Disneyland Days, First Signs of Haunt, Muzeo's Chocolate Wonderland
by, 06-16-2011 at 11:36 PM
Now that Disneyland has had its big summer openings and you are probably sick of hearing about Star Tours and Little Mermaid, we are beginning to focus on other interesting things around town. Though Knott's Berry Farm's haunt is still a few months away, we've got all sorts of exciting news to share, including what's opening this weekend! Just down the road from Disneyland in Downtown Anaheim, Muzeo's “Chocolate: The Exhibit” has opened and we stopped by to sample it. The photos will have your mouth watering. We'll finish things up today with a review of the new Battle of the Dance dinner theatre on Harbor Blvd. Don't worry, we've got plenty of Disneyland construction shots and glossy photos, but there is a lot of interesting news outside the berm this week as well, so let's get going. . .
Well, this week we have a special treat for all those little Haunt Monsters out there. It's Knott October yet, but we have an exclusive interview with attraction designer Brooke Walters about her new Haunt Maze "Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse." We also have updates on Windseeker and a heads up on the two shows opening at Knott's this weekend.
SNOOPY'S STARLIGHT SPECTACULAR:
Don't forget that Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular has returned and it's a LOT of fun.
SNOOPY ON ICE:
Knott's Berry Farm has a new ice show this summer. "Happiness Is..." features everyone's favorite beagle, Snoopy, in a show that features catchy tunes, elaborate costumes, and fun choreography. The show opens on Saturday June 18th
ALL WHEELS EXTREME STUNT SHOW:
This amazing show returns again in Calico Square. Witness gravity defying BMX Bikers, In-Line Skaters, a Trails Rider, Gymnasts and a skateboarding canine in a fast paced, action packed production. The show opens on Saturday June 18th
Knott's Berry Farm has its own unique magic throughout the year; but, when fall rolls around, nobody does the scary stuff like they do at Knott's Haunt. Knott's Scary Farm is a Southern California tradition that is coming up on its 39th year of delivering the most imaginative thrills during the Halloween season.
Many MiceChatters have been long time fans of Haunt and all things spooky. Last year, the new Sleepy Hollow Mountain overlay to the Log Ride and Fallout Shelter and Virus Z mazes brought new levels of 'execution' to Haunt. The scenes were more atmospheric, the soundtracks more refined, the sets and attention to detail were the best seen in years. What's more, the talent cast to perform in the mazes was exceptional. Virus Z in particular came together like a well oiled chain saw, slicing through the pretense of a theme park maze to deliver a whole new level of Halloween fun.
MiceChat's own Fishbulb got the chance to sit down for a face to face interview with Knott’s Berry Farm’s entertainment designer Todd Faux and maze designer Brooke Walters to discuss the a highly anticipated new maze for 2011, "Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse."
Fishbulb: So, tell me about your new maze.Brooke: Well it's called Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse.Fishbulb: Endgames?
Brooke: Yeah, “Warriors of the Apocalypse” is the tagline.Fishbulb: With all the ideas bouncing around in your head, why this?
Brooke: I knew I wanted to do a post apocalyptic maze, but I wanted to put a new spin on it. And everyone was like, “Oh, another post-apocalyptic maze,” but I insisted, “No, it'll be fresh and it's going to be different.”So, it's essentially like Mad Max meets Gladiator, kind of. Or like Hunger Games. I don't know if you've read Hunger Games. The setting for the maze is that it's after the apocalypse in a situation where the people--basically the people with the most money, the most inventions, the most power--they've decided to kill for sport. This is where the gladiator thing comes in.Fishbulb: Ah, a zeppelin. So that's how you are tying in the kind of steam-punk vampire thing of Necropolis.
When you first enter the maze, you enter on the outskirts of this civilization. Guests will enter a crashed zeppelin that has been converted into somebody's house.
Brooke: Right. But, I tried to come up with a theme that would compliment Necropolis rather than blend with it. I'm calling this maze "Steam Punk Rock". So, instead of it being the elegance of steam punk it's a grittier version of that.Fishbulb: Of course!
Throughout the maze and even out in the queue, there will be televisions that are showing commercials for the "Endgames", which is this big event for people to watch. The televisions will be showing live footage, a live feed, from people getting scared in the maze.
Todd: This is actually the first time we've tried something like this.
Brooke: You go into the first room and you are in a hermit's house and he's going to have a television there because he's watching the games. And then there are the slave quarters and then a torture chamber and they have a television in there, because, you know, when they get bored they should be able to watch television.
Todd: You could torture people with T.V. too!Fishbulb: Yeah, you turn on Lifetime and I'm dead.
Brooke: Then there's a creature room with a huge toad and this huge, buff, Siamese twin thing. And those are all going to be effects. Then after that you will come to the gladiators, then the invention room and there's going to be some televisions in there. The path is actually going to ramp upward. The maze is being built in a new area where the ground is a little uneven.Fishbulb: You aren't building up along the Balloon Race trail right? There won't be a maze where Labyrinth was last year?
Brooke: Right, the new maze will be over in front of Tugboat in the far corner of Camp Snoopy. That area isn't exactly level. But, at one point in the maze you will be able to look down on the last room where the Endgames are, so we will have a raised pathway for that. You will first see these killing games from the audience perspective, looking down at people making their way through the killing arena.
The area in front of Tugboat.
More of the construction area
Fishbulb: Wow, so you get a preview of what's to come. That's going to add some depth to the maze.So that's the conversation I had with two of the scariest people at Knott's Halloween Haunt. Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse sounds a lot better than I expected it would be. I really like the idea of being the prey in a crazy world gone mad.
Brooke: Exactly. Now, after that the path goes back down to ground level, you will be wandering through viewing rooms with all these televisions. But then at the end, the last room, you actually walk through Endgames Arena and you are being hunted. It's a huge room with big, burnt out inventions and people coming after you.Fishbulb: Now, is there going to be a set path or is it going to be a free-for-all where you have to make your way through.
Brooke: No. There will be a set path through there defined by, you know, corpses, burned out inventions, a killing machine, stuff like that. But then we have a final room where we are planning to have a live feed from every camera in the maze, so you see all the places and people getting scared.Fishbulb: There's going to be a big bottle neck there.
Brooke: No, but I have a good scare spot there. It's going to be good.Fishbulb: So, when did you come up with the whole idea for this maze?
Brooke: I got the basic idea for it last year. I was looking around trying to think of a way to fill a hole. I wanted to do something that I was excited about. But, it took me a while to figure out how I was going to go about doing it with the whole gladiator edge and Necropolis and all that. So it had just been sitting there kind of marinating.
Todd: Yeah, we wanted to do something that would fit with the steam punk Necropolis area, but…Brooke: But, we wanted to do something different. I wanted it to have more of a story, something a little more gritty than just underground or steam punk. One night I was watching Sparticus: Blood and Sand and had just finished reading Hunger Games and the idea just hit me. It's funny too because I could even hear the soundtrack and how I wanted that.
I knew I wanted to do something grittier, gorier. I was originally going to call it "Cannibal Apocalypse" and it was going to be more cannibal-based, but then I went with the “games.”
Todd: And I think that was a better choice.
Fishbulb: Yeah, it gives it a more sinister bent.
Brooke: I wanted to have a really good anchor for Necropolis and I think this will do it.Fishbulb: It needed to be fleshed out.
Todd: The last time we had something like this was when we made Camp Snoopy the Inquisition scare zone in 1994. We didn't really have anything there. But then we changed the area to the Gauntlet and we made the Inquisition maze that really anchored it. It's really going to bump it up. Necropolis is a great scare zone but it needed…
Brooke: Right. I hope that this will flesh it out and I am hoping to give the area more support, decoratively.Fishbulb: You were adding stuff all the way through the run last year weren't you?
Todd: Well yeah, because we just ran out of time. There was so much to get done. I think, too, that it will help that the scare zone will be much more defined and limited to Camp Snoopy.Fishbulb: Where do you pull inspiration, aside from music.
Brooke: All over. I mean everything. I'm a creative brain so I'm always absorbing. Things are always developing in my head. I mean I'm sure it's a combination of a lot of stuff. I went to film school. I watch T.V. and movies all the time. I'm reading all the time. I have a horror brain. It's what I want to do. I want to scare people.Fishbulb: What I really want to know is what scares you?
With all of that in my head, things will just come to me. Like with the entrance to the maze. I was just talking to our set designers about it and I know exactly what I want it to look like. But, it's also a collaboration with all the creative departments. I have ideas and visuals that I want, but then I start to work with Tim on the costumes and he brings something to the mix. Then we go over what is possible with the set builders and it's just a collaboration. When you work with a bunch of people, everyone brings something to it and it comes together.
Brooke: Not much.Fishbulb: Nothing?
Brooke: Fish. Large bodies of water. My worst nightmare consists of being trapped out in the ocean, in the water, surrounded by fish.Fishbulb: Any movies scare you? Anything recent?
Brooke: No. I just saw the film Rubber, about that killer tire. It was terrible.Fishbulb: Really?
Brooke: Yeah it was SO SLOW. I'm trying to think of the last time I got good and scared. Sci-fi. I'm particularly edgy in sci-fi movies. GOOD Sci-fi.Fishbulb: Like Event Horizon?
Brooke: Yes. That terrified me. But you know, when I was coming to Haunt as a visitor I was scared of Haunt. The first time I went I was 12. I would go with my theatre group and I remember waiting in line for the mazes and being afraid of the street monsters, and thinking they were following me and all that. But clearly that's gone now. (Laugh)Fishbulb: But, that is what memories are made of.
Brooke: Yeah, I loved Haunt. And now I love that I do it.Fishbulb: Are there going to be any other new things coming to the other mazes?
Todd: Well, we are trying to fix a lot of things in all the mazes.Fishbulb: Let me go on the record as saying that I understood the Frankenstein ending.
Brooke: We are working on a new ending for Terror of London.
Brooke: I know, but this year we are going all Jack. It's going to be a room full of murdered women in there. Like his hive of death.
Todd: A lot more gory. We are still going to have the grating.Brooke: And we are going do this new thing with hospital curtains. I am also working on fixing a few things in Doll Factory too. Like the incinerator room. That part of that maze never got to the point I wanted it to, so this year it will be like a storage locker with lots of places for monsters to hide, and we've rearranged the freezer room.Fishbulb: Cool.
Brooke: We instated weekly meetings back in January, Lara just did this, for all the departments to get together in a room and go over the maze. And they would ask, “What works? What doesn't?" Eventually we got through them all and we have a plan of attack to address all the little things in the mazes, technical or otherwise.Fishbulb: So you can take a look far ahead and address things you normally wouldn't have the time to think of.
Todd: Right.Fishbulb: What are some of the things you want to do in the future with Haunt?
Brooke: Wow, um, I don't know.
Todd: C'mon Brooke! 2012!Brooke: I honestly…I have so many ideas.Fishbulb: I know it's kind of like looking into a dark pool of crazy.
Brooke: Yeah, I'm…I mean I have ideas. The thing is I would love for there to be another 3D maze as successful as Malice.Fishbulb: Malice was amazing.
Brooke: But the problem is finding a plot. You know, something that people can grab on to. I think Pinocchio is a terrifying story.Fishbulb: You have that fish thing.
Brooke: No, it's not just that. It's also a turning-little-boys-into-donkeys and them gambling and running away and putting them into slavery thing. That's so disturbing.Fishbulb: Kind of like the Fear maze a while back at Sinister Pointe in Brea where you had to press buttons or do tasks to progress through the maze.
I'm not sure what I would want to do for next year. I would love to do a more interactive maze. We'd have to make it an upsell because of our capacity, or part of a VIP ticket.
Brooke: Yeah, and us, with our numbers, we have to figure out how you can meter a maze like that.Fishbulb: Sounds like it'd be pretty interesting.
Todd: We've been talking about that for several years, doing a highly interactive type of maze.
Todd: Whatever it is, Norm, You'll be the first to know.Fishbulb: Aw thanks. I really appreciate you two taking the time out to talk to me about one of this year’s new mazes, Endgames: Warriors of the Apocalypse. Would I be able to come back and talk to you more about the development of the maze and get some previews of the sets and stuff?
Todd: Of course.
Fishbulb: Thanks! We can't wait for you to scare the socks off us again this year.
You can look forward to continuing coverage of Knott's Halloween Haunt right here in In The parks and on MiceChat.
Speaking of Haunt . . .SAVE THE DATE!!!
Join MiceChat for a one-of-a-kind experience at the original Halloween party.
MICECHAT VIP night at Knott's Scary Farm
Saturday Sept 24th
Tickets available soon.
Stay tuned for more information about our Nights of Horror™ fall events at Knott's, Universal Hollywood, Universal Orlando and beyond!
Windseeker has topped out and the ride mechanism is now being contructed at the base of the tower.
The beginnings of the ride mechanism.
Cartoon Network “Move It Movement"
BUENA PARK, Calif. – Knott’s Berry Farm and Cartoon Network (in partnership with the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition) invites kids ages 6-14 to be a part of the “Move It Movement Tour,” on Saturday, June 25.
The tour features multiple stations with a host of activities including:
- Soccer Shootout Challenge, where kids can take aim and test their shooting skills;
- NBA/WNBA FIT Activity Zone, letting kids test their fitness level through basketball;
- PGA Chipping Challenge, letting kids test their golf skills on a mobile putting green;
- Skate Park Challenge, featuring skateboard experts performing high flying demonstrations;
- Crayola, where kids can use their imagination by creating outdoor art;
- Zookeeper™ Leapin’ Lions Challenge, testing focus, balance, and strength.
All these activities will take place from 11 am to 3:00 pm in the Charleston Circle area of Knott’s Berry Farm and are included with park admission.
Good Old Disneyland magic now comes at a more expensive price. The worth will be endlessly debated. Regardless, the park has a brand new parade, Soundsational, and a revamped E-ticket in Star Tours. Then there are the memories made. . . Why, here's an example below . . .
Town square with the band. Pure Americana and Disney charm.
This week, the Matterhorn was closed for testing. If you want to take a ride down the icy slopes of the majestic Matterhorn mountain, you will have to return on Saturday.
SPLASH MOUNTAIN PATH:
The next item isn't so much NEWS, per say, but one of our favorite parts of the park has been re-opened. The little path that snakes around the back side of the Harbor Galley restaurant and leads over the flume of Splash Mountain, has returned.
This is one of those magical little out of the way experiences that make this park so unique. We firmly believe that the secret to Disneyland's success is in the countless little details just like this. After all, there's a big concrete path just a few feet away, but this little out of the way treasure was built anyway! Yes, we know we sound goofy going on about a path . . . but give it a stroll and see if you don't agree with us.
FRONTIERLAND OUTDOOR VENDING (ODV):
Now that the new, more permanent Lemon Slushy stand has been built adjacent to Big Thunder, the old site has been turned into a minor ODV location.
BIG THUNDER MOUNTAIN RAILROAD:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has returned to service and is once again plunging tourists into the wildest ride in the wilderness.
CHIPPY THE WHALE:
Yes. We know. This is a very minor thing, but it is in such an obvious location that it's hard to miss.
Welcome to Disney California Adventure. You never know what you will find when entering the DLRs second gate. For instance, this week, the parade route leading right up the center of the park has been closed off. You can imagine what that does to World of Color crowds.
BUENA VISTA STREET:
The parade route (Performance Corridor) that leads from the front of the park through to A Bug’s Land and the Golden Vine Winery has been walled off to accommodate Red Car Trolley construction. This means that after crossing under the Golden Gate Bridge, you can now only go to the left, into Hollywood Pictures Backlot, or right, into Condor Flats.
This re-route seems to work fine during the day. But when World of Color begins queuing people up for nightly performances it is a nightmare situation. Our advice is to avoid the Grizzly Peak area completely if you are not in line for World of Color and take the route through HPB and Bug's Land to get over to Paradise Pier.
The front gate.
Guest relations is still behind walls.
The Carthay Circle Theater
A look behind the construction walls with the path on the upper right that is blocked.
Condor Flats access.
Looking back from Bug's Land.
PARADISE GARDEN RESTAURANTS:
The Paradise Garden Grill and Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta are just a couple of weeks away from officially opening. Final touches are being made on the structures and the last of the walkways are being laid.
Painting the shingles on the roof.
CHOCOLATE: The Exhibit
Right now, Chocolate: The Exhibit is on display at the Muzeo in downtown Anaheim. What is it? It is a tour of the history of Chocolate from it's first discovery and uses to what we know it as today.
Last week we asked our readers a question about the history of chocolate. If they posted a correct answer they were entered into a drawing to win a set of tickets to see Chocolate: The Exhibit. The question was...
Q: What ancient civilization FIRST used cacao seeds in royal and religious ceremonies?
The Answer is ... The Ancient Mayas.
The Micechatter that answered the question correctly and is winner of the random drawing is...
Lost My Slipper
Congratulations to Lost my Slipper and thank you to all who entered the contest.
And now we bring you a tour of this luscious exhibition that will run through to September 11, 2011.
Muzeo is nestled in among the newly renovated offices and loft housing of Downtown Anaheim. The space, while relatively small, does feature some impressive exhibits. The current Chocolate Exhibittells the history of Chocolate from discovery to modern day confection.
Guests will be able to see, smell, and even taste (interesting taste options too)
Display only. DO NOT EAT!
Beginning with the ancient Maya we learn that cacao beans were ground up and made into a spicy drink for royal and holy ceremonies. It wasn't until the Spanish added sugar to the mix that things kicked into high gear with this popular ingredient.
Cacao beans were used as currency at one point.
The exhibition does a fine job in explaining the vast history of chocolate without becoming too overwrought with detailed facts. Furthermore it also doesn't shy away from the bittersweet entanglements with slavery as a means of harvest and distribution.
The exhibition eventually brings us to modern day chocolate and how we know it today as a sweet treat.
This is a great diversion for anyone who is a passive chocolate eater to full-on chocoholic. There is free two-hour parking available in the parking structures adjacent to the Muzeo, but some may prefer to take their time in the exhibit. If so, park in the paid spaces higher in the structure. The show is also presented in English and Spanish.
Down Harbor Blvd, a few miles from Disneyland, a new dinner theatre experience has opened up and we thought it would be fun to take a look. Battle of the Dance is a spectacle of food, dance, music and fun.
The evening starts in the lobby where hors d'oevres are served and a bar is available.
After a brief preshow, the audience is welcomed into the arena theatre where there isn't a single bad seat. The first course is served as we are treated to the warm up act. Seaon Stylist-Bristol welcomes the crowd and sings a few tunes. He was a pretty talented vocalist and it was a nice backdrop for getting settled into the space.
Dinner is served and the show begins. A unique opening sequence depicts lost Spaniards sailing onto the eastern coast of Ireland. The idea is to show how the Spanish influenced the Irish with a passion for dance and to set up the finale dance at the end of the show. Once this bit of exposition is out of the way we are treated to a cabaret-style evening with ventriloquists, shadow puppets and an impressive amount of dance.
The Spanish and Irish meet.
Then the dancing begins. And it's very good.
Javier Valverde Hidalgo leads the the group here.
Sonny Fontana and his shadow puppets.
Everything from elephants to Madonna. Pretty funny.
Maggie Darlington leads an Irish/Celtic Dance
Kevin Johnson entertains the crowd.
Kyle Hatfield leads an Irish dance.
Bollywood gets thrown in.
The costumes are very colorful.
Kyle Hatfield and Javier Valverde Hidalgo take a bow.
Overall, the show is entertaining, colorful, and well constructed. The Celtic dancing was particularly impressive as the blinding speed at which the dancers feet move is astonishing. The flamenco dancers were exceptional as well, and fun to watch. There really isn't a weak link in any of the dancing. The troupe is strong and the segments mesh together well.
The theatre itself, built on the site of the old Toys R' Us, really works and is a solid space for a show. As we said at the outset, the tiered seating allows for good viewing anywhere in the theatre.
The pricing is a little on the expensive side, starting at $60 for adults and $30 for children. But, if you would like to skip dinner, and just see the show, tickets are only $45 for adults and $25 for children. Of course, priority seating is given to those who are dining, so keep that in mind.
Battle of the Dance is good old fashioned family fun and a wonderful way to spend an evening.
For more information visit the Battle of the Dance website HERE
Our fearless Universal reporter, F!an checks in to give us a brief update on a few things at Universal Studios Hollywood.
CityWalk's face lift continues. The parking portals are nearly complete as are the permanent stage and Cinema facade work. Panels depicting Frankenstein's monster and the Bride of Frankenstein have gone up as part of the Cinema facade. The panels are similar to the portals and covered in tiny holes. Structural light towers have been installed in the Plaza. The three towers point towards the stage and are covered with various types of lighting appliances.
The stage is scheduled to open July 1.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS:
The Jurassic Park: The Ride extended queue has been removed and is rumored to be home to a new halloween maze.
The Transformers show building has been fully enclosed. From this point on, we likely won't have much to report on the new ride until it previews.
THERE'S ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!
If you receive our newsletters you should have found our guide to the Top 20 Attractions in Southern California in your in box this week. If you don't get our newsletters, be sure to click that link in the sentence above. There is SO much more to do this summer than you probably realize, and much of it is very affordable (and in some cases free).
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Today's update was brought to you by the following members of our fantastic and talented crew of photographers and news contributors: F!an, Sir Clinksalot, Captphoebus, Ericbramey, Fishbulb and Dustysage.
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