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  • Jim Hill

    Steampunk stylings make the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen a stand-out at Universal Orlando's CityWalk

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    It's the one-two punch that's been dazzling visitors to the Universal Parks & Resorts ever since The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade first opened back in June of 2010. Combining immersive theming with a top quality dining experience that's set in a specific world. And what with all the people who now line up at the Three Broomsticks so that they can then knock back a Butterbeer with their lunch (Not to mention all of those "Simpsons" fans who wait for an empty...
  • Jim Hill

    Would Woody Allen have been a better fit for LeFou in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" ?

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    Given that the silver anniversary of Disney's " Beauty and the Beast " is coming up (This Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale film initially went into wide release back on November 22, 1991), a lot of bloggers have recently been writing about this hand-drawn animated feature. Using Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's release of the signature collection edition of "Beast" (which includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD version of this Academy Award-winning movie) as an excuse...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Studios Hollywood's The Walking Dead Attraction is amazing. Just don't make the mistake of calling it a maze

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    When Southern Californian fright fans return to Universal Studios Hollywood this Friday for the official kick-off of Halloween Horror Nights 2016 , they'll have a wide assortment of scares to choose from. They can climb aboard the Terror Tram (which is presented by horror auteur Eli Roth & his digital network Crypt TV) and have a far-too-close encounter with "Hollywood Harry," the serial killer clown. Or - if these USH visitors prefer -- they can explore the more public portions...
  • Jim Hill

    How the makers of Disney's "Moana" almost chickened out

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    It's kind of a tradition at Walt Disney Animation Studios that the hero or heroine of each new production has an animal companion. Sometimes they talk (EX: Flounder in " The Little Mermaid ") and sometimes they don't (EX: Abu in " Aladdin "). But these furry, feathered or finny friends always provide support - emotional & otherwise - for that film's lead character. More to the point, these animal companions always find a way - even when they can't talk - to...
  • Jim Hill

    Will "Kubo" be the next "Iron Giant," a great animated film that has to be rediscovered before it can then be fully appreciated?

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    Let me get right to the point here: It kind of breaks my heart that "Kubo and the Two Strings" hasn't done better at the domestic box office. Copyright Focus Features. All rights reserved I mean, this stop motion movie is arguably the best thing that Laika has ever produced. And if you go over to Rotten Tomatoes , you'll see that - given the 96% freshness rating Focus Features ' most recent release has gotten (Not to its audience score of 91%) - I'm not the only one who...
  • Jim Hill

    How long should theme parks & movie studios wait when dealing with projects & products that have been impacted by tragedy?

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    Six times a day, Louis the Alligator is up onstage at WDW 's Magic Kingdom . Performing in front of Cinderella Castle as part of the cast of characters featured in " Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire ." Which wasn't always the case. When this new theme park show officially debuted at the Walt Disney World Resort back on June 21st, this trumpet-playing gator from Disney's " The Princess and the Frog " was nowhere to be seen. Which is perfectly understandable. Given...
  • Jim Hill

    "Phineas and Ferb" creators put an optimistic spin on Murphy's Law with their new animated series for Disney XD

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    If you have a kid in your house, ask them what comes after the following line? There's 104 days of summer vacation ... If they respond with " .. . And school comes along just to end it ," you have a " Phineas and Ferb " fan on your hands. And they're no doubt still in deep mourning. Given that this Emmy Award-winning animated series officially ended back on June 12, 2015. Copyright Disney XD. All rights reserved Okay. Given that there were 222 episodes produced over the...
  • Jim Hill

    "American Horror Story" -themed maze brings fiends from the popular FX series to Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights

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    It's often been said that "good things come in threes." For fans of FX's " American Horror Story ," that will most definitely be the case with this year's " Halloween Horror Nights " at the Universal Orlando Resort & Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. For the 2016 edition of the ultimate Halloween event, they're building one massive maze that will then pay tribute to three separate installments of this critically-acclaimed horror anthology series...
  • Jim Hill

    How "Pete's Dragon" went from being a "Mary Poppins" wanna-be to an "E.T." -inspired delight

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    It's the movie that Leonard Maltin is calling " ... the summer's best family film." Disney's "Pete's Dragon" reboot - which opened in theaters earlier today - is a genuine Hollywood rarity. A reimaging that actually improves on the original. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Which - if we're being completely honest here - probably wasn't all that hard to pull off. As delightful as this "E.T." -inspired reboot is, the original...
  • Jim Hill

    Disney XD's "Future-Worm!" puts a pre-teen twist on time travel

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    Over the nearly 15 years that he'd been working in animation, Ryan Quincy had done a great many things. He's helped create Emmy Award-winning episodes of " South Park ." Not to mention " Out There ," that acclaimed series for IFC. "But what I hadn't done was work on anything animated that I could then show my son, who's 11, and my daughter, who's 9," Quincy recalled during a recent phone interview. "And that had genuinely begun to bother me."...
  • Jim Hill

    Andreas Deja shares the lessons he learned from those animation masters, Disney's Nine Old Men

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    When Andreas Deja was a little boy growing up in Germany, he loved going to the movies. He especially enjoyed catching the theatrical re-releases of classic Disney animated features like "Lady & the Tramp" and "The Jungle Book." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved "And as I watching the credits for these films, I couldn't help but notice that the same names kept appearing over & over," Andreas recalled during a recent phone interview. "Given...
  • Jim Hill

    How a PR problem led to the creation of Disney's first Latina princess, "Elena of Avalor"

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    Back in October of 2012, the Internet temporarily lost its mind when Jamie Mitchell - the producer of the then-soon-to-launch "Sofia the First" television series - mistakenly identified this show's title character as Disney's first Latina princess. Princess Sofia and her mother, Queen Miranda. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Within a day or so, The Mouse House was walking back Mitchell's off-the-cuff comment. But where everyone else saw an embarrassing...
  • Jim Hill

    Women in Animation panels prove that there's more to San Diego Comic-Con than just promotion of pop culture

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    Thanks to Comic-Con International , now through Sunday, San Diego is the white-hot center of the pop culture universe. Photo by Jim Hill Mind you, there's more to this four day-long event than those high-profile presentations in Hall H. Which is where various movie studios will be parading celebrities & showing exclusive clips. All with the hope that those 6000 early adopters who have (some of them, anyway) been camped out in this cavernous convention center for hours ahead of time will then...
  • Jim Hill

    How Eric Stonestreet almost missed out on voicing Duke the Dog for "The Secret Life of Pets"

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    Given that Eric Stonestreet has spent the past seven years working on " Modern Family ," this two-time Emmy Award-winner thought he knew how things worked in Hollywood. (L to R) Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Eric Stonestreet on ABC's "Modern Family." Copyright 20th Century Fox / American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved "Your manager will periodically send you out to do a meet-n-greet with someone. This is one of those go-through-the-motions business things...
  • Jim Hill

    "Let It Go" gets the LEGO treatment as a whole new Disney "Frozen" story unfolds across books, TV & digital with "Frozen Northern Lights"

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    What with " Frozen - Live at the Hyperion " opening in late May at Disney California Adventure Park and Epcot 's " Frozen Ever After " attraction opening its doors later this morning, Anna & Elsa have had a very busy month. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved So what will these Scandinavian sisters be doing for an encore? Would you believe joining forces with the LEGO Group? Anna & Elsa - along with Kristoff, Olaf & Sven - will be starring in...
  • Jim Hill

    Before he voiced Dory's Dad in Pixar's "Finding Nemo" sequel, Eugene Levy made a big splash in Disney's first-ever Touchstone release, "Splash"

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    "I've played some Dads in my day." Anyone familiar with Eugene Levy 's filmography knows that the above statement is true. After all, this Canadian comedy legend played Jim Levenstein's Dad in all eight installments of the " American Pie " sex comedy series. Not to mention that hyper-competitive papa in " Cheaper by the Dozen 2 ." And let's not forget that Eugene is currently appearing alongside his own children - Daniel & Sarah Levy -- in Pop's...
  • Jim Hill

    Walt Disney Animation Studios' newest short, "Inner Workings," explores the importance of mixing work with pleasure

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    It's Friday. The end of the work week for a lot of folks. Which means that they're finally able to get away from jobs that they don't necessarily enjoy. But what if there was a way to take an unpleasant employment situation like that and then transform that chore into a joy? And not by physically transforming one's workplace. But - rather - by changing the way that you view said workplace. That's the creative conceit behind "Inner Workings," the delightful new short...
  • Jim Hill

    Jason Bateman & Ginnifer Goodwin talk about voicing Nick Wilde & Officer Judy Hopps for Disney's "Zootopia"

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    " Will Arnett put you up to this, didn't he?" That's what Jason Bateman said to his agent four years ago when this " Arrested Development " star learned that Walt Disney Animation Studios wanted him to come voice one of the leads for " Zootopia ." "Ever since ' Toy Story ' -- or was it ' Shrek ' ? - film actors were being invited to voice these really great characters in animated films. And that was something that I really, really wanted...
  • Jim Hill

    Josh Gad looks back at "Angry Birds," ahead to live-action "Beauty and the Beast" & "Frozen 2"

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    Never mistake an actor for a role that they've played and/or a character that they've voiced. That's an especially smart thing to remember when talking with Josh Gad . Sure, he originated the role of insecure, incorrigible Elder Cunningham in the Tony Award-winning " Book of Mormon ." Not to mention voicing sweet, naïve Olaf in Disney's animated smash, " Frozen ." But just because Gad has a gift for playing these child-like characters doesn't then automatically...
  • Jim Hill

    Two beloved brits celebrate their 90th birthdays with style in "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday"

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    Anyone familiar with the writings of A.A. Milne knows that the author of Winnie-the-Pooh had a real fondness for the Royal Family . Mind you, the royals who appear in "When We Were Very Young," Milne's best-selling book of poetry from 1924, weren't always on their best behavior. Take - for example - the monarch who fusses & pouts in "The King's Breakfast." Literally sobbing as he hurries back to bed, all because his servants have forgotten a little butter for his...
  • Jim Hill

    Craig Gillespie worked hard to make sure that CG waves didn't swamp "The Finest Hours" real-life story

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    Take a look at the photo below. See that boat tied up at a marina in Orleans, MA ? (And I'm not talking about the fishing charter to the right. But - rather - the modest vessel to the left). Photo by Jim Hill Doesn't look like all that much, does it? When you take a closer look at the thing, it seems like there's barely enough room for the four brave Coast Guardsmen who manned this particular motor lifeboat back in February of 1952. Photo by Jim Hill But then you notice the plaque .....
  • Jim Hill

    How "Jungle Book" director Jon Favreau coaxed such a great performance out of acting novice Neel Sethi

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    So who exactly is Neel Sethi , the 12 year-old cinematic newcomer who's the only live-on-screen human performer in Disney's "The Jungle Book" ? Which -- after spending its second weekend at the top of the domestic box office -- has now gone on to sell over $500 million worth of tickets worldwide. More importantly, why -- out of the hundreds of child actors who auditioned for the role of Mowgli in Jon Favreau 's live-action reimagining of Disney's 1967 animated classic -...
  • Jim Hill

    So how are Toy Story Land & the Star Wars Experience supposed to link up at Disney's Hollywood Studios?

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    So I -- like a lot of you, no doubt -- have spent the last day or so sifting through all of the info that came out of this week's "Awaken Summer" media event down at the Walt Disney World Resort . And there was something that caught my eye about this new piece of The Star Wars Experience concept art. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Take a close look at the right-hand side of the above image. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved Does that look...
  • Jim Hill

    Universal Creative tweaked the magical formula it used to create Hollywood's Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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    Given that there are already Wizarding Worlds in Orlando & Osaka, why should Harry Potter fans now travel to Hollywood to experience the third theme park incarnation of that magical realm which J.K. Rowling dreamed up? Because -- as Professor Flitwick (who teaches the Charms class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) might say -- the third time's the charm. Universal Creative took all of the lessons that they learned while creating the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter for...
  • Jim Hill

    Hollywood's El Capitan Theatre gets ready to celebrate its 90th anniversary

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    Tonight, all eyes are on the Dolby Theatre and the 88th Academy Awards . But tomorrow morning -- after that 500 foot-long red carpet (which gets rolled out along Hollywood Boulevard every year so that the stars then have something grand to stand upon) has been packed away -- where can one then go to experience some of the glitz & glamour of today's Tinseltown? Well, some people might stroll up the block to the TCL Chinese Theatre . This cinematic temple originally opened back in May of 1927...
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