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  1. #1

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    Exclamation TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    I finally made it to Universal Studios Japan this past week after months of delays and detoured plans. The main reason for me to visit was to check out their newest area in the park: Land of Oz.

    But first, upon my arrival to USJ, I was *shocked* to find out they are building a new roller coaster (yet unnamed but slated to open in srping 2007) over and behind the Hollywood Boulevard area of the park. You can see by the photos why this is not a good idea. Now... while I welcome any new additions to any of the parks I frequent, be Disney or Universal, I am taken aback by the poor placement of this new ride.
    I love roller coasters as much as anyone does... don't get me wrong, which is why I enjoy Universal's IOA in Orlando quite a lot, and seeing a little helping of that at USJ is good news to me. However, why oh why did they have to destroy the elegant look of Hollywood Blvd by placing a coaster that will tower high over the top and back of the Hollywood Blvd facades, and even more odd, a portion of the track that stretches over the main entryway into the park??? I find the whole placement of this coaster to be ill conceived and planned. While I am sure the ride will be a lot of fun...(and it's beginning to look quite thrilling) I have to give it thumbs down as the designers didn't appear to care much about the elegant Hollywood from the Golden Age sets that to me, set a higher standards in theming for an Universal "studios" park. Remains to be seen how the noise created by this new coaster and it's finished look will impact the entire Hollywood Boulevard area.

    Now on to Land of Oz... Forget Judy's version and MGM's glorious take on Oz. Universal Japan's Land of Oz is a nice but unimpressive take on the famed tale of Dorothy from Kansas. While the effort is nice (certainly nicer than say... Toontown Fair at WDW) our mindset in regards to Oz is purely MGM. Therefore, the version presented to us here registers to some degree but lacks the charm and wonder of MGM's old movie. But I have to give kudos to Universal for trying and reinventing something that is so pop-culture for many. It took galls to pull off, and better yet, Land of Oz, redeems itself with one heck of a broadway style show, and a favorite of many I may add.
    Land of Oz was built in the former Old West section of USJ and a couple of areas still have that Old West feel to them... The area is small when compared to the other areas of USJ...it consists of a restaurant, a gift shop, several snack carts, the animal actors stage (now called "Toto and Friends Animal show") and the piece du resistance: A 35-min version of Broadway's runaway musical hit "Wicked". To add to the fun, our famed Oz characters appear here as rubber heads and face characters. The gal I saw playing Dorothy was very engaging with guests and quite pretty. The cowardly Lion rubber head was to say the least huge in appearance and with guests, probably because it's a cute take on the character we all remember by MGM's standards. The animal show is standard fare similar to the other long running Animal Actor Stage show from Universal Hollywood and Orlando, but with a slight storyline as Dorothy and friends look for Toto.
    Next door to the Animal show, in the Emerald City Theater (formerly the home of the Wild Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show) is now the showplace where a glorious 35 minute version of the popular Broadway show "Wicked" plays. Mind you... I have never seen the original version of this show so it was new to me, but I am told this little show closely resembles the real one in feel and look. However, going into it without prior knowledge, I was simply WOWED! by the talent on the stage. The dancers and choreography was awesome, the lead actresses (especially the one playing the Witch) were extraordinary talented. The show production was great and overall, the show was a solid Broadway offering, in the shortest amount of time possible. I came out of the theater shaking my head in disbelief.. as this was one of the very best shows I have even seen in any theme park, and I mean right up there in caliber and quality to other comparable productions, such as DLP's Lion King, TDS' Big Band Beat, and even DAK's new Nemo Musical. Certainly makes me want to go check out the real deal on Broadway or when the traveling tour hits my town.

    As for other wonderful things at USJ of late.. they are now in Xmas mode as they present their "Universal Wonder Christmas" event. The Hollywood and NYC areas of the park are very nicely decorated for Xmas. Nicer than what I have seen at other Disney parks in FL so far in fact.

    Universal Japan also happens to feature what I believe is the most stunningly beautiful and high tech Xmas tree ever placed in a theme park. The tree towers about 6 stories high and features a dozen different light movement combinations that makes for a most amazing and kinetic light display. You can sit there for half hour starring at this electric marvel of a tree and never get bored. One moment, the tree is green with silver fiber optic garland, and the next moment it's electric blue with strobes, just to turn into a swirly red extravaganza to soothing greens or rainbow colors.... then there is the all silver mode with elegant strobes and fiber optic splendor.
    This Xmas Tree is a stunner. A visual delight that will grab your attention and won't let go.

    Finally, the tree is lit up during the "Christmas Carol" lighting ceremony, which is a very solemn presentation worthy of the ocasion. The ceremony features an awesome choir of voices, carolers, and then for the finale... angels that "fly" high above the stage as a snowfall comes down over the entire stage and tree area. Simply a heart warming lighting ceremony NOT to be missed.

    All in all, USJ continues to excel in many ways with it's entertainment options thru the year. They have learned from TDR and revel in it, since their seasonal events are second to only TDR's.

    TDLFAN says "check it out". Here are the photos for your enjoyment.
    NOTE: Photos/video are strictly prohibited during "Wicked" so I was unable to bring you a taste of that, but I have seen video of the show on YouTube if you care to search for that on your own... Enjoy the photos!
    http://albums.photo.epson.com/j/Albu...6579&f=0&vt=mp

  2. #2

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    I saw Wicked in tampa a while ago when it was in town, then saw universal Japan's on youtube.. it was great...

    love the photos.. wish universal was as good as the japanese company is..

    FYI, the seseme movie will be coming to a few select Busch Parks in America... Orlando's park is not getting it though. (Tampa might get it)

  3. #3

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Thank you for the photos! Oz looks well done...except for the theater. It's far too small and dwarfed (plus its forced perspective is all off) to be the weinie for the land. :
    But it looks like a cool land anyhow.

    Plus the coaster looks fun...but so out of place. Thanks for getting photos of it though!

  4. #4

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Thanks for the photos of Christmas at Universal Japan! Too bad
    DL couldn't have added a tree with special effects. Universal certainly
    got ahead of the game on this one!

    And thanks for the pics of Oz. It looks kind of cute, but
    the "Emerald City" is missing the extra Glitz. Instead of green
    painted building, I would really like to see an acrylic type structure
    that could be lit up beautifully. With lighting, they could even
    make it shimmer!!!

  5. #5

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Great report TDLFAN! Thanks.

    I am a little disappointed in the overal look of OZ seems kinda cheap.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Wonderful pictures and titles, as always TDLFan! Makes me really consider heading back to Osaka for a look.

    Have you read the "Wicked" book. They say it's quite different from the show, but I recommend it nonetheless.


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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    The Land Of Oz look okay, not as impressive as I hoped it would be. Universal Japan need more movie based attractions. How about Men in Black on Acid for Japan?

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Cool pics. I wish some of those characters like Pink Panther & the Sesame Street gang (esp Cookie Monster!) were out and about in Orlando.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Thanks for the pics and report. Fun to see.

    Yeah, let's take the most memorable looking film in history, and design our own look for it. We can improve it... eyeyaaaa

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Count me unimpressed with the Land of Oz. Their Emerald City looks like someone took Disneylands It's a Small World and painted it green. They could have done so much better in this area. Aside from going to see Wicked, I doubt I'd even step foot in this land.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    I guess the most jarring part of this land of Oz is Dorothy's silver slipers. NO ruby slipers anywhere! A faux pas.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Yep, I wasn't too impressed with the whole OZ theme. It looked rather cheap to me. And what's up with the primary characters of the film, especially Dorothy! She looks nothing like Judy Garland in the film and where are the ruby slippers???

    I'm sorry, but that movie is my all time favorite and I'm really picky when someone or some company tries to invest on it by using the characters and/or theme of the movie and they don't do it correctly. I believe the primary characters should look authentic!

    And the Emerald Theatre needs to definitely look more like what's shown in the movie. They could have made that theatre look so impressive on the outside and really stand out. But it's underwhelming when you look at it.

    It would be awesome if Disney could build their own version of OZ at one of their theme parks and do it the way it should be done. With all the hype of WICKED and the popularity of the actual film, it would be so well received from guests...but again, only if it's done right!
    Last edited by DisneyFunGuy; 12-01-2006 at 01:17 PM.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    They have the rights to Oz through Wicked...not the Judy Garland film...hence the design differences and the fact that the Ruby Slippers are silver. Ruby ones were only in the movie...in the book they were silver.

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    Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    ^^ yeah I remember in the book the slippers are silver, not ruby. I think they changed them to ruby for the movie because they'd stand out more than silver in brand-spanking new Technicolor!

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    Exclamation Re: TDLFAN report from Universal Japan (Land of Oz, Xmas) Photos!

    Last Chance To See These Photos Before They Disappear!!!!

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