Greetings and salutations! Is everybody getting used to writing “2018” on whatever we write dates on instead of checks nowadays? Back in the parks and enjoying the annual display of colorful construction walls? I’m always glad to see them because I know that it means something is being done. And honey, I lived through the era where that didn’t happen and I don’t ever, ever want to go back there. Let’s see what’s new!

The Newest Jurassic Park Movie – Starring YOU!

Can you believe it’s the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park’s theatrical release? I saw it in a theater in Tampa with some friends. It was actually my first experience seeing a suspenseful movie with a very expressive couple who were yelling at the characters on the screen, telling them to “GET OUT OF THERE!” and “RUN!” and “GET DOWN!” I’m usually the kind of person who likes the silent movie house, but it sure was fun.

Well, to celebrate this anniversary and the upcoming release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Universal Brand Development and creative network Tongal have launched a contest for fans to share about or recreate their favorite moments from Jurassic Park. The best and most original user-generated content submissions will be compilated and posted to the Jurassic World YouTubeFacebook and Instagram channels, as well as JurassicWorld.com every #ThrowbackThursday from January through April.

To get an idea, here’s some fans who were asked to “relive or recreate” their favorite scenes – and ended up meeting a couple of original Jurassic Park fans who ended up starring in the Jurassic World films! Check out the video on YouTube and at www.JurassicWorld.com/JP25.

“Twenty-five years ago, Jurassic Park captured the imaginations of global audiences and transported them to a world where dinosaurs roam the Earth,” said David O’Connor, executive vice president and head of franchise management and brand strategy, Universal Brand Development. “With this call to action, we’re bringing together fans of all ages to showcase their creativity and celebrate all things Jurassic.”

For “relive”, fans are asked to share how their favorite scene from Jurassic Park impacted them, and how it inspired or influenced them. For “recreate”, fans can re-enact the scenes using animation, illustration, toys, family members, costumes, pets, special effects and more! Participants can submit their videos through January 22, 2018, at JurassicWorld.com/JP25.

Two grand-prize winners will receive $1,000, plus Jurassic Park products and a DVD set. and up to 48 winners will be awarded $250 each, as well as Jurassic Park S.W.A.G., and their videos will be part of the compilations shared with fans across Jurassic World social channels.

Jurassic Park began a lifelong bond with its fans, building an incredibly loyal culture and community,” said Tongal Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, James DeJulio. “This opportunity to celebrate its 25th anniversary is an example of how Universal is deepening those connections by allowing fans to put their own spin on the story, while inspiring the next generation.”

This is only the beginning. fans can look forward to more many more celebratory moments in early 2018 through product collaborations, fan events and more. Follow #JurassicPark25 on social and visit JurassicWorld.com/JP25 to learn more about the campaign, see official rules and view the kick off video.

Ninjago: Masters of the 4th Dimension

The wildly popular Ninjago characters debuted in a new 4D animated short exclusively at LEGOLAND California January 12. Guests become part of the 4D action as Master Wu prepares the blockheaded ninjas to take on the teachings of the mysterious ‘Scroll of the 4th Dimension’, but they decide to ignore his teachings, leading to kid-friendly but exciting mayhem.  Kai, Nya, Lloyd, Zane and Cole find themselves in an Escher-esque set that enhances the 3D feeling as well as some other very imaginatively-created situations that are just enough to keep the grownups interested while making the kids (at least the ones around me) ooh and ahh.

Scored by Wurst Brothers Music, the duo of David and Eric Wurst, whom you may not have heard OF, but you’ve most definitely heard. Some of the creative team was there for the premiere, and I hope to have an interview with one of them in a future column.

Sideshow Iron Man Mark IV

I’m a total sucker for Tony Stark, even though I rooted against him for most of Civil War. It’s the sass. I’m a sucker for the sass. You know what I mean. Anyway, I get affiliate letters from Sideshow, because I’m an affiliate, meaning I supposedly sell things for them. Supposedly. So I got these:

And I think, “Wow, that’s gorgeous!”

It’s in pre-order now for Christmas 2018. Yes, you heard me. And it’s $345.00. So then I said, “Wow, that’s gorgeous, but…”

And they sent this:

And I’m like, “That’s a cute pose, but not unless it comes WITH the donuts. And maybe coffee.”

I squid you not, this happened:

It comes with the little coffee and donut box, so you can make a little Randy’s Donuts sign instead of using the supplied stand and pose your Iron Man Mark IV in there instead!

Ye gods, I love Hot Toys and Sideshow. They are the worst, and also the best.

Can You Fathom The Dark Crystal in Theaters?

Get tickets here. I get no kickback, it’s just – you have to see this film before you die.

Thirty-five years after it first stunned audiences and critics with its unprecedented visions and mythic storytelling, Jim Henson’s 1982 epic fantasy-adventure “The Dark Crystal,” co-directed by Henson and Frank Oz, will return to big screens nationwide in a special two-night presentation from Fathom Events, The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures.

Newly restored in 4K (at select theaters), “The Dark Crystal” is a visually spectacular tale of a young hero who must find a legendary relic in order restore harmony to the universe. A watershed in fantasy filmmaking produced by Gary Kurtz (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back), “The Dark Crystal” will play in U.S. movie theaters on Sunday, February 25, and Wednesday, February 28, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time (both days).

Each screening of “The Dark Crystal” will also feature a brand-new featurette with Lisa Henson (CEO and President of The Jim Henson Company), who will reflect on the making of the one-of-a-kind film and its creative legacy.

You can find a list of participating theaters on Fathom’s website. The link is above.

Following its two-day-only theatrical presentation, “The Dark Crystal” will debut on 4K Ultra HD™ and return to Blu-ray™ and Digital March 6 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray will be presented in an all-new collectible Digibook package, complete with rare photos and behind-the-scenes info about the making of this iconic classic.

The ambitious story of “The Dark Crystal” takes place in the world of Thra, which has been torn asunder by a fracture in a great magic crystal, causing two races to be created: the tranquil Mystics, or urRu, and the evil Skeksis, who all but destroyed Thra’s native species, the Gelflings. Now, the Mystics have summoned Jen, one of the last surviving Gelflings, to find the lost piece of the crystal. The quest sends him on an unbelievable adventure that can restore harmony and peace to Thra.

“The Dark Crystal” features performances by Jim Henson as Jen (voice of Stephen Garlick), Kathryn Mullen as the Gelfling Kira (voice of Lisa Maxwell), Frank Oz as the astronomer Aughra (voice of Billie Whitelaw), and Dave Goelz as Fizzgig (voice of Percy Edwards), with Henson, Oz and Goelz also performing as the Skeksis. Kiran Shah also performs the body of Jen, Kira and Aughra. With a screenplay by Dave Odell (“The Muppet Show”), “The Dark Crystal” also features a majestic score by Trevor Jones (Excalibur, Labyrinth).

“Jim Henson created a truly one-of-a-kind experience with ‘The Dark Crystal,’ one that is rarely seen on the big screen,” said Tom Lucas, Fathom Events Vice President of Studio Relations. “Fathom Events could not be more excited about the privilege of working with The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures to give movie lovers the chance to see the visual splendor of ‘The Dark Crystal’ in movie theaters.”

And every self-insert who wasn’t “Morgana” became “Kira” after that, until ole “Bella” came around…

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Special Days Ahead

Knott’s PEANUTS Celebration

The Knott’s PEANUTS Celebration will take place weekends starting January 27 through February 25, 2018, plus Presidents’ Day.

I can hear “Linus and Lucy” playing in my head already. Golly, I love that song. I wonder who was responsible for getting more kids into Jazz, Charles M. Schulz or Matt Groening?

PEANUTS weekends will feature comic-strip inspired photo ops, special shows and activities and much more!

Ever wish you could meet the evil kite-eating tree in person? Or step right into a comic strip? Ride with the Sopwith Camel against the Red Baron? Now is your chance!

Camp Snoopy Theater presents an all-new show where Lucy and Charlie Brown put their talents to the test in Lucy and Charlie’s Balancing Act. Also in Camp Snoopy, the Grand Sierra Railroad has a new overlay as the Beagle Bonanza. (I’ve never seen Charlie Brown called just “Charlie” before, have you?)

The PEANUTS Sketch School at The Bird Cage Theater will include a resident art teacher who will provide step by step instructions on how to draw the perfect PEANUTS masterpiece, including Snoopy, Woodstock and some of the other classic PEANUTS characters. After class is dismissed, a special showing of a classic PEANUTS television special will be shown. I want to draw Spike. He’s my favorite. My chances are slim to none, I’m sure.

In the new PEANUTS Cowboy Jamboree at Calico Park, Franklin and Linus are transformed into old-time Cowboys. The boys are looking to challenge guests with some of the rootinest, tootinest games in Calico. Also in Ghost Town, Pig Pen will be making his Knott’s Berry Farm debut at the Livery Stables with some of his favorite animal friends.

Sally and Schroeder host a musical retrospective that will be sure to have the audience dancing in the aisles at the Calico Square Stage in The Music Goes Round and Round.  At nightfall the stage will transform into a musical extravaganza as the park presents the first ever Woodstock’s Musical Festival. The musical event will feature the Peanuts Gang in a high-energy rock concert, joined by the family-friendly indie band The Jelly of the Month Club.

Lucy and Sally’s Fiesta Fantasy will bring the lively music and traditional costumes of Mexican culture to the Fiesta Village stage in a colorful live performance.

Celebrate the Year of the Dog in 2018 at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Universal Studios Hollywood ushers in the “Year of the Dog” from Saturday, February 10 to Sunday, February 25, 2018. Lunar New Year is included in the price of admission to Universal Studios Hollywood.

This spectacularly themed Lunar New Year event will take place under a curtain of customary red Chinese lanterns and stunning plum blossom Wishing Trees within Universal Plaza, a polygon-shaped piaza that sits at the heart of the theme park. The festivities will come to life for guests as they discover the 12 zodiac animal signs accompanied by their symbolic attributes and meanings.

New this year, Universal Studios Hollywood debuts the all-new DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda Dragon Warrior Training Show and Jade Palace Performance Stage, based on the beloved Kung Fu Panda stories. The all-new Kung Fu Panda experience will engage guests of all ages in an interactive martial art demonstration performed by Master Po and friends. This activity will also feature veteran Professional1 animators who will demonstrate practical techniques of drawing their favorite Kung Fu Panda characters that guests can then keep.

But that’s not all! What would the Lunar New Year be without noodles?  They will also have a replica of DreamWorks Kung Fu Panda’s famous Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop, including Mr. Ping himself, who will invite guests to enjoy his authentic Asian fare and a selection of hot and cold Asian beverages. Don’t forget to order the Secret Ingredient Noodles! (They should make this permanent if the noodles are good.)

NBC Universal 

Say ni hao to the insanely popular Putonghua-speaking Megatron, who speaks the official Chinese language – one almost indistinguishable from Mandarin. He still speaks English to you if you can’t understand, though, and does so also in “Transformers™: The Ride-3D.”

Illumination’s Minions from Universal Studios Hollywood’s popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride will be running around all dressed up in the colors of apples and cherries instead of bananas.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD — Pictured: Hello Kitty Store — (Photo by: Universal Studios Hollywood)

Hello Kitty, the little girl who loves kitties so much she looks like one, is coming for the celebration, but she’s going to stay! She has her own little corner of the Studio Store and will be making special appearances there. I got to see her creator, Yuko Shimizu, at last San Diego Comic-Con. She’s older than me, but Hello Kitty keeps her girlishly young and beautiful!

 

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD — Pictured: DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda’s Po and Tigress Headline Universal Studios Hollywood’s All-New Lunar New Year Event as The Theme Park Ushers in the “Year of the Dog” with a New Dragon Warrior Training Show, Mr. Ping’s Noodle Shop and More from February 10–25, 2018 — (Photo by: David Sprague/Universal Studios Hollywood)

Hurry Home to Disneyland for the Lunar New Year!

Disneyland Resort will bring its biggest Lunar New Year celebration yet to Disney California Adventure Park, Friday, Jan. 26 to Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, commemorates the moment when both the sun and the moon begin their journey for another year. Highlights of the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure will include:

  • God of Good Fortune Goofy and Pluto greet guests at the Disney California Adventure Lunar New Year celebration, Mulan and her dragon pal Mushu, plus Mickey and Minnie Mouse are also on hand, dressed up in their Lunar New Year best.
  • “Hurry Home—Lunar New Year Celebration,” is a heartwarming nighttime water mini-show at Paradise Bay, prior to “World of Color”. “Hurry Home” tells the story of a little lantern as it tries to reunite with its family in time for the annual celebration of good luck and fortune
  • “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” a beautiful celebration hosted by Mulan and her guardian dragon Mushu that celebrates the Lunar New Year and honors family and friendship
  • Three Asian marketplaces offering delicious foods inspired by Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures, plus a special Lunar New Year menu at Paradise Garden Grill
  • Live, daily performances with traditional musicians, and an area for guests to learn about East Asian arts and crafts – hands on – with local artisans
  • Guests might want to add a wish of their own to the Lucky Wishing Wall.
  • Beautiful Lunar New Year décor, including ornamental lanterns and banners wishing guests a Happy Lunar New Year in Chinese, KoreanEnglish and Vietnamese
  • New Lunar New Year merchandise inspired by different cultures of East Asia
    • Special items all the way from Shanghai Disney Resort, including traditional red envelopes for gift-giving, Mickey Mouse plush, Minnie Mouse snow globes and a limited-edition pin
    • Commemorative items featuring special Lunar New Year designs, including adult tees and hoodies

This is also going on during SoCal discount days, so it’s a good time to bring the family – but come at rope drop – it’s gonna be crowded and a lot of stuff is closed. Check out the latest on Lunar New Year at Disneyland.com/LunarNewYear.

“Sea” Acrobats and Learn About Shelter Puppies at SEAWORLD

SEAWORLD is making Lunar New Year a family-fun event, celebrating with Pan-Asian entertainment and food on Select dates February 10-25. During this one-of-a-kind festival, you won’t want to miss:

  • Incredible Chinese acrobat show
  • Amazing local performers & artisans
  • Mouthwatering culinary delights

Since 2018 is the Year of the Dog, the event will have a Puppy Garden, where you can cuddle and take photos with adorable puppies, while learning about adopting animals from local shelters.

New Releases and Coming Attractions

The Lion Guard: The Rise of Scar

Kion Unwittingly Summons the Pride Lands’ Greatest Villain and threatens the Circle of Life

 Includes Five Episodes of Disney’s “The Lion Guard”
Featuring the Voice of David Oyelowo (‘Queen of Katwe”) as Scar
 

Be prepared for the Rise of Scar! With the arrival of the Dry Season, tensions run high, patience wears thin and thirsty tempers flare. To make matters worse, Janja’s hyenas, aided by Ushari the snake, discover a secret that could bring back the vengeful spirit of the legendary villain, Scar!”

Episodes: 

  • The Rise of Scar
  • The Trouble with Galagos
  • Janja’s New Crew
  • Baboons!
  • Lions of the Outlands

This is kind of a misnomer as it appears that the entirety of the DVD is a story about Scar returning when it’s just one episode…but it’s a really, really good episode in a set of five good, solid episodes. For TV animation, the animation is well above par. The voice acting is superb and the story work is strong and stays true from the original film to the first episode all the way through the series…better than a direct-to-video release I can think of.

It helps me out if you buy it here.

Lady and the Tramp Signature Collection Blu-Ray

 

It’s not even in pre-order yet, and I’m all excited. The previous signatures have been so gorgeously remastered, I can’t wait to see – and hear – how this one will turn out.

As soon as I know more, you’ll know more.

Thor: Ragnarok

 Coming home March 6.

Actually, make that Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™, and Movies Anywhere, on Feb. 20 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, DVD and On-Demand on March 6.

Thor has to battle his sister, one of his former compatriots, a drunken former Valkyrie, his brother, the fabulously weird Grandmaster, and a bunch of Mad Max extras to try to get home to stop Ragnarok, the inevitable destruction of his homeworld, from happening. But, as I just typed, inevitable. So, he has to come up with a solution to everything in the entire universe, or so it seems. And he thinks with his muscles.

There is a ton of extras in this package. A. Ton.

BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):

Blu-ray:

  • Director’s Introduction
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – Deleted Scenes: The Sorcerer Supreme, Skurge Finds Heimdall & Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar and Extended Scenes: Thor Meets the Grandmaster, Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger & Grandmaster and Topaz
  • Gag Reel – Watch a collection of goofs, gaffes and pratfalls starring the cast
  • Exclusive Short/Team Darryl – Fresh off being unseated as the ruler of Sakaar, the Grandmaster makes his way to Earth to start a new life. It’s been over a year since Thor left Australia and Darryl has been struggling to pay his rent. Now Darryl needs a new roommate to help make the monthly payments. Unfortunately for Darryl, the Grandmaster was the only one who answered Darryl’s “Roommate Needed” ad and with no viable options, the Grandmaster moves in.

If you missed the first two “Team Thor” shorts, here ya go:

  • Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes – Marvel’s universe is vast and transcends both time and space. We’ll examine the Cinematic Universe as a whole and revisit each of our heroes’ current location and their place in the current MCU timeline, as it all leads up to the one culminating event: “Avengers: Infinity War.”
  • Getting in Touch with Your Inner Thor – “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi has brought his unique sensibility and sense of humor to the film in a great many ways but it is the evolution of Thor’s own sense of humor, which stands out the most in the new film. This piece explores the impact Chris Hemsworth has made on the development of his widely-loved character and celebrates the mighty cast and crew who reveal the fun and hard work that went into assembling Thor’s eccentric counterparts.
  • Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie – This piece explores the strong female characters in “Thor: Ragnarok,” their importance in the MCU, their incredible casting and their epic comic origins.
  • Finding Korg – A tongue-in-cheek interview with Taika on casting Korg. He describes the difficult search for just the right evolution of the character design, and the nuances of this instantly classic character in the MCU. This conversation will also delve into all the extraordinary visual effects that brought Korg, Sakaar and the worlds of “Thor: Ragnarok” to life.
  • Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown – Sakaar is the collection point for all lost and unloved things. This documentary will answer all known and unknown questions while also exploring the hard work and creativity that went into creating the look and feel of Sakaar. From design inspired by Jack Kirby’s classic artwork to the dedication of the visual development team to the awe-inspiring physical and digital production, you will see this distant world come alive.
  • Journey into Mystery – A deep dive story piece with the writers, director and producer Kevin Feige about the inspirations for “Thor: Ragnarok” within the comics. Most notably, the contest of champions limited series where the Grandmaster pitted our favorite heroes against one another as he does in the film. This piece also further explores Thor’s comic book origins and classic arcs through interviews with some of the most important comic creators, such as Walt Simonson and Jack Kirby.
  • 8bit Scenes – Final Bridge Battle + Sakaar Spaceship Battle. Dive into these climactic sequences presented in retro video-game format.
  • Directors Commentary

Digital Exclusives:

  • Evolution of Thor and Hulk’s Bromance – We’ll examine this Super Hero friendship, which has spanned through several Marvel films. From their original Helicarrier fight match to the now iconic Hulk punch from Avengers 1, see how Marvel’s most powerful Super Heroes become the most extraordinary Super Hero buddies.
  • Additional Deleted Scenes – Travel to Asgard & Race To The Wormhole

You’re going to need a couple of bottles of Visine for your special eyes by the time you reach the end of that one. Get it here and it helps me out.


More Guardians!

James Gunn confirmed in a tweet yesterday that there will indeed be a third episode of Guardians of the Galaxy, that he will be directing, and that it will be released in 2020.

Celebrate MiceChat’s – and Fab’s Anniversaries!

Not only is it MiceChat’s 15th Anniversary, but it’s also my 5th Anniversary with MiceChat! And they said it wouldn’t last…

To celebrate, MiceChat is throwing an evening shindig at the retro and revitalized The Anaheim Hotel, right across the street from Walt’s Park. Grab a dirty Martini and get ready to soak up some brand-new knowledge with your olive juice. Cool people, Good stories, Great company. You should be here.

Even better, if you’re one of those companies with whom we’ve had a relationship over the years, you should email The Dusty One about a sponsorship for the weekend. It does come with its perks.

Featured MC Anniversary Panels

Welcome To The Jungle:

David Koenig presents a panel of original Jungle River (now known as the World Famous Jungle Cruise) skippers.

First Lady of the Haunted Mansion:

Garner Holt, legendary creator of the world’s best animatronics, presents one of the original female Imagineers, Tanya Norris, who worked with Walt Disney and all the early Disneyland creatives. Tanya joined Imagineering to help design New Orleans Square and the Haunted Mansion! You are going to LOVE her story!!!

Amazing Disney Authors:

Meet award-winning Disney authors Don Hahn, Mindy Johnson, and Dave Bossert as they discuss their latest releases. Get your signed copies of:

PLUS: We’ll have delightful hors d oeuvres, a bar, and an opportunity for you to meet with our special guests and authors.

EXCLUSIVE OPPORTUNITY: If you are also competing in the Gumball Rally the next day, you can early register at this event.

Sign up for the MiceChat Anniversary Kick-off Event today – HERE


And that’s not all folks!

MiceChat Gumball Rally – Feb 3rd

Join us for the world-famous Gumball Rally on February 3rd, 2018. It’s a competition to see who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have in the parks. For more information please visit the Gumball Rally Page HERE.

MiceChat Anniversary Mega Meetup – Feb 4th

And on February 4th, we’ll meet at Disneyland for a full day of meets, events, meals and fun. To be notified of the full schedule of events, please enter your email below:

Get More Information about MiceChat Anniversary Weekend:

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Still here? Did anyone read to the end?  If so . . . what jumped out at you? Chinese New Year in the parks . . . Peanuts . . . donuts with Iron Man . . . Dark Crystal reborn? Let’s hear from you below.

 

Edited January 17 by Shelly – Universal Hollywood is now featuring animators from several studios and independent animators! For those of you (like me!) who love to read the credits, you might just be able to put a face to those oh-so-familiar names!