!

The size of each Dinosaur is 5-7.”  Another really cool thing is (according to my nephew) is that there are so many different types of dinosaurs! They are available in these following Dinosaurs Species: T-Rex, Tegosaurus, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Brachiosaurus, Styracosaurus, Velociraptor, and Euoplocephalus. Even my older son said that is a pretty good variety!

Another really great thing is that they don’t have a chemical smell!  They are made with top quality materials and has been certified for EN71, lead-free, and chemical smell free. This is really great because I do know that some dinosaurs that we bought when my son was younger, did have that slightly unpleasant smell.  This is not the case with these dinosaurs.

They seem to be great quality and would be great as a holiday gift or you can open the box and use them in a stocking! They will definitely be a hit this holiday!

They are available on so it isn’t too late to order!

Self Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an unbiased review. No other compensation was received.